Well here we are once again at that annual time change where we exchange the time change we made in the Fall for the time change we make in the Spring…. And we succeed in accomplishing another much to do about nothing event which only serves to throw our biological clocks into temporary confusion.
We set ourselves up in a schedule of change that keeps on changing….. I am more and more convinced that we need to stop changing the time and exchange it all for what we had before we started changing it all!!! (did that make any sense?)
So in light of this opening comment, I want to use the occasion to state that in the Christian experience, it is not about a change, but it is about a great exchange!!
Victorious Christian living does not just mean that a person is changed, but rather that a person has made “the Great Exchange”.
We are very familiar with Galatians 2:20, which says, "I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith, the faith in the Son of God."
But what does this verse really mean? What is it really wanting to convey to us? It means that our new life in Christ is based on an exchange. Our life is no longer in the realm of "Me, Myself and I" It’s not all about us anymore. It is not about evil "Me" being changed into a good "Me" or a filthy "Me" being changed into a clean "Me." It’s about “Me” no longer being me.
A little boy runs home from school one day and asks his father, “Daddy, are we Christians or Heathen?” The dad replies, “Why do you want to know, son?” the son says “Because a kid at school is selling a bike for $50 and I want to know if I should talk him down to $40 or just steal it!”
I have met folks that I knew before they became Christians. It had been a while since I had seen them. But I hardly knew them, because they were not the same person that I knew before. Everything about them was transformed into another person! They had become Christians…
We can very easily get into a performance spirituality….Spirituality based on performance, can cause you to become weary in well doing, or you can start judging the spirituality of others based on their performance. The greatest mistake we make is to think that victory involves progress and that defeat involves the absence of progress. Which means that when nothing is happening, then nothing is happening…. If we can just keep from losing our temper or if we can just spend more time reading our bible and praying we will be very spiritual people. But if we continue thinking that our victory is about what we can do, then the victory will always be limited by what we can do! When I think of how much difference our own efforts will make in our spirituality….
I think of the farmer who put an add in the paper for a wife. A number of women applied, and were all turned down. The fellow felt like he needed to narrow down what he was looking for in a wife, so he put a new add in the paper that said, “Farmer is looking for a wife, must have a tractor”. That’s what our own efforts will get us, we have value if you add the tractor!
Our mistake is that we make victorious living about us, but what Christ wants to let us know, is that the victory has very little to do with us.
One brother once said to me in tears, "I just can’t overcome." I said, "You’re absolutely right!” He said, "No matter what I do, I can’t overcome. " I said, "You’re absolutely right.” (it’s not what he wanted to hear)
God’s way is to move us from performance to positional spirituality. From religion to relationship. Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar, and how the rich man was all about performance spirituality, while the beggar was about positional spirituality…. The rich man went to hell, and Lazarus went to paradise. The rich man requested that Lazarus be sent to warn his family about hell, and I believe to warn them that they needed a relationship with the Lord, not just religion based on performance. Here’s the thing, you will serve the Lord more powerfully, when you understand your position in Christ and you minister out of relationship with Him…..
Every other religion is about what we must do in order to walk a victorious life….Islam teaches that our good deeds must outweigh our bad deeds to make it to paradise. Jehovah Witnesses believe we earn everlasting life through baptism and "door-to-door witnessing." Mormonism says we are saved by works, namely faithfulness to church leaders, Mormon baptism, and marriage. Scientology believes that salvation is accomplished through reaching a perfect state of mind, and removing our hang-ups (referred to as engrams). Hinduism teaches that we are delivered from further unending reincarnation through meditation and yoga. New Age calls us to offset bad karma with good karma through ascended thinking, self-awareness and spirit-guides. And Buddhism calls for the Eightfold Path to achieve a state of Nirvana. The Common denominator in most religions is the Emphasis on salvation based on something you have to do.
The English Puritan, Richard Baxter, once said, “So then let ‘What I Deserve” be written on the door of hell, but on the door of heaven let ‘By God’s Grace” be inscribed”.
Many folks have a sincere heart but they don’t have a clue why they can never seem to walk in victory. They can’t seem to get to the bottom of what is wrong.
A woman was telling her doctor that her body just hurt all over. The doctor said, show me what you mean….So she poked her forearm and screamed in pain. Then she touched her thigh and screamed again. She poked her foot and really screamed out. The doctor stroked his chin and said “ Ahaaaa, I think I know what the problem is, all your pain is because You are poking yourself with a broken finger.”
We used to get regular calls from a sister who lives out of the area. I have never seen another person who found it as difficult to overcome her challenges as this woman does. She will spend two hours telling us about all of her failures from the time she was a young person, to the present time. She can’t get beyond her hurts and offences. She gets defeated over and over again. No one says they are as eager to overcome as she says she is. Yet she says that no one has it as hard to overcome as she does. She says that, she must be one of those folks that just cannot overcome. (she’s poking herself with a broken finger…)
She’s like the woman who was getting ready to jump off a bridge and is able to talk you into jumping off with her just to shut her up!!! “I told her that she was absolutely right” There is no way she can overcome!!! (It’s not what she wanted to hear) because it’s not about what she can do!!!
