Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ… (2 Corinthians 2:14a NKJV)
I love a parade! Don’t you? We have not, however, witnessed a parade like that which Paul alludes to in this text. The imagery is of a procession when Rome’s legions returned victorious. The city would take a holiday. Cheering throngs lined the streets. It was a spectacular mix of sights, sounds, and smells, that might last for days. The conquering soldiers would march up toward the hill of Jupiter’s temple where sacrifices of gratitude would be offered. A victorious general, armor gleaming in the sun, rode in his chariot, drawn by stalwart steeds. The vanquished were chained to his chariot. They were now his slaves. Wagons loaded with wealth—the spoils of battle—were pulled along. Clouds of incense from burning censers waved by the priests permeated the air. It was sweet aroma for the conquerors, but the stench of death to the condemned. This is the symbolism Paul used in describing the triumph of Christ.
He writes of THE ASSURANCE OF TRIUMPH, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Cor.2:14a). Paul exults in constant confidence of conquest. Since Christ has conquered, and we are His, then we share His victory. We may argue that our experience contradicts this—that there are more setbacks than successes. This text is a call to lift our experience to the level of God’s Word, rather than lower God’s Word to the level of our experience! If we see ourselves as sinners struggling along, we will tend to accept defeat as inevitable. Scripture tells us otherwise. Paul uses the word, “always” because of Christ’s total triumph and, “we are more than conquerors [Lit. “super-conquerors”] through Him who loved us.” (Rom.8:37). It is when we walk by faith in the victory of Christ that we see ourselves as victorious in Him. Satan has been beaten and has no claim over you! “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Then, we note THE ESSENCE OF TRIUMPH, “and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. ” (2 Cor.2:14b-16a) I use the word, “essence,” in a double sense; it means a fragrance, but also that which is primary. Both truths are conveyed. We are to be fragrant saints. Our life and testimony is like the perfume of heaven to those who receive the Gospel, but it is the smell of sulfur and smoke to those who reject it. Everywhere we go, the essence of our task is to share the Gospel.
Next we observe THE PRESENCE OF TRIUMPH, “And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” (2 Cor.2:16b-17) We may feel overwhelmed by such responsibility. The fact is we are insufficient in ourselves, but fully sufficient in Christ (2 Cor.3:5). Our lives are to be marked by sincerity and not hypocrisy. We are to be aware that all we do is in the sight of God. Our commander expects His orders to be obeyed promptly and fully. He is present to lead us to victory!
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings