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THE DANGERS OF THE VICTORIOUS LIFE

Numerous writers have written chapters on the dangers of the Victorious Life, including the Unknown Christian in The Victorious Life, and Charles Trumbull in Victory in Christ and in other sermon series. These dangers, which they referred to as “perils,” are many, and sometimes cause earnest believers to stumble as they seek to walk in victory. I have accordingly compiled four of these helpful chapters on this page.

The Unknown Christian:
 
“Other Dangers,” The Victorious Life

Charles Trumbull:

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THE UNKNOWN CHRISTIAN
 
XII. THE Dangers OF THIS LIFE
FROM THE VICTORIOUS LIFE


Some of the perils that beset a life of holiness and how they may be met and conquered.

The Victorious Life is not something, which is obtained once for all-a summit reached from which nothing can dislodge us. This victory is secured from moment to moment by a moment-by-moment faith. There is constant victory for the believer so long as he trusts Christ entirely-and only so long.

The moment that simple faith is lost, that moment the victory over sin is broken. That is why our Lord seems to sum up “sin” in the one word “unbelief.” “The Holy Spirit when He is come shall convict the world of sin… of sin, because they believe not on Me” (John 16:8). And this is why St. John says, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).

Since, then, there is no such thing as a once-for-all victory, it is evident that this life is beset with perils, and we must be constantly on our guard. Or, to be strictly accurate, we must ever allow “the peace of God to guard our hearts.” An earnest laboring man used to insist upon quoting that verse as “A piece of God shall guard your hearts”-and his idea was right. For it is the indwelling Christ, the Son of God, Who does this for us.


The Abiding Christ

What are some of the dangers that beset a life of holiness? To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Nor need we fear facing any danger. “For in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

There is, first of all…

1. Self-Effort

In the first flush of joy at realizing the possibility of such a life of victory, there is a tendency to attempt to hug our possession-to make a continuous and conscious effort to cling to it. A feeling that if we do not strenuously concentrate our thoughts upon the indwelling Christ, we shall lose Him. Perhaps this comes from regarding the Victorious Life as a blessing-a possession we can forfeit or lose. Satan always tries to get us to regard it as such. It may slip from our grasp. No. It is a Person, not a “thing.” It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who comes not so much for us to possess Him, but that He may possess us. He cannot slip from our grasp. He holds us. He has promised, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). That is why the writer likes to dwell upon the abiding Christ rather than the “fullness of the Spirit.”

Once it was the blessing,

Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,

Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted.

Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,

Now Himself alone.

He keeps us-it is not we who keep Him, and “He is able to keep.” Of course, we must allow the Lord Jesus to be “the home of our thoughts.” But “looking unto Jesus” in faith and love does not mean strenuous effort to retain Him-a willing guest. Our “look” of faith is not with strained eyes, but with a restful gaze.


In The Place Of Safety

“Abide in Me,” says our Lord. Just rest peacefully in Him so far as your life of victory is concerned. At every alarm, at every approach of temptation, just “hide in Him,” the Rock of Ages, just as the Coney takes cover in his rock of defense. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow”-not by self-effort, toiling or striving. They just abide in the sunshine and drink in its life.

“Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?” asks our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. And in His mind was something more than physical stature.

It is not our faith but His faithfulness that maintains the Victorious Life. “Trust in the Lord,” and then “do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed” (Psalm 37:3).

We may remark in passing that even in our conflict with evil around us our trust must be entirely in Him, and not in our own power and effort. How remarkably this is brought out in our Lord’s instructions to His Apostles. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep amidst wolves,” says He. Now how does He proceed? “Be ye therefore armed to the teeth?” Never. “Be ye therefore harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Why? Because He is our defense and our shield.

2. No Freedom From Temptation

The Victorious Life is not an untempted life. Only one Man has ever lived an unbroken Victorious Life, and that was our Lord Himself. And “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” The sinless angels were tempted, and some fell. Adam and Eve in their sinless state were tempted, and also fell. So let us not be surprised when the devil tempts us. He will do all in his power to drag us down, because the Victorious Life is the only one that really counts. Every child of God will be tempted, but we can “count it all joy,” for we are told that the shield of faith is “able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

3. A Constant Attitude of Faith If We Should Fall

There is always the possibility of sinning, and there is the provision for it. “If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin…” (Leviticus 4:3). Doesn’t this prove that sin is inevitable?” asked an inquirer, surely not. Every ship that sails is provided with a supply of lifeboats, lest there should be a shipwreck or a collision.

This does not imply that it is the captain’s intention to wreck his ship; nor does it mean that therefore every ship must be wrecked.

So, then, it is possible for both priest and people to sin.

The Victorious Life is secured by an act of faith: and is only maintained by a constant attitude of faith. Suppose, then, there is a momentary failure and we fall into some sin. What then? Why, Satan immediately tries to follow up his victory by trying to persuade us that there is no such thing as the Victorious Life; or that if there is, then we never had the blessing; or if we had-well, it is gone forever: we’ve lost it. And our fellow-Christians who have never seen the only way of victory will gladly back him up in his assertions. Even devout and earnest believers will assure us that such teaching is a dangerous heresy.

Do not listen either to Satan or them. We have seen that the Bible is full of Victorious Life teaching. This “dangerous heresy” was taught by Christ, and shows itself again and again in St. Paul’s Epistles and those of St. John.

Remember that God gave us the Victorious Life after many, many falls. Will He then withhold it forever because of one more fall? Surely not!


Satan’s Whispers

But if Satan fails in dissuading you from again attempting to live a life of victory, he will try to delay your recovery. He will whisper that after such a grievous failure you must lie low for a while; it will take a long time for you to get back again into the life of victory; there must be an arduous climb, a tedious and humbling process of recovery. What answer will you give him?

Now we have conclusively shown that no striving or struggling on our part will ever bring us victory in the first place.

It must, therefore, be obvious that such effort and struggling will never reinstate us! If we fall into any sin, our Saviour wishes us at once to turn to Him in faith for forgiveness.

Instant forgiveness and instant restoration. Even in the Old Testament this was so. “I have sinned against the Lord,” said the penitent king David. “The Lord also hath put away thy sin,” replied the prophet Nathan immediately (2 Samuel 11, 12).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Your fall does not weaken Christ. “He is (still) able to keep.” He has not failed. Nor will He fail you. And once you are forgiven, turn your thoughts away from that sin and try to never think of it again. “One thing I do,” said Paul, “forgetting the things [he might well have said “sins”] that are behind … I press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:13).


A Hindrance To Holiness

This is not minimizing or under-rating sin. No one has such a horror of sin as he who is living the Victorious Life. Nor does it mean complacency under defeat.

But we feel strongly that the recollection of past sins is one of the greatest hindrances to present holiness and usefulness. Such recollection weakens our confidence, prevents our usefulness, and reminds us of the “pleasures of sin”; so there follow feeble witness, fruitless work, and fresh falling into sin.

Moreover, remorse, or agony of feeling, or self-condemnation, can do nothing to heal the wound. The atoning blood of Christ is sufficient for that. In fact, so sufficient-if one may use such an expression-that after the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Christians are nowhere told to pray for the forgiveness of their sins. The command is simply to confess them to God, and their forgiveness is assured.

The reason is obvious. When the Holy Spirit of Christ dwells in the heart, sin is abhorrent, and a longing for forgiveness always accompanies confession.

4. Do Not Presume

“The truth about the indwelling Christ, or rather the consciousness of His indwelling, gives you such wonderful confidence,” said a venerable cleric to the writer, “that the danger is that you get too confident.” We see his point. But we cannot be too confident! What this man of God meant is this: There is a danger of relying upon past victory to keep us safe in the present. We may have-and Christ desires us to have-a long period of unbroken victory.

But the longer the period, the safer and stronger we are apt to feel ourselves to be. Paul knew the danger full well, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We must bear in mind that our weakness is never made strong. “Our sufficiency is from God.” We are never sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves (2 Corinthians 3:5).

It is “All of Christ” and always of Christ.

“It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do” (Philippians 2:13). As Mr. C. G. Trumbull puts it, in his “Perils of the Victorious Life”:

“Christ and Christ alone is our victory. Ten years of unbroken record does not add a particle to the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ; it does not increase the sufficiency of His grace, for that sufficiency is infinite. The assurance of our continuance in victory is not our good record, but the grace of our Lord. Our continued record in victory adds nothing to our assurance of victory.”


The Necessity of Obedience

Moreover our victory for any length of time does not weaken Satan. He is just as powerful and active and spiteful, and just waits his opportunity. And his opportunity is any over-confidence or spiritual pride in us.

5. Disobey Not Our Lord’s Command

A radiantly happy couple wished to speak to me after an address on the indwelling Christ. “We have known and experienced the truth of the Victorious Life for many months now,” said the husband, “and it has completely revolutionized our lives. All this time we have been staying away from the Lord’s Table. We never go to the Holy Communion now. But are we right in keeping away?” “What is your reason for absenting yourselves?” I asked. “Because Paul tells us there is no further need of the Holy Communion when once Christ has come to dwell in the heart,” was the astonishing reply. With much curiosity the writer asked for the reference to such a command. And this was the answer: “Paul said, ‘As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye proclaim the Lord’s death till He come’ (1 Corinthians 11:26). Well, now that he has come to abide in us, we have refrained from partaking of the Holy Communion.” That godly man and woman were delighted to learn that those words “Till He come” evidently refer to the Second Coming of our Lord. Paul himself was then living and preaching the Victorious Life, but he still partook of the Holy Communion. “We all partake of the one bread,” says he (1 Cor.10: 17). We must never disobey any command of our Lord.

Yet how gracious our Lord is! The dear people mentioned above were radiantly happy and were bringing forth “the fruit of the Spirit,” although they were disobeying God. They “did it ignorantly,” but not in unbelief, and the Saviour graciously blessed them and in due time showed them the “better way.”


