The book of Hebrews lays out for us the idea that the children of Israel entering the promised land is a picture of us entering God’s rest in the here and now. The promised land does not represent heaven. After the children of Israel finally crossed the Jordan River and entered Canaan, there were still battles to be fought. There were still enemies to contend with. Likewise, in the Christian life of entering God’s rest and walking in the Spirit, there are still battles to be fought and enemies that we contend with. But just like the children of Israel, we have the promise of victory.
Think this through with me. When Israel eventually occupied the promised land of Canaan, it was not without a struggle. But along with the ongoing battles was the promise of God that Israel would prevail; that Israel would be victorious.
Today, your life in God’s rest, your life in the Spirit, is not without challenges and difficulty. We face many enemies within and without. We hear the lying and deceptive voices inside our heart and head and outside in the world system that is controlled by Satan himself. But, thinking about the picture of victory in Israel’s conquest of the promised land, we too have been promised the victory over our enemies.
The victory promised to you and I comes about through the same means as it takes to enter God’s rest; our faith. “For whatever is born of God [you and I when we accepted Christ] overcomes the world [our enemies]; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes [that’s us] that Jesus is the Son of God” (I Jn 5:4-5).
A verse we have quoted often in this recent series is, “They were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Heb 3:19). Israel could not enter the land due to their lack of faith. Just as faith is necessary for Israel entering the land and us entering God’s rest; so faith is also necessary for experiencing the victory once we arrive.
What promises must we believe by faith to experience this promise of victory in living the Christian life? Here are a few specific promises to those who have placed their trust in Christ.
- Your separation from the Father has ended. God is not waiting to love a future version of yourself. He loves the you in the mirror that you see today!
- Who you really are at your core is wrapped up in who Christ is because He is living His life through you. Your true identity is who you are in Christ.
- You have a moral resemblance to Christ. Your new and righteous nature is not something that earned your salvation. It was a gift at your salvation. Our righteous actions did not save us, but they demonstrate to the world around us that we are saved; that we are children of God.
- A new power over sin is waiting for you. I say “waiting” because the Christian life is not lazy, automatic, or on cruise-control. We only experience this power when we rest in the Spirit; when we walk with an ongoing faith in the Power behind the power, when we practice what He has shown us as righteous behavior.
These promises require faith because they are not something we can necessarily put our hands on. We don’t always see them in our lives. We don’t always feel their power. But based on God’s Word and character, we know by faith that the promises are real and true. And faith is where victory begins!