Walking on the Winning Side

This is the day that I like to refer to as “Resurrection Sunday Celebration.”  It was on the first day of the week, very early in the morning that women took spices to the tomb where Jesus’ Body was laid.  It was on that morning they discovered that the tomb was empty, it was on that day two men dressed in clothes that gleamed like lighting stood beside them and asked, Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; He has risen!”  (Luke 24:1-6) It was on that same day two of the followers of Jesus were on their way back to Emmaus, a town about seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they walked they talked about everything that had happened.  As they walked and talked, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them, however, they were kept from recognizing Him.  Jesus wanted to know what they were talking about so they took time to tell Him everything.  They told about how the chief priest and the rulers handed Christ over to be sentenced to death by crucifixion.  They told Jesus that it was now the third day since all this took place and they said, “In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning, but did not find His body.  They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said, ‘He was alive!’  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said…”  (Luke 24:13-24) After listening, Jesus Christ sets the example for us all.  He exercises His Holy Spirit anointing of prophet and responds to their statements.  In His introduction to their statements He does not present a joke or emotional story.  He says, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26) After showing true love by pointing out a major spiritual heart problem, Jesus goes on with the charge to the soldier of Christ, “Preach the Word.” (2 Timothy 4:2)  Luke 24:27 says, And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

After reaching the village Jesus took bread with them and gave thanks.  As the two were taking the bread their eyes were open and they recognized Him, then He disappeared from their sight.  I love their response, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) Naturally, these two disciples were very excited, they made their way back to Jerusalem, found the eleven and those with them.  Upon their arrival they were told the Lord had appeared to Simon.  The two told their story about seeing Jesus.  The Bible says, While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (Luke 24:36) During this meeting some powerful truths were presented.  These truths are, Jesus proving He was physically alive, the giving of the Great Commission and Jesus giving the promise of the Holy Spirit for empowerment of the New Testament Church.

The truth the Holy Spirit wants you to grasp today from this meeting that was held on Resurrection Sunday lays the foundation for Christians to enjoy the abundant life in Christ and live a victorious life over the flesh, the world and the lies of the devil.  During that meeting the Bible says,[Jesus] opened their mind so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) I would propose to you that the foundation to living a victorious life in Christ is to have the risen Savior open your mind so you can understand the Holy Scriptures.  The beloved John tells us Jesus breathed on the disciples in that meeting and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)  Just what does the Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead and now lives in you (Romans 8:10) have to enable you to live a victorious life in this sin-stricken world? The Christ who never sinned and got victory over sin and death sets the example for beating temptation.  Satan lies to people, and he has the amazing ability to use the sinful nature and the lures of the world to cause people to walk outside of God’s will.

Listen closely as I read Jesus’ example in Matthew 4:1-11, Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’  Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’  Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ He said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to Him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.” (Matthew 4:1-11) The truths found in our key text today lay the foundation for enabling Christians to live victoriously over the flesh, the lures of this world and the lies of the devil.

Led of the Holy Spirit of God

One key truth to catch today is being led of the Holy Spirit of God. Our key text says, Then Jesus was led by the Spirit…” (Luke 4:1)  Romans 8:14 says, “…those who are led by the [Holy] Spirit of God are sons of God.” Our key text is powerful teaching on how Jesus was able to stay sinless before God our Father and Romans 8:14 is found in the context of winning over the sinful nature. (Romans 8:1-17) There are two key words in Romans that are worth grasping the meanings of so we can lay down a firm foundation against all that Satan and this sin cursed world can throw against us.The first word is “sons” (huios) referring to Christians who have the character of the Lord.  It is not only belonging to the family of God but living like or acting like being part of His family.  This word describes those who are governed by the Holy Spirit of God.  Spiritually this word is describing Christians who belong to God and are in close relationship with the Lord.  “Sons” here has the application of meaning mature enough in the Lord to take on adult family privileges and responsibilities. “Sons” in Romans 8:14 is that unique character describing Christians who are submitted to the guiding of the Holy Spirit and enabled to walk in obedience as the Lord leads them into all truth and in their duties to Christ Jesus.  This Spirit of adoption gives the children of God a great privilege.  Christians are led by the Holy Spirit as scholars are led in learning by a tutor, as travelers are led on a journey by their guide and as soldiers are led in their engagements by their commanding officer. Holy Spirit illumination of the Greek Word for “led” (ago) enables Christians to live victoriously because they are being carried along by the power of the Holy Spirit in life’s trials and empowered to overcome temptations.  The Holy Spirit literally enables Christians to keep their faith and grasp His strength in all trials of life.  This intimate relationship with the Lord makes accessible all the power needed for beating temptations of all kinds.