Indwelt By The Holy Trinity

The writer has met advanced churchmen, holy and humble men of God, who have been thrilled by talks on the Victorious Life, but who have expressed a fear that such teaching would “do away with the need of the Sacrament.” No such fear need ever disturb their minds.

This teaching is Scriptural, as we have shown. Space forbids us to enter fully into the relationship between the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit and our Lord’s definite declaration, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have not life in yourselves” (John 6:53).

Let us remind ourselves that all the Persons of the Trinity dwell in us. Christ said, “If a man love Me he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). We know that the Holy Spirit dwells in us “that He may abide with you for ever” (14:16).

It may be that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit “sanctify us wholly”-soul, body and spirit.

But we do believe that no victory ever admits of disobedience to any of our Lord’s commands. And when He says “Do this” we must obey. If we love Him we shall keep His commandments.

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XIII. OTHER Dangers
(BY THE UNKNOWN CHRISTIAN)


Some more of the perils that beset the path of the true seeker after holiness

There are other perils in the path of holiness in addition to those already dealt with. Let us look at them.


Where Many Blunder…

6. Do Not Assume Infallibility

We can picture many of our readers smiling at such a ridiculous counsel. But this is a real danger! There is such a joy in unbroken communion with our Lord, and often such a consciousness of power-not our power, but that of the indwelling Christ-that there is a danger of our supposing that we always know God’s will in any matter-that we are always right.

The writer once had occasion to live with four consecrated men of God-all of them far more experienced in holy living than himself. One of them was, indeed, deeply taught of God and used to spend long hours in prayer. But in our deliberations he always quietly assumed that he had the mind of Christ, and that any proposal which conflicted with his ideas must necessarily be wrong; and this, even if four of us felt led another way to that suggested by him. Not infrequently, subsequent events showed that we were right and he was wrong.

One morning our leader quietly and kindly remarked, “My dear____, some of us think that we also are led to God.” Do not misunderstand me. The reference here is not to an obstinate, dogmatic, self-opinionated man who wished to have his own way. Our friend in question was holy, humble, and unselfish to a degree-but was “infallible.” He always assumed that he was absolutely guided by God in all his proposals. The best of us is not a little deaf spiritually, and we do not always catch God’s message; just as a deaf person does not always catch the right message through a telephone. There must be a perfect “doing of God’s will” before there is a perfect “knowing of the doctrine” (John 7:17).

Let us recognize that we are fallible. We may be mistaken. This does not mean that the majority is always right. Ten men once said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” While only two men urged, “Let us go up at once and possess it: for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). The people sided with the ten and years of misery and rebellion ensued, because the two were right and had the mind of God.


7. Do Not Ignore This World

A consecrated man of God lives in a house called “Torthorwold.” His neighbor’s say that is what he lives for: “T’other world.” But all who know him are aware that he leads a most strenuous life trying to make this world and its inhabitants better. We live in two worlds at the same time and have a duty to each.

“Do you think it is wrong of me to play marbles with my little boy of four?” asked a white-haired saintly father. We wonder what answer our readers would give?

How it would delight the heart of Satan if he could persuade all wholly sanctified people that all pleasures were sinful! Dear man of God, by all means play marbles-if you are not tempted to cheat!

We are living not only a spiritual life, but a bodily life, and whether we like it or not, a very large part of our time and interests is taken up with things which concern the body. Moreover, we are placed in communities. God never meant man to live alone. God made two statements about the first man, Adam, right at the beginning of his existence.

The first was that he was “very good.” The next remark was this, “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Every man is born into a family-every man has his human relationships. Each of us is to show love to all men. All the little social amenities of life are points of contact with those around us. Love manifests itself in deeds, and we must be human as well as “divine.” We can only show our love to God by deeds of love to our fellow-men. By all means romp with the little ones and play with the big ones!


Happy And “Human”

Men living the Victorious Life are the happiest and “humanest” of people, overflowing with the joy of the Lord- bubbling over with innocent fun and mirth. We are here to make this world a happier world. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). We are to “rejoice evermore,” and that means we are to begin now, here on earth.

A mother sat searching her Bible, trying to probe the secrets of a life of holiness. She spent so much time seeking spiritual help that the duties of her household became irksome and were either hurried through or neglected. The “homeliness” of the home was gone. One day, as she was deep in study, her little girl toddled up to her side with a broken doll. “Mummy, please mend dolly for me.” With an impatient gesture, the mother brushed the little one aside. “I’ve more important things to do than trouble about dolly!” The little one turned sadly away, and the mother continued her search for holiness.

But the search was a fruitless one, and the mother closed her book with a sigh, and sought the little child. She was lying on the hearthrug clutching her darling doll, and with the tears still wet on her pretty face. The mother’s heart was smitten. God spoke to her then and there. Tenderly stooping over the little one, she woke her with her kisses. Then taking her into her arms, she breathed a prayer to God for forgiveness. She saw that holiness could not thrive on neglected duties. Her devotion to her Lord was henceforth seen in her care of the household, and shone out even in mending broken toys! Home became home again. And the very page of Scripture was lighted up with a fresh glory.

Yes, and victory shone in the mother’s radiant face.


The Christian Heritage

We believe that the Lord Jesus, Who watched the children at their play, and the fishermen and farmers at their work, Who worked Himself and yet made time to be present at a wedding feast, wishes us to take a real and lively interest in all the concerns of life-our own and those of our friends. He has given us a capacity for pleasure, and He longs to see us enjoy His gift of life.

He has given us a physical frame which needs food, and work, exercise, and relaxation. He wishes us to enjoy our meals, our work, and our recreation. The marvelous realm of nature, the wonderful infinitude of space peopled with suns, the cadence of music and the color of sky and sea and landscape are for our enjoyment.

“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.”

for our pleasure as well as for His glory.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” says the child’s poet.

God expects His children to be careful about their dress and manners. Surely, He desires us to be attractive Christians? The King’s business requires haste, but it never requires discourtesy or lack of proper attentiveness to our fellows.


Is Religion Misery

The writer met a godly major on a voyage to India. He had been converted from a life of dissolution, and was now ever engrossed in his Bible. He avoided every kind of amusement-even deck quoits. Writing to me from a public school in England, a son of the dear major said, “I am so glad you have met my father. Do try to convert him to the Church of England, his religion makes him so miserable.”

No wonder the high-spirited lad found little happiness in his father’s company, and was a little shy of “religion.”

God’s religion never yet made a man miserable! Nor does the Lord Jesus delight in misery! Did not the Saviour say, “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”? (John 15:11) There is a right way of “making the most of both worlds.”

8. Do Not Rely On Thrills

It often happens that when a believer enters upon a life of victory over voluntary sin that he experiences a joy, and an ecstasy and a thrill which make him feel as if he were treading on air. But this is not always the case, and we must not suppose that an absence of thrills is a proof that Christ has not come in His fullness.

God wants us to trust Him and His Word, and not to rely upon feelings. He would save us from the peril of testing our victory, or testing His indwelling, by any preconceived notions of ours as to how His presence shall be felt or manifested. Think less of the victory, less of the blessing, and more of the Blesser.

You remember Spurgeon’s apt remark, which is worth repeating just here. “I looked at Jesus, and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove of peace, and she flew away.”

Do not then be examining or testing your victory. Maintain a simple and constant trust in Christ-He cannot fail.

It is really better to enter into the Victorious Life by simple faith unaccompanied by ecstasy or thrill.

For when the thrill subsides, and life seems humdrum and commonplace, we may be tempted to think that the victory has vanished with the thrill! Fact-faith-feeling-that is the order.

9. Do Not Be Surprised If Others Fail To See Our Victory.

Only One Man ever lived a sinless life-a really Victorious Life all through-and that is the Man Christ Jesus. But the leaders of religion in His days on earth were so blinded that they failed to see the Victorious Life in Him. They called Him a “wine-bibber.”

“We know that this man is a sinner,” said they of Christ. So we must not be surprised if men fail to recognize the Victorious Life in us.

We must be very humble, and when others thwart us or oppose us, and deny our sincerity or orthodoxy, no spirit of un-love or root of bitterness must come in; no holier-than-thou feeling must be entertained for a moment-or our victory is broken.

We are certain to be misunderstood, and our greatest opponents will be not the world, but the Church!

The devil has sown tares in the field of the Church, and only God Himself knows what is tares and what is wheat. It is from these-the children of the wicked one in the Church-that the greatest opposition is to be expected. [Our Lord never calls mere unbelievers “children of the devil,” but only “religious” unbelievers (see Matthew 13:25,38; 23:15; John 8:38-44). It is an awful thought, but must be noted.] The servant is not greater than his Lord. If Christ received opposition from “religious” people, so shall we.

But every such act of opposition is an opportunity for us to show, not by our lips, but by our life, the Christ-life; to prove that there is victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And even if some oppose and criticize and condemn, many around us, seeing our victory through Christ, will be glad and rejoice; because they will see the mighty power of God-mighty to the overthrowing of strongholds.


10. The Moment of Victory Is Now, Not Tomorrow.

May we remind our readers of a very simple fact, and yet one so often forgotten. It is this: The only time you can live the Victorious Life is now.

The only way to have victory through Christ is to get it now-at this very moment. This life is not merely one for emergencies. So many dear people are waiting for future opportunities to manifest the indwelling Christ.

They wait for a prayer meeting, or an open-air, or for a conversation with another congenial spirit.

But now is the only moment of victory.

God is light as well as love. And our Lord said, “Let your light shine”- not make it shine as occasion arises. Let it shine always, everywhere.

When you spring out of bed each day and say joyously to yourself and your God, “To me to live is Christ,” make up your mind to manifest something of the glory of Christ to everyone you meet that day. Keep a watch over yourself.

Let the people in the home see the light-the victory. Let your fellow-workers in the office or yard, in the shop or the ship, the factory or the school, see that Christ is dwelling in your heart. Why should not the tradesman, the postmen, the bus-conductors detect your secret? Be epistles of Christ, “known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2).

