.

Battle Bruised, but Victorious

David M Ephraim

Many Christians look at the Christian experience as one that should be classified as “smooth sailing.” They have this misguided understanding that once one comes to Christ, all should be well. That He, Christ, takes care of all their problems and by calling on His name, the devil and his host are vanquished.

Today, however, I want to talk about the Christian battle. One in which the Christian is constantly fighting against the assault of the devil. One in which life itself becomes a foe to be defeated. One in which, friends, and relatives and sometimes the church become hindrances rather than safe havens. One in which, the only sure ground of safety is standing on God’s ground.

I want you to know, that we have an assurance that makes the battle ours. And although this life may batter us, abuse us, and bombard us with difficulties, causing us to show signs of wear and tear, we have an assurance of VICTORY. “Thanks be unto God,” is what Scripture says, “Which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14).

I have entitled this sermon, “Battle Bruised, But Victorious.” It is based on the conviction that I have, that many believers don’t have a clear idea of what the Christian life is all about. They are easily shaken when they face the many battles of life. Moreover, I want them to know that although we might get “Battle Bruised, We Are Victorious.

The apostle Paul said:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Let us look at the backdrop of this scene for a moment so that we can understand just what Paul is going through.

He had been acquitted at Rome not long before. He had returned to continue his work among the Christians. Although he faced many obstacles, the work was progressing steadily. The unbelieving Jews, however, weren’t pleased and thought up a way in which to get rid of him once in for all. They label him as one who desired to see Rome burnt; they called him a traitor. As they pressed the matter, Paul was arrested and imprisoned.

He was shipped to Rome to stand before Nero, who had been successfully exterminating the Christians at Rome, greatly reducing their numbers. Many of his companions desired to accompany him, but knowing that these charges were graver than before; he didn’t allow them to share in his lot.

Once in Rome, he was thrown in a gloomy dungeon, where he would spend the rest of his living days.

Alone in a dark, gloomy, damp and cold prison vault and enfeebled by age, toil, and infirmities, his weaken bones began to feel the coming of winter. We can sense his loneliness and anguish as he writes every word. He said, “Only Luke is with me” (v.11). “At my first answer no man stood with me … all men forsook me” (v. 16).

Among the Greeks and Romans it was customary to allow an accused person the privilege of employing an advocate to plead in his behalf before courts of justice. By force of argument, by impassioned eloquence, or by entreaties, prayers, and tears, such an advocate often secured a decision in favor of the prisoner or, failing in this, succeeded in mitigating the severity of the sentence. But when Paul was summoned before Nero, no man ventured to act as his counsel or advocate; no friend was at hand even to preserve a record of the charges brought against him, or of the arguments that he urged in his own defense. Among the Christians at Rome there was not one who came forward to stand by him in that trying hour.”[1]

As he continued to write, he said, “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee” (v. 13).

There was no sign of fear in him. He was ready to meet his Lord on the day appointment after his death. He believed what he had preached that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). And in soundness mind, he said, I AM NOW READY!

How? What did he know? How was he able to be so calm and ready in the midst of sure death?

Norman Vincent said, “The cure for fear is faith.” So then, fear is a sign that we lack faith in God. And, like Peter who became fearful at the sight of the waves and began to sink, we too will sink into the mire of life if we fear.

But Paul stood firm and strong in faith and declared unto all who would follow, “I have kept the faith.” -- I have kept “IT”!

The Christian life is warfare and we must “wrestle against principalities and powers in high places.” We must see that we are part of the same arena with the figurative “cloud of witnesses” spoken of by Paul in Hebrews 11.

In this arena, the wrestling is not some fake match, with the winner determined by some scheme of deceit. It is no mamby pamby, tit for tap, knock them down play show. We must “resisted unto blood, striving against sins that easily beset us and would keep us out of heaven" (Heb. 12:1, 4).

Nevertheless, in disentangling ourselves from our besetting sins we are called to battle, which often leaves us bruised and wounded as we engage in mortal combat. Yet, we must with all resolute firmness resist knowing that “God is faithful; he will not let (us) be tempted beyond what (we) can bear. But when (we) are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that (we) can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13, NIV).

But today, in our modern Judo-Christian Society, we no longer want to resist. We no longer consider hard times. We no longer believe that we must “take up arms against our seas of trouble and by opposing end them.” Instead, today we cherish our sins, excuse our bad habits, refuse to call sin by its name and flee difficulties. And like Lot, who occupied until destruction came, we have put down our battle armor and have assimilated into society and have forgetting that we are the church militant and at war.

John Owen aptly makes this comparison. He says, “Religion in a state of prosperity is like a colony that is long settled in a strange country. It is gradually assimilated in features, demeanor and language to the native inhabitants until at length every vestige of its distinctiveness had died away.”[2]

Ellen G. White said, “A religious life once presented difficulties and demanded self-denial. All is made very easy now. And why is this? The professed people of God have compromised with the power of darkness.”[3]

"Do not be misled," the Scripture says, ‘Bad company corrupts good character,'" (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV). In plain language, we begin to look just like the world the more we associate with it.

The only way out of this demise is to allow the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to cut away our sins. Instead, however, we flee from It and continue to live anyway we desire and still expecting to get to heaven.

The question must be asked, Has God’s requirements changed? Or has Satan's enmity to God abated to the point that his ways now lead to heaven? Have we compromised? Have we yielded to the temptations of this world? Have we succumbed to the pressure and given up the race? And most importantly, can we say, like Paul, “I am now ready?”

What is our battle?

Aristotle said, “We make war that we may live in peace.”

Martin Niemoller, while in exile in the fatherland said, “The gospel is not defense, but rather attack, and it is up to the world to decide its position!”[4] 

Ellen G. White says, “The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant. -- Letter 32, 1892.[5]

WE MUST WAR! WE MUST FIGHT!

It might sound strange at first, but when you think about, peace has a price.

A Jewish Rabbi was asked whether there could be peace in the Middle East. Without hesitating a moment he said yes, most definitely.

The person said, “How? Tell us! Everyone wants to know.”

The Rabbi replied, “First, there must be a war. Second, there must be a clear decisive winner. Then there will be peace.”

No way you say! Well, the Bible agrees with this Rabbi. It says that there will be a war, Armageddon. Sin and sinners will be defeat. And peace will reign throughout God’s kingdom forever. Amen!

We must fight! Paul said, “I have fought.”

2 Corinthians 11:25-28 records just some of the way in which he fought.

My people beat me. They beat me! And they beat me nearly unto death, 40 stripes minus one, because 40 stripes could kill. While the Jews used the whip, our modern Judo-Christian Society uses words. They say things like:

  • Hey brother so and so, why do you look like that?

  • Can’t you do anything right?

  • Sister, how come you’re wearing that dress?

  • Couldn’t you do something better with your hair?

  • Youth! You're cloth aren’t right!

  • Don't know how to behave!

We need to stop tearing each other down. We need to stop "beating" each other; the devil doesn’t need our help!

 

Not only do our so-called brother and sister in Christ beat us, but we are also beaten by the secular world. We try to live right. We say the right things. We do the right things. Yet, our neighbors lie on us. Our classmates pick on us. And our bosses belittle us. We are beaten with the rod of the outside world. We are passed up raises, cheated on in class, batter and bruised yet we stand up and WAR! It is no wonder Paul says, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor. 4:8, 9)

Paul then said he was stone. In fact, he was stoned at Lystra where Jews attempted to kill him. What usually happened was, the accuser would be the first to cast a stone. He could carry the largest stone he could and crash it down upon the victim. This usually left the individuals dazed or knocked out. After which, everyone else joined in casting stone upon stone as the blood gushed out and the breath of life left. This is most likely what happened to Paul. They thought he was dead and they dragged his lifeless body outside of the city to rot. He was so beaten and bruised from this incident, that as they dragged him, life could not seen be seen in him at all, else they would have stopped and finished the job.

Then, as some new believer gather around his lifeless body outside, probably to make funeral plans, he was revived. And he went right back into the same city.

Battle Bruised, Bold and Victorious he was..

Let me share my personal testimony of being battle bruised.

I was awoken one morning to the sound of a collection agent on the other side of the phone saying, “I owed them thousand of dollar.” After I hung up the phone, another agency called representing another company claiming that I also owned them thousand, then another called and another.

A few days later I was served legal papers stating that I was being sued for 2.25 million dollar by my neighbor. My deathblow had come. But like Paul, I stood and fought, trusting in the Lord. I may have been battle bruised, dazed and confused, but thanks be to God, I was victorious. The case was dropped and the bills were dismissed.

Paul continued:

  • 3 x Shipwrecked

  • Spend a night and a day in the deep

  • In perils of robbers

  • In perils of my own country men

  • In perils of the heathen

  • In perils in the city

  • In perils in the wilderness

  • In perils in the sea,

  • In perils among false brethren

  • In weariness and painfulness

  • In hunger and thirsty

  • In fasting

  • In cold and nakedness.

28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Paul is saying I’ve been through it all. Yet!, I’m victorious. I know where you’re coming from, but war anyhow is what Paul wants us to understand.

During the Gulf War, one Marine Corporal Preston Coffer wrote his friend, “We are talking about Marines, not the Boy Scouts. We all joined the service knowing full well what might be expected of us.” He signed off with the Marine motto, Semper Fi, Latin for "always faithful."

The Bible says, "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2).[6] War in name of Jesus.

WAR for good health

The other day a pastor friend of mine brought a new BMW 755Li. Prior to that he had a Cadillac that he always maintained. The manual said that the engine would last a lifetime if he brought it in for service and kept everything up-to-date. He followed the manual and the dealer’s recommendation and the car runs great.

This brings me to the point I want to make about the Christian life and health. When he bought his Cadillac, it came with an owner's manual. The owner's manual is not so much about how to repair the car as how to keep it in lasting condition. I am sure there are also repair manuals for a Cadillac. However, the focus in car ownership is how to keep the car out of the repair shop.

So it is with the Christian; we have a manual for "abundant life" now. It is called the Bible. Of course, for the Christian, the Bible serves as both a maintenance manual and a repair manual. The thing that is disconcerting is that our focus seems to be more on the repair side than on the maintenance side of things. In plain language we are giving more attention to how to get out of trouble than to how to stay out of trouble. We seem to be focusing more on what to do when we have a heart attack rather than preventing it in the first place. And so we must WAR to keep ourselves in alignment with God’s plan for good health.

As we war to obey God’s health law the devil comes. He throws a monkey wrench into the process and knocks us down. But many, at this junction become fatalistic in their outlook. They say it doesn’t matter what we do, what we eat, what we drink, I’m going to die anyhow; in this way of thinking they fail. If they would only remember the words of Solomon, “For a just man falleth seven times,” battle against sin, but “riseth up again … the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Pro. 24:16).

When the righteous fall, they remember that their God answers prayers and comes and picks us up and sets us back on tract. No need to stay down any longer. God is here!

He says, “14Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:14-16).

Did you see it? Did you see the frontline of the battle zone? It says, “a righteous man.”

Let me go back to the friend with the Cadillac. When he brought his new car, the old Cadillac was running great. It needed no repair. Everything was fine. Why? Was it by chance or happenstance? Or was it a decided effort on his part.

Many of us want to have healthy lives, but we live our lives by chance and happenstance. We want good health, but we adopt a Disney World approach, and “wish upon a star.” Then, when we are sick we run to the Lord for help but find none, because we fail to perceive and comprehend that the text said, “Sick among you.” What it means is, believers: those who have been warring against bad eating habits, those who have be warring again bad health habit, who have heard and believed and not those who have been living half hardly. The believer has a friend in Jesus and He hears and heals them. One writer said:

“Few have regarded the light on the subject of purity and health reform. They have neglected to practice right principles in eating and drinking and in taking care of their bodies … some have been reckless of health and life, since in clear rays the light has shone upon them; but they have not had respect unto the light, nor have they walked circumspectly. Yet they solicit the prayers of God's people and call for the elders of the church … Should they regain the blessing of health, many of them would pursue the same course of heedless transgression of nature's laws unless enlightened and thoroughly transformed. . . . Shall prayer be offered to the God of heaven for His healing to come upon them then and there, without specifying any conditions? I say, No, decidedly no.”[7]

The Bible says that when Israel left Egypt, many wanted flesh food and God answered their short-sighted request and gave them quail to eat. It also says that they died. But those who ate within the will of God and eat the manner that came down from heaven went through and after 40 years none was sick amongst them. AMEN!

WAR!

So there you have it, there goes the message, there goes the key. Scriptures says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

This is why we WAR, because in warring we stay faithful, we stay righteous, we stay on the side of God. And when we pray in such a manner, our prayers are effectual and avail much.

Battle Bruises, absolutely. Knock down by the side of the road, most definitely, but VICTORIOUS nevertheless.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) (2 Cor. 10:3, 4).

Our weapons

The world has its own type of weapons; they are “wealth, talent, learning, prestige, rank, influence, reason, perversion of truth, force, and human schemes.” These are the things that challenge us today. These are the things that the devil brings before us. But like Christ, when the devil tempted Him with these weapons, we can overcome (Matt. 4:8, 9). We must refuse to war with these types of weapons, for the principles of heaven do not permit the use of such methods (cf. John 18:36).

The weapons that we have are unstoppable. They are forged in the arsenal of heaven, and are made available to us through the ministry of angels (2 Cor. 1:12; Eph. 6:10–20; cf. DA 827). These weapons include truth as set forth in the Word of God (Heb. 4:12), and the imparted power of Christ and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4). God calls men to this conflict, equips them for battle, and assures them of victory. He supplies man with all the power (2 Cor. 2:14).

If the saving of souls and the extension of Christ’s kingdom were dependent upon human talent, intellect, power, and weaponry, Christianity would be a purely a human religion. We must use the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God and Truth, The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ Himself. These weapons can pull down any fortress and stronghold.[10] And all is accomplished by FAITH. This is why Paul said, “I Have kept the faith.”

Scripture tell us that

  • By faith we are delivered from “the power of Satan unto God.” (Acts 26:8)

  • By faith we turn “from darkness to light” (Acts 26:8)

  • By faith we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22)

  • By faith we have access to God (Romans 5:2)

  • By faith Christ dwells in our hearts (Ephesians 3: 17)

  • By faith By Faith the just live (Roman 1:17).

  • By faith we are sanctified (Acts 26:8).

  • By faith we are justified (Romans 3:28)

  • And by faith we will be glorified.

During a war, a chaplain asked a severely wounded youth if he was a Christian. The soldier gasped, “Yes.” The chaplain said, “Then you have nothing to fear,” and left to die the future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. [8]

In another incident, the army of Julian the Apostate was on the march to Persia some of the soldiers got hold of a Christian believer to torment and torture him in brutal sport. After they were wearied of it, they looked into his eyes and said to their helpless victim, with infinite scorn in their voices, “Where now is your carpenter God?”

The prisoner looked up through pain, blood, and agony to say, “Where now is my carpenter God? He is building a coffin for your emperor.”[9]

Friends we are victorious NOW!

I tell you today, our Carpenter God has assured us victory!

We don’t have to guess the outcome because it is already known. Paul used superlative expressions to show us just how definite our victory is. He uses phrases like:

“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph” (2 Cor. 2:14).

So when we go into battle we know that the victory is ours.

Instead of just conquering, he says, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

And when you think that you can’t defeat the enemy that the devil has placed in your ways, he says, “(We) can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13).

And final, Jesus says, when tribulation comes don’t be concerned.

“I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Conclusion

The battle is waging. Truth and error are nearing their final conflict. Let us march under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, and fight the good fight of faith, and win eternal honors; for the truth will triumph, and we may be more than conquerors through Him who has loved us. The precious hours of probation are closing. Let us make sure work for eternal life, that we may glorify our heavenly Father, and be the means of saving souls for whom Christ died.

--Review and Herald, March 13, 1888.  {ChS 77.2}

Yes! We may get scares and we may have some bruises, but thank God VICTORY is ours!

[1] Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 492

[2] William Wilberforce, Real Christianity. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4.

[3] Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 222.

[4] Niemoller, Martin, Christianity Today, vol. 31, no. 15

[5] Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 707.

[6] Newsweek, November 19, 1990.

[7] Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, p. 373.

[8] “The Untold Story of Christianity & The Civil War,” Christian History, no. 33.

[9] R. Geoffrey Brown, “Look! A Great White Horse!’ Preaching Today, Tape No. 111.

[10] Nichol, Francis D., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1978.

 

 

  Bible Studies:

    - The Bible

    - The Origin of Sin

    - Salvation

    - Heaven

    - Faith

    - Prayer

    - Oil of the Spirit

    - Baptism

    - Destination of Evil

    - The Christian Life

    - Death

    - Happy Happy Home

    - The Law and Grace

    - Jesus

    - The Sabbath

    - Change of Sabbath

    - The Seal of God

    - The Second Coming

    - The True Church

    - Not Enough Room

    - God's Health Plan

Everyday Bible Studies:

    - Speaking in Tongues

    - Forgiveness

    - Morality or Immorality

    - Entertainment

    - Christian Dress

    - Victory Over Sin

    - His Righteousness

    - Guaranteed Security