They Loved Not Their Lives Unto the Death: A Means of Victory

Excerpt from: They Loved Not Their Lives Unto the Death: A Means of Victory
Dr. Joe Temple

Secret Of Victory

I want to say to you, Friends, that as long as you hold on to your life, as long as you hold on to your will, as long as you hold on to your own desire, you are going to abide alone, figuratively speaking. But when you reach the place where you are willing to die, to die out to self, to die out to ambition, to die out to will, God will use you for a tremendous purpose.

The Devil has no power over an individual who is dead. The Spirit of God said, when He looked upon this crowd of people in Heaven, “They overcame the Devil by the Blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by virtue of the fact that they did not cherish life even in the face of death.”

I ask you, “Are you afraid to die?” I am not thinking primarily about physical death, because some men have faced physical death courageously. But I am saying to you, “Are you afraid to die?” And as I say that, I am saying, “Are you afraid to die to your own will, to your own ambition, to your own desire? Are you afraid to let Christ have His way with you?” There are many men who face physical death courageously who tremble at the thought of dying to self, and to their own will, and to letting Christ have His way with them.

I would like to save you a lot of grief. I would like to save you a lot of heartache. I would like to save you a great many problems, especially you young people, by reminding you that the way to death is the secret of victory.

Introduction

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Revelation, chapter 12, that portion of the Word of God which we have been considering together. We read the paragraph which begins with verse 7:

Revelation 12:
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Notice the last statement of that verse: “And they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Review

You will remember that in discussing this passage of Scripture, we told you that what is presented here is something that has not yet occurred but will occur in the future. In the middle of the Tribulation period, there is going to be a war in Heaven, and the Devil will be ousted from Heaven for the last time.

At the present time the Devil has the right to go to Heaven and level accusations against all the children of God. But one day he is going to enter, and he is going to be met by Michael the Archangel, and Michael is going to say, “You cannot come in here any more. You cannot level another accusation at the children of God.” The Devil is going to resent that interruption, and he is going to do battle, he and his angels, with Michael and his angels. There will be quite an extended battle, and the Devil will be cast down to the earth, never to come back again to make accusations against the brethren.

As you remember from our reading of this passage of Scripture, it has a twofold effect. In Heaven, there is rejoicing. They are glad that the Devil never can utter another accusation. Upon the earth, there is great concern because the Devil realizes that he has but a short time. He increases all his activities and does everything he can, to do all the damage he can, before he is cast into the Bottomless Pit and eventually into the Lake of Fire.

Some of the people in Heaven who are rejoicing over this defeat of the Devil are those who have gained the victory over him. The Spirit of God is pleased to tell us how they gained the victory. The manner in which they gained the victory over the Devil is the same manner in which we are able to gain the victory over the Devil. It is a threefold secret of victory.

Grounds For Victory

We have already noticed the grounds for victory which is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is very plainly stated here in the 11th verse: “…they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,…” We discussed that in detail, reminding you that our victory over the Devil is gained by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that victory is retained by our staying in fellowship through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We told you that that victory must be claimed on the basis of the blood.

We gave you illustrations of how missionaries on the foreign field, who had felt the oppression of the Devil in a greater way perhaps than we do here in a land that has been touched with the gospel, have gained a victory over the Devil and his demons by crying out, “We plead the blood.” When the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is pled, the Devil is bereft of his power over believers.

We learned that the power of this victory lay in the testimony of these folk who gained the victory over the Devil: “…they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony:…” We talked to you about the power of personal witnessing, reminding you that we do not witness if we are out of fellowship because it is an utter impossibility. If we are in fellowship and witnessing, the Devil realizes that we are a poor mark for all his aims and efforts.

Cost Of The Victory

As you have already determined from our introduction, we continue our study with the last phrase of this 11th verse, which constitutes the tremendous cost of this victory of which we speak. Victory over the Devil does not come easy. A victorious Christian life, so-called, is not an easy thing. There is a very definite cost to it.

Look again at the last phrase of the 11th verse: “…they loved not their lives unto the death.” They were able to overcome the Devil because they loved not their lives unto the death.

There are many suggested translations of this particular phrase, each of them very interesting. If you are familiar with the Williams translation of the New Testament, you probably recognize the way in which he translates this verse, a way which I like. He said, “They did not cherish their life when they were in the face of death.” In other words, put very simply, “they were not afraid to die.”

Victory Over Fear Of Death

The Bible says that the Devil keeps the human race in bondage all their lifetime. If you did not read the rest of the verse, you might wonder exactly what bondage the Devil keeps folk in, for there are many different people in many kinds of bondage. But the bondage which every individual faces until he has gained deliverance is the bondage of the fear of death. People are afraid to die physically, and deeper and more specifically still, people are afraid to die spiritually. They are afraid to die to self. They are afraid to die to aims and to ambitions.