A dear friend of the writer’s-a cultured man brought literally to the gutter through drink-was converted at a tramps’ mission. The day following, he boarded a tram. The conductor was mystified, for the passenger’s clothes told of beggary, while his face reflected heaven! “Why, mate,” he exclaimed, “you look as if someone’s died and left you a fortune!” “You are right there,” came the quick reply. “Jesus Christ has died for me and has given me His riches in glory.” “Well, he might dress you better,” was the sneer-and He did.

Shall not even strangers be attracted by our joy?


In Communion With Christ

But do not wait for the future. Let victory be yours now.

Just live in such communion with Christ that He can always show forth His glory through you.

“Unto me was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all men see what is the mystery which from all ages hath been hid in God … that now might be made known through the Church [i.e., through you and me] the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:9-10).

Yes-and His wondrous life and ineffable glory.

Taken from the Victorious Life by the Unknown Christian


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The Victorious Life

VI. The Dangers of the Victorious Life
(Sermon 6 of 6)
by
Charles Gallaudet TRUMBULL


Introduction

In the truly Victorious Life, the Christian believer, having put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6: 11), moves forward under the protection of the shield of faith, wherewith he is able to quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One (v. 16). God’s Word is absolute on the completeness of the victory that is the experience of every child of God who trusts that victory wholly to Christ. It is not a once-for-all victory; it is a moment-by-moment victory, enjoyed each moment only in the present, but enjoyed completely in that present moment as the believer “looks away” from all else “unto Jesus,” the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12: 2).

But what a perilous life it is! Satan hates it; for it is an incarnate advertisement of the sufficiency of his Conqueror, Jesus Christ. Therefore to trust Christ for complete victory is to be moved up into the front line trench of the Christian warfare; and front line trenches are perilous places when the attack is on. There is no life in the world so perilous as the Victorious Life. Neither is there a life so safe. Where the onslaughts of the Adversary are the most terrific, the grace of the Captain of our salvation is the most effectively demonstrated.

Some of the perils are so subtle. so unexpected, that they may not be recognized unless we frankly face them in advance as terribly real possibilities-nay, not possibilities, but certainties. We need a supernaturally sensitized consciousness of these perils if we would be safeguarded.

For, as has been iterated and reiterated by all who know anything of real victory in Christ, the Victorious Life is not the untempted life, but it is the most tempted life that any one can live. Our Lord was tempted, and the servant is no greater than his Lord (John 13: 16). Indeed, it may fairly be said that one never knows the full meaning of temptation until he has dared to trust Christ for full victory. Then come the temptations as never before: desperate, diabolical, hellish, subtle, refined, gross, spiritual, fleshly,-the whole gamut of all the deception and the downpull that the world, the flesh, and the devil can bring to the soul of a child of God. But Christ sees them all, and He is standing on sentry-guard in our lives against them; the Word of God has disclosed them all to us, and this “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6: 17) is our sure weapon today as it was our Lord’s in those victorious words, thrice repeated, “It is written” (Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10).


If We Should Fail

The secret of complete victory is faith: simply believing that Jesus has done and is doing it all. Victory is entered upon by a single act of faith, as is salvation. Victory is maintained by the attitude of faith. But suppose the believer, having experienced the miracle of victory over sin through trusting his Lord’s sufficiency, comes, somehow, to doubt that sufficiency? At once his victory is broken, and he fails. This is possible at any moment. And at once, if there should be failure through unbelief, comes a real peril. The lie of Satan is whispered in the ear, “You have sinned; and that proves that you never had the blessing you thought you had: you never had the Victorious Life.” This is a lie, of course, as are most of Satan’s attacks. They say at Keswick, “If you should fail, shout Victory!” Not with any idea of denying the reality of the failure, but in recognition of the fact that Jesus has not failed, and that there may be instantaneous and complete restoration through faith in His unimpaired sufficiency.

The peril just here is, either that we shall think we never had the blessing we thought we had; or that we shall imagine it will now take us some time to get back into that blessing. Satan may tell us that we cannot have complete victory again until we have gone apart alone with the Lord for a day, or an hour, or five minutes. But our Lord wants us to believe Him for instantaneous cleansing and restoration. The way back is as “it is written”: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1: 9). The confession can be unspoken, in the instant turning of the heart to God and claiming of cleansing. Every moment of delay in believing him for this is further sin, grieving and wounding His loving heart.


Over-Confidence And Under-Confidence

Another peril is twofold: our supposing, on the one hand, that the longer we continue in victory the safer we are; and, on the other hand, that if by sin we have broken our victory we are thereby weaker, and less certain of continued victory. Both ideas are perilous, and fallacious.

This is quickly seen when we recognize that Christ, and Christ alone, is our Victory. Suppose we should live for ten years in unbroken victory; that ten years’ record of unbroken victory does not add a particle to the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ; it does not increase the sufficiency of His grace, for that sufficiency is infinite. The assurance of our continuance in victory is not our good record in victory, but the grace of our Lord. Our Lord and His grace are the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever (Heb. 13: 8). We have all His infinite grace at work for us and in us, any moment and every moment. Therefore our continued record in victory adds nothing to our assurance of victory, for it adds nothing to Christ, and He alone is our assurance of victory. Of ourselves we are just as weak and helpless, just as sinful, just as impotent for victory after ten years of unbroken victory as we were the first moment after being born again into the family of God. Even the veteran warrior in the Victorious Life is always capable of unbelief and of disastrous defeat in sin. He needs the moment-by-moment looking away unto Jesus as his only Saviour just as much as the young Christian who has just entered upon that life.

And so of failure, my unbelief and resulting sin do not weaken my Lord at all. Having confessed that sin and having been cleansed and restored by him, He is just as strong, just as omnipotent, as though I had never failed. And my victory now, after failure, depends wholly upon His sufficient and omnipotent grace, which is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.

We shall be safeguarded from these two perils-of overconfidence through continued victory, and of weakening fear through failure-if we remember God’s Word concerning the absoluteness of the victory that is ours in Christ. That victory is not a relative thing, not a comparative thing, not a matter of degree at all; it is the freedom with which the Son sets men free (John 8: 36), a freedom so complete that God himself cannot add to it in time or eternity. Not that we are given “sinless perfection.” We always have our sinful nature, which can sin and will sin any moment that we fail to trust Christ for His victory in us. But as we trust Him, His victory in us is absolute.


Driven Beyond God’s Will

The very joy of the yielded life, the life where God’s will is wholly accepted, brings with it another peril. It has been said that when Satan finds he cannot prevent one from doing the whole will of God, he then tries to drive that one to go beyond the will of God. And it is a perilous thing to go beyond the will of God, even in matters that of themselves are right.

It often happens, for example, that the Victorious Life Christian is driven beyond the will of God into imaginary duties. Satan comes as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11: 14), suggesting that the believer do this or that thing, which is good in itself, but not the will of God for that person. The believer has found great blessing listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and in instantly obeying; but when Satan speaks, giving leadings in directions that of themselves are entirely right, the unsuspecting believer follows those leadings, obtains no blessings, and experiences anxiety, confusion, and perhaps doubt and fog.

Witnessing

God prompts us, for example, to speak to this or that one about Jesus as Saviour. We do so, and revel in the joy of leading a soul into salvation.

But Satan comes with the insistent suggestion that we continue speaking to one and another, under all sorts of circumstances and at all times, about salvation or victory. We follow the suggestion, which is not of God, and obtain no blessing. A soul-winning Christian had a “leading” to go to a certain street and number in the city where he lived and to talk with the persons there about Christ as their Saviour. The house was one of which he knew nothing, but he went. He rang the bell, and after some time of waiting found that it was an unoccupied house. That leading was evidently not from God. The resulting confusion and doubt in that young man’s mind are easy to see.

Confession

It is also possible to fall into confusion regarding the confession of sin. Perhaps we have confessed some personal sin or failure to a fellow-Christian, to which real blessing resulted to that one and to ourselves. Then the suggestion comes to us that, inasmuch as that confession was so blessed, we must now confess to some fellow-Christian every sin that we recognize, perhaps even some sins that were long ago put away, forgiven and cleansed by our Lord, or every present failure or mistake of any sort. And the obsession for confession takes hold of us, and sends us into the fog. God does not want this. God will guide us as to when He may desire a confession to be made to another; and He will guide us as to when to let it be a matter wholly between Himself and ourselves. One general principle here is that it is to be kept to God and ourselves unless some one else will be injured by our withholding confession. If a confession to another or to others will accomplish nothing except give them a knowledge of our sin, it is to be questioned whether God would have such confession made.

Asceticism

Or again, having surrendered the whole life to the mastery of the Lord, having given up the pride of the flesh, all luxuries and self-gratification, there is the peril of asceticism. Perhaps fine clothes, or jewelry, or over-indulgence in food, were among the things that had to go when we surrendered wholly to the Lord. As we find our new joy in him and not in these things, we may be driven beyond the will of God into a dishonoring asceticism. More than one wholly surrendered Christian has mistakenly become indifferent and careless about personal attire or appearance, and has actually become repellent to others because of this mistake.

We are to maintain a golden mean between the extremes of asceticism and luxury. We are to take care of our personal appearance, our cleanliness, our clothing, so as to be attractive to our fellow-men. In fact it is a positive duty to be attractive as Christians, both in dress and in appearance, that others may be won to us in order that we may win them to our Lord. We are to do all things to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10: 31).

Pleasure

This includes our pleasures as well as all else. We are not to believe the lie of Satan that everything that is pleasurable or attractive is sinful. We are to enjoy our meals, for example, not reduce them to the minimum of mere physical sustenance. And so of the other temporal details of our life.

We may get the mistaken idea that when we have a choice between something that is hard and something that is easy, the hard thing is always God’s will. His will may be just the opposite. There is not necessarily any virtue in difficulty, and there is not necessarily any sin in ease. The only question is, what is God’s will for us in each matter that comes before us?

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4: 1). And we are never to abandon our God-given common sense in the Victorious Life.