1 John 5:3-5 says,This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Nearly twenty years ago, my mother-in-law, Doris Stump was selling her house out on the farm.  The people came by and looked.  Being the honest woman she is she told them everything she could remember.  The buyers looked the house over and decided to buy.  After they left she remembered that there might be some termite damage in a portion of the home.  She thought, “well I should call them. Then that worldly thinking came in, “They looked things over real good and it wasn’t on purpose that I forgot.” The Holy Spirit started working on her heart, and she trusted the Lord to give her strength to love truth.  She knew if the people backed out, the Lord was able to raise up a buyer in His timing.  She called and apologized and told them of the possible termite problems.  They thanked her and I can’t remember how it all worked out, but the house was sold.  I do remember Doris driving up to go to church with us and take us out to eat.  After dinner she told of this incident.  Doris just glowed with so much Holy Spirit joy, saying so excitedly, “That means, I am an over comer, I beat the flesh and the world’s view and was able to cling to truth.” Every child of God has the opportunity to enjoy the Lord’s pleasure in everyday life situations if they would just desire being led of the Holy Spirit in every situation of life. Holy Spirit illumination of the Greek Word for “led” (ago) enables Christians to live victoriously because He guides the children of God.  John 16:13 says, But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”

Bible reading is not enough.  The Holy Spirit must become our “Counselor.”  The individual indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the specific privilege of Christians for receiving revelation and illumination so they can understand and fulfill the will of God for them.  Just as the Holy Spirit guided the apostles in their proclaiming and writing of the Word of God Christians can grasp God’s truths for living.  The Word of God is quite clear on how to live for the Lord, love our wives, raise our children, treat our fellow man and conduct our affairs down here. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ through the written Word, presents Him as the Head of the Body of Christ, tells about His ministry unto God and tells of things to come. Christians realize that revelation does not come from a creed or book, but a living person who is the exact representative of God the Father and Christ.  He speaks only what He hears from God and He works only to glorify Christ to a lost world and enable Christians to be Christ-like.

Proverbs 16:9 says, In his heart a man plans a course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  The Lord sovereignty determines the outworking of our plans.  The whole counsel of God’s Word teaches, “It is plans of the heart which meet the Lord’s approval that will succeed.  The Greek word for “determines” (kun) is best translated as direct’ his steps.”  Christians who enjoy this have the heart of the psalmist who wrote, “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.” (Psalm 119:133)  Christians who know and enjoy the Holy Spirit’s leading pray as Jeremiah, I know, O Lord, that man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.  Correct me, Lord, but only with justice…” (Jeremiah 10:23-24) The Apostle Paul trusted Lord Jesus and was surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s leading thus, he enjoyed the guiding hand of the Lord. Reading the Biblical account of the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul we see that the Lord’s work is a combination of planning and sensitivity to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 16:6-10 we read the “Holy Spirit” prevented Paul and his companions from preaching the Word of God in province of Asia.  When they tried to enter Bithynia, the Spirit of Christ would not allow them. As Paul and his companions submitted to the will of the Lord, during one night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him to come and preach the Gospel to them, thus they went, concluding that God has called them to preach there.

In October of 2003 we partnered in prayer with Times Square Church in New York City.  They felt led of the Lord to take the gospel to what many refer to as “No Man’s Land” in Kingston, Jamaica.  We spent weeks praying with them and the Lord led them in completing every detail as 200 members of Times Square Church held a pastors’ conference, an evangelistic crusade, and put up tents so Christian doctors and dentists could minister to the sick and dying.  The Lord did a great work there.  Pastors and teachers of the Word of God were encouraged and empowered and found real direction for their work with the Lord.  The sick and needy were ministered to and many people from Jamaica received Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. One girl who ministers to orphans in New York prayed this prayer as she prepared to be a part of the ministry outreach, “God give me what I need and not what I want.”  The Lord led her not to an orphanage, but to an abused girls’ home.  The young lady was very nervous, but prayed for Holy Spirit strength minister to the abused girls.  From her testimony, several girls put their faith in Christ to get them through their pain and hurt. (Page 10 in “Jamaica Field Report”) The Holy Spirit will lead and use anyone who has a heart of surrender to God’s will and lets Him open and shut doors. Finally, Holy Spirit illumination of the Greek Word for “led” (ago) enables Christians to live victoriously because Jesus Christ, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, is able to bring to completion the work He begins in them.

Jude 24 says, “To Him who is able to keep your from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” This is one of the greatest doxologies in the Word of God.  It shares the truth of God’s power to present before Himself a people of God who with great joy have found Him faithful to enable them to live a victorious life.  In these days of living among hypocrites and the unfaithful, the Holy Spirit shares what place Christ can have in our lives.  Holy Spirit illuminated Christians literally have a Savior who creates them into Christ-likeness. I know literally many Christians who stand on the foundation of this passage of Scripture.  They know the Christ who has set them free. (John 8:36)  Many born again Christians know the Christ of this passage of Scriptures.  Those who have committed adultery, commit adultery no more; those who stole, steal no more; habitual liars lie no more; those once lured away by the world now hunger for the things of God, those who fell prey to the lies of the devil, discern his lies and flee from them.  Christians who stand on a “Victorious Foundation” take to heart what Jesus told the adulterous woman, “…go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)  These Christians know the truth to Psalm 85:8, “I will listen to what God the Lord will say; He promises peace to His people, His saints – but let them not return to folly.” Please note a crucial point, Christians who establish a “Victorious Foundation” ask themselves these questions, “Do I let the Holy Spirit of Christ carry me through the trials and temptations of life?  Do I let the Holy Spirit lead me in righteous paths of life? Am I allowing the Spirit of Christ to do His work within my heart that I might increasingly be made Christ-like?”

