TRIUMPH IN CHRIST
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 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?” II Cor. 2:14-16
I have read that the figure of speech that the Apostle Paul used here came from an ancient Roman ceremonial; in which they honored the conquering hero for a decisive victory over a foreign foe. They celebrated the conquest with a triumphal procession. They marched through the city spreading garlands of flowers in his path, and burning incense to the victor. Strong translates, “causeth us to triumph,” “to make acclamatory procession;” Vine has it, “leadeth us in triumph.” The Amplified Bible says, “Who in Christ always leads us in triumph – as trophies of Christ’s victory.” It is also translated, “Who leads us in the train of Christ’s triumph.”
All thanks belongs to God for all our victories. When Paul gives thanks here he speaks for himself, but also includes those of like faith. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” – II Cor. 9:15. Thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” – I Cor. 15:57. There is no defeat in Him, there is no victory without Him. As captain of our salvation He always leads from victory unto victory. When we go with Him, wholly following Him we can never be defeated, but are more than conquerors through Him that loves us.
When we fail to fully follow the Lord, the losses we experience need not mean total defeat. Yet there is no excuse for the believer remaining in defeat. Losses here and there can be stepping stones, expensive yet profitable lessons, if we learn from them not to trust ourselves. For the arm of flesh will certainly fail us. Paul wrote, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God” - II Cor. 3:5.
When we are persuaded to trust some formula, plan of action, or programmed reaction, we miss out on what God’s power can do, in dealing with our problems. Paul wrote, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” – I Cor. 2:4-5.
To speak of triumph gives evidence of conflict, a battle being fought, warfare being waged, a foe being conquered. It’s not too long after we become a part of the family of God that we begin to realize that there is something fiercely opposing us in order to bring our utter defeat. As we go on we become aware that we are running against a powerful resisting force that is restraining and strength draining. With the prince and power of the air, the rulers of spiritual wickedness in high places against us, we shouldn’t wonder that Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Thank God that He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. It encourages us to read that “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him” – Isa. 59:19. It is indeed a blessing to be able to say with Paul in troublesome times, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” At times like these we had better know that the weapons of our warfare are mighty through God” – II Cor. 10:4.
In II Chron. 20, we have an interesting illustration of some of the truth expressed here. We read of a great multitude gathered against king Jehoshaphat and Judah to do battle. The multitude included the armies of three nations. When the king was told this he feared and set himself to seek the Lord. He gathered the congregation of Judah and prayed before them. In his prayer he reminded God of His promise to hear them in their affliction and give help. He told the Lord that he had no might against this great company, nor did he know what to do. He said to God; “Our eyes are upon thee.”
God then anointed one to tell them not to be afraid, but to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” They were told to go out against their enemy for the Lord would be with them. Jehoshphat then led his people in worship.
He admonished his people also to believe in the Lord their God. He then appointed singers unto the Lord, “that should praise the beauty of holiness” as they went out before the army, and to say, “Praise the Lord for his mercy endureth forever.” When they began to sing, and praise the Lord, the Lord set ambushments against their enemies, who then began to slay each other. After they had warred against themselves, all Judah had to do was walk in and gather the spoils of victory. These were spoken of as an “abundance of riches and precious jewels.” We read that there was no much wealth that they couldn’t carry it all and Judah was three days in gathering it.
They then returned to Jerusalem and to the temple in triumphant procession, “with psalteries, harps, and trumpets, and with joy: for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.” This is also a good illustration of the truth in Phil. 4:6,7 of prayer, praise, and prevailing peace. Hallelujah! Our adversaries will multiply, confederate, and take counsel against us, then as God intervenes, they will ambush each other, and we are to walk in and take the spoils of victory
ROUTED COMBATANTS & RESCUED CAPTIVES: I have read that this Roman ceremonial not only involved those he had delivered, but also those he had defeated. The aroma of the burning incense would carry a far different meaning to one than the other. I appreciate Berkly’s translation that says; “maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” It reads like this, “Who evidences tbrough us…the fragrance that results from knowing him.”
Oh what a joy to consider the victory Jesus has won! In Colossians 2:15, we read: “having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” In other words, He mightily disarmed, stripped off from himself (out stripped) principalities and powers and robbed them of their prey, then exposed them to open contempt in celebrating His triumphant act.” I greatly enjoy reading Ephesians 4:7-10, in this connection. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also the ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
What a privilege to wholeheartedly follow the captain of our salvation. He is indeed a winner, THE WINNER. He went into upper sheol and preached to the spirits in prison. Though He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, He arose and ascended on high, captivating a captivity. He not only freed captives from deaths prison house, but led triumphantly into a new captivity, the trophies of His victory.
DEATH OVERCOME BY THE OUTPOURED LIFE: Death has had its sting, its shadow, its sentence, and savour, but Jesus has provided the answer for every related ill. Humanity has been so painfully stung to death by sin. The suffering has lasted so long, but praise God, Jesus, who was made sin for us, has tasted death for every man, and has taken the sting out of death for the believer. We had “the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” – II Cor. 1:9-10. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment” – Heb. 9:27. Jesus has so wonderfully met death’s appointment for us, answered the sentence of death against us, and paid our debt. A dark shadow of gloom and fear has long hung over fallen humanity. Jesus died as a man in the place of fallen man, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage: – Heb. 2:14-15.
To us then, death is only a shadow that hung over our sky, but we have a good Shepherd that walks with us through death’s dark valley. Thank God we just pass through, and are not there to stay. In the mean time His rod and staff are a comfort to us, along the way. As He walks with us, He makes us to know that one happy day, all the dark shadowy clouds of death will be finally and forever rolled away.
Death has indeed an unpleasant odor. After the death of Lazarus, Jesus went to the tomb and said, “Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said unto him Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he had been dead four days” – Jn. 11:39. In Paul’s description of the old creation, he wrote, “Their throat is an open sepulchre.” By nature there comes from us the odors of death. Jesus said, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Anything and everything coming out of the old creation carries the smell of death. This is so repulsive to the spirit of the living God, and any that are spiritual, those who feed on the Word of God and have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The way we can keep from expelling the smell of death, is to walk in the spirit. As we walk in the spirit, we walk in love, and the sweet savour of Jesus Christ comes forth from our life and ascends unto God - Eph. 5:1-2. As we go on in victory, presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, worshipping God, the fragrance of holy incense issues forth to mankind as well as ascending up before God (Rev. 5:8-9 and 8:3-4; Rom. 12:103). As Paul poured out his life unto God, for the saints, his life was the sweet smelling savour of Christ unto God. He joyed and rejoiced and the Philippian saints with him. Also in turn the attitude of those people in their giving emitted the fragrance of Christ unto God (Phil. 4:18).
We read in John 12:3 of the odor of the costly ointment filling all the house where Jesus was anointed. One day soon the sweet savour of full overcomers in worship poured out upon Jesus will fill all that heavenly house. Oh! That will be the aroma of life, and victory unto ecstatic bliss. Thank God for the victory, in spite of the sting, sentence, shadow, and savour of death. Although those who believe not, or continue to walk after the flesh may sense the savour of death, yet as Christ leads us in the train of his triumph, we send forth the sweet savour of life and victory.
– J. D.