YOU" - THE ASSURANCE OF VICTORY
There is no more necessary and
no more comforting truth taught in Scripture than that our Lord Jesus
Christ reigns in the heart of every believer. The frequency with which
this sublime fact is stated in the New Testament should surely impress
us with its great importance. The apostle Paul, whose extensive
knowledge of the Old Testament and whose special tuition under the
divine Teacher (see Gal. 1:12; Ephes. 3:3, etc.) gave him a crystal -
clear interpretation of the prophecies concerning the Lord reigning in
the midst of His people "Israel," triumphantly taught that the
Lord Jesus reigns in the heart of each believer, as well as in the body
of the church. He stated that he was especially endowed with wisdom
"fully to preach the Word of God; even the mystery which hath been
hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to
His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ I in you, the
hope of glory" (Col. 1:25-27, margin).
The prophecies of the Old
Testament declare that God - "the Holy One of Israel" - reigns
"in Zion," and that by His Presence and power the
enemies of Israel will be defeated and Israel triumph gloriously over
them. See Ps. 2:1-9; Joel 2:1, 15,32; 3:16, 17,21; Obad. 17; Micah
4:2,7; Ezek. 39:7, etc. Isaiah declared: "When the enemy shall come
in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall put him to flight. And the
Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from
transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord" (Isa. 59:19, 20). Notice
Paul's inspired application of this verse in connection with the
"Gentiles" - "aliens from the commonwealth of
Israel" (Ephes:2:12) - who, by their acceptance of Christ as Lord,
then become members of "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16), being
"no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the
saints, and of the household of God" (Ephes:2:19). Paul taught that
the true Israel of God will be made up of sin-freed Jews and Gentiles:
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There
shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away
ungodliness from Jacob: For this is My covenant unto them, when I
shall take away their sin" (Rom. 11:26, 27). Under the
provisions of the New Covenant, God has promised to "subdue our
iniquities" (Micah 7 19), to "take away our bent to
sinning." Because God will not force the will, we must cooperate
with Him by yielding our hearts to Him in a daily surrender. Thus, day
by day, the Lord writes His Holy Law upon our hearts, as He has so
graciously promised to do. (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-12.) We learn to say
with the Psalmist: "O how love I thy Law! it is my meditation all
the day" (Ps. 119:97). "Give us this day our daily bread"
(Matt 6:11). "And He [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come
after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and
follow Me" (Luke 9:23). "I die daily" (1 Cor.
15:31). "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the
Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our
body... yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2
Cor. 4:10, 16).
The greatest problem in the
world is, and has been since the inception of sin, that of personal,
daily victory over sin. A hymn-writer has expressed man's great need:
0 Lord, have perfect rest,
For none are wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would serve Thee best,
Are conscious most of wrong within."
Christianity is more than the
good news that God forgives sin; it also proclaims that God promises
power, daily, to over- come sin. Another hymn-writer has expressed the
desire of the sincere heart for this "double" or "perfect
cure": "Be of sin the perfect cure, Save me from its guilt and
Sin can be overcome only by
Christ dwelling in the heart. This is the grand theme upon which the
Apostle Paul frequently dwells. In his "much more" chapter
(Romans 5) he declares with glowing eloquence: "Much more,
then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath
through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by
the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by
His life... much more they which receive abundance of grace and
the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus
Christ . . . But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as
sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through
righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.
5:9-21). Sin brought man to a state of bondage from which he can never
extricate himself. Being born with a sinful nature it is impossible for
man to cease from sinning. (Jer. 13:23; 17:9, etc.) But a life free from
sin is assured all those who permit Jesus to reign upon the throne of
the heart. Sin, as a powerful tyrant, reigns upon the heart and will
drag man down to eternal destruction, but Jesus will save from sin all
those who put their trust in Him. Sin is powerful, but "much
more" strength is given the believer to reign in life by
one, Jesus Christ." "Much more, being reconciled, we
shall be saved by His life" lived out in the heart. With Christ
living and reigning upon the heart, victory over sin is assured. In
chapter six of Romans, Paul continues to emphasize this essential
teaching of freedom from sin through the indwelling Christ. Instead of
sin reigning in the heart (Rom. 6:12), the believer has Christ reigning
in the heart and giving him freedom from the power of sin (see vs. 11,
12- 22). After describing the battle against evil and the sincere soul's
quest for holiness (Rom. 7), Paul then presents the secret of
sanctification - the indwelling Spirit of Christ. He says:
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath
made me free from the law of sin and death . . . if so be that the Spirit
of God dwell in you . . . And if Christ be in you . . . the
Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit
of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal
bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:2-11).
Victory over sin is assured through the indwelling, living, pulsating
power of the Spirit of Christ, Who enlivens the mortal body and gives
power to resist evil. Having shown that believing Jews and Gentiles
alike partake of these privileges, Paul then applies, in connection
with a Christian's victory over sin, Isaiah's prophecy of the coming
of the Redeemer to Zion, the turning "from transgression in
Jacob," and the putting of the enemy to flight.
Old Testament prophecies
concerning the Lord reigning in Zion, and the victory of His people, are
not to be understood as being separate from the story of salvation from
sin, for salvation from sin is the moral purpose for which they were
written. This interpretation of Old Testament prophecies was no doubt
under- stood by some devout Israelites in ancient times, but from the
day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit made this abundantly clear. Paul, in
particular, was given special revelations to make these things clear to
the Gentiles and to the "saints: to whom God would make known what
is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;
which is Christ in you. the hope of glory" (Col. 1:25-27).
In his "Greek Dictionary
of the New Testament," Dr. Strong says concerning "Sion":
"Figuratively, the Church (militant or triumphant)."
Significant derivatives of the Hebrew for "Zion" are given as:
"to glitter from afar, i.e., to be eminent; also to be permanent...
strength, victory." Each believer in Christ may know from personal
experience the present glorious fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies
concerning the Lord reigning "in Zion," for from the
Lord Jesus reigning upon the heart will come "strength" to
live a life of "victory."
Victory over sin through the
power of an indwelling Christ is "the hope of glory."
"The Spirit of truth... He dwelleth with you, and
shall be in you... and I in you... and My Father
will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode
with him" (John 14:17-23). "What? know ye not that your
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?"
(1 Cor. 6:19). "God is in you" (1 Cor. 14:25). "Jesus
Christ is in you" (2 Cor. 13:5). "Ye are of God . .
. and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you,
than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). "Strengthened with
might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in
your hearts by faith" (Ephes. 3:16, 17). "I am crucified
with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the
Son of God" (Gal. 2:20).
In the words of the hymn
"Live Out Thy Life Within Me," Frances R. Havergal has
beautifully expressed the secret of personal victory over sin:
Thy life within me,
O Jesus King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer
To all my questionings;
Live out Thy life within me,
In all things have Thy way!
I, the transparent medium
Thy glory to display.
"The temple has been yielded,
And purified of sin;
Let Thy Shekinah glory
Now shine forth from within."
In another hymn she wrote:
heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne."
In Heb. 12:22 we read:
"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the
living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of
angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn." Sion
is a heavenly mountain whose very name signifies sunny, and is the city
of the living God. The expressions mount Sion" and "the
heavenly Jerusalem" not only refer to the future glorious capital
of the Messiah's eternal kingdom in the earth made new (Rev. 21 and 22),
but they refer to the present dwelling-place and throne of the
Lord Jesus in His church and in each believer. Those who accept Jesus as
their Lord and Saviour enter "the heavenly Jerusalem," and so
long as they are loyal to the Commandments of God (Rev. 22:14) they are
safe and secure as if in a mighty fortress. This expressive
imagery is often presented in the Scriptures. Isaiah says: "In that
day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong
city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the
gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee:
because he trusteth in Thee" (Isa. 26:1-3). In these inspired
words, the gospel prophet assures us that the gates into this
"strong city" are thrown open to all those who keep the truth,
and that those who picture themselves (see margin, v.3) as being
kept safely within God's appointed "walls and bulwarks" of
"salvation" will be kept in "perfect peace." Again
we read from Isaiah's pen: "Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation,
and thy gates Praise.. . the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting
light, and thy God thy glory" (Isa. 60:18-20). The Psalmist says:
"Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I
will praise the Lord: this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous
shall enter. I will praise Thee: for Thou art become my
salvation" (Ps. 118:19-21). "The name of the Lord is a strong
tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Prov.
18:10). "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my Deliverer...
He is my shield. my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour;
Thou savest me from violence . . . He is the tower of salvation"
(2 Sam. 22:3,51). See also Ps. 18:2; 144:2, etc.
This picture of an individual
or of the church dwelling securely within the mighty walls of an
impregnable fortress is carried over into the encouraging imagery of the
book of Revelation, where the great struggle between the forces of good
and evil is so graphically and so realistically portrayed that some, not
discerning the moral purpose of the symbolism employed, think that a
military war is therein depicted.
The best way to memorize is to
reduce to a symbol that which we desire to commit to memory, and by the
law of association that symbol brings to the mind all that is associated
with it. Symbols present truths in the most arresting and most
informative form. Mighty truths are thus condensed and made simple and
clear. For this reason the Great Teacher presents the vital teachings of
the Apocalypse in symbolic form.
The reader is urged to
cultivate the symbol-picture of the soul as a fortress: when surrounded
and assaulted by many enemies - pride, selfishness, envy, jealousy,
greed, dark, negative thoughts, etc. - seeking to obtain an entrance
into the citadel of the soul, the dark invader is repulsed and victory
is won through King Jesus - the Light and Live-giver - dwelling within.
