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Scars of victory
- Jacob Ninan
Those who have been defeated enjoy their victory. Usually God gives us victory only after we have had our noses rubbed in the muck of defeat, to convince us that it is not of us but because of His grace. In some rare cases, as in the case of an alcoholic for whom God took away his desire instantaneously, victory is quick and lasting. But in most cases, victory comes after a long time of battle with many defeats and occasions when we felt like giving up. And then we have many scars in our life that remind us of our past defeat, and reminding us also that we should beware lest we think we don't have to be careful about this anymore (1Co.10:12). Sometimes these scars are in the form of people we sinned against who remind us by their presence who we used to be. Sometimes we are suffering from the consequences of our past sins--loss, punishment, bad reputation, etc.--which do not allow us to forget where God has brought us from. Sometimes these scars remain in the form of a weakness in us that tempts us now and then to sin again.
We should not think that because we are being tempted to sin we don't have victory. Victory means that God has now given us strength to overcome when we are tempted. Victory does not mean elimination of the desire that tempts us. Of course this sinful desire becomes less and less powerful in our life as we experience more victory. But it is still possible that if we become careless that same desire can overcome us and land us in defeat. We must not forget that the devil is walking around looking for people he can deceive when he can catch them sleeping (1Pe.5:8). He is not kind or understanding towards us (!) but mean and cruel, and he is always on the look out for our moments of weakness.
A challenging example which God gives us is that of Abraham who 'hoped against hope' to receive the son whom God had promised (Ro.4:18-21). Translating this to our fight for victory it means that even though we experience defeat after defeat in any area of life we continue to hope in God for victory which He has promised us (Ro.6:14). We don't give up after some time saying it doesn't work, like in the story of the fox which jumped at the grapes and finally gave up saying the grapes were sour in any case! Of course it hasn't worked for us (so far), but God will fulfil His promise for us one day if we don't give up in the meantime (He.3:14). Honesty makes us say that we are still defeated, but at the same time we confess our hope that God will give us victory in the end. It is not honesty to say that it hasn't worked for us and therefore God's promise is not true.
God has created us with the ability to choose--to yield to the temptation or to resist it--and He promises to give us grace to make the right choice. Perhaps we haven't yet become strong enough to resist temptation, or we are doing it the wrong way. If we feel the temptation let's look for victory and not assume that defeat is on its way.