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Faith is the Victory

By David A. DePra

For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)

The above verse, which states that FAITH is the victory, is a well-known verse. But the way in which we often interpret it tends to skew the meaning. Most of us think that we are being told that if we have enough faith we will press through to the victory. In short, we think that it is faith that carries us into any victory.

But wait. Read this verse carefully. It really does not say that our faith carries us into any victory. Rather, this verse states that faith IS the victory. Do you see that? It is not an insignificant distinction. Faith itself – the reality of faith in us – THAT IS THE VICTORY. Anything else that comes about because of this faith is not the victory, but the faith itself IS the victory.

God is here telling us that if faith is established in us that this faith IS the victory. It is our victory, yes, but really, it is GOD’S victory – in us. The faith itself IS the victory. The faith isn’t UNTO the victory. The faith IS the victory. In other words, the existence of faith in us is evidence of His victory in us. The two are as one, for the verse says, "This is the victory….our faith."

There is another verse in the Bible that says much the same thing, and most of us make the same mistake of interpretation. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith IS the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. "(Heb 11:1) Again – many of us read this to say, "Faith believes in what is hoped for, and faith believes in evidence that is not seen." But the verse does not say that. Rather, it says that faith itself IS – get that, the faith itself IS….IS….IS – the faith IS the substance and evidence. Not, "faith believes in substance or evidence not seen," but, "faith IS," the very substance and evidence. See the difference?

What God is telling us is this: That faith in us is the very evidence, the very substance, indeed, faith in us is the very victory. Faith is evidence of that which is of God; of that which is eternal. Faith doesn’t merely believe that – no -- faith IS that. Faith is evidence and substance IN US before we even begin to talk about anything else in the outward. In other words, if I have in me this faith – then God has IN ME established a victory, a substance; an evidence.

But WHY is faith itself the victory? Because of what faith IS. Faith is evidence that God has gotten His way with me – I have seen the Truth and I have embraced it, and thus, I believe and rest in Christ. Faith is the evidence of Christ having His home in me. Thus, faith does not merely believe something is true. Rather, faith is the evidence or presence of the Truth, indeed, the living presence of God’s will in us. If you have faith, you have it because God has gotten His victory over you, and has established in you, the Truth on a particular matter. Faith IS the evidence in us of HIS victory – faith IS the evidence and substance of what is unseen.

This is why the Bible talks about the TRYING or PROVING of our faith. It is never that God is trying to find out whether we have faith. No. The trying of our faith is a matter of God BUILDING and PURIFYING our faith – as gold is tried by fire. In other words, God is seeking to establish a relationship of faith between us and Himself. He gives His Truth and then He purifies and establishes it IN US through trials.

This is illustrated over and over in scripture, and is certainly verified in God’s dealing with us in life. How often God will reveal to us something of Himself, and then everything begins to come against this revelation. At that point our choice is to either continue to stand in faith, or to give up and say, "Well, I must have been wrong about the Lord." Yet the whole thing is to BUILD in us the presence of His Life in Christ – it is to build a relationship of faith. For if something is of God, and we stand, it will be PROVEN in the end.

Incidentally, I am more than aware that it is possible for people to come up with revelations and things they say are of God – but they are not. The first place to go with any word from God is the written Word. If it is not verified there, it is not of God. But having said that, if my heart is open, as God builds and tries my faith, all that is NOT of God will be shaken loose. All that is of God, if I stand, will become strong. This is how God builds faith in us.

Often, we think that faith is the key to getting something from God. But this is backwards. Faith is actually the evidence that God has gotten something IN US. If God is able to establish His Word and His Truth in the heart of a human being, faith will emerge. Faith is the evidence that His had done so.

How Faith Comes

Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing (comes) by the Word of God." But again, read this carefully – it doesn’t say that if we hear it is proof that we have faith. No. It says that faith COMES by hearing the Word of God. The conclusion is that the Word of God not only opens our hears so that we can hear, but the Word of God is that which carries the faith that is to be IF we hear.