Turn, please, to Paul’s second Corinthian letter, chapter 1, as we refresh our minds in the fact that one of the secrets of victory in the early church was that they had the sentence of death in themselves. They had gained the victory over the fear of death. In this chapter, we have the opportunity of reading the testimony of the Apostle Paul:

II Corinthians 1:
8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
The Apostle Paul is speaking about a very practical experience. He came face to face with death. He was so oppressed and so persecuted that he despaired even of his life, but he said, “You know, even though I thought my days were numbered, even though I thought I could not stand another moment, I was not defeated, nor was I discouraged because I have already passed the sentence of death upon myself.”

Dying To Self

What did he mean by that? Did he mean that he was going to go out and commit suicide? No. But he meant what he said in the last part of this 9th verse: “…that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:…” When he said, “I put the sentence of death upon myself,” he meant, “I have given myself completely over to God. If God is pleased to let my life be taken, I am leaving it with Him. If God is pleased to end my ministry apparently before it is through, He is able to raise me from the dead that I might continue my ministry. I have sentenced myself to death. That is, I have sentenced my will, my aims, and my ambitions to death.”

Turn, please, to II Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 8. We see that what Paul is talking about in relation to the sentence of death goes deeper than one mere event:

II Corinthians 4:
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
You see what he is saying: Those things are difficult. Those experiences are unbearable. But we have the victory! We are not defeated because we consistently bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus. The same spirit that caused the Lord Jesus Christ to go to the Cross and become obedient unto death is the Spirit that is constantly working in us.

Surrender Bodies To Death

And then he said something that we should well remember. He said that the dying of the Lord Jesus Christ in our body makes possible the manifestations of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in our body. This leads us to suggest to you that only as we surrender our bodies to death can the Lord Jesus Christ truly be magnified. If we are too concerned consistently with what is going to happen to us, then we prevent the Lord Jesus Christ from being magnified in His fullness. I am not suggesting to you that your surrender to death is a pessimistic thing. I am suggesting to you that your surrender to death is the way to victory.

I would like to suggest three things about this surrender, three things that I believe, if we understand them, will give us complete victory over the Devil. Remember this: If the thing that the Devil holds over your head is death, and you can look the Devil in the face and honestly say, “I am not afraid to die,” the Devil is defeated.

I am going to give you an illustration that I do not like to use. It is not a very nice one, but it is effective. Perhaps you have read the same story. A lady in the hands of the communists in a foreign land came face to face with the realization that the only way she would have victory over the communists was to prove to them that she was not afraid of them because their weapon was fear. Every one of her comrades had lost the battle because of fear. They had every right in the world to be afraid, for the physical torture which they had to endure was more than most of us, or perhaps any of us, could endure.

For example, the communists, in order to impress obedience, instilled fear in the hearts of the comrades of this woman by pulling their fingernails out by the roots. It is not a very nice story, and this woman lived in fear of the day when they would do the same thing to her. She was almost to the breaking point when it occurred to her that if she would rob them of the only weapon they had, they would be helpless.

When her day came, and the guards came into her prison cell with the pliers with which they were going to pull out her fingernails, she held out her hand for the pliers. They did not know what she was going to do. They placed the pliers in her hands, and summoning all the courage she had ever known in all her life, she pulled out one fingernail by the roots and handed it to them. She said, “Is this what you want?” They were completely demoralized. They turned and left the prison cell, and in two days, she was set free. They did not know what to do with a person who was not afraid of them.

That is an illustration of what I am talking about. If the Devil can hold over your head and mine the fear of death, he has a good chance at victory. But if, when the Devil presents to us the matter of death, be it spiritual or physical, we can look the Devil in the face and say, “I have already committed myself to death,” he does not know what to do.

A Climactic Surrender

I want to talk to you concerning the surrender to death. Look at the book of Romans with me, chapter 6, the paragraph which begins with verse 10. Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul wrote:

Romans 6:
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
look at the 10th verse, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 6:
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once:…
Literally, that verse of Scripture is: In that He died, He died unto sin once and for all. The Lord Jesus Christ will never die for sin again. He finished the job once. He made a clean break, so to speak. The Apostle uses that as an illustration in the 11th verse: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,…” I want to suggest to you that your surrender to death must be a climactic one. You cannot die by pieces. You must once and for all settle the matter. You must once and for all completely pass the sentence of death upon yourself.

I suppose that everybody here, or nearly everybody, at some time in his life has had a problem related to a bad habit. We are not going to bother to name bad habits because if we try to name them, we will be sure to leave one out. But I suppose all of us have had the experience of trying to stop something. There are one or two plans we usually follow. We can stop it by degrees, or we can stop it once and for all. It is a matter of record that the greater amount of success is with stopping once and for all, climactically bringing it to an end instead of stopping by degrees.

