We’ve Already Won

I believe it was in the fifth grade when a close friend turned against me, and with him several others. As I walked home one day not long after, they launched at me a steady barrage of snowballs, relentlessly reloading from northern Michigan’s endless supply of winter white. It so happened, though, that at the point of ambush was someone shoveling his driveway. He wore a varsity jacket, so likely a high school junior or senior, and being in the line of fire, he joined me. So, together we battled a small detachment of pre-adolescents—I lobbing lazy, high-arching “air cover” and the big guy firing frozen spheres—arrow-straight, at high-speed, and with great precision. It was enough: the enemy scattered, and I walked safely home. “We” had won.

We don’t know how the man from Gergesa obtained an “impure spirit” or how he’d become possessed by a “legion” of demons; we only know that he suffered greatly under the oppressive powers of darkness. Constantly tormented in body, mind and soul, he had become a frighteningly “fierce”1 man of unsubduable strength2 and “always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”3 But authority understands authority, and when the demons in him saw Jesus arriving, they in self-interest drove their helpless host into His presence: the man “ran and fell on his knees in front of him.”4 Then at the top of the man’s voice, they collectively shouted at Jesus, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”5 (Ironic, isn’t it—bullies begging for mercy in the face of defeat?) At Jesus’ command, the demons scattered and the man was safe—“he” had won.

Our “walk home” is filled with battles, for we “struggle … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.”6 Yet as painful and difficult as these times are, in Jesus, we have already won. The Father “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”7 No matter how tortured our past or how hopeless things appear, we have won. No matter who is against us or how great their number, we have won. Though our foe would attack us or our friends flee our side, we have won. Then in the confidence of Christ and in His power, we face our enemies; be they addictions, frustrations, rejections or regrets, we can face them, knowing this: we are in Christ, and Jesus always wins.

“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Father, thank you for this assurance: Jesus has defeated our enemy, and in Christ, I have, too. You are God, and I am safe. Help me always to remember this and to rest in you. Amen.

1 Matthew 8:28 ESV
2 Mark 5:4 3
Mark 5:5 ESV
4 Mark 5:6
5 Mark 5:7
6 Ephesians 6:12
7 Colossians 1:13

David Spoke Faith

No one names their child Goliath, do they? No, I don’t think so. The name has been used plenty throughout the millennia, but only as metaphor for seemingly insurmountable opposition. Sports always has its Goliaths, the perennial powerhouses that dominate year-in and year-out, and we apply the tag to “the system” and its matrixed components—political, corporate, and influential individuals. But no one names their child Goliath, for he was both an overconfident bully and an underachieving loser. He was intimidating in appearance: larger than any professional wrestler, and strong, he wore 125 pounds of armor, and the mere tip of his spear weighed 15 pounds, roughly as much as the steel ball used in shot put competition. “Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.”1 Vini, vidi, vamoose. (I came, I saw, I ran the other way.)

David saw things differently. The colossus stood before him, there was no doubt about that. But the battle against him was not David’s; it belonged to the One who, though unseen, was infinitely stronger than any Goliath His people could ever face. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,” said David, “but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”2 His were the words of faith—“confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”3 Then with one stone skillfully hurled from a shepherd’s sling, Israel’s menace was no more.

Not all Goliaths are external; many challenge us from within. Fear and pride in all their manifestations rise up against us in overwhelming proportions, and in times like these we must fortify our soul in words of faith. When despair advanced against David, for instance, he strengthened himself with hope, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”4 Feeling alone amid conspiracy, the king assured himself of God’s faithfulness: “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.”5 Recalling God’s goodness from the past gave David peace in the present—“Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”6

Paul reminded the Corinthian believers, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak …”7 May this be our way of life, as well. Let us speak faith, as David did.

Father, I believe. Grace me to speak your greatness in the freedom of faith. Amen.

1 1 Samuel 17:24
2 1 Samuel 17:45, 46
3 Hebrews 11:1
4 Psalm 42:5 ESV
5 Psalm 62:5, 6 ESV
6 Psalm 116:7 ESV
7 2 Corinthians 4:13

Nathan Spoke Truth

“Thou art the man.”1 It was Nathan’s signature line (always best delivered in King James English). Through a veiled parable of a rich man pitilessly robbing a poor man of his sole possession—a pet lamb—the prophet had raised David’s ire to the boiling point, pouring over in condemnation of such injustice. Then Nathan proclaimed, “Thou art the man,” confronting the prosperous king for his adulterous affair with another man’s wife. Nathan spoke truth, as prophets must, and Israel’s greatest king confessed his heartless sin to God. This was not the first time Nathan sowed God’s truth into David’s soul; there had been another such moment, arguably a larger one.

Settled into his newly-built palace, David contemplated the irony: “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”2 His yen to build a more suitable structure for God’s presence was, in a way, commendable, but it was just that: David’s idea, not God’s. Uncharacteristically, Nathan replied without consulting God, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”3 There they were—Israel’s leaders presuming, without seeking, to know and pursue what they thought best for God. But “people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.”4 Said God to Nathan later that night, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?’”5 It was neither the king’s place nor within his capability to decide what was best for God, whose plans have been established from before the creation of the world. Instead, God sent Nathan back to David bearing His covenantal plan—that the Messiah would come through the king’s lineage: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”6 David listened in humility and responded in submission, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”7 adding, “Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever.”8

Even God’s people can speak hastily without first seeking Him, so we do well to listen with discernment for God’s voice. For our God is the God of grace, and with words of strength, wisdom and truth He still speaks to and through those who hear Him, aligning us with his plans, purposes and will. We who live in Christ by faith are united in Him, and it delights God to work through each of us for the growth of all of us. So, with submitted and discerning hearts, let us speak truth, as Nathan did.

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”9

1 2 Samuel 12:7 KJV
2 2 Samuel 7:2
3 2 Samuel 7:3
4 Jeremiah 10:23
5 2 Samuel 7:5
6 2 Samuel 7:16
7 2 Samuel 7:18
8 2 Samuel 7:25, 26
9 Psalm 25:5