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Jack Graham - Declare Your Victory


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    Jack Graham - Declare Your Victory
TOPICS: Essential Gospel, Victory, Power of Words

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 7, the seventh chapter of Romans. And what I want us to do today is to declare our victory. The title of this message is "Declare Your Victory". And it's taken from the twenty-fifth verse of chapter 7, and it simply says, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin". We have an incredible opportunity in these days to live out our faith as never before. And the way we do that is to declare victory.

Now if you were with us the last time you know that we talked about our struggle. Paul struggled with sin and self. The earlier portion of Romans chapter 7 spoke of this struggle that is within: "The things that I want to do, I don’t do. The things that I don’t want to do, I find myself doing". There is a dilemma that must all consider, and this is this dilemma: Why do we do what we do? Why we still struggle with sin and the problems in the inner-life of dealing with sin and temptation. And it was good to know that the greatest Christian who ever lived, the Apostle Paul, struggled as well, and he gave us an inside look at his own life and his own struggle with sin.

Some would say this was Paul early in his Christian faith, but I would suggest that like all of us, Paul struggled with sin and self all the days of his life, regardless of our maturity and faith; how long we’ve been doing this. We all know that we struggle! We struggle with sin, and we learned that there is a dynamic that we must all claim, and that is the dynamic of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power within us. Paul spoke in Romans 7 again and again of himself. "I, I, I, my, me, mine". It’s all about himself. But then he turns the corner and says, "Thanks be unto God through the Lord Jesus Christ", and then he moves right into a passage where he’s talking about the Spirit, the Spirit, the Spirit, and that’s Romans chapter 8. And the dynamic that we must all claim, that we’re going to be considering over the next time in Romans is this present power of the Holy Spirit.

Have you made the discovery that the Christian life is not hard; it is impossible! In our own strength, by our own human efforts we are unable to do what we want to do, what God has called us to do. And so we need the Holy Spirit, and we have the Holy Spirit! The Bible says, "If any one of you", that is, Christians, "if you don't have the Holy Spirit", and all Christians possess Christ and His Spirit. "If you don't have the Holy Spirit, you're none of His". So we do have the Holy Spirit. And this is the dynamic that empowers us and enables us to live this Christian life. But along with this dilemma and along with this dynamic, what I want to focus on today with you is the declaration that we must all confess.

Paul is making a bold, believing declaration in Romans chapter 7 when he says, "Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ". He is exalting in the fact that Jesus is our Victor! That our Lord has given us victory in Jesus! And he makes this declaration. And it is this declaration that I want to focus on with you today. AND the declarations that we find throughout all of the Bible that teach us how we are to overcome and live in this victory ourselves. Confessions and professions of faith that we find throughout God’s Word. It begins in the beginning, when God Himself makes a confession. With the chaos before creation, God speaks, and God said, "Let there be light", and there was light. The creative power of the word of God!

When God speaks everything changes. When God speaks our lives change. What we say about what God says reenforces and strengthens our faith. We have all kinds of confessions that we make. At the close of this service, as we do every time when we preach God's Word, we're going to be inviting people to make a public profess of faith in Jesus Christ. Why do we do that? The Scripture says in Romans, "If we confess with our mouths", that's the declaration, "if we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus Christ, believing in our hearts, we shall be saved". Because we are possessing Christ, we are now professing Christ. We should remember that when we witness, and all of us are called to be witnesses, testimonies for the Lord Jesus Christ.
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Do you share your testimony of faith in Christ? You say, "Well, I don't know how". Everyone has a story and if you know Christ, you can tell the story of Jesus and what Christ has done in your life. It is to be a declaration. And all of us are to be involved in the ministry and the mission of Christ in this church, which is sharing the Gospel. "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ". When apostles were threatened in the book of Acts, they ended up saying, "We cannot help but (what?) speak of those things which we have seen and heard". So we are to speak of our faith and our witness for the Lord Jesus. When we worship, we are declaring our faith! Yes, worship is directed vertically to God, and we're praising Him and experiencing His presence. "He inhabits the praises of His people".

We are elevated into the presence of the Lord by His Spirit. We worship Him in Spirit and in truth. But worship, even the singing of songs as we just have done, it's a declaration, isn't it? When you sing these great songs, "Worthy is the Lamb", that's a declaration of Christ and who He is. When you say "Jesus, You are my all and all", that is a declaration of who Christ is. That's why you should never come in here and put your hands in your pocket and just wait through the worship for something else, because God has called you to walk in here, every one of us, and not to be silent, but to declare our faith in Jesus Christ! What does the Scripture say? "Let the redeemed of the Lord (what?) say so". So, say so! We're like the Apostle Paul, who said, "O Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death"?

In the Ancient World we're told it happened actually near where Paul grew up in Tarsus. A strange habit: If you committed a murder, they would often take the body, the carcass of the one you murdered and strap it to you, face to face. Can you imagine that? And your punishment was to walk with a murdered body of the one the life you took and the decay and all the rest. That's the body of death! We have this flesh and it's decaying and it's dying. But Paul said "Who's going to deliver me from this? O wretched man that I am" And that's when he declared his faith. "Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ". But whether it’s a new song or an old song, sing it, say it, "Shout to the Lord! Shout to the Lord". What does the psalmist say? "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be in my mouth".

We’re talking about declaration! Declaring your faith! Baptism! When you are baptized as a believer and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is declaring your faith, a testimony of what you believe, the death, the burial, the resurrection of Christ. It's a dramatic declaration. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day He rose again. That's why no other mode or method of baptism will do, because it's not biblical. Biblical baptism is by immersion only for believers only. And so that's why we call you to take a stand through believer's baptism, having professed your faith in Jesus Christ. We ought to be making declarations of faith over our families and our children! Because the world, the culture is spewing out lies and our children are being indoctrinated with the lies of Satan and the philosophies of men. And so we are, as parents and grandparents to declare faith over our children and our grandchildren! If you don’t, who will?

You say, "Well, I want our children to make up their own minds about what they believe". Well, that's good. They should have a personal faith. But while they're making up their minds, you make sure that you're declaring the Word of God and teaching them the truth about the Gospel of Christ so that they can make a decision that's not so overtly impacted by the world! If you let the world teach your children, guess what their going to end up believing? So we need to be like Joshua. Joshua made a bold declaration, a courageous confession of his faith. He stood before the children of Israel near the end of his life and he said, "I don't know what you're going to do", "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord"! That's a declaration! A declaration is speaking the Word of God.
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And to so many Christians who are struggling with self and sin, and it often shows up in the things we say. Rather than speaking words of faith, we speak words of fear and anxiety. We’ve come through these past 18 months with all the uproar, the upheaval of the pandemic, social unrest, and all the rest. And I’ve never seen so much emotional instability and struggle that people are facing as a result. And often it’s what we say to ourselves or say to others. We speak fear rather than faith. We’re like the Apostle Paul earlier in Romans 7, we’re divided and defeated. We’re a contradiction. What we say we believe about Jesus and the Word of God. So much negativity in what we’re saying, what we’re speaking. I believe it’s time we stop whining and worrying and licking our wounds, and start living in the victory that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. And to declare that victory!

That's what Paul did. "Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ"! A person of faith speaks words of confidence and trust and victory! And there is tremendous power in this. More and more we are learning the impact of words, what we say. On our brains, on our health, on our relationships, on our career, our overall well-being. But when we speak faith-filled words, we develop a winning mindset. Now I'm not talking about a word of faith that attempts to predict the future or claim the future without God. The Scripture says, "He has said, so that we may boldly say", courageously say. I'm not saying your words create reality. I don't believe the Bible teaches that at all. But I do know that the reality of who we are in Christ is to always be confessed with our words! And instead of constantly expressing our doubts, our defeats, our discouragement, our depression and talking, talking, talking about those things, we need to start talking about what God has done in our lives.