Finding God’s Will: Through Scripture

We may say, “Well, if I am to get leadings from Satan to do things that are right, how shall I ever know whether it is Satan or God?” We cannot know unless we seek God’s guidance in his own Book. We are to check our leadings, the inner impulse,-which we may have even in a time of prayer,-by the Bible, the Word of God. We are to see if a leading conforms to the written Word of God, and if it does not, we must abandon it. Any leading that is contrary to the written Word of God is of Satan. The Holy Spirit never contradicts himself. We are to check up all our leadings by his Word.

Finding God’s Will: Circumstances

Again, if you are committed to a definite obligation at a certain hour, in which other people are trusting you, an obligation which must be met and will not be met if you do not meet it, and you have an impulse to do something else at that hour, you can be pretty sure that impulse is not from God, but from Satan. We are to check such leadings by circumstances and by common sense. God has given us our brains to use. If we will check on the leadings that we have by outer circumstances we can know whether they are of God.

I remember a man at the Stony Brook conference some years ago who said he had been praying that morning and believed he ought to leave the conference that day, two days before it was over; he had a strong leading in that direction. But he added, “Now I am going to the long distance telephone to call New York and check up on my leading.” That is common sense, and consecration too. After he had tested by outer circumstances, over the long distance phone with people in New York, he found out whether his leading was from Satan or God,

Here is one way of distinguishing between God’s leadings and Satan’s “angel of light” leadings. To the really surrendered Christian, who is trusting Christ for victory, God’s leadings and promptings never nag, or worry, or harass. Satan’s do just this. If one has a seeming “leading” to do something that is in itself good, yet with the impulse there is a sense of nagging disquiet, almost as though a mosquito or a gnat were buzzing about to try to drive us in a certain direction, that is Satan’s earmark, his calling card; and his false “leading” is to be instantly recognized and rejected. The Holy Spirit’s leadings to the surrendered and trusting Christian come with a sense of peace and quiet, even if they point in a really difficult direction which only the grace of God can enable one to follow.


Depending On Supernatural Experiences

The Victorious Life is a supernatural life; it is a living miracle, a thrilling adventure, for it is God’s work and God’s working. Our early experiences in the life of victory are likely to be so different from anything we have known before, so out of the ordinary in supernatural demonstration of God’s grace and power, that at once we are plunged into a peril.

The peril emerges as we mistakenly suppose we must continually have thrilling, unexpected, and supernatural evidences of God’s power. And if these supernatural phenomena do not occur, we are tempted to think that something is wrong,

Now God wants us to trust, not in supernatural experiences, but in Himself. It is for Him to decide when the unusual shall come into our life, and when our life shall be commonplace and humdrum so far as things of sight and sense are concerned. It would seem safe to state that it is God’s purpose that the “supernatural” so far as circumstances and experiences are concerned, should be the unusual rather than the usual in the life of his wholly trusting children. (Of course we remember that victory over sin is itself supernatural, and that God expects us to live in continual victory over sin, which means that our life in that respect is to be continually supernatural, always the “life that is Christ.” This is apart from the question of the supernatural experiences or phenomena that are often granted to us in our ministry in his name.) And so He would deliver us from the peril of testing him, or testing our victory, by circumstances or manifestations. He instead asks us to trust “just Himself.”

It has been well said that every one needs two conversions: first, from the natural to the supernatural; and second, from the supernatural to the natural.


Assuming Infallibility

Let us be delivered, also, from the peril of unconsciously assuming an infallible knowledge of God’s will. God’s leadings may be so blessed and so unmistakable that, as we testify to others about them, we speak of how “God said this to me,” or “God led me to do that.” And then, if we are not careful, we thoughtlessly slip into habitual expressions about God’s telling us what to do, and God’s leading us. Some true and yielded Christians almost never speak of any action or decision of theirs without prefacing it with the words that God told them to do this or that. And quite often in the experience of such a one, later circumstances show plainly that God did not tell them to do this or that, but that they had misunderstood His leading, as is possible at any time for any believer, even while wholly yielded.

There is an unconscious assumption of infallibility in that “God told me” kind of expression which can become really unconscious cant. Is it not better, instead of saying, “God told me to do this,” to say, “I believe God would have me do this”? Let us recognize that we may be mistaken. Even if we are quite certain in our own hearts and minds of what God’s leading is, it is not well to claim infallible knowledge, without qualification, in our conversation with others.


Worshipping Our Blessings

The blessings that Christ gives us in the Victorious Life in the nine-fold “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5: 22, 23), for example, are so wonderful that we are in danger of thinking more about the blessings than of the Blesser. Joy becomes such a wonderful experience-we are referring to the supernatural joy which nothing can defeat, which is independent of all circumstances and environments-that we may, without realizing it come to think more of the “joy of our Lord” than we do of our Lord Himself. He wants us to worship, not the fruit of the Spirit, but the Spirit. There is a needed reminder in the saying that is attributed to Spurgeon: “I looked at Jesus, and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove of peace, and she flew away.”


Pride And The Critical Spirit

The Christian who is wholly trusting the Lord for victory soon realizes that many believers that he associates with have not seen the truth of victory, and are not thus trusting Christ. He may be in close contact with Christians who are older, much farther along in many ways, yet not living in the victory secret that is so precious to him. At which point comes the peril of pride. Almost without realizing it the Christian who knows Christ as victory can let slip some word criticizing a fellow Christian who is not in the secret, or a condescending comment on such a one’s mistake or failure. “Holier than thou” is one of the perils of the Victorious Life. Of course the instant one speaks thus of another, or thinks in his inmost heart regarding another, his victory is gone, he has sinned. And we must recognize this peril if we would be kept from it. The Christian who is living in victory is in himself no better than the carnal Christian who is plainly sinning. The self-nature of the two is identical: hopelessly sinful. The only good thing about the victorious Christian is Christ; and we deserve no credit for Christ: the glory and honor and victory are all His. True victory, therefore, must keep us humble; and it will.

Yet it is a sad fact that more than one young person, or older person, has gone away from a Victorious Life Conference where the Lord was received in his fullness and victory was entered into, and has returned to the home church to speak disparagingly or critically of other Christians, even perhaps of the minister himself, who may not have seen and accepted the truth of victory by faith in Christ. This has brought the very preciousness of the message of victory into disrepute, has wounded the Lord in the house of his friends, and of course has made it well-nigh impossible to pass on the truth of victory to those who have not known it. The truly victorious Christian always speaks of others with humility, with a keen consciousness of his own natural sinfulness and helplessness, and in that perfect love that is kind, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, taketh not account of evil, never faileth (1 Cor. 13: 4-8).


Being Unteachable

Then there is the peril of being unteachable. Here is one who has entered into victory through faith in Christ. At once there comes from the Holy Spirit a new illumination on God’s Word, a new knowledge of things never before known, a new wisdom, unmistakable and directly from God. There is a flood of light on duties that were heretofore confused. He is able to counsel others as never before. All this is not imaginary; it is genuine and vital. And he praises God with gratitude unspeakable.

Then perhaps a fellow-Christian criticizes him for something he has done or said, and says that it was not as it ought to be. This fellow-Christian may not know Christ as victory at all, and the one who has been criticized is keenly aware that his critic has not the illumination and the victory that are his own. Now comes the peril: that this victorious Christian will say to himself about the other, “He cannot tell me anything about this. He does not know the secret of victory. The Bible has not been opened to him by the Holy Spirit as it has to me. He has not the light that I have.” And so the heart is closed to the criticism, and the man has fallen into the peril of being unteachable. And all the time the criticism that has come to him from perhaps an unenlightened Christian is sound and true, and God sent it to him for his own guidance and blessing.

May God deliver us, in victory, from this subtle danger of being unwilling to learn from those who may not be as far along in the Christian life as we are. A completely victorious Christian can learn from the criticisms of unsaved, unregenerate people, and often he ought to. The Victorious Life is does not guarantee omniscience, or infallibility. Humility of mind, eagerness to know any and every criticism that any one may have concerning us, and grateful acceptance of whatever truth there may be in that criticism-and there is sure to be some truth in it-is our safeguarding against this peril of unconscious unwillingness to learn.


Sagging Below God’s Will

After one has recognized the peril of being driven beyond God’s will, there comes the peril of sagging below God’s will.

We have learned that victory is all of grace, that no works of our own are needed to accomplish it, nor can these works possibly accomplish it. We rejoice that we have learned to “let God do it all,” and He will abundantly vindicate His pledge to do that “all” as we trust Him.

But there comes the peril of presuming on God’s grace: substituting presumption for faith, license for liberty. We used to think that the more we studied the Bible the more victorious we would be. We used to think that the more time we spent in prayer would bring more victory. Now we see that even these good works cannot accomplish our victory, but simple faith in God’s sufficient grace can.

“Very well, then,” we are tempted to say, “we need not be so careful in taking the same amount of time for Bible study, or prayer, because ‘Christ is doing it all.’” And down we go into defeat at that moment as we are deceived by another lie of Satan. While it is true that victory comes by faith, that faith must be fed, and that faith cannot be fed apart from the daily nourishment found in the Word of God, and daily time alone with God in prayer. The new experience of freedom from the power of sin through the sufficiency of Christ should result in more time with His Word and more time with Him in prayer, not less. We cannot know the continuance in victory if we presume on God’s grace and neglect our opportunities of fellowship with him.

Never, never, Never during this life can any Christian dare to neglect the written Word of God. A young Christian who had seen Christ as his Victory and was rejoicing in the new blessings of freedom and power, was talking with a veteran Christian minister about his new experience. Here is what this wise older man shared: “Keep close to the Word of God,” and he went on to tell the younger man how time after time in the history of the so-called “higher life” experience among Christians down through Christian history, individuals and groups of Christians had gotten off course and crashed through supposing they had, by Christ and the Holy Spirit within them, all that they needed, and could safely pay little attention to the Bible.

