Today, we continue in our message series called Hope Restored. As believers, God wants us to have a hope that transcends our circumstances. A hope that sees the unseen future that God has for us through faith.
This morning, our message is entitled “Living in Victory.” Victory is defined as “an act of defeating an enemy in a battle.” As believers, we are in a battle, whether we realize it or not. In fact, every person on the planet is engaged in this battle, on one side or another.
2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
As believers, we are to engage in spiritual warfare with weapons of divine power that destroy enemy strongholds. We need to learn how to use the weapons that God makes available to us to win the victory. What is the opposite of victory? Defeat, which comes from not following Jesus’ commands and using the powerful weapons available to us.
1 John 5:4 (ESV) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Believers have been born again, born of God. Believers overcome, have the victory over the world through faith. The world is ruled by the god of this world, Satan, who is followed by unbelievers. The warfare that we are involved in is ultimately between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. As we live our lives in faith in Jesus Christ, we have victory over the world. Can any one of us, as an individual soldier defeat an entire enemy army? The answer is no, we need help from two sources to gain the victory.
First of all, we need the Lord’s supernatural power that comes through the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we need the help of other believers in the church who are also part of God’s army. Together, we can live in victory. On our own, we will live in defeat.
Philippians 3:20 (ESV) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
As believers, we are and foremost citizens of the heavenly kingdom, the kingdom of God. That is where are first allegiance lies. Jesus taught us to seek first the kingdom of God. As citizens of heaven, the army of God consists of believers in this life and myriads of angelic warriors. As we follow the commander of the hosts of heaven, the Lord Jesus, we can live in victory. Today, we’re going to learn some principles from 1 Peter 2 about living in victory in every circumstance.
1 Peter 2:5 (ESV) you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
As a believer, you have been chosen by God to carry out His purpose in this life. God’s Word tells us that each believer is like a living stone. A living stone not lying by itself, but being fitted together with other living stones to build a spiritual house. This spiritual house is the church. Each believer is to be fitted together with other believers in a local church, such as Life Church. Jesus is building the church, but we have to be willing to be built by God together with others in the church family.
We are chosen to be part of a holy priest hood. That means, that in the New Testament era in which we live, every believer is a priest, not just a select few. A priest is able to come into God’s presence on their own, they do not need someone else to represent them to God. As a priest, we are able to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Sacrifices of thanksgiving, resources, time and worship. What is the foundation of this spiritual house that we are being built into?
1 Peter 2:6 (ESV) For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
The house, which is the church, is founded on one cornerstone in it’s foundation. That cornerstone is Jesus Christ, the most important and precious stone. The cornerstone is what the living stones are built upon. As believers, we believe in the cornerstone, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
In verse 9, we see that believers are chosen and that they are part of a holy nation. There are not many holy nations, there is one holy nation, the kingdom of God. The purpose of being part of that holy nation is to proclaim to the world, how wonderful Jesus is. Jesus is the one who has called us out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light, God’s kingdom. We have been chosen by God to be built together with other living stones into this holy nation of light.
As believers, we have been chosen by God to be citizens of heaven. We therefore can experience both the benefits and responsibilities of being part of the kingdom of God. What that means is that the laws and principles of that kingdom supersede the laws and regulations of any earthly authority or person. Ultimately, we report to and follow the instructions of Jesus through His Spirit.
The principles of God’s kingdom have been written down in God’s Word, the Bible. One of our responsibilities of being a citizen of heaven is that we need to read and study the principles and instructions of that kingdom. We then grow in learning to filter everything in this life through the grid of kingdom principles. What does this have to do with living in victory? Victory in life comes as we live by kingdom principles and not the principles of this world. Defeat comes if live by the principles of this world and not kingdom principles. We are chosen by God to live in victory as citizens of heaven. Let’s learn more about how we are set …
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV) Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
As believers, we are sojourners and exiles here and now in the world. Why is that? Because this world is not our home. Remember heaven is our home. So we shouldn’t be too comfortable in the world. What are we engaged in warfare against in this world? Verse 11 says that we need to resist the temptations of the passions of the flesh. These temptations are seeking to lure us to follow worldly principles, rather than heavenly principles. As believers, we have been set free from the power of temptation, so that we can serve God. But what about the authorities on earth? How should we respond to them?
