Victory vs. Freedom / Author: Nick Peterson
Deception is extremely powerful. It is deception that oftentimes gets us just enough off course to actually miss the mark. Deception works because it is close enough to be similar, but not exact enough to be synonymous. If I’m giving you directions to a specific location and I say turn right at the light vs. bare right after the light – chances are, even those both directions have “right” them, you will end up at the wrong place with one of them. Even though they are close, they are not the same thing.
Victory and freedom are not synonymous terms. They are close and related, but they actually serve different functions in our faith walk. In 1 Samuel 17, we see the story of David facing the Philistine Goliath. The texts describes Goliath like this:
“Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.” (1 Sam 17:4-7).
Based on that description there is no question that Goliath is a formidable foe. He is huge, imposing, undefeated, and prepared for battle. We know that many of the Israelites were afraid of him and did not want to face him in battle. He was just too intimidating and well equipped to destroy any opponent. Our enemies are bigger than us, they tower over us and seem insurmountable. Victory seems impossible with a foe so huge!
Goliath was so imposing that he even taunted the Israelites – “Come on you little pansies, step up to the line so we can fight, don’t be scared. It’ll be over quick…” His deriding was so intense that it actually stirred the fear of the Israelite king, Saul. Believing the enemies taunts about what we cannot do provokes fear and anxiety and subsequently keeps us from ever stepping in the ring to obtain victory.
For 40 days this giant Philistine came and taunted the Israelites and for 40 days no one stepped forward to battle the Philistine. There could be no victory in this instance because there was no one willing to go to war. The only way the children of Israel would obtain victory would be for someone to step to the line and defeat this giant. Finally after 40 days a young ruddy shepherd boy named David came forward and said he would slay the Philistine just like he had slayed the wild beast that attacked his father’s sheep. What David understood was that small victories lead to bigger victories and so he recognized that his work in the field prepared him for facing Goliath. Not because David was stronger, but because David had been able to practice with his tools. David was able to see how stones and a slingshot could defeat animals larger and stronger than himself. Small victories build confidence in recognizing which tools are effective. This confidence is not pride or arrogance, but the ability to trust the tools that work.
To emphasize David’s confidence in his tools, when raised his hand that he would go and defeat this Philistine who was defiling the name of his God, they tried to dress David in the king’s armor. But the king’s armor, as nice and expensive and well crafted as it was, was not suitable for David. The king’s armor was designed for the king and not David. Furthermore the King’s armor made David’s original tools less effective because he could not use them with the ill fitting armor. Just because something worked for one person does not mean it will work the same for you. Know the tools that have secured your victory and stick with them.
We know how the story goes, David shows up and he defeats the Philistine – HE IS VICTORIOUS. This is what victory is about. Victory is specific and particular. It is defined by the resolution of immediate conflict. When we choose not to look at porn or masturbate or entertain lustful thoughts, we are engaging in victorious warfare. The tools that we are using from prayer and fasting to filters and accountability, all of these things are helping us to build confidence not in ourselves, but in the tools that we are using. One of the ways that we can be deceived about victory is to think that we are victorious by our own making, when in fact, like David, we can only be victorious as we are assured of the supremacy of our tools. We are called to be victorious, we are equipped to be victorious. Victory is ours when we step out of fear, when we stop believing the lies the enemy tells and we use the tools we have been given to defeat the foe. Victory is only possible when we engage the right tools at the right time against the right opponent.
If talking about victory is talking about successful warfare – to talk about freedom is to talk bout successful peace.
Here’s the kicker. Even though David was victorious against the Philistine Goliath in chapter 17, the Israelites were not FREE from the Philistines. They had been victorious in battle, but had not obtained freedom. In fact in Chapter 31, the Philistines return and defeat Israel – to the extent that the Israelite king, Saul took his own life. In this instance they were neither victorious nor free, they were defeated. If talking about victory is talking about successful warfare – to talk about freedom is to talk bout successful peace.
If victory requires us to engage in face to face in combat. Freedom has to do with the ever increasing distance between you and the enemy. Freedom is what happens in the absence of warfare. The goal in warfare and victory-making is to kill the enemy and not die. The goal in freedom is to LIVE-WELL. The word most closely associated with freedom is EMANCIPATION, which is to indicate that one is able to make decisions based on one’s on free-will. It is possible to have victory without ever fully experiencing freedom, but living FREE means that you are also walking in victory. Do not settle for merely ‘taking over the castle’ when you were meant to have dominion over the entire country!
When the scriptures proclaim that that we have been set free from sin and made slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:18) and that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves been entangled again in bondage to the yoke of sin.” (Gal 5:1) These scriptures are all pointing to the two that ensures our FREEDOM and that is JESUS CHRIST. We might have achieved victory by using our filters and going to sleep early and getting out the bed in haste in the morning and reading our bibles. But for us the only way to be free from sin is to be enslaved to CHRIST. There is no other way around it.
Freedom in Christ is a very change in our taste-buds. It is true reorientation of our desires.
We can be victorious by a number of means, but freedom actually requires us to be connected to the source of life. To be connected to Jesus is just not knowing the right verses, or being able to sing the right song, or even having a warm sensation in your heart. To be connected to Jesus is to be compelled and captivated by a love so rich, a passion so fierce that we are left with no option but to say YES! The Psalmist said taste and see that the Lord is good and happy are those who take refuge in God. These words point to the way that Freedom in Christ is a very change in our taste-buds. It is true reorientation of our desires. We want to be children of the light and live in the light. Freedom does not mean we do not have struggles and temptations, but it means that we recognize that the only thing that matters is the relationship that I’m fostering with Christ and the fruit its bearing in my life. FREEDOM IS LIVING. Freedom is bearing the full range of fruit in season and out of season. Freedom is counting it joy to suffer. Freedom is loving your neighbor as yourself. And for us to be “more than conquerors” simply means that we are FREE. Brothers, let us strive to be men who live both victoriously and freely, because Christ died for us to live no less than that.