Monday, October 30, 2006

"We Shall Overcome" - Gleanings from John R.W. Stott

Are you facing a spiritual battle today? If so, read on!

"Jesus is Victor". The cry of the ancient church, the cry of Corrie ten Boom, the heartfelt belief of Christians throughout the centuries, rings true over your life and circumstances today. Yet it is easy to forget, when faced with a very real spiritual battle, that we struggle against a defeated foe.

In The Cross of Christ, John R.W. Stott expounds upon this theme, and reminds us of those truths that are so important. Since I can't put these any better, I'll defer to him today.

"Every Christian conversion involves a power encounter in which the devil is obliged to relax his hold on somebody's life and the superior power of Christ is demonstrated."

"For Christians as for Christ, life spells conflict. For Christians as for Christ, it should also spell victory....The victory of Christians, therefore, consists of entering into the victory of Christ and of enjoying its benefits."

"For though the devil has been defeated, he has not yet conceded defeat. Although he has been overthrown, he has not yet been eliminated. In fact he continues to wield great power. This is the reason for the tension we feel in both our theology and our experience.... Another way of approaching this tension is to consider the implications of the verb katargeo, which, though often translated in our English versions as 'destroy', really falls short of that. It means rather to 'make ineffective or inactive', and is used of unproductive land and unfruitful trees. They are still there. They have not been destroyed. But they are barren. When this verb is applied to the devil, to our fallen nature and to death, therefore, we know that they have not been completely 'destroyed'. For the devil is still very active, our fallen nature continues to assert itself, and death will go on claiming us until Christ comes. It is not, then, that they have ceased to exist, but that their power has been broken. They have not been abolished, but they have been overthrown....Victory over him has been won, but painul conflict with him continues."

"More than half the occurrences of the 'victory' word group (nikao, to overcome and nike, victory) are to be found" in Revelation. "Michael Green has suggested that the liberation song, 'We shall overcome', might have been written as 'the signature tune of the New Testament'; its triumphant strains are certainly heard throughout the book of Revelation."

"How, then, can we enter into Christ's victory and prevail over the devil's power? How can we be numbered among the 'overcomers'? How can we hope to throw the enemy back, not only in our own lives but in the world he has usurped? First, we are told to resist the devil. 'Resist him, standing firm in the faith.' Again, 'Resist the devil and he will flee from you.'...We have to claim the victory of the cross....Secondly, we are told to proclaim Jesus Christ. The preaching of the cross is still the power of God. It is by proclaiming Christ crucified and risen that we shall turn people 'from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God' (Acts 26:18), and so the kingdom of Satan will retreat before the advancing kingdom of God! No other message has the same inherent force. No other name is defended and honoured by the Holy Spirit in the same way."

May God give you grace to stay in the battle!

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