(Excerpt from Victorious Living by E. Stanley Jones)

Is Christendom Living Victoriously?

A strange sadness, which we mistake for solemnity, has come over us.  What is its root?

. . . .

Spiritually we seem to have turned gray.  The vivacity, the sparkle, the spontaneity, the joy, the radiancy which should characterize people called Christians seem to have faded out.  Moreover, there seems a lack of moral dynamic, a paralysis that makes us limp and helpless in the face of rampant wrong.  

We protest, but seem to have little power to change.

. . . .

But many have settled down to a spirit of nonexpectancy.  They do not expect anything beyond spiritually muddling through.

. . . .

When one tells them that this condition of moral and spiritual defeat need not last for a single hour, that we can find victory and adequacy and buoyancy in living, they look at you as one who announces strange doctrine.  For they have become naturalized in defeat.

. . . .

Many Christians do not expect anything beyond repeated forgiveness for constantly repeated sins.  They do not expect victory over sins.

. . . .

The gospel does offer forgiveness for sins, tout along with it, and as a part of it, offers power over the sins forgiven.  Forgiveness and power are the indissolvable parts of the grace of God.  We cannot take one without the other.  If we should try to take the forgiveness without the power, it would mean that moral weakness would remain, and if we should try to take the power without the forgiveness, it would mean that moral guilt would remain.  God does not give one without the other.  We must take both or neither.

. . . .

There are two dangers at this point.  One is to make the standard too low, and the other is to make it too high.  In either case it paralyzes us-- one because it demands no change, and the other because it demands such a change that we simply feel helpless before it and give up the struggle.  We must avoid this double danger.

. . . .

The first thing, then, to get hold of is this:  the gospel offers freedom and release from every single sin.  There is no compromise at this point, for compromise would be deadly!  It sweeps the horizon, and says, “Sin shall have no longer dominion over you.”  “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

We have repeated these words until they are, to many of us, threadbare.  But to some of us they are not threadbare words; they are the astonishing offer of God to give us release from the tyranny of evil.

. . . .

Now the natural is always with us.  Every moment it will be pressing upon the boundaries we set up for it.  Every moment, therefore, we shall be tempted.  But temptation is not sin.  It is only when we yield that it becomes sin.

. . . .

Moreover, temptation is the place where a tension is set up between the lower and the higher, and when we throw our will on the right side of that tension, we actually become stronger.  Temptation, therefore, can be the ladder to the higher life.

. . . .

O, Christ of the wilderness struggle, we thank Thee that Thou art in our struggles, lifting, saving, and turning the tide of the battle.  Thou wilt go with me today as I go to turn temptation into character.

. . . .

O Christ, we thank Thee that Thou knowest our frailty.  And yet we know that Thou canst remake that frame after Thy likeness.  We put ourselves under its processes.  Gladly we do so.  Amen.