Texts: Romans 6; 1 John 1:8–2:1
No news story utilizes the word “victory” more than headlines on professional sports. The titles blaze across your screen: “Super Saints dominate in lopsided victory over Bills” (football)1, “United States Ends 17-Year Drought With Fed Cup Victory” (tennis), “Celtics beat Raptors 95-94 for 12 straight victory” (basketball), “Patton Kizzire holds off Rickie Fowler for first career victory” (golf), “Blackhawks fight back for much-needed victory in OT” (hockey). In fact, only a sprinkling of political news article squeaked in among the dozens of sports stories that used the word victory.
Victory gets tossed into the mix of a lot of other things in our world. Besides being one of the favorite adjectives stamped on political wins, you can also purchase Victory Archery products, play corn hole (a lawn game) on boards made by Victory Tailgate, or go cruising on a Victory Motorcycle. Do you need to munch on something that is high in protein and fiber and has NO artificial flavors or sweeteners? Why not bite into a chocolate chip cookie dough Victory Bar while you sit back and watch one of the 26 episodes of a WWII documentary series titled Victory at Sea?
Some churches today use the word victory in their title and for good reason. Christ has been victorious over sin so that we may live in freedom. But does that mean we can (or will) continue to sin? This week’s Sabbath school lesson focuses on Romans 6 and is filled with verses that drip with victory. Though the word is not specifically used we are reminded that, “For he who has died has been freed from sin” (v. 7), “For sin shall not have dominion over you…” (v. 14), and “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (v. 22).
Why would Paul even bother to begin Romans 6 with this question: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may about?” (v. 1). Is he addressing people who are looking for an excuse to keep coddling their favorite addiction? Or is he speaking to those who genuinely want to be rid of sin in their lives?
Victory in Christ is more than outward behavior modification. God provides power to transform our motives. Paul explains, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 11). When you are literally and physically dead, nothing can tempt you. In the same way, when through Christ we have died with Him, we by faith choose to be dead to sin and live by the power of Jesus.
Victory can only be claimed when we stay connected to the One who crushed the head of the serpent.