1 Peter 2:13-14 (ESV) Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
There are authorities in many human institutions that have been allowed by God. What are human institutions to do? They are to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good, according to God’s Word. If a human institution of any kind is doing those things, we are to be subject to them. But what if a human authority is punishing those who do good and praising those who do evil. We certainly should not cooperate in those wrong activities, punishing good and praising evil. We must always obey God rather than man if there is a conflict in what they are requiring.
1 Peter 2:16 (ESV) Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
As believers, we have been set free from the power of sin, we are no longer servants of sin or Satan. But no one is free to do as they please. Every person is a servant either of sin or of God. So, we are to use our freedom as children of God to live as servants of God. We are set free to serve God and live in victory.
Remember that the warfare we are engaged in as believers is not with other people. The warfare is a spiritual warfare that is fighting invisible evil forces of Satan. Now, Satan’s forces certainly influence and even control many unbeliever’s lives. The attacks that come directly from evil spirit’s and evil people, are temptations. Each one of us is regularly tempted at our points of greatest weakness.
How can we grow in our strength to resist temptation? First of all, get busy doing the things that God is calling you to do. In your life, your family, your job and in our church. If you’re doing good things, you won’t have time to get involved in bad things. Secondly, spend daily time studying God’s Word, His instructions. You are a citizen of heaven, learn to speak, think and follow heaven’s language. Ask God to help you resist the peer pressure of unbelievers in the world. We are set free to serve God. That means we are to …
1 Peter 2:21 (ESV) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
To live in victory, we must follow Jesus’ example. Jesus suffered in His life on this earth. But even when He was suffering, He didn’t give in to temptation. Jesus didn’t seek revenge or refuse to forgive anyone. Jesus gives you the power to follow in His steps, resisting temptations and following God’s Word. There is no way to go through this life without suffering. A person can suffer for doing wrong and there is no value in that. We will suffer for doing right and there is great value in that.
1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can live in righteous and so no to sin’s temptations. The wounds of sin in our souls and bodies can be healed. We follow Jesus’ example in dying to sin and being resurrected to a righteous life. We can have the victory.
1 Peter 2:25 (ESV) For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Before we were saved, we were like a lost, straying sheep. We were defeated and in danger of spending eternity without God. When we put our faith in Jesus, we have returned to His flock. Jesus is now our shepherd and overseer or guardian of our souls. To follow Jesus’ example is to follow Him as our good shepherd. When we are tempted to stray and go our own way, He leads us back into the flock. To live in victory, we must follow Jesus’ example.
The path to living in victory in this life is to follow Jesus each and every day. What does it mean to follow Jesus? Let’s start by talking about Jesus as our shepherd. It’s not just about each one us and Jesus as our shepherd, leading a flock of one. Jesus, as the good shepherd leads a flock of sheep. The most relevant example of that flock is the church family that we are part of.
We are to encourage one another to keep on following Jesus together. If we notice a member of flock straying and not with us, we are to go after that straying sheep. What happens to a straying sheep who wanders off? Bad things like being eaten by a wolf, falling off a cliff, getting lost, stolen by thieves. We need to follow Jesus in relationship with other believers in a church family. As we read the accounts of Jesus in the Gospels, we learn more and more what it means to follow Him. Following Jesus is the key to living in victory.
God desires for each one of His children to live in victory. He has made it possible for us to live in victory through Jesus. As believers, we have been chosen by God to be citizens of the kingdom of God. This world is not our home, we are strangers here with battles to be won.
Jesus has set us free from sin to become servants of God. As believers, Jesus gives us the power to resist temptation and live righteously. Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him along with the rest of His flock. To seek to follow Jesus without the support of a church family leads to defeat. But as we follow Jesus together with the rest of the flock in the church, we can have victory.