Agony of Defeat
Beginning in the 1970's, ABC TV had a program called, “Wide World of Sports.” Most older people will be somewhat familiar with the sports program because in those days there were only three major TV networks to choose from, and the show was popular for 37 years.
A part of the introduction to the program went like this: “…Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... “The agony of defeat,” became a symbol for stunning failure.
It seems that in these last days the overall Church of God is taking our Christian calling all too casually. Do we agonize over being true Christians in every sense of the word? Or, after all these years in the Church, are we just kind of drifting along? Do we strive for the meat of God’s word, or are we content with the low-key, toned-down approach most congregations have settled for? Do we provoke our ministers to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), or have we assumed the posture of our wayward forefathers?
“Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” (Isaiah 30:10)
In other words, do we say to our ministers, “Tell us that everything is alright? Give us sermons that make us feel good. Don’t rock our boat because we like things as they are. Don’t make us face any problems, because we don’t want to get that involved. Say it to us over and over again – that God is pleased with us just like we are.”
Could we be setting ourselves up for stunning failure? Just think, if Jesus Christ were to say to us when we stand before Him to give an accounting of ourselves, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Romans 14:10-12, Matthew 7:23)
Just imagine if Jesus Christ were to say to us, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Luke 13:28)
Can you envision the sheer horror of hearing Jesus Christ uttering those words? That, my friend, would surely be the agony of defeat! But, never fear, God tells us how we can turn the situation around one-hundred and eighty degrees. It is a matter of suffering and denying ourselves now.
“The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And He [Jesus Christ] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:22-24)
Do not let anyone fool you; it is not easy to be a Christian. In fact it is an agonizing and ongoing process of laying down our life daily for Christ’s sake – that is the only way we will ever hear the words, “Well done, you good and faithful servant… enter you into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:21, 23)
In today's sermon I am going to turn this phrase, the agony of defeat, around to represent the agony a Christian experiences in overcoming sin. There is an agony that is involved in defeating sin. Christians are indeed called upon to suffer for righteousness sake – there is no way around it.
“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Timothy 3:12)
Suffering is part and parcel with our Christian walk. Suffering for a Christian is to be expected – that is why we counted the cost before becoming baptized. We should not be surprised by trials, afflictions and sufferings.
“No man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.” (1Thessalonians 3:3-4)
“Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29)
There is an agony we must go through before we are victorious – victory in conquering the self; victory over this evil society; and the victory, ultimately won, over Satan himself.
Jesus came to show us that we are to suffer through many agonizing conflicts in our spiritual quest, but if we faint not, we shall go on and overcome all impediments, and with His help prove victorious at the end. Jesus said:
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
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