A Day of Victory
(Scripture Quotes from the English Standard Version)
|"Shigemitsu-signs-surrender" by Army Signal Corps - Naval Historical Center Photo # SC 213700. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shigemitsu-signs-surrender.jpg#/media/File:Shigemitsu-signs-surrender.jpg|
August 14 is Victory in Japan (VJ) Day. This year (2015), it is the 70th anniversary of the day the government of the Empire of Japan signed the surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri. This marked the end of over three-and-a-half years of war since Pearl Harbor was bombed (“The Personal Impact of Pearl Harbor” was printed in the December 2011 issue of The Outreacher). Finally, for the Allies this was a day of victory. Now it was time to rebuild devastated countries and restore societies. Now was the time for reconciliation, for establishing peaceful relationships with former enemies. Just look at Japan and Germany today!
I was alive then, but don’t remember it, since I was a week shy of eleven months old. It was Mom’s birthday, but she did not hear of it for more than a day, because the ship we were on was under radio blackout in case there were enemy subs along the route. We can imagine the celebration aboard when they stopped at Ketchikan and received the news!
Victory was a time of celebration for America and her allies. For Japan, the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack, it was a time of relief, the end of the devastation. For their citizens it was the end of tyranny.
Victory is great, whether in war, sports, a contest, or an election. Victory over a deadly disease or serious injuries is wonderful. But greater still is victory over the enemy of our souls. Over sin. Over death itself. This is not a victory won on our own, by our own power and resources. Just as Great Britain, France, Canada, the United States and others needed allies, we need an ally to win over sin. And there is only one ally capable of winning this victory.
Our foes in this war are not physical. They are spiritual, Satan himself and his horde of demons. Our great ally in this battle is God. As Jesus Christ, the Son, he defeated sin in his life on earth. He defeated Satan in the wilderness and on the Cross. He defeated death itself in the Resurrection. Jesus told his disciples, "I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In the rebuilding and reconciliation, Germany and Japan shared in the victory. They did this by total, unconditional surrender. We have to recognize that we are participants in the sin which oppresses us, just as many Germans and Japanese willingly supported their governments as long as it appeared they would win the war. Just as they surrendered, so do we. Admit that we are in the wrong (we call this confession). Tell God, “I give up. I’m through fighting You.” In effect, we switch sides in the longest-running war in history; we move from the losing side to the winning side.
As the Holy Spirit, God helps us defeat sin in our lives. He gives us power against Satan: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Our faith (total trust) in God is our defense against Satan’s attacks: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).
The recent war in Iraq was criticized by those who said we “won the war but lost the peace.” In our Christian lives we have to careful that we do not “lose the peace.” How can this happen? We are still tempted to sin, to do what is wrong or to not do what is right. As long as we live on Earth, we are on the battlefield. But as Christians, our Ally (and Commander-in-Chief) promises help and support in the battle. God’s “covering fire” keeps the enemy from being too much for us. As Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). What this means is that, with God’s help, we can successfully resist temptation.
Satan wins when a Christian sins, but it does not have to be a permanent win. He may win a skirmish, but we don’t have to let him win the battle nor the war. What if we fail and sin? That is not the end. There is hope: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
In the end, we can win the war for our souls. For us it can be a Day of Victory!
Here are selections from a few songs and hymns about victory
Hallelujah, what a thought!
Jesus full salvation brought,
Let the pow’rs of sin assail,
Heaven’s grace can never fail,
Victory, yes, victory.
Hallelujah! I am free,
Jesus gives me victory.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
He is all in all to me.
~ Victory by Barney E, Warren (1897)
Oh, victory in Jesus,
My Saviour forever;
He sought me, and he bought me
With his redeeming blood;
He loved me ‘ere I knew him,
And all my love is due him;
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing blood.
~ Victory in Jesus by Eugene M. Bartlett (1939)
Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.
~ Faith Is the Victory by John H. Yates (1891)