My first year working at a Bible Camp in my local community, I was given what I thought was a fantastic and humbling opportunity. One of the program leaders asked me to come alongside some of my fellow male counsellors and connect with them in prayer the following week. I was eager to accept the opportunity, and so the following week I made it a priority to connect with the guys on my list and plan when we would meet throughout that week.
My first encounter with one of those guys sits well in my memory, as it was peculiar. I had passed by him as he was on his way back with his cabin group from swimming. He was dazed and clearly exhausted. He said that he had fallen asleep in the shower. Odd. I chose not to address this peculiar behaviour, but instead tucked it away for our time together. During our quick chat we planned to meet a few days from then. When that time arrived, I felt it was my responsibility to ask him about why he was so exhausted. That’s when he explained to me the spiritual warfare he had been experiencing. He told me he used to belong to a coven before coming to know Jesus and broke ties completely since then. He said to me that he believed that the coven members had been cursing him for leaving and the end result was horrible life-like nightmares, which was the reason he was losing sleep. It was after hearing his story that I reminded him the power Christ has over the devil and any organisation that submits to satanist control. He at first was apprehensive. It was clear that he believed the doctrine of Christ’s omniscience, but he had been burdened and worn out from his current trial. I prayed a prayer of deliverance over my friend, intentional to include a petition that my friend realise the power Christ has over any power of this world. During the prayer, he began to tremble and fell into a quasi-unconscious state; I had to shake him to bring him to. He couldn’t remember that I prayed for him for deliverance, neither could he remember praying for me (I made a pattern of asking for prayer from these guys before I ended our gathering praying for each of them), even though it was only moments before. Something had happened in that instance that changed this guy’s experiences from that time forward. The following day he was happy to report the first full night of sleep he had all that summer. The nightmares were gone. I continued to touch base with him throughout the following weeks for an update. He was still experiencing victory. A few years later I followed up with him via Facebook message. Still victory!
That time with my friend was life changing, for him and for me. At no point in my life could I remember beforehand the Lord using me in such a fantastic, real way. I can say with confidence that I didn’t do anything but authentically pray for my friend. I didn’t use highfalutin or dogmatic language. I just plainly requested that my friend receive deliverance. Even in that moment I wasn’t entirely sure I believed without a doubt that there was a god on the other side of my prayer who was listening. I bore my soul. I bore my doubt. I bore my honesty. The Lord heard and answered.
It is from this true story of mine that I turn to the very true struggle remaining in my life, which can be described in one word: ironic.
I doubt God’s power in my life.
For all my life I have been fed Sunday School answers, Bible verses and recited memorised prayers. Yet, I find myself as apprehensive as my friend. There’s something in my life that just hasn’t been shaken up to the reality presented in Scripture.
1 John 2:13 tells us that anyone who knows the Father has overcome the devil. The apostle Paul, in Romans 8:34-39, tells us that we are more than conquerors.
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I take it from Scripture that there is victory in Christ, which makes me a conqueror. However, more often these days I have felt that this victory is history. You know that when people refer to something that is obsolete or irrelevant, they often refer to that thing as being “history”? That’s what I mean here.More often than not, I feel that victory is history. More to the point, I feel like that victory is for someone else and not me. This leads me to feel defeated, so when I succumb to sin, I often feel as though it is a result of me not having victory. Either that, or that I cannot be identified as a saint atoned by God. I, like my friend, live with identity crisis.
I gather that this is something that needs to be dealt with appropriately. Part of this blog, for me, is an outlet in dealing with my struggles of faith responsibly. James 5 tells us to confess our sins to each other, Galatians 6, to share one another’s burdens. Struggling with identifying as a saved person may not be “sin,” but it certainly stands in the way to finding freedom from sin and this is precisely what stumps my growth in the Lord.
It is ironic that the very same message of victory that was conveyed through me, and which resulted in my friend’s victory from satanic opposition, should be stopped from penetrating my own heart and releasing me from the burdens of sin.
This bears to pose the question, what knowledge of Christ’s victory do I have? Do I have just intellectual knowledge (gr: gnosis) or experiential knowledge (gr: epignosis) of Christ’s victory over my sin? This, I think, is the struggle of many contemporary Christians (some of whom I know that have fallen out of the faith, by the way). There’s something gone amiss in my spiritual life that has either masked or interfered with the experiences of Christ that I should have recognised. My victory has become forgotten, like history often is.
So my victory is history? No, victory is HIStory.
The victory of Christ is historical. About 2000 years to be exact. The power of sin and death is history. For this I stand in firm defence, because I figure the alternative to affirming this will only lead me down a path of self destruction.
So, my defeat by the powers of Satan are done away with, as my friend’s story testifies. My victory is found in the power of Christ and His story of salvation for my life. His story of victory determines the history of my defeat.
Therefore, instead of reflecting merely on my intellectual knowledge of Christ’s power in my life, I plan to pray that my senses be awakened to the experiences of Christ’s power over me and over that which intends to ensnare me.
There is victory because of Christ’s history.
I say, Amen!