The Ugly Truth about Spiritual Victory

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Some years ago, I attended a church retreat in which one of the sessions was a Q&A with the keynote speaker with the questions submitted anonymously.

If you’ve ever answered an anonymous Q&A, you know what a challenge the questions can be. The upside is that people are generally more transparent in what questions they are willing to ask. The downside is that it’s difficult to know the context or slant of the questions.

One of the questions in that particular retreat had to do with fighting a besetting sin. I can’t remember the specifics of the question (other than the obvious note of discouragement in it), and I can’t remember the full answer from the speaker. But I do remember the final two sentences of his answer:

“Keep fighting. God is glorified in the struggle.”

Not what I expected.

Not something I had ever one time considered.

I’m convinced that most of us who struggle (and we all do) have a romanticized idea of spiritual victory.

We think it is something close to magic. Or at least out of our control. Something that mysteriously comes.

That’s simply not true.

Here is the truth:

Spiritual victory comes through spiritual battle.

And battles aren’t pretty. They’re bloody. Teary. Painful.

We celebrate victories, but we don’t always acknowledge what it takes to reach them.

Scripture tells us plainly what it takes—a fight.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith…—1 Timothy 6:11–12

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:—2 Timothy 4:7

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.—2 Timothy 2:3–4

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.—Ephesians 6:10–11

Spiritual victory comes through spiritual battle.

And yes, God is glorified in the struggle.

Why?

First, because He already determined the final outcome of the war when He spoiled Satan on the cross (Colossians 2:15), and he made us more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 8:35–39

Second, because continuing in the fight honors God more than giving in.

Giving in may allow for escape from the pain of battle. But it doesn’t allow for victory.

So, to those in the fight: remember, blood isn’t a sign of defeat; it is simply a sign of battle.

Claim the victory that is yours in Christ. And press on.

Spiritual victory comes through spiritual battle.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.—Ephesians 6:13

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