Advance to Victory by Deon Crafford
Romans 12:9-21 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In the English Standard Version Bible, the scriptures quoted here appears under the heading “The marks of a true Christian”. It is improbable that Paul himself put these headings in his letters, so it may have been added afterwards in the translation of the Word from the original Greek. Be that as it may, I believe what one reads here can quite easily also go under the heading “The markers of Victory”, because if we can achieve the emotions, behaviours and spiritual dispositions set out here, there is no chance that we are going to end up on the side of the defeated. That we are engaged in conflict or a battle is obvious. We’re living in a world where most of what we see going on around us is about increasing the good for oneself at the expense of others. It is a simple way to put it, but it would be hard to disprove. Yes, there are indeed those that will self-sacrificially serve in order to bring compassion, care, safety, education, cure and even faith to others, but even here you’d constantly be confronted with self-promotion and self-prioritisation as collateral elements. We are after all human and we’re vulnerable to the ways of the world, but once we recognise that our constant pandering to these ways is leading us astray from God and towards spiritual defeat, we also possess the capability to turn the tide. How would you know if you’re advancing to victory – refer to the above.
In any battle there are clear signals that someone or a group of people are either headed for defeat or victory. Those that have studied the ancient strategies of warfare – and there are a number of books published on the subject – have pointed out the markers that would set one up for victory. These are for the reader to investigate, but for now I am going to mention a few things which I have inferred to be, for us as Christians, tell-tale signs that we’re on a path to victory. They relate to the general dynamics of warfare but hopefully they make sense to each one of us who find ourselves in a daily face-off with the dominant and forceful way in which the world imposes itself on us. Firstly victory is indicated when the clarity of my purpose, my being here on this earth is crystal clear, because that drives me to advance. If serving God and enhancing my relationship with Him is what drives me, there is no chance of defeat. Second is the potency of my weaponry – my faith and trust in God. There is nothing that is more superior than these. Enemies depart when confronted with unwavering faith. Third is my morale and mental predisposition. If I walk tall in the confidence of a victor knowing like King Jehoshaphat, that God has tasked me to position myself so I can witness His destruction of the enemies, then my will to advance, engage and overcome, drives fear into my enemies. Fourthly I need doctrinal discipline, which means that I shall follow the standard guide to conduct with the utmost consistency. If I blow hot and cold in my exercise of faith and obedience, the enemy has a weak point to get through. Doctrinal discipline means that I believe in and follow the Word of God. This is a real challenge to us all, because it sometimes may come across as ill-fitting of current circumstance, but then too it is important that we take the Bible as a whole and we extract from it the core message of the Gospel.
But having said all of this, what ultimately is the main indicator that victory is at hand? It is when control of the theatre or operations or the battlefield shifts to be decidedly in favour of one side. It is as this point that whoever realises that control has been wrested from them, start to lose the will to fight and the option of retreat looms large. We need to get this, because when Jesus Christ rose from the grave, complete control was given to those who believe and follow after Him. We were given a considerable even insurmountable advantage against the enemy of the flesh or the world. If there is any chance that today we feel under siege and on the road to defeat, it can only be because we willfully gave up our position of superiority in battle. Fortunately I can regain this control by being reinforced, even renewed by the Holy Spirit pouring into me. Open up to the Spirit, take control again and advance to victory!
Love to all