Sunday, October 5, 2014

Deuteronomy 20:4: To Claim Victory

I serenade my cat rather often.
I've written before about how many of my best thoughts tend to hit me in the shower. It's a strange phenomenon — something about how our mind works when our brains shut off — but that's not the point.

A few days ago, a phrase uttered by my sister Anna (you can see her lovely blog here) struck me as I scrubbed my nose with the little washcloth I keep draped over the cold-water handle.

"I claim victory over that," she'd say, during any discussion about sin and habits.

It goes back to my earlier topic comparing sin and our sinful nature to addiction, something I do intend to finish. Anna and I were talking about how alcoholics often never refer to themselves as being a former alcoholic or having beaten their alcohol addiction. They usually say they are a recovering alcoholic — clean and sober for, say, six years.

Awesome. Congrats. That's a major accomplishment, in my eyes.

But in the discussion between Anna and I, she challenged my way of thinking. Why recovering? What makes it so they haven't beaten the addiction — and in terms of Christ and sin: claim victory over that and be done with it.

There's that phrase again. I've heard it before, usually during a Gospel-talk in which the preacher says Christ claimed victory over sin, or something along those lines.

So what does that mean? Christ claimed a lot of things. He claimed to be the Son of God. He could heal un-cure-able sicknesses. He could bring people back from the dead, and feed 5,000 people at once. I can't do those things, not in and of myself. If I can't get through the day without tripping, I certainly can't walk on water or calm a storm with my voice.

But God can.

And therein lies my thought as I tried not to loudly serenade myself and my cat whilst in the shower — by claiming victory over sin, we're telling the evil one that God has won, we believe God has won, and we know God will carry out victory over sin, death and all the evil desires the world tries to stick on us.

I think of the movie Return of the King, and the scene in which Viggo Mortensen leads his outnumbered army headlong into a multitude of evil orcs. It's folly, really. And on his own, it means certain death.

That's the idea behind claiming victory over a sin, with one huge and rather essential exception: we have God as backup, and we have God's assurance that the fight is fought, and the battle won.

What 'claiming victory' means, then, is that we're saying to the evil one: "You have no hold on me, Satan. The Lord has already lifted your shackles from me, and I have undying faith in him to continue to fight until you are defeated — the battle has already been fought, and you've already come out the loser."

It's a powerful statement, isn't it? Without God in that picture, we'd look ridiculous, but that's the point. Throwing ourselves into the battle with the knowledge that God has already won, and will continue to reveal his victory to us as we grow in him makes fighting an awful lot easier to do.

"For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory."

— Deuteronomy 20:4

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