Battle all temptation with the sword of the Spirit

Grasping the truth of a Spirit led life as Christ did when He walked this sin trodden earth enables Christians to battle all temptation with the sword of the Spirit which is the written Word of God.   In His battle against temptation with our most dangerous enemy, the devil, Jesus said “It is written” (Matthew 4:4,7,10) “It is written” (gegraptai) is one word in the Greek and can be translated, “It has been written and still stands written” (Word Meanings in the New Testament) giving us this application, “Thus was written then is still binding now.”   This word denotes an indisputable and legal authority when any passage of Scripture is quoted. Jesus the eternal Word in the flesh could have just thought in His mind the truths of God’s Word but chose the authority of God’s Word being spoken forth.  By doing this Jesus sets the example on how to publicly honor the Word of God and sets forth the method of defeating temptation to sin and resisting Satan.  Jesus uses the only offensive weapon in all the Christian armor found in Ephesians 6:17. It should be noted that these temptations coming from Satan were experienced after Jesus was obedient in fulfilling the righteousness His Father had set before Him. (Matthew 3:15)  The Holy Spirit had ascended up Christ in the form of a dove and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17)

It must be understood that great favors from God and special tokens of the anointing of the Holy Spirit will not secure Christians from being attacked by the devil.  When new Christians make that public profession of faith in Christ they are often attacked by Satan in some way.  When Holy Spirit anointing for service and special revelations from God’s Word come to the children of God they had best live humbly, thus putting the sword of the Spirit within the spiritual hearts. The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him so he would not become conceited by his great revelations. (2 Corinthians 12:7)  Although it is a fact that the obedient children of God are in the Lord’s hands at all times, it does not change the fact that their enemy, the devil prowls around seeing whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

A “Victorious Foundation” is established by knowing Christ as Savior and Lord, by being led of the Holy Spirit and feeding upon the written Word of God.  When Christ was starving, Satan tempted Jesus to prove His deity by using His power for personal purposes.  Our Lord simply chose God’s best.  The Lord knows when the flesh becomes hungry it craves for satisfaction, mankind is tempted to take his own course.  Jesus sets in motion what is needed so mankind will hunger first for the righteousness of God so he may enjoy God’s provision.  Jesus says, “…Man… [lives] on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Christians who stand victorious say with the prophet Jeremiah, “When your words came to me, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight…” (Jeremiah 15:16)  In His teachings on not to worry about your life, what you should eat or drink, your body and clothes Jesus said, “…s eek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

When Bonnie and I first came to Christ we were told by the Lord perform a certain act of obedience.  That obedience left us with literally no money to buy food for one of our boys.  There was nothing we could feed him.  There was food in the house that three of us could eat, but nothing for the youngest.  That same night after our obedience was tested, I was asked to share about my conversion to Christ.  After that testimony, a man followed us out to our car and said, “We make it a custom to give a love offering to our speakers.”  It was just enough money to buy some milk for our baby and gas so I could get to my next place to work.  A hunger for the Lord’s kingdom will always bring satisfaction of physical needs.

The second temptation from Satan was at the temple where he tempted Jesus to prove His deity by the spectacular.  Satan wanted Jesus to throw Himself off the highest point of the temple so he could prove that he was the son of God. (Matthew 4:5-6)  It would have been sin for the Lord to test His Father and even worse, Satan used the Word of God to justify what he wanted the Lord to do. Even today Christians and certain church movements spend much time in creating a church atmosphere.  They quote Scripture to get the Lord to prove Himself through the spectacular, professing certain promises in Scripture yet not getting the whole counsel of God’s Word.  Christians who are victorious over false teaching do so by painstaking hours of prayerful study and meditation on God’s Word just as Jesus did.

The third temptation was for the Lord to prove His deity through compromising and giving worship to someone other than God the Father.  God had set the only way for Jesus to secure the kingdoms of the world and His Word says worship is to be given to Him only.  Jesus defeats this temptation by obeying Deuteronomy 6:13, “Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only.” It was lust of the eyes and the pride of life by which sin first entered this world we live in today.  Satan often uses the lures of this world and speaks to the flesh of man saying, “You can have it all by doing your own thing and it will not affect your eternal relationship with God.”  Christians maintain their “Victorious Foundation” by following the example of Christ saying, “I will choose this day to fear the Lord and worship Him only.”

Today Christians celebrate “Resurrection Sunday” and enjoy His victory over sin and death by, asking the Lord to enable them to be joyfully led by the Holy Spirit.  Their “Victorious Foundation” is laid by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  It is kept strong by feeding upon the written Word of God, thus making them hungry for the righteousness of Christ.  They win their battles against Satan who attacks the flesh and uses the world’s lures and clever lies by knowing the Word of God so well they say with confidence, “Away from me Satan, it is written.” Christians who have a “Victorious Foundation” to stand on are redeemed by the blood of the lamb of God, live by the leading of the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and have had Jesus open their minds so they can understand the Holy Scriptures.