God must initiate by revealing His Word – by revealing Truth. But when God speaks it is always possible to hear. The Word itself that He speaks is LIGHT – the revelation opens ears and opens eyes. Always – otherwise we have a God who reveals Truth but leaves it to us to find the open ears to hear. No. The Word itself opens ears. It is as if we have all been living in total darkness and God turns on the light. At that point, we can see enough to turn to God for more. Thus, God absolutely must initiate by revealing the Truth and opening our ears and eyes. At that point, however, we retain the choice to hear or refuse to hear. If we hear, then that Word enters in and faith COMES.

What we see here is that the Word or Truth that God reveals carries the faith. Sure. How could it be possible to believe the Truth if there is no Truth given to believe? How could anyone put their trust in a God who they don’t know? This is impossible. The fact is, the possibility of faith only exists because God reveals the Truth about Himself – this alone opens us up and gives us something TO believe.

So then faith COMES by God revealing, and becomes ours when we hear. Then, there is established in us the Truth. But again, note that this Truth that is established is wrought of God. This Truth – anchored by faith – is this very same Word of God that He spoke. Thus, faith is the evidence and substance of the Truth. Faith IS the victory.

True faith is NOT of us. It is not generated from us as the source, and neither is it originated from ourselves. Rather, faith is the outcome of hearing God. It is the evidence that God has revealed to us the Truth, and that we have heard and embraced Him. Faith is actually the will and Word of God being established in the heart and will of God’s people.

How can people hear unto faith unless they have the faith to hear? Is this a, "chicken before the egg," riddle? No. In scripture, "to hear," always includes, "to obey." Thus, the Word of God does enable us to hear. But we have to make that choice to hear. In other words, God brings light, but we have to choose light rather than remain in the darkness. God enables hearing. But we have to hear. If we do, the result will be faith.

What we see is that faith is the product of the Truth of God finding a home in us. Sure. If the Truth finds a home in us, then it is understood, and real, and embraced. That is faith – and it is victory.

Only God’s Will

Once we realize that faith comes from the Truth God reveals it will completely revolutionize our thinking about faith and the Christian walk. What it means is that it is NOT POSSIBLE to have the true faith of God for ANYTHING BUT the Truth. Sure. The faith COMES by that Truth. The faith is EVIDENCE of that Truth. Thus, it is impossible to have the faith of God for error, my own will, or for that which originates from me. Faith can be only for what birthed it.

This would completely do away with all the time and energy we spend trying to get God to do what we wish He would do. God isn’t going to do what we want Him to do. He will do only HIS WILL. And it is impossible for us to have faith for anything else, because as noted, real faith comes from the will of God being revealed.

You cannot have the faith of Jesus Christ for anything except what Jesus Christ has faith for – the will of God. You cannot have faith for anything except what birthed that faith – the will and Word of God. Thus, if you want to grow in faith, seek the will of God. If you want to grow in faith, HEAR GOD. You are wasting your time otherwise.

This is why it is so outrageously wrong when people preach that faith is a force that you can exert upon God to command Him. Or that you can, "positively confess," an answer to prayer, or that you can, "speak victory," into a situation. You can DO NOTHING. God will not be with you in anything except His will. The faith of Christ is not present in anything except God’s will. And frankly, if we had a heart for God, we would rejoice over this, and would not want it any other way.

Faith is the victory and evidence and substance of God – it is not something we muster up and generate up to God. Faith is not a frame of mind, or the product of exercising my imagination. It is not in any sense emotional. I can feel good emotionally and be in totally error. No. Faith is the victory of God that comes to pass in our hearts. It is the evidence and substance of God’s will IN US.

A Relationship

Faith is a RELATIONSHIP between God and ourselves. Faith is NOT a force, as heretic Kenneth Copeland, and the other Word of Faith teachers insist. Neither is faith an emotional or intellectual condition that we somehow, "generate." We cannot speak into existence faith, or muster up faith through our imaginations. No. Faith is the EVIDENCE and SUBSTANCE that God builds in us of His Truth, His Life, and His victory in Christ.

So faith IS the victory. But wait, isn’t Jesus Himself our victory? And isn’t Jesus Himself our evidence and substance? The Bible says YES. Note these words from John:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:9-12)

The words, "witness," and, "record," and, "testimony," mean EVIDENCE. They are all the same word, and they mean EVIDENCE in the original language. So in this passage we are being told about the EVIDENCE OF GOD. And what – or we might say WHO – is the evidence of God? It is Christ within us. According to this passage the evidence of God is the Christ who lives within those who believe.

