Study 1 IN THE TRAIN OF HIS TRIUMPH
by Francis Dixon
Key Verse: “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Is it possible to live a victorious life in this world of unrest and spiritual and moral darkness? Yes, it is! Nowhere in the Bible is the life of victory more strikingly portrayed than in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. Paul was always a thankful man - compare 1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 9:15. He thanked God for the provision He had made for Christians to live victorious lives. So often we are defeated and know little of victorious Christian living; so as we study this scripture may the Holy Spirit lead us into the secret of following Christ in the train of His triumph. In these verses Paul uses a very striking figure of speech.
When a Roman general had been victorious in battle he was given ’a triumph’ - a triumphal procession - when he returned from battle and entered the capital city. The roadway was strewn with flowers, and added to this, incense was burned, so that the air would be filled with a lovely fragrance. In the procession, and behind the victorious general, were trophies of the battle in the form of captives. When the procession reached the capital some of these captives were put to death and others allowed to live. Now see what the apostle is saying here: his great Captain and General, the Lord Jesus Christ, had triumphed over all His enemies at Calvary and had risen victorious from the dead; and in the triumphal procession that God gave Him, Paul the ‘captive’ was in fact sharing in his Captain’s glorious triumph. Dr Weymouth is right, therefore, when he translates 2 Corinthians 2:14 – ‘Thanks be unto God, who ever leads us in His triumphal procession.’
Notice several things about this life of glorious victory.
1. THE AUTHOR OF IT
This triumphant life is impossible in our own strength. It is ”God who leads us…” (2 Corinthians 2:14) - compare 2 Corinthians 3:5, and then look at the last part of 2 Corinthians 2:16. It is because we think we are capable of living victoriously by our own strength that we fail so miserably and frequently. God is the Author of this life of victory - we can contribute nothing to it, except our willingness to be His captive. Salvation in every tense (past, present and future) is all of grace - compare Ephesians 2:8-10 with 1 Corinthians 15:57.
2. THE NATURE OF IT
This triumphant life is a participation in Christ’s victory over all His enemies. Notice the two vital words in 2 Corinthians 2:14 - “…in Christ”. God causes us to triumph by virtue of the fact that we are captives of the Lord Jesus Christ. The triumph is His, and we share it, just as the captives shared the triumphal procession of the returning and victorious general. Think of this for a moment:-
- During the 33 years of our Lord’s earthly life He triumphed over sin and Satan. Look up Hebrews 4:15. Not only in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), but all through His earthly life He was tempted in every way that we are tempted, but never once did He yield to the Tempter.
- On the cross our Lord conquered sin, death, Hell and the Devil. Look up Colossians 2:14-15, and compare Hebrews 2:14. Having completely defeated His enemies - sin, death, Hell and the Devil - He rose from the grave, and now shares His triumph with all His captives, His redeemed ones!
3. THE EXTENT OF IT
How complete is this victory for us? It is as complete as it was for Him. He was completely victorious, and we share His life and His victory. We see this in 2 Corinthians 2:14, in Paul’s use of the word ‘always’. Just as the Lord Jesus was always victorious over sin and Satan, so may I be if I am His captive, if I am sharing His life and His victory. How slow we are to believe this! Whatever our besetting sin may be, the trouble is that we do not believe that it is possible to be free from this sin. But it is possible! There is nothing in the realm of evil over which we may not be continually victorious, because it is not our victory but Christ’s. Notice the last eight words in John 8:11, and compare 2 Timothy 4:18.
4. THE MANIFESTATION OF IT
In what way and by whom is this triumphant life seen? It is revealed in two directions – God-ward and man-ward. 2 Corinthians 2:15 tells us about the God-ward aspect, and 2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us about the man-ward aspect. See that triumphal procession. The air is filled with a beautiful fragrance from the flowers being trodden underfoot and the incense that is being burned. What is the fragrance that spreads forth from the Christian who is sharing Christ’s triumph? It is the fragrance of Christ Himself. In other words, if we are sharing His triumph the fragrance of His life within us will spread outward - both to God, to whom it will be “the aroma of Christ” (verse 15), and to men, to whom it will be “the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (verse 14).
5. THE SECRET OF IT
What is the secret of maintaining this union with the Lord Jesus Christ, so that moment by moment we share His victory? 2 Corinthians 2:17 tells us: the secret is in honestly applying God’s Word to the whole of our life.
As preachers, Paul is saying, we are not guilty of diluting the Word of God. We must ask, are we guilty of diluting it? If we are prepared to apply the Word of God to our lives, and to adjust our lives to it, then we shall experience day by day a maintained union with our Lord Jesus Christ, and we shall enjoy and share His glorious triumph and victory. Notice the important words in verse 17 – ‘we speak before God with sincerity …’
Are we willing to be utterly sincere in seeking to live according to the truth of God’s Word? If so, we shall know the secret of His triumphant life in us, and the Lord Himself will lead us day by day in the train of His triumph.