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by Jacob Ninan
When we think about victory in the Christian life, the usual picture that we have is about conquering our enemies, which are the desires in our flesh, the world system, and Satan and his hosts. This is like a king going after his enemies and defeating them. But there is another kind of victory that does not look like victory at first glance, but is nevertheless a victory that is no less great than the first type. This is the picture of a king who is attacked by an enemy who is stronger and cleverer than he is, suffers great losses, and still manages to save his fort from being conquered.
There is a blessing for those who just endure in trials. In fact, there is a great reward of the crown of life for those who persevere in love for God even when they are battered through trials (Jas.1:12).
Peter had an experience of this type. Satan sifted him like wheat with strong temptations, and he fell under the pressure so low as to betray Jesus three times. Under somewhat similar circumstances Judas lost out completely. But Peter came out of it without losing his faith, and that was what Jesus had prayed for him (Lk.22:32,34).
Satan's aim in tempting disciples of Jesus is larger than just to make them to sin. The ultimate victory that he wants over us is to make us give up our faith in God and turn against Him. This is clear in the way he attacked Job (Job.1:11). Like Peter, Job also fell in many ways, doubting and questioning God, but finally came out without having renounced God as Satan suggested to him through his wife (Job.2:9).
At first glance, it may appear that `victory' means only that Peter should not have denied the Lord and that Job should not have questioned God even when tempted. If they had managed that, it would certainly have been a great victory. Obviously they were not able to have that victory in that early phase of their lives because they were weak. But they did have the second level of victory, and this defeated Satan by denying him the ultimate victory. From there they could go on to the first type of victory.
We may wonder why Jesus did not pray for Peter that he should not fall in sin but only that his faith should not fail under pressure. Jesus knew that Peter was headstrong in himself and needed to learn a lesson or two in humility. Therefore He allowed Peter to have a taste of the failure that comes when one trusts in oneself and not in the grace of God. However Jesus prayed for him that his faith should not fail because if that happened all would have been lost.
After he had learned this lesson Peter was able to strengthen his brothers who were facing temptations of different types because he was able to be sympathetic and compassionate towards them (Lk.22:32). In leading others to victory Peter was able to experience victory in a larger measure than he would have had by himself if he had not fallen.
The testing of our faith is much more precious to God than most other things (1Pe.1:6-9). In other words, one who endures in faith in God in spite of many adversities is precious in the eyes of God.
It is good to remember this when we are hard pressed by trials that do not seem to have a solution in sight. When we are battling with the desires in our flesh, the world or Satan our victory is certain because Jesus our Saviour has conquered each one of them. We should not settle for anything less than total victory in these cases. But many times our battles are with situations outside our control such as a hard and unreasonable boss, an unjust working environment, a sickness that is not getting healed, etc. The most essential thing then is not getting a solution by some means or other, but to endure in faith that our loving Father has things in control, and that His love towards us never ceases. It may be that God will deliver us from that situation. But even if He does not, in His wisdom and sovereign plan for our lives, the important thing is that we should not stop loving Him and trusting in Him (Da.3:17,18). That is a victory that is precious to Him.
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