To triumph is to achieve great victory. Humans are ingrained with a competitive spirit. This is especially true if your last name is Smith. That spirit explains our elation and unbridled celebration of victory. It also explains the disappointment of defeat. In many the desire to win is so strong that our spirits are absolutely crushed if we do not win. How many times did your mother remind you as a child that “nobody likes a sore loser”? Learning to accept defeat gracefully is part of life. However, there are certain battles in life in which defeat is not an option.
It has been said that most battles are won or lost before they ever begin. That is because one of the combatants is not fully committed to the task. War is as much mental as it is physical. The wise man said long ago that the battle is not always to the strong. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) God has equipped his saints with both the armor and the knowledge necessary to engage our enemy. It would be prudent to train with our armor and keep our skills sharp. Paul encouraged Timothy to “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV)
God helped Israel many times to gain victory over their enemies. The overthrow of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea was the first. Moses and the people celebrated with song. “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”” (Exodus 15:1 NKJV) God is concerned not only for Israel, but for all people, because they too, are his creation. Just as God helped Israel to win over their mortal enemies, He also is very much invested in helping us win over our spiritual enemies. If we are going to defeat Satan and sin, then we too need to understand the battle that we are fighting and be fully committed to it.
In ancient times, defeat in battle typically meant the plundering of all material goods. Defeat cost the lives of kings and men of war while the women and children were subjugated. “To the victor belong the spoils” remains a figure of modern speech even though we did not retain the practice. However, there is a defeat in which the loss is far greater. That is defeat to Satan and the loss of our souls. Do you recall that God said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”? (Matthew 10:28 NKJV) Surrendering to Satan is not a viable option.
Roman generals would return from battles to be honored with a parade of triumph. A crown of laurel and a purple robe marked the victorious honoree. Similar imagery is used in the book of Revelation to describe the triumph of the saints who are successful in their battle against the forces of evil. “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”” (Revelation 7:13-14 NKJV) “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV) Let us all strive to participate in that great triumph on judgment day.