But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57
In this verse the apostle Paul presents the blessed truth that God gives us the victory which He realized through Christ Jesus our Lord. To appreciate this blessed truth, we must consider what we need and what we by God’s grace receive.
The word “but” wherewith this verse begins reveals that through Paul our God presents a blessed change, which He realizes through His Son. In verses 50 through 56, the apostle Paul presents the awesome truth that our flesh and blood cannot, and do not, inherit the kingdom of heaven. In fact, through Adam and Eve, and all their seed which are not saved by our God in His grace, comes the torment of hell.
For death is not simply physical separation from this earth and from friends and loved ones. Death brings to hell the souls of those not chosen in Christ and when Christ returns, also the bodies of these enemies of God and Christ will be cast into everlasting torment. The Book of Revelation reveals that in several passages.
For us, therefore, is the important question as to whether we believe in Christ Jesus as our Savior, or belong to Satan, and cling to his lie, which he spoke to Adam and Eve, namely, that we are gods, and can do what we please.
If, however, we are by God’s grace called to be His people, we have a wonderful victory, as Paul states it here in this verse presented above. Our Lord Jesus Christ gained for us a victory which we do not deserve, or even want, as far as our flesh is concerned. Indeed we want deliverance from pain and physical misery; but that is not the basic victory which we receive through our Lord Jesus Christ: Yes, we will in heavenly glory be freed from pain, and from every kind of misery. But the victory of which the text speaks is the triumph our God realizes for us over Satan and the sin into which he caused us to fall.
What we should continually—not merely occasionally—bear in mind is that every sin, no matter in what form it comes, is an act of hatred against God. Every sin is doing what Satan wants men to do because he hates God and wants us to live in hatred against our God. Every sin is an activity of going against God with heart, mind, and strength. It always is an act in which we do what Satan taught mankind to do, namely, become a god, and do what pleases man’s flesh, rather than do what glorifies and pleases God.
The victory of which Paul wrote is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ. According to Scripture, it is our victory over Satan and sin. Our God declared that to Satan, telling him that He is going to put enmity against Satan in the hearts of some of mankind, and that He will bring forth Christ, who would be born of Mary without the work of a man. Christ will be the Son of God, brought forth through the virgin Mary.
Still more. Take note of the fact that we are spoken of here as those who are given a tremendous victory through His Son, who was born out of that virgin. We did not, and will not, get a victory because Of what we did. Our text states emphatically: “God giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We therefore owe our God thanks for giving us that blessed victory. Of it we sing from stanza one of ourPsalter, number 383:
All that I am I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me;
I give my Maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.
This is the versification of what we find in Psalm 139:14, where we read: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” That song confesses that we have been given a victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, a victory over Satan and sin.
Therefore, on our Thanksgiving Day, but also on every other day, we are called to thank God for this victory which He realized through His Son Jesus Christ. We did not personally win over Satan and sin. It is a victory which our God realized through His Son. We must not brush aside the truth that, no matter what happens, God is getting this victory for every elect child whom He chose eternally in Christ. Therefore we have this calling to thank God for giving us this victory. We find that astounding truth in Romans 8:28 in these words: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who, are called according to His purpose.” We have this victory one hundred percent because, as the above text states, God gives it to us through His Son.
Let us bear in mind that this gift of God is the basic element of our salvation. It makes the other parts possible, such as deliverance from, the everlasting punishment which we deserve by nature. The very desire for salvation is part of the victory over Satan and sin; and it becomes ours because God gives us this victory. We do not gain it by our own power before it has already been given to us.
We should bear in mind, and hold one to tightly, the fact that in our text God through Paul promises us the victory which He announced the day when Satan got us to hate God, and act as though we are gods. He told Satan that day, that He would put enmity in us against this devilish angel, who got us to commit this terrible sin. He promised to make His elect love Himself and have enmity in their hearts against Satan. That basically is the victory which God gives us through our Lord Jesus Christ. That indeed is a most precious gift.
The sad situation in the church world today is that salvation is presented merely as deliverance from the punishment which God told Adam would come upon those who break His law, as we read in Genesis 3:3. And on Thanksgiving Day, relief from that punishment is presented as that for which we should give thanks to God. The sad thing is that Satan uses so many material things to get church members’ to turn away from spiritual matters, and to get them to be concerned only about deliverance from the misery and pain, bringing joy to, their flesh, but not to their souls.
There was a time, in the past, when Satan was not as victorious as he is today in the church-world when he attacks members of churches in order to make them his disciples, not Christ’s. Consider the awesome change that has come in the church world today, and that raises serious questions about church conduct and behavior. People consider that to be their victory which actually is their defeat by Satan.
Even on the Sabbath Day, what men consider to be their victory actually manifests their defeat. We, today, have automobiles, radios, and television sets which can bring church members along with Satan and his friends, who are citizens in his kingdom of darkness. Earthly pleasures are sought on the Sabbath Day. God gave us that Sabbath Day so we could worship Him, and be busy all day with spiritual matters. Things formerly condemned as sin, some churches present today as church victory. They manifest thankfulness for material things, brushing spiritual things aside. They enjoy, and sing songs, because they enjoy the music. They will applaud soloists and choirs for the music, not for the truths which were sung. In fact, sometimes they want and request singing, enjoying it more than the preaching. And how often do we give serious thought to what we are singing? We sing with our voices; but are we singing with our hearts and minds?
What we should bear in mind is that the day sin entered into man’s life, the salvation which God promises in Genesis 3:15 is deliverance from Satan and sin. That victory which God gives us ends Satan’s devilish victory over us. And God told Satan that He would put enmity in the hearts of His elect against him; and the sin which he caused man to love. That is why in John 3:3 we read: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” Implied is the blessed truth that, in the hearts and minds of the elect, God will implant love of Himself, and of all that which this love would produce. As we read in Ephesians 2:1, God quickens us, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
The awesome question, however, is whether God has given us that spiritual victory over the bondage of sin into which Satan got us. The question on Thanksgiving Day, but also on every other day, is whether our God has given us thankfulness for this gift of freedom from Satan and the sin into which Satan had gotten the whole human race; and whether we find in ourselves that love of God that makes us want to glorify Him by our speech and works.
By God’s grace we will, not merely on Thanksgiving Day, thank Him for that blessed salvation, which Christ earned for us. By all means we must do that on Thanksgiving Day. But our calling is to do so every day. Every day we must fight the sinfulness of our flesh, and the boasting of what we are and did. That victory for which we thank God is not a victory which we realized. We must thank God because He giveth us that victory. As we read in verse 50, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” No, thanking God for giving us this victory is thankfully praising God for what He did in His grace. Take a strong hold of that truth: We thank God because He giveth us the victorythrough His Son, who is our Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation is, from beginning to end, and as far as every detail of it is concerned, God’s gift to us. Therefore we are here called to thank God, and not boast of what we did. We enjoy that victory; but if we do this correctly, we attribute every bit of that victory to our God, as the song quoted a moment ago presents that truth: “All that I am I owe to Thee.”
Hold on tightly then to the truth which our God presents to us through Paul. Call every bit of your salvation the gift of God’s grace; and thank Him for the victory which He realized for His elect.
If we do that sincerely, we reveal that we have been given victory by our God, through His Son. Praise God then from whom all blessings flow.