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LIVING A VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE
by Philip Owen

            Is there a key to living a victorious Christian life?  Is there an essential element that enables a believer to be an overcomer?  What strengthens someone to “run with patience”?  Is there an antidote against being “wearied and faint” in mind?  What allows someone to “endure chastening” from the Lord without being utterly crushed?  How is it possible to “lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees” or to walk in “straight paths”?  What is the secret to consistently “follow peace with all men” and to live a life of “holiness”?  And how can someone avoid being damaged by a “root of bitterness”? 

            All of the material in the quotations above comes from one chapter, twelve, in Hebrews.  Viewed in this fashion, the demands appear insuperable.  And when we confront the almost innumerable additional exhortations and qualities that the Word of God presses upon the believer, the word hopeless comes to mind.  No amount of iron will, steely character, firm resolve, positive mental attitude, or anything else accessible to the natural grasp is capable of pulling off such a feat.  But the same chapter (Hebrews 12), points us toward victory with two approximately synonymous phrases:  “looking unto Jesus” (v. 2) and “consider him” (v. 3).

            What we must do in general.  Our passage suggests that in order both to do and to be what is ideal as one who has been redeemed by Christ, the believer must engage in one overarching activity.  The author of Hebrews describes this activity variously as “looking unto Jesus,” meaning “staring” (or “fixing our eyes on” [NASB]) and “consider him [Jesus],” meaning “contemplate,” “weigh,” or “compare.”  We must keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.  Mere religious zeal will not cut it nor will rigid determination to follow a set of biblical principles.  Either might produce an admirable life, but neither will produce a life that rises to the standard set for the believer in the Word, namely, a godly character that glorifies Christ.

            What we must do in particular.  Everything about Christ instructs and empowers the observant believer.  But the writer of Hebrews mentions a particular theme to be observed in Christ’s life that will energize a Christian to victory, which is His endurance.  Believers are to pay special attention to the reality of His patient, overcoming suffering, to the fact that He endured (lit., “to stay under”): He “endured the cross, despising the shame” (v. 2), and He “endured such contradiction [“hostility”] of sinners against himself” (v.3).  Christ’s miracles have their purpose in manifesting that Christ was God; His teaching provides the moral underpinnings for our doctrine; but it was His suffering that purchased our salvation, and it is our understanding of that suffering that produces our strength to live victoriously.

            What this “doing” requires. First and foremost, looking unto Jesus and considering Him demands that we be in the Word.  Neither men’s impressions nor our ideas of Christ will suffice.  The Word of God alone gives us a true, accurate, and complete picture of Him.  We will see Christ accurately within the pages of the Book—and nowhere else.  It demands that we contemplate (“consider”) as we read.  Comparing scripture with scripture and meditating on what we read are essential parts of the process.  Becoming Christ-like is a time-consuming (lifetime consuming) endeavor.  Prayerfulness, submission, confession and forsaking of sin are all part of the process.  We may listen to exhortation until our ears burn; we may strive until we are red-faced and panting, but only a clear, consistent consciousness of Christ will result in God-honoring Christlikeness. 

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