The truth is, we cannot change, until we experience the Great exchange! The overcoming life is not a change but an exchange. If it were up to you, you could not make it. But if it is up to Christ, He can make possible, what is impossible to us. Religion requires human achievement, true Christianity is based totally and completely on divine accomplishment. It’s about what has already been done, not what I can do!
What is victorious living? Victorious living is in understanding and accepting what it means to be more than a conquerer…. Romans 8:37 “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. v38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, v39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Your worst sin, your home girl, your Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bubba cannot keep you from the Great Exchange once you understand it. There is no circumstance, no situation, no event, no matter how terrible or severe the situation, that can keep you away from the Great Exchange.
Paul tells the Romans, that NOTHING shall be able to separate you from this!
As a father, If I had a million dollars, our children would get most of it… If I had the ability to get them houses, great paying jobs, amazing life styles, I would do it. All they would need to do is ask and it would be given. More than conqueror, means that someone else took the pain, the hardship, the suffering, so that I could enjoy the benefits.
The term which Paul uses when he says "more than conquerors," is a new hybrid (Greek ) word which He actually invents to deal with something beyond the natural realm. The word is “Super-Nikao” describing every situation where God wins the battle and gives you and me the prize and all we have to do is receive it. The E
English language doesn’t have an equivalent word for super-nikao. A person who conquers is a conqueror and someone who overcomes is an overcomer. But, how does someone become greater than an overcomer, more than a conqueror?
Vine’s commentary says that, to be more than a conqueror is to be, “pre-eminently victorious,” or, “to gain a surpassing, overwhelming victory.” Satan is never going to be able to tell God that He almost lost, or that Satan almost won. Satan, as we all know, does not even stand a chance before the power and might of our Lord.
“More than conqueror” also refers to the overwhelming rewards which come to the winner, Romans 8:31-34 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? [The term “all things” in the Greek, is “ta panta,” the all, the everything, the all inclusive prize.] If you buy a toy, you want to know that it is “Ta panta”…. Batteries included!
But there is still one more thing that is part of being “more than conqueror”, and that brings us back to the victory that we referred to, that is found in Galatians 2:20: "It is no longer I who lives (“si-bu-bien”), but it is Christ who lives in me." This is about carrying away the prize of victory without having to put forth the effort, or take the risk that would normally be involved in conquering, He made the sacrifice; we take the prize.
Victory is not about you overcoming by yourself or in your strength or goodness, It is accepting that Christ has overcome for you. When Chinese people argue in the Fujianese dialect, they often use a colloquial expression, “si-bu-bien”, which means that they will hold their viewpoint till the day of their death, then everything changes. Every one of us has to tell ourselves that we are si-bu-bien. That death changes everything. We die to the self-life and the self-effort, so that through the great exchange, we become more than conquerers!
If God is for us what can stand against us….Let’s say that you have never done any mountain climbing, as a matter of fact, you are afraid of heights! But here you stand at the foot of a mountain with a sheer rock face that for you is unclimbable. But the thing you need most in your life is located at the very peak of this mountain. You stand there convinced that there is no way you can get up to where the thing you need most is located…. But as you’re standing there, an expert mountain climber comes up and offers to scale the mountain and when he is at the very top, he then lowers a rope with a harness and all you have to do is get in the harness, and be lifted to the top. That’s being more than conquerer! Someone else climbed up in your behalf, took the scrapes, the bumps and the bruises, so you could make it to the top and have what you needed most!
“Since God is for us”, all that God is, all that God has and all that God does, is available in the Great Exchange. Can the devil stand against us? No, because he has been defeated. Can the world stand against us? No, because Jesus has overcome the world. Can the flesh destroy us? No, because in Jesus Christ we can overcome the pull of the flesh. Therefore, let the people of God be bold. Who and what can stand against us if God is for us?
There is another question which sometimes keeps us from entering into the Great Exchange….Let me give you the answer before the question…. We go back to Romans 8:34 “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?”
*.....The question we often deal with is about the issue of availability… Will God really make available to me all that I need so I can obey Him? Our problem here is that we get to looking at the things, instead of the one for whom all of these things actually exist!
It’s like going into a jewelry store and deciding to buy a beautiful and expensive diamond ring. (the women are drooling) You put down your money and you’re about to take your diamond ring. And you say to the jeweler, “Oh, by the way, do you mind if I take the box, too?” What would you think if the jeweler said, “Oh, no, you can’t have the box.” If you buy the diamond, the box comes with it, it’s part of the deal!
Or let’s say that you enter a contest and you win a Maserati mc13—(now the men are drooling)…this is a car that would cost you well over one million dollars. You go into the dealership and say, “I want my car,” and they say “Here it is!” You get in the car and find there are no keys. You say, “Do the keys come with the car?” And the salesman says “Oh, no, you just won the car, you didn’t win the keys.” Hear me please….if you win the car, you win everything that’s necessary to drive it off the lot, that includes the wheels, the steering wheel and the motor.