We must not sag below God’s will in the ordinary duties of life in our relationships with our fellows either. Those who have found the joy and blessing of the deep things of God are often careless in keeping appointments with their fellowmen, careless about answering letters, careless about money matters so far as exactness and thoughtfulness go, though not involving honesty. The Christian who is trusting Christ for full victory dishonors Christ if he does not establish and maintain a reputation for being utterly dependable in his contact in every relationship with other human beings. Failure to keep an appointment on the minute, to be scrupulously exact in the fulfilment of small as well as large obligations, cannot be excused on the ground that God’s larger interests overrule the lesser matters. There are no “lesser matters” with God. The Holy Spirit is a Person of orderliness, punctuality, and efficiency. If our lives are not conspicuous for this it is because we are not allowing him to be in control. God keeps sun and moon, earth and stars, moving in dependable and orderly ways; should we not let him do as much for us who are members of the Body of Christ?


Complacency In Defeat

In every blessing there is a corresponding peril. In our knowledge of the marvelous blessing, for example, that our Lord will instantly forgive our sins and cleanse and restore us upon confession to Him, and our faith in Him, there is the peril that we may take sin too lightly and tolerate a break in our victory as though it were rather unimportant after all. Complacency in defeat is a peril of the Victorious Life! We would not say, doubtless, that we are willing to “sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6: 1), nevertheless we may unconsciously fall into that perilous attitude. More than one Christian who has known Christ as complete victory will testify that, learning by experience the possibility of instant and complete restoration after failure, he began to tolerate breaks and failures in his life until they became the expected rather than the unexpected, the usual instead of the unusual, and sadly even the habitual. Now that is tragedy, indeed! And God may have to go deep with us if we have played with God’s grace before He can bring us back into habitual victory. Spiritual surgery may be necessary, and it may cause an agony of suffering before the cancer of “sinning that grace may abound” has been cut out. But, praise God, the Master Physician is ready and able to deal with this, and after His work has been completed we shall praise Him for what He has done, even though we may have been wondering if we were being cast us off while the operating and the hospital treatment were in progress. But why should we make it necessary for Him to do this? We do not need to ever lose our horror of sin, if in Christ we see sin as He sees it, and hate it as the loathsome, hellish thing that it is.


Gross Sins

While there will come to the victorious Christian temptations to subtle, refined sin, sin on a seemingly very high plane, the mystery of our sinful nature and of the wiles of the Adversary is such that even gross sin is one of the perils of the Victorious Life. We need not try to explain this, for history from the time of the early church abundantly declares it. There is something about the life of spiritual power and victory that, when broken into in the slightest way by unbelief, seems to terribly open the door to sins of gross immorality and degradation. Those who have gone highest with the Lord can also go lowest. Let us recognize this peril; let us confess this possibility in our utterly sinful nature; and then let us yield ourselves afresh to the mastery of our holy Lord, and trust Him afresh for His sufficiency to safeguard us from this awful denial of His name and betrayal of our stewardship.

The lesson from this particular peril is that after we have known the best that Christ offers us, to accept anything less than that which is best for a single moment is to be in deadly peril. If we should slip in the slightest way, if we should find that sin has entered through unbelief in our Lord’s sufficiency, let us instantly stop whatever we are doing and take the necessary time necessary to confess to Him, claim His forgiveness and entire cleansing, and trust Him at once for His complete restoration and victory. Satan would like us to think that pressing godly duties demand our attention, and thus negate the need to come wholly back until later. If a failure has come toward the close of the day, perhaps after a hard day’s work, when we are about ready to retire, the temptation will come that we are physically or mentally too weary now to think or pray this thing through, and we will get a good night’s sleep and then let the Lord clear it all up in the morning. That is deadly perilous. May God keep us from ever daring to go to sleep with unconfessed sin in our hearts, and in conscious loss of the victory that is ours in Christ. More than one Christian who has thus presumed on the grace of God has failed to let the Lord clear up everything in the morning, and has gone on into another day of defeat. “Now is the acceptable time” (2 Cor. 6: 2), not only for salvation from the penalty of sin, but for salvation from its power, and restoration into that salvation if we have faithlessly denied our Lord. “Make me to walk on mine high places” (Hab. 3: 19) is the only safe prayer and plane for the Christian who has ever known victory.


Longing For Past Or Future

It is perilous to look back at our best blessings of victory in Christ as though those best blessings were necessarily in the past. This is an almost inevitable temptation, because the new blessings of victory when one first trusts Christ for it are so new, so unexpected, so overwhelming and so satisfying. And we may look longingly back at those first hours or days or months, and unconsciously suppose that we will never again have the rich blessing we had then. This denies the sufficiency of God’s grace, and denies that our Lord is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

And it is equally perilous to look to the future as the time when God’s best blessings of victory for us are to be realized. God wants us to have his best now. To look for that best in the past or in the future is a peril that Satan will do his best to bring us into and keep us in. But the sufficiency of our Lord’s grace, which was true in the past and will be true in the future, is described by the Holy Spirit in the infallible Word of God as being in the present. “My grace is sufficient for thee,” is His word (2 Cor. 12: 9). And the very name of our Jehovah-Jesus is “I am!’


Relationship Of Men And Women

A word should be spoken here regarding another peril, which we need to recognize and be accordingly safeguarded? It has to do with the relationship of men and women in the spiritual life. This peril is generally evident from the Word of God as to the marriage relation, and from experience, observation and common sense, suggests that the deeper spiritual relationships between fellow-Christians should observe the same lines that the ordinary conventionalities of life insist upon: that is, that the deeper spiritual relationships should be between men and men, and between women and women, rather than between two persons of the opposite sex,-unless God is bringing two individuals together for the purpose of uniting their lives in marriage.

Not that there should be any unnaturalness in this, or any unhealthy self-consciousness when men and women, regardless of age, properly talk together or pray together about their Lord and their possessions in their Lord. But Satan as an angel of light may lead the spiritual fellowship of two such persons into a spiritual intimacy and a spiritual dependency which is not of God, and which can lead to unhappiness in more than one life, and real disaster.


Being Unhuman

Finally, let us recognize the peril of being unhuman-not inhuman, but unhuman-because of the depth and intensity of our spiritual life. To be “unhuman” is not of the Lord. We are not only living a spiritual life, but also a bodily life; and we live among those who exist in similar human bodies, and live in a world of rightful temporal interests and eternal interests. Let us not make the mistake of living in such a way that persons will say of us, as has been said of some, that we have a deep interest in others’ souls, but no interest in their bodies. Let us be human. Let us be kind. Let us deliberately make it our business to cultivate certain secular and human interests that will allow us to have points of contact with the many individuals around us who know nothing of the spiritual interests that are so precious to us.

Some of the greatest spiritual leaders, some of the most blessedly used ambassadors of Christ, have had “hobbies,” such as nature-study, music, or something else of that sort, which God has instilled in them and others. Such a hobby keeps one in touch with the wonderful present-day world which God made, and provides “bait” which can be used to catch the interests of others, and through that “bait” bring others to Christ and to victory.

We are not to be afraid of healthy amusements of the right sort. If we go with a friend to see or play a tennis match or a baseball game, if we are watching or playing a game of checkers, let us not participate in such a way that others will see that we are not genuinely interested and merely making concessions to the earthly interests of our unenlightened friends, and patiently waiting until we can give our time to the really worth-while things. This is not victory. It may sound harsh to call it asceticism and even priggishness, but that is the way it will seem to others, and they may be right.

God wants to deliver us from the peril of narrowness in the Victorious Life. If we have any musical ability, let us praise God for it and let us prayerfully ask him to enable us to cultivate that ability in order that he may use our music to his glory. And this does not mean that we shall play or sing only hymns, either. There is plenty of other music that is not of the devil and that God would use to keep us close to our fellows in a joyous, healthy way.

Let us be very careful, too, about social courtesies. Christian people whose life-interests are wrapped up in the deeply spiritual are often criticized for carelessness about the little courtesies and attentions in their social relationships with others. This must not be, for it dishonors our Lord. The Christian who is trusting Christ for victory should not be one whit less careful than the man of the world or the society woman about the little niceties of life that betoken good breeding, good manners, true gentleness, and unselfish thoughtfulness for others. “The King’s Business” never requires discourtesy or lack of proper attentiveness to our fellows.

Moreover, let us not be deceived by letting the great needs of the outside world or of the church of Christ make such demands upon our time and energies that we are taken away too much from loved ones in the home circle whom God has entrusted to us as our own supremely precious stewardship. Husbands or wives who have found Christ as their victory are often so eager to share this blessing with others that they unconsciously neglect the members of their family-the children or the married partner-upon whom God would have them lavish their love and testimony, and care beyond all others. Christians rejoicing in Christ as victory sometimes need to “learn first to show piety toward their own family,” remembering that “if any provideth not for his own, and specially for his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5: 4, 8).

Concluding Thoughts

1 heard some one say this morning, “I do not want to go away from here.” Of course you don’t; none of us do. Why don’t we want to leave? Because we don’t want to have the marvelous human fellowship of this conference, the prayer groups, the opportunities for Bible study, come to an end. But they must come to an end, and the only substitute for what we have been getting here is daily Bible study, prayer, and witnessing. We cannot maintain the Victorious Life unless we are as careful about these things as we are about the meals we eat each day and the way we care for our own bodies.

So, at any cost, let God (immediately, if you have not done it before coming here) so organize your life that it will include daily, habitual, stated times-ample time-for feeding on God’s Word for your own personal nourishment, and prayer. Do not let preparing a lesson for Sunday-school take the place of that time. Do not let preparing a sermon for preaching take its place. In my editorial work I must constantly remember that the necessary Bible study I do in my office editing cannot possibly take the place of the quiet time I must have in my own life, just for myself, alone with God, when He meets my own personal, spiritual needs.

