Summary: Paul offers five basic principles that build the foundation for victorious living.
“Between the Lines: V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!”
“V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! Victory – Victory – Victory!” I imagine many of you remember that ancient, once traditional cheer. I thought about having our staff members don cheerleading outfits and recreate the cheer for us this morning – but I had hunch I wouldn‘t be persuasive enough! And knowing what I would look like trying to do the cheer – well, you understand why I settled for just saying it! But because of what Paul shared in Romans 8, I had to say it! “Victory” best reflects his attitude about the Christian life. In light of all the deep theological discussions and truths Paul had espoused in the first 7½ chapters, he needed to explain their significance for us. So he raised 5 basic issues that provide us with the foundation for victorious living. It’s the same foundation any team needs to be a consistent winner.
First, to be victorious we need a SOUND GAME PLAN. No team wins consistently without a sound game plan. Freewheeling just doesn’t produce many victories. But our lives are not freewheeling: As we saw last week in verses 28-29: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” GOD HAS A GOAL IN MIND – WE WILL BE LIKE JESUS. God works out everything in our lives to that end. Paul states that God takes all of our decisions, all of our choices, all of our circumstances, everything that happens to us and around us, and works them into the mix of our lives in such a way that it will help transform us into being like Jesus.
That means that NOT EVERYTHING IS WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE. Just as icebergs show only a fraction of themselves above the surface, so events are more than what they appear to be at first glance. More is going on in every moment than meets the eye. It was this game plan that enabled Paul to be victorious. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Life will have its share of suffering; it can end in glory. Life will have it hurts; it can end with “Hallelujahs!” We are to look at suffering only in the light of the glory to come – and that glory will come in us! (2 Cor. 4:16-18) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” No matter how things appear to you now, God is at work for good – if you love Him – transforming your situation and your very life. Never forget that God alone can bring victory from defeat, triumph from tragedy, crowns from crosses, light from darkness, and life from death. It’s His game plan.
The second piece of the foundation for victorious living is to have a SOLID DEFENSE (31): “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” We certainly know who and what can be against us – employers, bosses, competitors, children, spouses, in-laws, co-workers, peers, enemies, and all types of spiritual forces. But, “If God is for us” who can be against us? Do you believe that God is for you? Say with me, GOD IS FOR ME…Look at your neighbor and say, “God is for me!” Four small, but powerful, words. God is for me: the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe – the God above all gods – is for me. God is for me: not may be if the conditions are right – not was – not would be, if – God is, now, today, forever for me. God is for me: on the sidelines shouting my name, in the stands applauding my efforts, at the gate to greet me with a “Well done,” encouraging me when I fail, pulling me up when I fall. God is for me: as Max Lucado points out, if God drove a car, my name would be on His bumper sticker! If God had a wallet, my picture would be in it. In fact, GOD ALREADY HAS MY NAME WRITTEN ON HIS HAND (Is. 49:15-16): “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on my hand.” What greater defense can there be? Begin each day by saying and claiming that God is for you and therefore it will be a victorious day!