"Thanks be to God through the Lord Jesus Christ"! This bold declaration! This bold declaration will lead us to victory in Jesus. Jesus taught us this. Because in Luke's Gospel He was talking about faith and the mountains that we face in life, and He wasn't talking about a physical or an actual mountain, but mountains, those things that obstruct our vision and obscure our vision and obstruct our victory in Christ. So anything in our lives, whatever that mountain is that stands in front of us, a mountain, a health problem, a relational issue, a health or a problem with this sin in our lives. All the problems, all these pinnacles, these mountains that stand in front of us. And what did Jesus say about the mountain, what we should do about the mountain?

You're saying, "Well He said pray". Yes, He did say pray. But in praying He said, "Speak to the mountain and what you say to the mountain, then the mountain will be cast into the middle of the sea". So call it out and confess it! Name it and confess it, whatever it is that you are facing in your life, whatever mountain that you're dealing with. What are you to do? You are to speak to the mountain with a declaration of faith, praying, "Oh, God, move the mountain! Change those circumstances! And if you don't change the circumstances, change me". God often uses our circumstances to change us and correct us as we walk with Christ. Just say to the mountain.

There was a man in the Old Testament by the name of Zerubbabel. I love saying that name. You should name your next son Zerubbabel. Any takers? Zerubbabel, and he was charged with rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem and he had worked and worked and worked and nothing was happening! All he had in front of him it appeared was this huge mountain and they weren't digging through it or digging under it. There was nothing to show. Nearly 20 years of straining and stressing and trying to get this temple out of the ground and rebuilt! And that's when God spoke to Zerubbabel. The Spirit of God said to him, "Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit," saith to the Lord. And He went on to say, "Before Zerubbabel," "O mountain, O mountain... Before Zerubbabel, you shall become as a plain". And in the Hebrew "you shall become as a plain", One word, it's a Hebrew word and here's what it means actually. "O great mountain! Before Zerubbabel WHAMO"!
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Loose translation: Zap! God says that mountain is becoming a plain. And then He went on to say that what He starts He's going to finish and that God put the plumb-line in the hand of Zerubbabel and what He started He will finish. I tell you these illustrations to remind you that when we say something from God's Word, there is power in the Word of God! And when we speak, mountains move. Our mountains move. We're to speak those words with a winning heart, a winning mindset.

And here's what I want to say to you that is so very, very important: Expose the lies that we believe, that Satan tells us, that we tell ourselves; eliminate the lies and embrace the truth. Exchange lies for truth! I've heard a lot of Christians say things like: "Well, I'm never going to be enough". "I'm never going to break this habit". "I'm never going to overcome this addiction". "My child's never going to come back to the Lord". "This marriage is never gonna work". "I'm a loser". "I don't even know if I'm saved". And we all confess at times this negativity, these no's, these nevers! And you need to realize where these are coming from because Satan is the author of lies. "He's a liar," Jesus said, "and a murderer from the beginning. He's the deceiver".

So Satan comes to us or as we listen to the lies around us in the culture, in the world, as we listen to self-talk, so often we keep saying what we cannot do! But I want to remind you that it's not what the world says you are that matters; it's what God says you are that matters! All of Romans is about our identity in Christ! It's not what we say we are, but who God says we are.

And what does God say? Just start with Romans. You’ve been there. I’m a sinner but powerfully saved by the grace of God. I’m no longer a sinner; I’m a saint! I’m a child of God! I’m blood-bought, I am born again! There’s now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. I am no longer living under the condemnation and the weight and guilt of my sin. I am not a wretched man; I’m a man in Christ! I am justified before the sight of Holy God! I am righteous in the Lord Jesus Christ! That’s who I am! Not condemned but chosen by God! Created and made by the hand of God. Gifted by God with His Spirit and with His life and His love. I am beloved by God, accepted in the beloved. Approved by Holy God not because of me, but because of Christ! And now this is who I am!