Have you ever realized that if you take eight hours a day for sleep, and of the remaining sixteen hours give one hour every day to this personal, devotional Bible-feeding and prayer, you are giving six and a quarter percent,-not of the twenty-four hours, but only of your waking hours-for that which is most important in your life, and ninety-three and three-quarters per cent to those things that are less important? A person who gives an hour a day is considered to be doing very well in this matter of daily Bible feeding and prayer, yet that is only six and a quarter percent of the waking hours. If we give two hours a day to God, we are giving twelve and a half percent to the supreme thing God asks us to do, and eighty-seven and a half percent to other things.

These percentages may challenge us to ask God what percentage of our waking hours He wants us to give Him in daily Bible feeding and prayer. There is no rule for this. I believe the morning time, before breakfast, alone, is the best time. The Bible is filled with the record of saints who gave that time, to say nothing of the Lord Jesus Himself who rose up early in the morning and went out to pray. That surely is the best time if we can manage it. Some cannot. It may be impossible, with home duties, to put the quiet time there, but I am sure it is not impossible for any human being to put it in at some point during the twenty-four hours.

Even our stated time may be interrupted by circumstances beyond our control; and even on that particular day, if we have neglected it, we must not let Satan tell us that we cannot possibly have the victory that day that might have been ours had we enjoyed our quiet time. That is another one of his lies, because our victory, after all, depends on personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we have failed to have our usual Bible reading and prayer, let us commit that weight to the Lord and trust Him for victory for that day. He can give us full victory, but he cannot maintain victory day in and day out, week in and week out, if we habitually neglect what he has told us we must have. Victory is by faith, but faith must be fed. In addition to our daily Bible feeding and prayer there must be continued witnessing. We must continue witnessing to our Lord Jesus Christ if we would have the blessing continued in fullness in our own hearts,-or rather, the Blesser reigning in His fullness. Witnessing is Christian service. Every form of Christian service is witnessing in some way. We are not to force it. I do not believe the Lord wants us to promiscuously button-hole people and ask them if they are saved. We are not to be anxious about it; but we are to hold ourselves in sensitive readiness to hear the Holy Spirit whenever he says, “Now speak to this one.”

The Victorious Life is the only balanced life on earth. It is lived by body, mind, and spirit; it lives victoriously in all three; and it touches our fellow-beings at proper points of contact with their bodies, minds, and spirits.


Thinking More Satan Than Of Christ

We shall need to be ever and always on our guard, sensitive to the approach of the enemy in all the thousand-and-one ways by which he will seek to find a cleft in our armor. But-and here is another peril to be avoided-we are not to think more of Satan than of Christ. We are to recognize the terrible reality of Satan; we are to study the Word of God about our Adversary; we may know all that God wants us to know about Him; and then we are to look away from Satan unto Jesus; for “amid all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us,” and “to God be the thanks who in Christ ever heads our triumphal procession, and by our hands waves in every place that sweet incense, the knowledge of him” (Weymouth, Rom, 8: 37; 2 Cor. 2: 14),



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Charles Trumbull
“The Dangers of the Victorious Life”

Victory In Christ

Chapter Seven
Dangers of the Victorious Life

In the truly Victorious Life, the Christian believer, having put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11), moves forward under the protection of the shield of faith, wherewith he is able to quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One (v. 16). God’s Word is absolute on the completeness of the victory that is the experience of every child of God who trusts that victory wholly to Christ. It is not a once-for-all victory; it is a moment-by-moment victory, had each moment only in the present, but had completely in that present as the believer “looks away” from all, else “unto Jesus,” the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

But what a perilous life it is! Satan hates it; for it is an incarnate advertisement of the sufficiency of his Conqueror, Jesus Christ. Therefore to trust Christ for complete victory is to be moved up into the front line trench of the Christian warfare; and front line trenches are perilous places when the attack is on. There is no life in the world so perilous as the Victorious Life. And there is no life so safe.

Where the onslaughts of the Adversary are the most terrific, the grace of the Captain of our salvation is the most effectively demonstrated.

Some of the perils are so subtle, so unexpected, that they may not be recognized unless we frankly face them in advance as terribly real possibilities-nay, not possibilities, but certainties. We need a supernaturally sensitized consciousness of these perils if we would be safeguarded.

For, as has been iterated and reiterated, by all who know anything of real victory in Christ, the Victorious Life is not the untempted life, but it is the most tempted life that anyone can live. Our Lord was tempted, and the “servant is not greater than his Lord” (John 13:16).

Indeed, it may fairly be said that one never knows the full meaning of temptation until he has dared to trust Christ for full victory. Then come the temptations as never before: desperate, diabolical, hellish, subtle, refined, gross, spiritual, fleshly-the whole gamut of all the deception and the down pull that the world, the flesh, and the Devil can bring to the soul of a child of God. But Christ sees them all, and He is standing on sentry-guard in our lives against them; the Word of God has disclosed them all to us, and this “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) is our sure weapon today as it was our Lord’s in those victorious words, thrice repeated, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).

The secret of complete victory is faith: simply believing that Jesus has done and is doing it all. Victory is entered upon by a single act of faith, as is salvation. Victory is maintained by the attitude of faith.

But suppose the believer, having experienced the miracle of victory over sin through trusting his Lord’s sufficiency, comes, somehow, to doubt that sufficiency? At once his victory is broken; and he fails. This is possible at any moment. And at once, if there should be, failure through unbelief, comes a real peril. The lie of Satan is whispered in the ear, “You have sinned; and that proves that you never had the blessing you thought you had: you never had the Victorious Life.”

This is a lie, of course, as are most of Satan’s attacks. They say at Keswick, “If you should fail, shout Victory!” Not with any idea of denying the reality of the failure, but in recognition of the fact that Jesus has not failed, and that there may be instantaneous and complete restoration through faith in His unimpaired sufficiency.

The peril just here is, either that we shall think we never had the blessing we thought we had; or that we shall imagine it will now take us some time to get back into that blessing.

Satan may tell us that we cannot have complete victory again until we have gone apart alone with the Lord for a day, or an hour, or five minutes. But our Lord wants us to believe Him for instantaneous cleansing and restoration. The way back is as “it is written”: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The confession can be unspoken, in the instant turning of the heart to God and claiming of cleansing. Every moment of delay in believing Him for this is further sin, grieving and wounding His loving heart.

Another peril is twofold: Our supposing, on the one hand, that the longer we continue in victory the safer we are; and, on the other hand, that if by sin we have broken our victory we are thereby weaker, and less certain of continued victory. Both ideas are perilous and fallacious.

This is quickly seen when we recognize that Christ, and Christ alone, is our Victory.

Suppose we should live for ten years in unbroken victory; that ten years record of unbroken victory does not add a particle to the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ; it does not increase the sufficiency of His grace, for that sufficiency is infinite.

The assurance of our continuance in victory is not our good record in victory, but the grace of our Lord. Our Lord and His grace are the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We have all His infinite grace at work for us and in us any moment and every moment: therefore our continued record in victory adds nothing to our assurance of victory, for it adds nothing to Christ, and He alone is our assurance of victory. Of ourselves we are just as weak and helpless, just as sinful, just as impotent for victory after ten years unbroken victory as we were the first moment after being born again into the family of God.

Even the veteran warrior in the Victorious Life is always capable of unbelief and of disastrous defeat in sin. He needs the moment-by-moment looking away unto Jesus as His only Saviour just as much as the young Christian who has just entered upon that life.

And so of failure: my unbelief and resulting sin do not weaken my Lord at all. Having confessed that sin and having been cleansed and restored by Him, He is just as strong, just as omnipotent, as though I had never failed. And my victory now, after failure, depends wholly upon His sufficient and omnipotent grace, which is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

We shall be safeguarded from these two perils, of over confidence through continued victory, and of weakening fear through failure, if we remember God’s Word concerning the absoluteness of the victory that is ours in Christ. That victory is not a relative thing, not a comparative thing, not a matter of degree at all: it is, the freedom with which the Son sets men free (John 8:36). Not that we are given “sinless perfection.”

We always have our sinful nature, which can sin and will sin any moment that we fail to trust Christ for His victory in us. But as we trust Him, His victory in us is absolute.

The very joy of the yielded life, when God’s will is wholly accepted, brings with it another peril. It has been said that, when Satan finds he cannot prevent one from doing the whole will of God, he then tries to drive that one beyond the will of God. And it is a perilous thing to go beyond the will of God, even in matters that of themselves are right.

It often happens, for example, that the Victorious Life Christian is driven beyond the will of God into imaginary duties. Satan comes as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14), suggesting that the believer do this or that thing, good in itself but not the will of God for that one. The believer has found great blessing in listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and in instant obedience to His leadings; and when Satan speaks, giving leadings in direction that of themselves are entirely right, the unsuspecting believer follows those leadings, no blessing results, and then follow anxiety, confusion, perhaps doubt and fog.

God prompts us, for example, to speak to this or that one about Jesus as Saviour: We do so, and we have the joy of leading a soul into salvation.

Now comes Satan with the insistent suggestion that we speak to one and another, under all sorts of circumstances and at all times, about salvation or victory. We follow the impulse, which is not of God, and no blessing follows.

A soul-winning Christian had a “leading” to go to a certain street and number in the city where he lived and to talk with the persons there about Christ as their Saviour. The house was one of which he knew nothing, but he went. He rang the bell, and after some time of waiting he found that it was an unoccupied house. That leading was evidently not from God. The resulting confusion and doubt in that young man’s mind are easy to see.

It is possible to fall into confusion, again, as to confession of sin.

Perhaps we have confessed to a fellow Christian some personal sin or failure of our own, and real blessing has resulted, both to that one and to ourselves. Then the suggestion comes to us that, inasmuch as that confession was so blessed, we must now confess to some fellow Christian every sin that we recognize-perhaps some sins that were long ago put away forgiven and cleansed by our Lord, or every present failure or mistake of any sort.

And the obsession of confession takes hold of us, and into the fog we go. God does not want this. God will guide us as to when He may wish a confession made to another; and He will guide us as to when to let it be a matter wholly between Himself and ourselves. One general principle here is that it is to be kept to God and ourselves unless someone else will be injured by our withholding confession. If a confession to another or to others will accomplish nothing except giving them a knowledge of our sin, it is to be questioned whether God would have such confession made.