When I had the 5th heart attack in 2000, they told me that the rest of my life, every EKG that was done would show the scars on my heart. But in 2010 Dr. Buroughs asked me what happened….there are no scars on your heart…. I had one of Paul’s “ta panta,” blessings. (an all inclusive, will He not freely give us all things blessing)!!! The doctors can repair a heart, but God can give a new heart!!
Romans 8:28 puts it this way….“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.
Will he hold back from us food? No, he won’t. Will he hold back from us water? No, he won’t. Will he hold back a job? No, he won’t. Will he hold back from us answers to our prayers? No, he won’t. Since he has given us the greatest, won’t he also give us the least? Yes, He will.
If he’s given us the diamond, will he hold back the box? If He’s given us the Maserati, will he hold back the key?
Someone may still ask the difference between a change and an exchange. I illustrate it with an old Bible. Let’s say you have an old bible, the cover is coming apart, the pages are falling out, and the print is missing on some of the pages. So you take a lot of time and effort, and you give it another cover and add glue to the spine to hold the pages in place. You even put new gold foil on the cover and the edge of the pages. If letters are missing from the pages, you fill them all in with the original words. After so much work and so many days working on it, it’s still an old bible that has been repaired!
But if we exchange it for a new one, that can happen in just a moment. All you have to do is give the bad one to me, and I will give a new one to you. Then everything is done. God has given us His Son. There is no need for us to strive for anything. Once we make the exchange, it is done! Even in the Old Testament, we see that God’s way was not to repair or to change, but to replace.
Isaiah 61:3 says, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."
God does not change the ashes, He replaces the ashes with a new thing. He does not change the mourning, He replaces the mourning with the garments of praise and gladness. God is for you, who and what can stand against you? “
Satan comes and testifies against us in the court of heaven, “Get rid of him! He’s a bum! He’s a sinner! Did you see what he did? Did you hear what he said? Do you know where she went last night?” Who is there who can bring a charge that will condemn us in the ears of Almighty God? The answer is no one! Not even Satan! Why? Because it is God who justifies us in the Great Exchange! Jesus stands in our place between our sins and failures and Satan can find nothing to accuse Him of, and we stand behind His righteousness, His holiness, His sinlessness…That’s the Great Exchange!
Can the law bring a charge against us? No, because the law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Can the devil bring any charge against us? He can try but it won’t work because with all his efforts he couldn’t find anything to charge Jesus with. What about our own consciences which often rises up against us? Our consciences have been judicated by Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:20 “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. v21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”.
Not anyone, not any angel, nor any demon, nor anyone in heaven or on earth or under the earth, or anybody we know can bring a charge against us that will effect our position of confidence in the grace of God.
Romans 8:33 “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies”. (just as if I had never sinned)
Our scripture in Romans 8:39 gives us seven things that somebody might think can separate us from the love of God. He says what about trouble? No. Hardship? No. Persecution? No. What about famine? No. Nakedness? No. Danger? No.
Praise the Lord. We have attempted to change ourselves for all these years. Now God is making the Great exchange. This is the meaning of holiness. This is the meaning of perfection. This is the meaning of victory. This is life in the Son! Hallelujah!
From now on Christ’s meekness becomes my meekness. His holiness becomes my holiness. His fellowship with God becomes my fellowship with God. From now on there is no sin too great for Christ in me to overcome. There is no temptation too great for Christ in me to withstand.
Is there any sin too great for Christ to overcome? Is there any temptation too great for Christ to conquer ? From now on, it is no longer I but Christ.Victory is Christ in me, the hope of Glory!
Corinthians 15:57-58 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, [by virtue of that victory] my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is never in vain in the Lord”.
Prayer…..We give you the honor and glory, Lord. We recognize your presence in this place. Lord, I know that we don’t overcome problems by ourselves. It’s You within us. It’s your Holy Spirit in us Lord, it’s the comforter, the encourager, and the enabler. We know you’re in control of everything, and we know that your heart wants to bless us. You want to reveal yourself to us and, above all things, shape in us a special attitude that might make us to become people that are capable of living at the level of your purpose. You have a purpose for each one of us, a purpose for our families, and a purpose in this congregation. Lord, today we submit to your purpose and receive this word, this challenge in our life. We say: “Yes, Lord, we believe in it.” We desire that you show yourself among us. We receive what you have promised. We are ready and willing to abandon whatever needs to have an adjustment in us, because You have redeemed us unto yourself. Lord, today we say: “Yes” to you. We renounce any spiritual opposition in our life. Now we tell the enemy of our souls that you have nothing for us here. Jesus is our Lord and He is the owner of our desires and our will. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit, that you have made it possible in a world full of difficulty and persecution and opposition of every kind, that no matter what happens to us, through Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors.” Heavenly Father, I pray that you will drive this truth home to us that we might leave here undefeated because Satan has already been defeated. May we leave here victorious because through Jesus Christ you have made us overcomers, and we shall be more than conquerors. Amen.