To inculcate this teaching in the minds of His children, and to enable
them to grasp these soul-stirring facts of salvation, is the moral
purpose for which the Lord inspired John to present the symbolic
pictures of the Apocalypse: they present Christian realities.
A widely-read author, who
consistently applies the martial imagery of the Apocalypse as
descriptive of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, employs
the same Biblical imagery we have presented to teach that the individual's
victory over sin depends upon the indwelling Christ.
"When the soul
surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the heart.
A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a
supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The
soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress,
which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority
shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the
heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan . . .
The only defence against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the
heart through faith in His righteousness." ("The Desire of
In another book, this writer
employs the same imagery in describing the power of the church to
withstand the assaults of her enemies:
"The church is
God's agency for the proclamation of truth. and if she is loyal to Him,
obedient to all His commandments, there will dwell within her the
excellency of divine grace. If she will be true to her allegiance, if
she will honor the Lord God of Israel, there is no power that can stand
against her." ("The Acts of the Apostles," p.600.)
Individuals and the church are
likened to "a city that is set on an hill" (Matt. 5:14). The
Christian church and individual believers are represented in the
prophecy of Ezekiel (chaps. 40- 48) as a temple built upon "a very
high mountain." Jesus said: "Upon this rock [Himself,
"the Rock of Ages"] I will build My church; and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The New
Testament teaches that the church is now God's Zion, His city Jerusalem,
and that prophecies concerning enemies being destroyed when attacking
Jerusalem and God's people have their moral purpose in relation to the
victory of each individual believer in Christ and of the church as a
In the book of Revelation, the
storm center of the ages is the city of Jerusalem, the name of which
means "foundations of peace"; Jerusalem, the city of "the
Prince of Peace." To correctly understand the Revelation, Jerusalem
must be interpreted as the center of the battle between good and evil.
In the Old Testament, Jerusalem was the center of national Israel, and
many of Israel's national enemies came against Jerusalem the city of
"peace." Though foes were without, peace reigned within the
city when Israel was faithful. In this we see typified the church as a
whole, and also each individual. Through their allegiance to the God of
Israel, the church and individual Christians become the center of attack
by foes who are stirred to ''war'' against the Holy Son of God within.
But, while spiritual enemies gather outside the walls of "the holy
city" (Rev. 11:2, etc.), the heart is at peace with God.
Enemies of the people of God
who literally gathered around and attacked ancient Israel's literal city
of "peace" are brought into the spiritual imagery of the
Revelation as types of the enemies who spiritually gather around to
attack the spiritual city. The Revelation carries this representation
through until the end of the millennium; then, all the
resurrected literal enemies of ancient Israel and all the enemies of the
church will literally gather around the literal city (Rev.
20:8, 9) in which reigns the visible Son of God, the Destroyer of the
evil which makes "war" on Him and His people. In Joel 2:32,
deliverance from the foes without the city is vouchsafed to "the
remnant" within Jerusalem: "For in mount Zion and in
Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the
remnant whom - He shall call." As we have already seen, it is from
this prophecy that Peter, in his Spirit-filled address, quotes on the
day of Pentecost and applies it in connection with salvation through King
Jesus, Who is "both Lord and Christ." Instances are
given in the Old Testament where national Israel found deliverance
within Jerusalem through the power of God (see 2 Kings 18:17-37;
19:1-37; Isa. 37:32-36, etc.). At the end of the millennium, when the
enemies of God and of His people gather to attack "the camp of the
saints," "and the beloved city" (Rev. 20:8, 9), they are
destroyed through the almighty power of "the King of
Righteousness,"' the Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns within.
All the proper names, places
and designations of the Revelation are employed in a symbolical sense
until the Revelator's description of the holy city - New Jerusalem - at
the end of the millennium. Thus the Lord shows the principle to be
employed in 'rightly dividing" the Apocalypse and other parts of
the Holy Scriptures. The millennium is the dividing line between the
application of the spiritual and the application of the literal, just as
the cross terminated the literal, national, typical system, and
introduced the period of the antitypical, spiritual, or church
application. The Revelation clearly reveals the triple
application of the things of Israel, but as we have dealt with that
theme in another book, we will not discuss it further here.
As the history of ancient
Israel is applied in the New Testament as types or symbols depicting
the experiences of the church, and as the church is represented as
having taken the place of national Israel, even to its geographical
setting in Palestine, so, in the Revelation the Lord has described
the present-day experiences of His church in symbolical terms.
Though buffeted by many foes, the church, "on the mount Sion"
(Rev. 14:1, 20; Ezek. 40:2; 43:12; 47:1, etc.), as a mighty fortress,
impregnable to the assaults of the enemy, will be "more than
conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37). "Thanks
be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"
(1 Cor. 15:57).
The great controversy between
the forces of good and evil over obedience to the Law of God will
culminate in "the final conflict." To vividly portray this
spiritual battle is the moral purpose for which the graphic symbolic
pictures have been given in the Revelation.