I was what I used to be, and as the old preacher said, "You know, I'm not what I'm going to be, but, thank God, I'm not what I was"! We are brand-new creations in Jesus Christ! I could go on and on and on. And don’t you think it’s about time that we stop confessing to one another, and especially to the world without Christ our weakness and start confessing our strength? "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
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I am a victor in the Lord Jesus Christ! No longer a victim of Satan and the powers of the enemy, but I’m living in victory because Christ is my victor! Christ is my all and all! He is all I need! He is sufficient! He has provided all these promises, all of these promises that we have in the Bible. Thousands of them. We're to personalize these problems and profess them, and to say to God, to say to ourselves and anyone else who will listen, He has said so that I may boldly say, courageously say. We're not just making things up. I'm talking about confessing God's Word and believing God's Word. And then living in that victory that Christ has given us. There is victory in Jesus.

I was listening to our friend Shelia Walsh on a podcast, not a podcast but an Instagram post this week. And she was sharing something of her struggles just through the whole COVID season and changes and all that, that we're all experiencing. And Shelia was saying in the middle of all that isolation and separation she began going on her back porch and opening her Bible as many of you do, of course. You open your Bible when you get up in the morning and begin reading it. If you don't, you should start now. But Shelia was saying, I open my Bible so often to the Psalms, and she said, "I have been reading the psalms out loud". And Shelia was saying that there's something about reading the Word of God aloud that connects! And the testimony and the truth of God's Word is professed, because what we think, we ultimately say. Jesus said what comes out of the heart is what matters. And out of the heart comes our words. And so I thought what a tremendous idea.

That's why when we come to church and the Word of God is declared over you and spoken to you, that you begin to grow in your faith and develop your strength in Christ. We are redeemed. We are rescued. That's what Paul is saying. "Who will deliver me from this body of death? My Lord Jesus Christ". You can control the way you think and the way you talk by meditating upon God's Word, and, might I add, mouthing God's Word. Declare the truth. Hebrews 4:14 says this: "let us hold fast our confession". Hold tightly to our confession of faith. Again, God has counselled us, commanded us to confess this faith, to openly profess this faith, to say it and to say it often. When we come to times of temptation, Jesus taught us this well once again, when He went out to the desert to take on the devil, and the devil came at Him with three successive temptations. Jesus was in a state of physical weakness. And the devil came after Him. Said, "Turn the stones into bread. You deserve it". "Jump off the pinnacle of the temple. Let the angels embrace you and everyone will applaud you and herald you as king". "Bow down to me and I will give You all the kingdoms of this world".

Three successive temptations! And how did Jesus respond? He spoke the word of God! "It is written... it is written... it is written"! And He gave the devil the Scripture! And He overcame the temptation. Revelation chapter 12, "They overcame him", that is, the devil, "by the blood of the Lamb", what Christ has done for us on the cross, "AND the word of their testimony". It is your word, it is your testimony, it is what you say, it is how you speak that puts the devil on the run, that sends him packing! I can't tell you how important this is! You may be a follower of Jesus and you've been struggling with anxious thoughts and angry, depressed thoughts or lustful or greedy thoughts or thoughts that are consuming your mind.

Our minds are transformed by the power of Christ. And as we start speaking truth to the lies and victory in Jesus, our mind is transformed because, you know, Christianity is not behavior modification; it is life transformation! That's what this faith is! And therefore, shout to the Lord! Speak to yourself! Call it like it is, even if it's not yet true in your life. You’re struggling with an illness and you’re struggling with a temptation or struggling with an addiction, or struggling with an issue in your life. When you begin speaking the power of the Word of God into your life and into the issues of your life, that’s when God in His own time and His own way begins to work to declare your victory. Declare your triumph in Christ and live in the fullness of who you are in Christ.
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