Victorious Christian Living?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Hello Friends,

Back in the day, I was associated with a group who believed in "Victorious Christian Living", or "Walking in Victory." I was under the impression that my fellow workers were "Walking in Victory", but somehow that was elusive to me.

The other day I read Arthur W. Pink on this subject and receive a fuller understanding:

"The best of God's children (if there be any best!) are frequently afflicted with fits of unbelief and chillings of love. Today they find themselves earnestly proposing and resolving to do things which are good, but tomorrow discover their zeal has somewhat abated, so uncertain and inconsistent are their affections.

Now hopeful, anon despondent,

now singing God's praises, anon their harps upon the willows;

now walking obediently in the path of Divine precepts, anon straying off into bypath meadow.

None differ so much from them as they often differ from themselves!

Some will glorify God in one condition, but dishonor him in another.

They may conduct themselves becomingly while God keeps them low, and then become fretful against him when they are exalted.

On the contrary, others who tread softly in a time of prosperity are filled with murmurings when the cold winds of adversity smite them"

The Life of Arthur W Pink, by Iain H. Murray, page 203

Comments welcome
I spent most of the 1980s heavily involved with a Keswick group which emphasized victorious christian living and the deepr life. While I will not pass any judgment on my fellow believers in that group, I can speak from my experience.

Emphasiziing victorious Christian living instead of focusing on Christ and how He lived fosters pride, division, and isolationism in believers. "Victorious Christian Living" as I have seen it is nothing more than repackaged perfectionism and legalism. What we heard constantly from the pulpit under this type of teaching was that if we didn't somehow reach the victorious life, we were not truly being sanctified. This turned Christian living into an exercise in human effort.

The fact is we sin regularly (O wretched man (woman) that I am!), we fail the Lord, we struggle with depression and weakness, but our comfort is that Christ has already won the victory. How that plays out, I believe, is in our constantly running back to Christ for daily strength and grace. The focus is on Him, not on our victorious acheivement.

The one thought that has helped me the greatest in this regard is this-- when Paul the apostle mentions himself in his earlier NT writings, he calls himself the least of the apostles. By the end, in his later writings, he calls himself the chief of sinners. The more we walk with the Lord, the more of our wretchedness we see, and the more we rely on His grace and mercy. That is what drives us to holiness.
If there's one thing I've learned about those that pursue "Victorious Living", it's that everybody thinks the other guys are achieving it while they wallow in the guilt of the sin that consumes them throughout the week.

The recent story about Ray Boltz coming out of the closet is just that type of story. I can almost existentially place myself in Boltz' shoes, not that I struggle with Boltz' sin, but that I struggle with my own sins and used to be in Churches where I lamented that I could never quite master sins that regularly consumed me.

I bought into the American Evangelical mindset that I just hadn't committed myself enough. Perhaps Scripture memorization - I heard a man talk about how keeping verses in your heart would keep you from sinning. Perhaps a Christian Life Marriage Conference - I was amazed at all the "testimonies" of couples whose marriages became much more fulfilling after a weekend of their instruction. Perhaps I just hadn't really let go in worship - I would clench my eyes trying to sing the same verse over and over to the praise chorus wishing that the Holy Spirit would just overthrow my sin and, this week, I wouldn't fall into sin so quickly.

I distinctly remember leaving Church every week and as I walked out I would go into a bit of depression. I didn't know why I was so miserable.

What was I missing?

The Gospel.

You see, I had bought into the illusion that the Law was the manner of approach to God. God would bless me and give me a victorious life - I was missing out on another level of spirituality but I would need to invest myself fully in the proper techniques and obedience to get to that plateau of living that I was convinced many people were enjoying.

The truth is that nobody is at that deceptive plateau. Somehow folks convince themselves that others are there but when you look into the hearts and lives of the leaders of these movements you find wickedness. The stories of my friends who grew up in Pentecostal circles and the lives of families within will curl your toes. The deceit of convincing yourself that your wicked heart can or is achieving the righteous demands of the Law only produces wickedness.

But God.

But God was rich in mercy toward me. I don't know why but He was rich in mercy toward me. I know many others that were trying harder but He caused the Gospel to dawn on my heart. I was in the mud and somehow came to my senses and, by God's grace, His Word testified to me that I received the entire inheritance when I trust in Christ's righteousness and not my own. There is no "higher life". There is no lower Christian and higher Christian. There is only Christ and His righteousness given to those that cling to Him because they're completely at the end of their rope and realize they have no chance apart from His righteousness.

Christ is for beggars and not for the victorious. I'm lost if God requires victory of me because the best I can muster is to cling to His feet in simple faith. I'm utterly worthless by myself having failed far too many times.
I hate American Evangelical radio...the preacher makes some good point about the law, then, like someone who either isn't too bright, or who suspects that the audience isn't too bright, he says "Are YOU doing that?" like he thinks we can't connect the dots or something. And they go on and on about Self. Goodness sake, don't have a Self, stick to groupthink...
Christ is for beggars and not for the victorious. I'm lost if God requires victory of me because the best I can muster is to cling to His feet in simple faith. I'm utterly worthless by myself having failed far too many times.

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