Thursday, July 18, 2019

Perseverance, Part 3.

In the previous posts on perseverance, we learned that God guarantees our completion in Christ (Philippians 1:6), and that He, Himself, is the source of our eternal life (John 10:27-30). Now, we turn to Paul, in Romans, to see that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:35-39

In Romans 8, Paul names about 17 potential threats that might separate us from the love of Christ. Buried in the middle of the list -in verse 37- is a wonderful, beautiful idea. It isn’t easily translated into English, which is why the ESV, KJV and NIV read “we are more than conquerors”, the HCSB reads “we are more than victorious,” while the NASB reads: “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer.”

The Greek word here is ὑπερνικάω (hupernikao). In Greek, ὑπερ (hyper) can be used as part of a compound word, giving the meaning over, above, or beyond.
You are likely already familiar with the next part of the compound word, νικάω (nikao). It’s the verb form of the word Nike, the Greek goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nikao means "to conquer" or "to subdue" - to be victorious.

When it comes to this list of insurmountable obstacles that threaten to separate us from the love of Christ, we aren't just victorious, we are over-victorious! That isn’t because of our strength- Paul says we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Our guarantee of victory is "Him who loved us." Christ is our overwhelming victory over anything that might attempt to separate us from Him.

What does this mean for us? To borrow a phrase, "the struggle is real!" The Christian life is filled with battles: hardships of all kinds on the outside, and unending battles with sin in our own hearts. The assurance we have from the Scripture is that the war is already won, even if we can't resolve how the battles we're fighting fit into that war. 

Perseverance, then, is ultimately an exercise in faith. It is continuing in the difficult battles, no matter how difficult, and no matter the cost. That is possible because our hope is secure in Christ's victory. Persevering doesn't mean we never fail! It means we never stop fighting our failure. To give up is to admit a defeat that could never be, to concede victory to an enemy who has already lost. Christ is worthy of so much more!

In conclusion, I want to address three possible scenarios that a lot of people find themselves in. I hope you'll find these applications of perseverance useful and encouraging:

1. You are a believer in Christ, struggling with sin, and just about to give up. You need to hear this: If you are in Christ, God has made you more than victorious. Don’t listen to the enemy, who will tell you it doesn’t matter if you obey or resist temptation or give up, because you’ll be forgiven anyway. We’re warned about that kind of thinking in the Scripture (Romans 6:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:20; Hebrews 10:26). So don’t give up!  If you fail, don’t excuse the failure- hate it! Abominate it! Run to God and confess it, and take steps to have victory the next time. Then "rinse and repeat," no matter how long it takes. Victory, when it comes, will be worth it! It will be for your assurance, and His glory.

2. You have made commitments to Christ, but you’re struggling. You aren’t sure if you are truly converted or not. Perhaps you were certain at one time. Now, in defeat, you can no longer tell the difference between "saved and struggling," and "lost without hope." You need to hear this: there is hope for you! The first step is confession: to admit where you are, and to get help. Keeping your struggle a secret is not going to help! On your own, the enemy is going to beat you like a rag-doll. A healthy local church can offer help, accountability, and wise counsel. Trust the Lord to do a powerful work in your life, and let other, spiritually mature believers walk with you in the struggle.

3. Finally, you may have no idea what I'm talking about. If you have never responded to the gospel by placing your trust in Christ and repenting of your sin, you need to hear this: Today is the day of salvation. You can experience the hope, joy, and promises of assurance that I've been writing about... But you must obey. You must come to Christ on His terms, the terms of the Gospel. Trust in Christ today and repent of your sin - it will be the beginning of a whole new life for you. And I'd love to tell you all about it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment