Summary: When you were born again, you were born to win. And God’s plan for you is perpetual victory.
I want to talk to you today about victory. The title of the message: “The Sweet Smell of Victory.” Let me give you some good news—some good news: When you were born again, you were born to win. And, God’s plan for you is perpetual victory.
Look in chapter 2, verse 14—here are the words of the Apostle Paul: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour”—that means the perfume—“of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour…”—a sweet smell—“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16). God’s plan for you is victory—perpetual victory—always and in every place.
“Now,” you say, “Pastor Rogers, aren’t you stretching it a little bit? Nobody can have victory always and in every place.” Well, I guess Paul just made a mistake, then. No, friend, if you’re not having victory, it is not because Paul made a mistake; it is because you are not appropriating the victory that is yours in the Lord Jesus Christ. And, how my soul burns today to lay that upon your heart! The Bible admits the possibility of defeat for the child of God, but never the necessity of it. Did that sink in? The Bible admits the possibility of defeat for the child of God, but never the necessity of it.
Now, look at this verse: “Thanks be unto God, which causes us always to triumph in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Look at the word triumph, and let me tell you about the word triumph. If you were to go to Rome—to the Roman forum—there, you would see an arch called the Arch of Triumph. And, that’s what Paul is writing about—the same thing that that arch was built for.
The Romans had a custom that, when a Roman general would go away to a war and he would win the victory for war, they would celebrate in the streets of Rome. And, here’s how they would celebrate: Sometimes they would build a monument like the Arch of Triumph, which actually celebrates Titus’ victory over Jerusalem—the emperor, or the general, Titus, who conquered and subjugated Jerusalem. They built this magnificent arch. You can see it today; it has a picture of the Roman soldiers carrying away the Menorah out of the temple of God. Go today, and you can see that. And, a herald would come, and he would tell the people, “Rome has won.” He was called a herald. They didn’t have CNN; they didn’t have Dan Rather. Well, that was a blessing. They did not have so many things that we have today—telephones and fax machines. There needed to be a runner, a herald, with the good news. How beautiful were his feet, because he would come, and he would give the good news, “Rome has won!”
Did you know that the same word for herald that was used for this man, and for a preacher of the gospel, is the same word in the Greek language? Do you know what a preacher is? He’s someone who stands before you and says, “Jesus has won.” We have the victory; and so, that’s what preaching is—it’s just simply announcing the victory that the Lord Jesus Christ has won. How beautiful are the feet of them that tell the good news of the gospel of Christ! (Romans 10:15). We are on the winning side. Jesus has defeated the enemy.
When that herald would come and tell people that Rome had won the victory, then, they got ready for a celebration. They would hang out garlands and festoon the city with flowers. They would build, as I say, monuments. People would line the streets and get ready for a parade, and the priest would take great bowls of incense and begin to burn that incense. The whole city would be filled with the sweet smell of victory. Have you ever been down to Florida, to the Promised Land, when the orange blossoms are in profusion? You just drive along, and the air is filled with orange-blossom perfume. That’s the way it was in Rome. It was incense. It was the sweet smell of victory.
And then, the returning general would come. He would be riding in a chariot; that chariot would be pulled by a magnificent white steed. And, the defeated general—they didn’t kill him; they had a better plan. They wanted him alive, because they were going to put him on display. And, they would put him in chains; and then, they would chain him to the victorious general’s chariot, and they would drag him along behind, naked—his beautiful uniform stripped from him; his medals, his regalia, gone. And, there he is, in humiliation, being dragged through the dust. And, the people are shouting the victory, because Rome has won. The general went to war, and he has come back victorious.