Defined: “an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition” (New Oxford American Dictionary). Although the word itself does not appear very many times in the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is alluded to a number of times.
In the closing words of I Corinthians 9, Paul compares the Christian life to running in a race. He states that “they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize (I Cor. 9:24). The prize is the reward for gaining the victory. He urges, “So run, that ye may obtain” (v. 24b). As in the Grecian games being discussed by Paul, those who run the Christian race, those who “strive for the mastery” (prize or victory), must be “temperate in all things.” Self-control is a must, both for the Grecian runner and the Christian runner. Constant watching to be sure that our bodies are brought into subjection is also a must. Even Paul warned that he could be a castaway (I Cor. 9:27).
For one to win the victory in the Christian race, he must “run with patience or endurance the race set before him” (Heb. 12:1). He must “lay aside every weight, i.e., any thing that hinders him in this race. He must also set his eyes on Jesus, “ever looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). There is to be no looking back, for “he that puts his hand to the plough, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of heaven (Luke 9:62).
Jesus has already gained many victories Himself. He was successful in satan’s attempts to lead Him into sin (Matt. 4:1-11). When the angel told the women at the tomb, “He is not here: for He is risen as He said,” he was announcing Jesus’ personal victory over death, hell and the grave. “Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever With His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!” By this great victory, He made it possible for all His faithful ones to also win this mighty victory. Paul wrote of this victory in I Corinthians 15:53-57: “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He also told us that Jesus “must reign, till He hath put all things under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:25-26). Christ has already won His own personal victory over death when He was raised and exalted to God’s Throne. He will gain the ultimate victory for all when death is completely destroyed at the resurrection. (Phil. 2:9-10).
As pilgrims on earth, we are permitted to partake of many victories ourselves. We win the battle over sin when we “obey from the heart that form of doctrine” and are “then made free from sin.” What a victory! Sin no longer has dominion over us. We win victories over temptations and trials when we seek out and use “the way of escape” provided by God (I Cor. 10:13). We win the victory over satan by being “sober and vigilant” understanding that the “devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). When we “resist the devil” we cause him to “flee from you” (James 4:7). We overcome the world by our faith which leads us to be obedient to God’s every requirement. John wrote, “For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).
The ultimate victory for the child of God will be when he hears these words from Christ Himself: “Well done thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joys of thy Lord,” or “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:21, 34).
As we sing, Victory is only found “in Jesus.” Are you in Jesus? Are you living in a way that you can be assured of “victory in Jesus”?
Paul M. Wilmoth