Or again, having surrendered the whole life to the mastery of the Lord, having given up the pride of the flesh, all luxuries and self-gratification, there is the peril of asceticism. Perhaps fine clothes, or jewelry, or overindulgence in food were among the things that had to go when we surrendered wholly to the Lord.

As we find our new joy in Him, not in these things, we may be driven beyond the will of God into an asceticism that dishonors Him. More than one wholly surrendered Christian has mistakenly become indifferent and careless about personal attire or appearance, and has actually become repellent to others because of this mistake.

Or, having been delivered from the sin of luxury in jewelry, we may be driven beyond the will of God into supposing that every bit of gold or silver we have should now be given away or sold and the proceeds given directly to the Lord’s service.

Christian women have actually sold their wedding rings under this form of sadly mistaken asceticism. The spirit is commendable, but neither the guidance nor the results are necessarily of God.

We are to maintain a golden mean between the extremes of asceticism and luxury. We are to take care of our personal appearance, our cleanliness, our clothing, so as to be attractive to our fellow men; it is a positive duty to be attractive Christians, both in dress and in appearance, that others may be won to us in order that we may win them to our Lord. We are to do all things to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).

This includes our pleasures as well as all else. We are not to believe the lie of Satan that everything that is pleasurable or attractive is sinful. We are to enjoy our meals, for example, not reduce them to the minimum of mere physical sustenance. And so of other temporal details of our life.

We may get the mistaken idea that when we have a choice between something that is hard and something that is easy, the hard thing is always God’s will. His will may be just the opposite. There is not necessarily any virtue in difficulty, and there is not necessarily any sin in ease. The only question is, What is God’s will for us in each matter that comes before us?

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).

And we are never to abandon our God-given common sense in the Victorious Life.

Here is one way of distinguishing between God’s leadings and Satan’s “angel of light” leadings. To the really surrendered Christian, who is trusting Christ for victory, God’s leadings and promptings never nag, or worry, or harass. Satan’s do just this. If one has a seeming “leading” to do something that in itself is good, yet with the impulse there is a sense of nagging disquiet, almost as though a mosquito or a gnat were buzzing about to try to drive us in a certain direction, that is Satan’s earmark, his calling card; and his false “leading” is to be instantly recognized and rejected. The Holy Spirit’s leadings to the surrendered and trusting Christian come with a sense of peace and quiet, even if they point in a really difficult direction which only the grace of God can enable one to follow.

Do Not Depend on Experiences

THE Victorious Life is a supernatural life: it is a living miracle, a thrilling adventure, for it is God’s work and God’s working. Our early experiences in the life of victory are likely to be so different from anything we have known before, so out of the ordinary in supernatural demonstration of God’s grace and power, that at once we are plunged into a peril.

That peril is that we mistakenly suppose we must continually be having thrilling, unexpected, supernatural evidences of God’s power. And if these supernatural phenomena do not occur, we are tempted to think that something is wrong.

Now God wants us to trust, not in supernatural experiences, but in Himself.

It is for Him to decide when the unusual shall come into our life, and when our life shall be commonplace and humdrum so far as things of sight and sense are concerned. It would seem to be a safe statement that it is God’s purpose that the “supernatural,” so far as circumstances and experiences are concerned, should be the unusual rather than the usual in the life of His wholly trusting children. Of course we remember that victory over sin is itself supernatural, and that God expects us to live in continual victory over sin, which means that our life in that respect is to be continually supernatural, always the “life that is Christ.” This, is apart, from the question of the supernatural experiences or phenomena that are often granted to us in our ministry in His name. And so He would deliver us from the peril of testing Him, or testing our victory, by circumstances or manifestations, and rather He asks us to trust “just Himself.”

It has been well said that, everyone needs two conversions: first, from the natural to the supernatural; and second, from the supernatural to the natural.

Let us be delivered, also, from the peril of unconsciously assuming an infallible knowledge of God’s will. God’s leadings may be so blessed and so unmistakable that, as we testify to others about them, we speak of how “God said this to me,” or “God led me to do that.” And then, if we are not on our guard, we thoughtlessly slip into habitual expressions about God’s telling us what to do, and God’s, leading us.

Some true and yielded Christians almost never speak of any action or decision of theirs without prefacing it with the words that God told them to do this or that. And quite often in the experience of such a one later circumstances show plainly that God did not tell them to do this or that, but that they had misunderstood His leading, as is possible at any time for any believer, even while wholly yielded.

There is an unconscious assumption of infallibility in that expression which can become really unconscious can’t.

Is it not better, instead of saying, “God told me to do this,” to say, “I believe God would have me do this”?

Let us recognize that we may be mistaken. Even if we are quite certain in our own hearts and minds of what God’s leading is, it is not well to claim infallible knowledge, without qualification, in our conversation with others.

The blessings that Christ gives us in the Victorious Life-in the nine-fold “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22, 23), for example-are so wonderful that we are in danger of thinking more about the blessings than of the Blesser.

Joy becomes such a wonderful experience-the supernatural joy which nothing can defeat, which is independent of all circumstances and environment-that we may, without realizing it, come to think more of this “joy of the Lord” than we do of our Lord Himself. He wants us to worship, not the fruit of the Spirit, but the Spirit.

There is a needed reminder in the saying that is attributed to Spurgeon:

“I looked at Jesus, and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove of peace, and she flew away.”

The Christian who is wholly trusting the Lord for victory soon realizes that many Christians about him have not seen the truth of victory, and are not thus trusting Christ. He may be in close contact with Christians who are older, much farther along in many ways, yet not living in the victory-secret that is so precious to him.

And then comes the peril of pride. Almost without realizing it the Christian who knows Christ as victory can let slip some word criticizing a fellow Christian who is not in the secret, or a condescending comment on such a one’s mistake or failure. “Holier than thou” is one of the perils of the Victorious Life.

Of course the instant one speaks thus of another, or thinks in his inmost heart thus of another, his victory is gone; he has sinned. And we must recognize this peril if we would be kept from it.

The Christian who is living in victory is in himself no whit better than the carnal Christian who is plainly sinning. The self-nature of the two is identical: hopelessly sinful. The only good thing about the victorious Christian is Christ; and we deserve no credit for Christ; the glory and honor and victory are all His. True victory, therefore, must keep us humble; and it will.

Yet it is a sad fact that more than one young person, or older person, has gone away from a Victorious Life conference where the Lord was received in His fullness and victory was entered into, and has returned to the home church to speak disparagingly or critically of other Christians, even perhaps of the minister himself, who may not have seen and accepted the truth of victory by faith in Christ. This has brought the very preciousness of the message of victory into disrepute, has wounded the Lord in the house of his friends, and of course has made it well-nigh impossible to pass on the truth of victory to those who have not known it.

The truly victorious Christian speaks of others always in humility, in keen consciousness of his own natural sinfulness and helplessness, and in that perfect love that is kind, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, taketh not account of evil, never faileth (I Corinthians 13:4-8).

Then there is the peril of being unteachable.

Here is one who has entered into victory through faith in Christ. At once there comes from the Holy Spirit a new illumination on God’s Word, a new knowledge of things never before known, a new wisdom, unmistakable and directly from God. There is a flood of light on duties that were heretofore confused.

He is able to counsel others as never before. All this is not imaginary; it is genuine and vital. And he praises God with gratitude unspeakable.

Then perhaps a fellow Christian criticizes him for something he has done or said, and says that it was not as it ought to be. This fellow Christian may not know Christ as victory at all, and the one who is criticized is keenly conscious of the fact that his critic has not the illumination and the victory that are his own. Now comes the peril: that this victorious Christian will say to himself about the other: “He cannot tell me anything about this. He does not know the secret of victory. The Bible has not been opened to him by the Holy Spirit as it has to me. He has not the light that I have.” And so the heart is closed to the criticism, and the man has fallen into the peril of being unteachable. And all the time the criticism that has come to him from perhaps an unenlightened Christian is sound and true, and God sent it to him for his own guidance and blessing.

May God deliver us, in victory, from this subtle danger of unwillingness to learn from those who may indeed not be as far along in the Christian life as we are. Why, a completely victorious Christian can learn from the criticisms of unsaved, unregenerate people! And often he ought to. The Victorious Life is no guarantee of omniscience, of infallibility in knowledge. Humility of mind, eagerness to know any and every criticism that anyone may have concerning us, and then grateful acceptance of whatever truth there may be in that criticism (and there is pretty sure to be some truth in it), is our safeguarding against this peril of unconscious unwillingness to learn.

Beware of Presumption and Complacency

After one has recognized the peril of being driven beyond God’s will, there comes the peril of sagging below God’s will.

We see that victory is all of grace; that no works of our own are needed to accomplish it or can possibly accomplish it. We rejoice that we have learned that we may “let God do it all,” and He abundantly vindicates His pledge that He will as we trust Him.

And now comes the peril of presuming on God’s grace: substituting presumption for faith, license for liberty.

We used to think that the more we studied the Bible, the more victorious we should be. We used to think that the more time we spent in prayer the more victory we could have. We see now that even these good works cannot accomplish our victory, but that simple faith in the sufficiency of God’s grace is the secret.

Very well, then, we are tempted to think, we need not be so careful now to take the same amount of time for our Bible study, or for our prayer life, because “Christ is doing it all.” And down into defeat we go the moment we have been deceived by that lie of Satan.

True, victory is by faith; but faith must be fed; and faith cannot be fed apart from daily nourishment from the Word of God, and daily time alone with God in prayer. The new experience of freedom from the power of sin through the sufficiency of Christ should result in more time with His Word, more time with Him in prayer, not less. We cannot know continuance in victory if we presume on God’s grace and neglect our opportunities of fellowship with Him.