George Mueller, one of the outstanding Christians of all times, was asked by interested Christians the reason for his tremendous power with God. “What is your secret of victory?”, they said to him. Those who reported the incident said that George Mueller bowed his head. He had a long, flowing white beard, and his head dropped lower and lower and lower until his chin was resting completely upon his breast. And then in a very audible voice he said, “There came a day when George Mueller died. There came a day when George Mueller died.”

Beloved, you can express it any way you want to, but I want to say to you, on the authority of the Word of God and on the authority of experience, that there will have to come a day in your life, if it has not already come, when you surrender to death, a day when you surrender all your own hopes, your ambitions, your aspirations, and you say, “It no longer matters about me. All that matters is God.”

A Personal Reference

I trust you will pardon this personal reference to my own life, but I can speak from experience and say to you that I had no peace, no aims, and no fruit in my life until I surrendered to this death of which I am speaking. I remember well the day it was. I do not remember it because it was some unusual experience related to a great deal of emotion, but I remember it because climactically and definitely I made the decision.

In one of the Bibles which I have had through the course of the years, I wrote on the flyleaf of the Bible, “January 6, 1935, I launched out into the deep and let the shorelines go.” I said a moment ago that there are different ways of expressing it. That was my way of expressing it. The Lord Jesus Christ had used the story of the fishermen who fished all night long and caught nothing to speak to my heart. All night long they had fished and caught nothing. They were sure there were no fish there, and the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Launch out into the deep. You are too close to shore. Let down your nets for a draft of fish.” And they launched out into the deep, and the nets broke.

It is possible for us, you know, to guard our lives so carefully, and to guard our ambitions so religiously, and to be so afraid to launch out for God that God cannot do anything for us. On that day, January 6, 1935, I launched out into the deep. I say this humbly, not to draw attention to myself, but for purposes of illustration. From that day to this day, I have never been concerned about what happens to me. I launched out into the deep. I surrendered to death. It matters not what God does with me. It matters not where He does it, nor how He does it. I died that day, and of course, death means life. I really began living.

A Continuous Surrender

May I suggest to you that surrender to death is not only climactic, but it is a continuous thing, because dying does not come easy. I have never seen a person die easily, and I have seen a great many people die. I have seen Christians die in peace. I have seen unsaved people die in terror. But I have never seen anybody die without a great effort at the last minute to hold on to life. That is the reason there is always a gasp. That is the reason there is always what we call a “death rattle.” It is the last effort to hold on to life.

What is true physically is true spiritually, and you find yourself again and again having to die. Even though it is a climactic thing to begin with, the stirrings of life must again and again be put to death.

Turn to I Corinthians, chapter 15, and notice the testimony that the Apostle Paul gives concerning this very thing in verse 31:

I Corinthians 15:
31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Notice what he says: “I die daily.” “Yes, there came a time in my life,” Paul said, “when I died once and for all, but every day of my life, to make my experience practical, I find something to which I have to die.” I think that therein lies the problem concerning victory through death. We do not realize that things come up that must be put to death, but they do. Only as we realize that can we maintain the victory that is ours.

A Courageous Surrender

Turn, please, to Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 3, and listen to him give his testimony along this very line. He said in verse 8:

Philippians 3:
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, [notice this last statement] being made conformable unto his death;
Did you notice what that says? “Being made conformable unto His death.” One translator has it: “Being brought to the place where I might radiate in my life the likeness of His death.” This surrender to death is climactic. It is continuous. And may I remind you that it is courageous, for it takes courage to die. It takes courage to die daily. It takes courage to believe what the Lord Jesus Christ said in the 12th chapter of the gospel of John. He was speaking at this particular time concerning his own death, but he enunciated in verse 24 a principle from which we cannot get away:

John 12:
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
That is a simple illustration. You put a seed in the ground, and if the seed does not die, it will be nothing more than a seed. But if it dies, it brings forth a tremendous harvest.

Secret Of Victory

I want to say to you, Friends, that as long as you hold on to your life, as long as you hold on to your will, as long as you hold on to your own desire, you are going to abide alone, figuratively speaking. But when you reach the place where you are willing to die, to die out to self, to die out to ambition, to die out to will, God will use you for a tremendous purpose.

The Devil has no power over an individual who is dead. The Spirit of God said, when He looked upon this crowd of people in Heaven, “They overcame the Devil by the Blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by virtue of the fact that they did not cherish life even in the face of death.”

I ask you, “Are you afraid to die?” I am not thinking primarily about physical death, because some men have faced physical death courageously. But I am saying to you, “Are you afraid to die?” And as I say that, I am saying, “Are you afraid to die to your own will, to your own ambition, to your own desire? Are you afraid to let Christ have His way with you?” There are many men who face physical death courageously who tremble at the thought of dying to self, and to their own will, and to letting Christ have His way with them.

I would like to save you a lot of grief. I would like to save you a lot of heartache. I would like to save you a great many problems, especially you young people, by reminding you that the way to death is the secret of victory.

From www.livingbiblestudies.org

So what do you think?