New Life in Christ: Victory
1 John 5:4-5
June 29, 2014
I went to my first Texas Ranger game sometime in the summer of 1972. As far as baseball goes, they were not very good that year, but they were my team and I loved to watch them. Even now, when I read their names from a roster, a smile comes to my lips. You’d have to be a pretty serious baseball student to remember names like Kenny Suarez and Rich Billings and Elliott Maddox and Ted Ford and Dave Nelson, but they were all among my favorites — and still are.
Over the years, I suppose I’ve watched hundreds of Ranger baseball games, collected hundreds (if not thousands of Ranger baseball cards) and read thousands of articles about them. And for most of their history, they just weren’t very good. In the 90s they went to the playoffs 3 times, but lost quickly and unimpressively each time. It wasn’t until the last few years that they became really good. And so it was that when they went to their second World Series in a row, that while I watched game 6, I texted back and forth with my brother in Tampa, who had enjoyed and suffered just as long as a Ranger fan. In the 9th inning with two outs for the Cardinals I wrote a text something like, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT — THEY’VE FINALLY WON!” and prepared to hit “send.”
Instead, after a few minutes, I deleted every word and rewrote something like, “I can’t believe it — they lost AGAIN…”
I think it was the Sunday after that loss that one of you came up to me after the service and said something like, “I’ve been praying for the Rangers to win — don’t you think the Lord would want them to win since they’ve been losing for so long????”
As a sports fan, it can be something of a badge of pride to root for the lovable loser; but still, everyone wants to win. Nobody likes not winning for three or four or five or six or seven decades. All of us want to win sometime. The losing gets old. And hard.
Isn’t the same thing true spiritually? As you think about your spiritual life, does it seem like sometimes you can never win and that you always lose? Do you repeatedly engage in the same kinds of sins? Are these kinds of scenarios familiar to you?
- You go to the hardware store telling yourself, “I just need to purchase this one part to do this job,” and you see a sale and so you again make a purchase on your credit card knowing you can’t pay for it because you “can’t pass up this deal…”
- You go to the restaurant telling yourself you will make a healthy choice and instead when you get there you order the fried appetizer and the too-large dinner portion and forget the salad for the french fries?
- You log onto your computer telling yourself you’ll only check email and you end up checking things that should never be seen by you?
- A friend tells you something in confidence and instead of praying you gossip w/ someone else?
- You receive a partial medical report on your child and instead of waiting for the follow-up visit to the doctor the next week to discuss the options, you spend three hours researching the diagnosis and realize that all you’ve done is increase your level of fear and anxiety 100-fold?
- Your friend gives you a compliment and you respond by talking for 5 minutes about how well you not only did what he said, but how well you prepared and later realize that pride has again surfaced in your life?
- You habitually spend more time looking at the clothes in your closet wondering what others think about you when you wear those items than thanking God for the clothes He has given you and asking how you might wear those clothes modestly to honor Him?
- You regularly lose the battle of the tongue — critical, judgmental, and even cursing words are often what flow from your mouth.
For many of us, when the topic of the victorious Christian life comes up, we tend to think that the Scriptures must be talking about someone else — not us — because like my favorite baseball team, too often we don’t feel the list bit victorious.
Yet as John nears the end of his first letter, he draws attention to this very doctrine and states it this way in 5:4-5 (read passage). What John is saying is this:
When one is regenerated, he will give evidence of that new life by victory over sin.
This morning, as we prepare for communion, I want to draw attention to two simple principles about the victorious life of the believer:
- God’s Power is Victorious Over the World (v. 4)
- The Believer Experiences Victory Through Faith (v. 5)
Download the rest of this sermon on 1 John 5:4-5.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.