Never, never, never during this life dare any Christian neglect the written Word of God. A young Christian who had seen Christ as Victory and was rejoicing in the new blessings of freedom and power was talking with a veteran Christian minister about it all. And this was the sound word the older man spoke:

“Now keep close to the Word of God,” And he went on to tell the younger man how, time after time in the history of the so-called “higher life” experience among Christians through the Christian centuries, one after another either of individuals or of groups of Christians had gone onto the rocks and down into wreck through supposing that they had, by Christ and the Holy Spirit within them, all that they needed, and could therefore safely pay little attention to the Bible.

We must not sag below God’s will, moreover, in the ordinary duties of life in our relationships with our fellows.

Those who have found the joy and blessing of the deep things of God are often careless in keeping appointments with their fellow men, careless about answering letters, careless about money matters-not involving honesty, but just exactness and thoughtfulness.

The Christian who is trusting Christ for full victory dishonors Christ if he does not establish, and maintain a reputation for being utterly dependable, in his contact with other human beings, in every relationship. Failure to keep an appointment on the minute, to be scrupulously exact in the fulfillment of every small as well as large obligation, cannot be excused on the ground that God’s larger interests overrule the lesser matters.

There are no “lesser matters” with God. The Holy Spirit is a Person of orderliness, and punctuality, and efficiency; if our lives are not conspicuous for this it is because He is not really allowed to control. God keeps sun and moon, earth and stars, moving in dependable and orderly ways; should we not let Him do as much for us who are members of the Body of Christ?

In every blessing there is a corresponding peril. In our knowledge of the marvelous blessing, for example, that our Lord will instantly forgive our sins and cleanse and restore us upon confession to Him and faith in Him, there is the peril that we may take sin too lightly: tolerate a break in our victory as though it were rather unimportant after all.

Complacency in defeat is a peril of the Victorious Life.

We would not say, doubtless, that we are willing to “sin, that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1), nevertheless we may unconsciously fall into that perilous attitude.

More than one Christian who has known Christ as complete Victory will testify that, learning by experience the possibility of instant and complete restoration after failure, he began to tolerate breaks and failures in his life until they became the expected rather than the unexpected, the usual instead of the unusual; yes, even the habitual.

Oh, there is tragedy then, indeed! And God may have to go deep with one who has thus played with God’s grace before He can bring that one back again into habitual victory. Spiritual surgery may be necessary, of a kind that will cause an agony of suffering, before the cancel of “sinning that grace may abound” has been cut out.

But, praise God, the Master Physician is ready and able for this, and after it has been done we shall praise Him that it was done, even though we may have thought He had cast us off while the operating and the hospital treatment were in progress. But why should we make it necessary for Him to do this? We need never lose our horror of sin, if, as Christ, we will see sin as He sees it, and hate it as the loathsome, hellish thing that it, is.

While there will come to the victorious Christian temptations to subtle sin, refined sin, sin on a seemingly very high plane, the mystery of our sinful nature and of the wiles of the Adversary is such that even gross sin is one of the perils of the Victorious Life.

We need not try to explain this; but history, both in New Testament times and ever since, abundantly declares it. There is something about the life of spiritual power and victory that, when broken into in the slightest way by unbelief, seems to expose one most terribly to sins of gross immorality and degradation. Those who have gone highest with the Lord can go lowest. Let us recognize this peril; let us confess this possibility of our utterly sinful nature; and then let us yield ourselves afresh to the mastery of our holy Lord, and trust Him afresh for His sufficiency to safeguard us from this awful denial of His name and betrayal of our stewardship.

The lesson from this particular peril is that, after we have known the best Christ offers us, to accept anything less than that best for a single instant of time is to be in deadly peril. If we should slip in any slightest way, if we should find that sin has entered through unbelief in our Lord’s sufficiency, let us instantly stop anything we are doing and take the time necessary to confess to Him, claim His forgiveness and entire cleansing, and trust Him at once for His complete restoration and victory.

Satan would like us to think that because of what we may be doing just then for the Lord we must leave until later the matter of getting wholly back. If a failure has come toward the close of the day, perhaps after a hard day’s work, when we are about ready to retire, the temptation will come that we are physically or mentally too weary now to think or pray this thing through, and we will get a good night’s sleep and then let the Lord clear it all up in the morning. Deadly perilous is that.

May God keep us from ever daring to go to sleep with unconfessed sin in our hearts, and in conscious loss of the victory that is ours in Christ.

More than one Christian who has thus presumed on the grace of God has failed to let the Lord clear up everything in the morning, and has gone on into another day of defeat. “Now is the acceptable time” (II Corinthians 6:2), not only for salvation from the penalty of sin, but for salvation from its power, and restoration into that salvation if we have faithlessly denied our Lord. “Make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3:19) is the only safe prayer and plane for the Christian who has ever known victory.

Some Final Perils of the Victorious Life

It is perilous to look back at our best blessings of victory in Christ as though those best blessings were necessarily in the past. This is an almost inevitable temptation, because the new blessings of victory when one first trusts Christ for it are so new, so unexpected, so overwhelming and more than satisfying.

And we may look longingly back at those first hours or days or months, and unconsciously suppose that we can never again have just the rich blessing we had then. This is to deny the Sufficiency of God’s grace, it is to deny that our Lord is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

And it is equally perilous to look to the future as the time when God’s best blessings of victory for us are to be realized. God wants us to have His best now. To put that best either into the past or into the future is a peril that Satan will do his best to bring us into and keep us in. But the sufficiency of our Lord’s grace, while it was true in the past and will be true in the future, is described by the Holy Spirit in the infallible Word of God as being in the present “My grace is sufficient for thee,” is His word (II Corinthians 12:9). And the very name of our Jehovah-Jesus is the “I am.”

May just a word be spoken here as to another peril, that we may have a sensible recognition of this and be safe-guarded accordingly? It is as to the relationship of men and women in the spiritual life. In general, it is evident from the Word of God as to the marriage relation, and from experience and observation and common sense, that the deeper spiritual relationships between fellow Christians should observe the same lines that the ordinary conventionalities of life insist upon: that is, that the deeper spiritual relationships should be between men and men, and between women and women, rather than between two persons of opposite sex: unless indeed God is bringing together two such persons that their lives may be united in marriage. Not that there should be any unnaturalness in this, or any unhealthy self-consciousness when men and women, older or younger, properly talk together or pray together about their Lord and their possessions in their Lord. But Satan as an angel of light may lead on through their spiritual fellowship two such persons into a spiritual intimacy and a spiritual dependence upon each other which is not of God, and which can lead to unhappiness in more than one life, or real disaster.

Finally, let us recognize the peril of being unhuman-not inhuman, but unhuman-because of the depth and intensity of our spiritual life. Not to be “human” is not of the Lord. We are living not only a spiritual life, but a bodily life as well; and we are living among those who also are in human bodies, in a world of rightful temporal interests as well as eternal interests. Let us not make the mistake of so living that persons shall say of us, as they have of some, that we have a deep interest in others’ souls, but none at all in their bodies. Let us be human. Let us be kind. Let us deliberately make it our business to cultivate certain secular, human interests, that we may have points of contact with the many round about us who know nothing of the spiritual interests that are so precious to us.

Some of the greatest spiritual leaders, some of the most blessedly used ambassadors of Christ, have had hobbies, such as nature, study, music, or something else of that sort, which God has blessed to them and to others. Such a hobby keeps one in touch with the present-day wonderful world which God made. It gives one “bait” which he can use to catch the interest of another, and through that “bait” bring that other to Christ and to victory.

We are not to be afraid of healthy amusements of the right sort. If we go with a friend to see or play a tennis match or a baseball game, if we are watching or playing a game of checkers, let us not take it in such a way that everyone shall see that it has no real interest to us, and we are just making a concession to the earthly interests of our unenlightened friends, and patiently waiting until we can give our time to the really worth-while things. This is not victory. It may sound harsh to call it asceticism and even priggishness; but that is the way it will seem to others, perhaps rightly so.

God wants to deliver us all the time from the peril of narrowness in the Victorious Life. If we have any musical ability, let us praise God for it and let us ask Him prayerfully to enable us to cultivate that ability that He may use our music to His glory. And this does not mean that we shall play or sing only hymns, either. There is plenty of other music that is not of the Devil, and that God would use to keep us close to our fellows in a joyous, healthy way.

Let us be very careful, too, about social courtesies. Christian people whose life-interests are wrapped up in the deeply spiritual are often criticized for carelessness about the little courtesies and attentions of their social relationships with others. This must not be; it dishonors our Lord. The Christian who is trusting Christ for victory should not be one whit less careful than the man of the world or the society woman about those little niceties of life that betoken good breeding, good manners, true gentleness, and unselfish thoughtfulness for others. “The King’s business” never requires discourtesy or lack of proper attentiveness to our fellows.

Moreover, let us not be deceived by letting the great needs of the outside world or of the church of Christ make such demands upon our time and energies that we are taken too much away from the loved ones in the home circle whom God has entrusted to us as our own supremely precious stewardship.

Husbands or wives who have found Christ as their victory are often so eager to share this blessing with the greatest possible number that they unconsciously neglect the home-the children or the married partner-upon whom God would have them lavish their love and testimony and care beyond all others.

Christians rejoicing in Christ as Victory sometimes need to “learn first to shew piety at home,” remembering that “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. “ (I Timothy 5:4, 8).

The Victorious Life is the only all round life on earth. It is lived by body, mind, and spirit: in all three victoriously: and it touches our fellow beings at proper points of contact with their bodies, minds, and spirits.

We shall need to be ever and always on our guard, sensitively awake to the approach of the enemy in all the thousand-and-one ways by which he will seek to find a cleft in our armor. But-and here is another peril to be avoided-we are not to think more of Satan than of Christ. We are to recognize the terrible reality of Satan; we are to study the Word of God about our Adversary, that we may know all that God wants us to know about him; and then we are to look away from Satan unto Jesus; for amid all these things we “are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” and “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (Romans 8:37; II Corinthians 2:14).


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