From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals His ultimate and eternal victory over our physical and spiritual enemies, our trials, challenges, and fears, the sins we struggle with, and even death.
The Bible is filled with lessons and true accounts of love, life, and victory. Sure, it contains plenty of pain and death too, but what’s so great about this book is that, as with so many other stories we love, the bad people and the bad stuff don’t win. From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals His ultimate and eternal victory over our physical and spiritual enemies, our trials, challenges, and fears, the sins we struggle with, and even death. Like so many of the people in the Bible, Christ-followers today can have victory in Christ in each of these areas.
This article is the first in a five-part series on the types of victory we have in Christ. Many of us have, at times, felt we were under attack by a physical enemy. While the nature and severity of the opposition vary greatly in each situation, God is always with us and gives us victory in Christ over our physical enemies.
Who Might Be Our Enemy?
At its most basic definition, our enemy is anyone who wants and tries to hurt us, particularly for selfish and ungodly reasons. These people come in all shapes and sizes and may be found in every avenue of life.
-Family. In the Bible, Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4), Joseph’s ten brothers sold him as a slave to Egypt (Genesis 37), and so on.
-Friends. There is perhaps no better-known example of this in Scripture than that of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.
-Church Members. As much as we wish it were otherwise, the church is not immune to the presence of enemies. Many of Paul’s letters urge believers to stop hurting each other.
-Church Leaders. Both Jesus and Paul warned people to guard against unrighteous religious leaders. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15, NASB).
-Co-Workers and/or a Boss. Daniel 6 describes how some of Daniel’s fellow managers were so jealous of him that they successfully executed a plot to have him thrown to the lions.
-Governmental Authorities. The Bible abounds with examples of government authorities actively working against God’s people. The Egyptians turned the Israelites into slaves and killed their baby boys, other foreign nations sought to annihilate them, and even their own nation’s leaders persecuted them. Throughout history and continuing into the present, governments around the world have sought to destroy Christians.
How Does God Give Us Victory over Enemies?
With the existence of so much evil in the world, and the potential for so many enemies to hurt us, how does God give us victory? From what I’ve seen in the Bible and in my life, God may do so by protecting us from them or bringing something good from their harm. He always executes His justice and enables us to love and forgive them as he does. And sometimes, he changes their hearts as much as he changes ours.
“For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11, NASB).
Sometimes God actively prevents our enemies from touching us. In Luke 4:28-30, the Jews in Jesus’ hometown synagogue tried to throw him off a cliff. “But passing through their midst, He went on His way.” On that day, at that time and place, Jesus was supernaturally protected from harm.
God still watches out for us and works on our behalf, often without us realizing it. It may be through prompting us to take a different route, giving us the wisdom and skills to avoid or resist our enemy, sending others to aid us, and many more.
Brings good from harm.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20, NASB).
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).
One of the most difficult questions to wrestle with in Christianity is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” While there isn’t an easy or one-size-fits-all answer, the Bible does give us some insight into a related one.
“What does God do when bad things happen to us?”
Answer: He remains with us and brings something good out of the bad.
The Genesis passage above is found in the story of Joseph. He was the favorite son in a family with ten older brothers. This caused his brothers to become so jealous that they sold him as a slave to Egypt. However, God used the brothers’ unrighteous behavior as an opportunity to lift Joseph to a high position within the Egyptian government. This enabled God, through Joseph, to save the Israelites and other nations from starvation.
There’s nothing simple or easy about being hurt. We may struggle with the scars for years, or even a lifetime. But God can bring good out of the most painful circumstances. He may give us a greater heart of compassion for others and instill in us a desire to help those who have experienced similar pain. He may use the experience as an opportunity to strengthen our faith and character and/or that of others.
While we may never know why God didn’t prevent the bad circumstances, we can rest in the assurance that he can still give us victory by bringing something good from it.
Executes judgment against them.
“This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 46-47).
“Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned” (Psalm 34:21, NASB).
There are times when God allows us to witness the downfall and righteous judgment of our enemies. He may use us, other people, some form of divine intervention, or even the enemy’s evil behavior to defeat and judge their schemes. While the victim may still be impacted in these situations, the enemy’s oppression is seen and judged, and they are overthrown by God.
-Many stories in the Old Testament, including David and Goliath, deal with gaining victory over the enemy through combat.
-After the nation of Israel split and rebelled (2 Samuel and 2 Kings), God used foreign rulers who were even more evil to bring judgment against the unrighteous leaders of his people. Then he used other evil nations to bring judgment against the first group of foreign rulers.
-Triumph can come by presenting the case to a higher authority. God used Queen Esther’s bravery and obedience to defeat Haman when she told King Xerxes the truth about Haman’s schemes.
-In Acts 13, God miraculously struck Elymas, the magician, with blindness when he opposed the Apostle Paul.
While most of us likely won’t be called to physically fight an enemy, we may face situations where we must stand firm and present our case against accusations, slander, or other hostile and damaging actions.
As satisfying as it may feel to see the bad guys lose in this life, that isn’t always God’s plan. Sometimes it looks like they’re prospering instead. But no matter how much it may appear our enemies are winning, they will always answer to God for their behavior, whether in this life or the next. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NASB).
Enables us to love and forgive them as He does.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45, NASB).
Forgiving can be one of the most difficult tasks God asks of us. On our own, this may feel impossible. But with Christ’s love and the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, we can love and forgive those who hurt us. It may not happen right away, and it doesn’t always mean we must enter into relational restoration/reconciliation. But it is a huge victory to reach the point where we can fully set aside anger and bitterness in exchange for Christ’s gifts of love and forgiveness. At that moment, God’s light penetrates the darkness in that area of our soul, adds a layer of protection against satan, and spreads outward.
Love and forgiveness are stronger than any evil the enemy can do, and they can have an incredible impact on others as well. They may even open the door for God to change a heart.
Changes their heart.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
God can change the hearts and lives of both individuals and entire nations. In the book of Jonah, the entire city of Nineveh repented and turned to God.
Perhaps one of the greatest victories comes when Christ turns a foe into a friend. The book of Acts recounts the story of Saul, a Pharisee who was one of the greatest enemies of Christians until Christ met him on the Damascus road and transformed him into one of Christianity’s strongest allies.
No matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, Christ can work in our hearts and lives and give us victory over our enemies, even when those enemies are spiritual.
Click here to check out Victory in Christ over Fear.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Iyan Kurnia
Jenny Fulton is a wife, mother, writer, and member of Wholly Loved Ministries who enjoys studying God’s Word and sharing what she has learned with others. She is the author of Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, A Princess’ Guide to the Alphabet, and Striving for Unity: a Study on 1 Corinthians (upcoming release). An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Jenny developed a keen interest in language and cultures. In 2007, she graduated from Grace University with a B.S. in Bible, a B.S. in elementary education, and an endorsement in K-12 ESL. For the next seven years, Jenny worked as a teacher in a variety of cultural and educational settings, both abroad and in the United States. Her days are now spent raising her three young daughters and writing as much as time and opportunity allows.