What then is the key? How can we know this victory in our lives, so we can come to the end of each day and know that we have done the will of God in every area of our lives? There is only one answer: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). This relationship, however, is not what many of us think it is. It is not a distant relationship, believing a few true facts, or adding some good religious habits to our lives such as going to church, a daily devotion, or prayer. Most religions around the world encourage these things. If we are going to know true victory, we have to look farther than this. This relationship with Jesus Christ by the Spirit is far beyond anything else that we know and has no equal in any natural example. But it is not beyond any person who desires it, if we are willing to come God's way. Let us look again at the plan of God for victory.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" "And I will pray the Father; and He will give you another Helper; that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor blows Him; but you know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:6, 16-18, 23). In these words from our Lord Jesus we have the foundation for victory in our lives. The basis is not a doctrine, or in knowing what to do, or in any other special formula. The basis is a person--Jesus. He does not give us victory--He is our victory. This must be no longer just a doctrine we know to be true; it must become a reality. Nothing less will bring us into what God wants in our lives.
This union that God has made available for us in Jesus is an intimate union with God by the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in vessels of clay, He brings with Him all that the Father and Son are. He comes not just to visit but to abide. Only the very life of God can produce in us the righteousness and holiness of God that satisfies Him and us. Apart from Him and the provision of Himself, we can do nothing to please God. The sooner we come to the end of ourselves and our trying, the sooner we can be on the road to real victory. The problem with many of us is that we have heard this truth all of our lives, yet we have not entered into the reality of it. So when we hear it again we say, "I know, but it doesn't work. What is the real answer?" There is no other answer. Jesus is the way.
Why then, do we not know the reality? There are probably several simple reasons. First of all, we have not realized how serious our condition is. As we have seen above, we are resting on a false security because man has told us that we are okay. We have heard that by not living a victorious life, we may lose a few "jewels in our crown," but at least we will be in heaven. Read chapters 1-3 of Revelation. The promises are to the "overcomers." There will be no stragglers in heaven. God only allows two conditions. We are either in the Spirit or in the flesh. To be in the Spirit is to be abiding in Christ, where He is our life. To be double-minded, not moving in faith, leaves us powerless to do the will of God, void of His grace. Only we can solve that problem. God has done what He will do. Our place is to make a choice. Either we are going to give ourselves to God without reservation, or we are not. The choice is ours, and the outcome of that choice is predetermined.
Secondly, the struggle in our lives is whether we are willing to humble ourselves before God, admitting in our hearts before Him that we cannot deliver ourselves. God cannot deliver us until we come to the end of our own self-efforts. We are very familiar with that doctrine also. But have we been honest before God in admitting our own inability and failure? This is a place others cannot enter into. Only the Holy Spirit can search our hearts before God. He is faithful if we will let Him in, but He does not force His way in. Apart from the conviction and light that the Holy Spirit brings, we are helpless. Jesus died so that He could send the Helper. The price of our redemption has been paid. But the Holy Spirit only comes where He is invited. God will not humble us--He tells us to humble ourselves. If we will not, God has nothing more to offer. He will meet us at the altar of humility and minister to our needs.
Thirdly, when the Holy Spirit sheds light on our path and brings conviction in our souls, there is always a step of obedience to take. If we do not take that step of obedience, our spiritual progress is halted. If we argue with the Holy Spirit and reason away the conviction, the light fades, and we find ourselves in darkness. And when the light becomes darkness, how great is that darkness! There is no salvation from sin apart from obedience. God does not save us in spite of ourselves. He does not move past our choice. His glory is to work in and through us. His plan is that we may move in union with Him. Jesus says that His sheep hear His voice and they follow. He offers no other explanation. He gives "ears to hear" to those who want to hear God and obey. Every other person is shut outside. To those who have ears to hear, He gives grace to obey--nothing more and nothing less.
When we obey God, all of the other things which we have discussed begin to take place. Our minds are renewed, our desires are brought under control, our habits are remade, and God's character begins to be formed in us. As we experience His grace, we sense spiritual strength coming to our hearts, and we are changed into His likeness from glory to glory. Our whole lives become a walk in His life. This is God's only plan. If we move in it, every question will be answered. It leaves God fully in control and man fully involved. There is no problem in our lives too hard for God to solve, and no problem so simple that we can solve it apart from His grace. It leaves us in a place of utter dependence on God and His grace every day of our lives no matter how long we have known the Lord. It makes full provision for the child of God who was just born yesterday and is facing an impossible situation. It leaves God as God, and He is glorified as such in every situation. Every man is a participant according to the grace and choosing of God. How could we ask for anything more? The door is open for any person who desires to be a part of this great working, and no person has any advantage over any other person. No wonder Paul prayed that "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power" (Eph. 1:18,19).
Beloved, it is a great salvation. It is a new and living way. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Let us draw near to Him today. He will draw near to us. Glory to His name!