Tag Archives: victorious living

Spiritual Blessings for Victorious Living: Living Victoriously

 

Spiritual Blessings for Victorious Living: Living Victoriously Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 (NKJ)

What does it look like?

At the beginning of this series, we put forth the proposition that spiritual blessings, outlined in Ephesians 1:3-14, will result in victorious living by believers.

As we conclude this series, it is a great time to share exactly how spiritual blessings accomplish that.  What exactly does victorious living look like?  There is much written on “how” to live victoriously.  It often includes a recommended list of spiritual disciplines accompanied with a list of “do’s and don’ts”.  Yet, more than often,  the specifics on victorious living are unclear.

Clarity in the Scriptures

For me, there are several biblical truths that contribute to understanding what victorious living looks like.  The most important being how “we look” in Christ.

In Christ, we are “new creatures” (2 Cor. 5:17) and are continually being  “transformed by the renewing of their mind” (Rom. 12:2).  It is God’s expectation that we “be holy as He who called [them] is holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16) with the ultimate objective to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

As we are conformed to Christ’s image,  we live out our purpose or  “good works, which God has ordained” for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

This process of spiritual transformation is ongoing in us who confidentially trusts God and understands that “He that began a good work is able to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6)—until Christ’s Second Return or the believer’s returns to Christ.

Victory in God

Victorious living finds its genesis in the Triune God.  Chosen by God.  Redeemed by Christ.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Victorious living is achieved by our walking in the reality of the spiritual blessings “gifted” to us by God resulting in our new identity and capability.  All these blessing are to the praise of God’s glory—lavish and abundant blessings on which to live victoriously.

I once believed that living victoriously was dependent on me.  I am so glad that God provided the “true secret to victorious living”.   For it in In Him “we live, and move, and have our meaning” (Acts 17:28).

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  (Titus 3:4-7)

In your quiet time, read Ephesians 1:3-14.  Feel free to read it several times using a different translation or paraphrase; then journal how this scripture can help you live more victoriously.

Spiritual Blessing for Victorious Living: A Foretaste of Glory

In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13a-14 (NKJV)

God’s Work of Salvation

To this point in our study of Ephesians 1, Paul has focused on the work of Triune God in fulfilling the work of salvation. 

Jesus Christ the Son, offered Himself for the redemption and forgiveness of sin for those who accept Him by faith.  Through His blood, Christ paid the righteous demand for sin for without the shedding of blood there can be no redemption (Heb. 9:21-22).     

As we approach the conclusion of our series, Spiritual Blessings for Victorious Living, Paul describes the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit as He fulfills His role in the work of salvation.

The Spirit of Promise

The Holy Spirit would seal those in Christ “until the redemption of the purchased possession” in eternity future. A seal, in biblical times as today, is used to guarantee security or indicate ownership.

Ancient seals were often made of wax, embedded with the personalized imprint of their guarantor.  In both the Old and New Testament the significance of the act of sealing was dependent on the authority of the one doing the sealing.  

It would authenticate the guarantor’s ability to “make good” on that which was promised within the sealed document; in this case the promise of the believer’s salvation and future inheritance. 

The Holy Spirit of Promise not only endows the believer with power to accomplish the purposes of God (Phil. 1:6; 4:13) but He also gives assurances that God will do and can do all that He has pledged—promises and blessings for today and an inheritance in the future. The Holy Spirit seals those who trust in Christ (Eph1:12, 13) and His presence is God’s guarantee that believers are owned by Him and secure in Him.

Blessed Assurance

Since the Holy Spirit’s task is to apply Christ’s work to God’s people, He anoints those in Christ the moment they believe (2 Cor. 1:21-22).  The believer is then secured as a member of God’s family, not in their own power, but because the Spirit is applying the promises made possible by God through our relationship with Christ.  

His sealing comprises the initial down payment or the earnest of the full redemption of God’s possession (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).  In reading Ephesians 13a-14, the words of the hymn, “Blessed Assurance” echoes within my heart and mind.

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine

Oh what a foretaste of glory divine

Heir of salvation, purchase of God

Born of His Spirit, Lost in His love

Foretaste of Glory

This song captures in totality the work of salvation and the interceding role of each member of the Holy Trinity. 

Blessed Assurance describes in its opening lines the work specifically of the Holy Spirit who gives us a foretaste of the glory that belongs to those who are in Christ. 

“Foretaste” is made up of two Latin words:  ante which means “ahead, before or previously” and gustus meaning “flavor, zeal” (this is where we get our word gusto). 

Foretaste is described as a taste before possession; a limited awareness of something to occur.  This is a good illustration of what the sealing of the Holy Spirit accomplishes—it whets the spiritual appetite for those things which God has reserved for believers until the day we all shall see Jesus for ourselves (1 John 3:2).

This is my story, this is my song.

Praising my Savior all the day long.

Spiritual Blessings for Victorious Living: The Boundless Gift of Grace

 

The Boundless Gift of Grace

Precious memories

“Grace” was a familiar song often sung at my childhood home church.  I can still hear Mrs. Olivia Gentry, bellowing out the chorus that highlights the richness and indescribable power of God’s grace.

Grace, Grace, God’s grace

His grace is sufficient for me.

Grace, Grace, God’s grace

His grace will give you,

The victory.

As we continue our series on victorious living, we would be remiss if we did not take time to examine the source of our salvation and “crown jewel” of God’s blessings:  GRACE.  Without it, victorious living is impossible.  For it is the grace of God that finally resolved our issue with sin:  the thing that thwarted our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  It would take extraordinary, boundless grace to reverse the downward spiral of fallen man.

In Him [Christ}, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.  Eph. 1:7-8 (NKJV)

The Heart of grace

In the Old Testament, grace (hen) generally referred to one finding favor and acceptance with God (Gen. 6:8; Exod. 34:9; Ps. 84:11).  In the New Testament, while grace still infers the favor of God, grace (charis) is extended to include God’s goodwill and loving-kindness.  This boundless gift of grace is extended to us through Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11,14).

In Christ, we find redemption and forgiveness of sin (Eph.1:7).  Jesus satisfied the holy and legal requirements of God by paying the price for sin with “the shedding of blood” (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22).  When we continued in our sin, unable to keep His laws, God sent His Son Jesus (John 3:16). J

Jesus Christ made it possible for God to complete His plan of salvation that was created before the foundations of the world (1 John 3:5-8; 4:9). This “glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6) has resulted in God’s choosing us, adopting us, and making us” acceptable in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6).

Paul states that the riches of God’s grace abound toward us (Eph. 1:8).  The RSV translation builds on that thought, using instead, “lavished upon us.”  Such extraordinary covering by God’s grace flows from the depth of His love (1 John 4:9-10).  It includes wisdom and prudence (understanding) of “Christ’s purpose so that we can feel His heart of mercy, to approve and to concur with His redeeming plans, as men ‘made wise unto salvation’” [1]

Where sin abound…grace abound much more

One thing we have in common is sin, regardless of time, space, or geography.  We see sin’s effect everyday:  crime, civil strife, social injustice.  All these find their root in sin.  There are, also, “subtle sins” that are hidden from the visible eye.  They affect the behavior of individuals, churches, and society.  They include greed, jealousy, envy, and hate, just to name a few.

The issues of this century are “heart issues”:  hearts hardened and determined to live self-centered and disobedient lives.  Neither money nor power can resolve humanity’s woes.  Narcissistic or charismatic leaders cannot end the political impasse.  Better schools or larger jails won’t end generations of economic inequality.  There is only one thing that can reverse the cycle of death set forth by sin in the Garden of Eden.  It’s God’s boundless gift of grace.

Alec Motyer, in this classic book, “Look to the Rock”, gives insight into the impact of God’s boundless gift of grace: “When God’s people could not rise to the height of His standard, God didn’t lower His standard to match their abilities, He transformed them.”  This transformation is possible only through acceptance of God’s boundless gift of grace.

[1] Ephesians Studies, H.C.G. Moule

Stay on the Path

“Enter through the narrow gate.

For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)

 

A few years ago there is a commercial for financial planning that features a wide green path and arrow to guide the investor along life’s path.  As the investor strolls through the city, they are tempted to step off the path to pursue things that could hinder their ability to accomplish their long-term investment plans. The voice of the financial advisor coaches the investor to “just stay on the path.”  The implication is that as long as the investor “stays on the path” they will realize their financial goals and live happily ever after.

This commercial reminded me of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. He told His listeners to, “Enter through the narrow gate.”  The King James Version renders “narrow” as “strait.”  Strait (stenos) refers to a narrowness created by obstacles standing close about.   These obstacles could be the world’s view on how we are to enter God’s kingdom.  Jesus’ point in this teaching is that the way to life is through a portal providing controlled access along a narrow way defined by God.  In contrast, the wide highway represents the world’s “substitute” for the way of life.  The end, of course, is death.

As I talk with believers about activities in their local churches, I am disturbed and heartbroken.  The Church, which was created to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13), is choosing to “get off the path.”  Churches across this country have abandoned teaching and preaching the “full counsel” of God for “trendy methods” of ministry.  The “fervent prayers of the righteous” (James 5:16) have been replaced with small group discussions on why the church should practice religious tolerance.  Churches are more concerned with not offending others than with grieving the Holy Spirit.  Peter reminded the early church, that Christ Himself was “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” (1 Peter 2:8).

It is extremely difficult to stay on the path of God when the world, especially the Church, is encouraging us to do otherwise. It is critical and life affecting that we stand fast in our faith (1 Peter 5:12).  We must resist being lured to “enter through the wide gate.” Do not be enticed by false teachings with their “faith-by-works, all-roads-lead-to-God” beliefs. Stay on the path until you reach your eternal goal of heaven. Remember, it is a narrow path that leads to life, and only a few find it.

SELAH: One of the inherent gift that is available with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is spiritual discernment. Spiritual discernment is “the ability to see life from God’s perspective”. It helps us to evaluate potential choices, options, and actions we may need to make in our life. Spiritual discernment helps believers to avoid potential “spiritual landmines” that might take us off path.

Read “The Power of a Discerning Spirit” then invite ask the Holy Spirit to heighten your discernment and reveal spiritual landmines currently in your life that might detour you from God’s desired purpose.