According to God Himself, the evidence of God is found in the very Christ who dwells in the believer. Apparently, Christ in us is supposed to be that real. When everything else is shaken loose, and all the other crutches are kicked out, and there is nothing else upon which to rely, Christ in us, the hope of glory is the evidence of God. As is His faith. As is His victory. We are not talking about mere theology here. We are talking about RELATIONSHIP and REALITY.

People quibble and debate and line up their theological theories and try to present this or that evidence that Christianity is the Truth. Fine. But in the end, the evidence of Christianity is Christ Himself. But not Christ off in heaven, nor an historical Christ – these are true as well, but not the present evidence. The evidence of God is the LIVING CHRIST. Christianity is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

His Victory

As I noted earlier, most of us – I certainly did for years – think that we are supposed to somehow muster up the faith out of ourselves and send it up to God in order to get Him to do at least HIS will, or maybe even to do OUR will. Somehow we believe that faith WINS the victory. But now we are seeing that our faith does not win any victory. Rather, our faith IS HIS victory. Or to put it another way, faith is not what we send up to God out of ourselves. Rather, faith is what God establishes IN US. Faith is God’s victory over us – established IN US for His glory.

It is an absolute fact: When Jesus Christ gets full victory over us, and is able to reign and rule sovereignty in our lives, the result is faith. In fact, it is not possible for you and I to live by faith to any real degree at all unless Jesus is our personal Lord. What? Do we think that we can trust Christ AS Lord and be our own lord at the same time?

The victory of Jesus Christ is not going to do you and I much good until we come under that victory. Of course, to us, that sounds negative. But for Jesus Christ to gain victory in us will set us free from all that hinders us in the purposes of God. He has won a victory OVER US so that we might be set free to experience Him.

Jesus Christ completed a full victory. He left NOTHING unfinished. He defeated every enemy, including the last enemy, death. He destroyed all the works of the Devil. What this means is that you and I are not appointed to win any victories. There are none left to win. Rather, we are called to stand in, and live in, HIS victory. But the way this is accomplished is not by US somehow mustering up the faith so we can obtain His victory. Rather, it is by us surrendering to His victory. It is by God, through the process of proving, building in us the Truth – and the subsequent faith that based upon it – such that His victory is then established over us and in us. The end result is an evidence and substance of Christ Himself in us – the faith of Jesus Christ.

What all of this means is quite simple: When God has full victory OVER us, and His victory is established IN us – and this is a RELATIONSHIP -- then this IS faith, and this faith IS His victory.

Don’t think of victory in Christ as a THING God hands to us. No. It is a relationship with God. Or, to put it better, victory is not a thing. It is a Person. And when that Person, Jesus Christ, has full victory as Lord over US – then we are able to live in, and move in, HIS victory over all else.

There is no possibility of victory in Jesus Christ being experienced unless Jesus has victory OVER US. To the degree that Jesus is Lord over me – really and practically, rather than just theologically – it is to that degree that I reign and rule with Him and have His victory. That is why faith is the victory. Faith is not only my belief IN the victory of Christ, but it is my relinquishment TO His victory. There is no other kind of Christianity in the Bible. Any other kind is, "another gospel."

Have we yet realized that there is much in us over which the victory of Jesus needs to be manifested? Victory does not begin, "out here," in the circumstances of life. Victory begins WITHIN – between us and God. The finished victory of Jesus must be made manifest over everything that would come between ourselves and God. And when that victory is manifested, it is evidence and substance OF CHRIST. It is FAITH.

God’s Will

What exactly IS victory? Victory OVER what? When can we truly say that God has His victory?

God has full victory when God has His full will – Jesus Christ as Lord -- unto His glory. This is the case no matter what we are talking about. This is all about Jesus Christ being Lord of all, and about everything under creation being brought back into redemption and the will of God.

This applies to US. We can say God has His victory over us when we have His faith! That is what we have read, "This is the victory, even our faith." In other words, when God has His full will in us – when Jesus Christ is truly Lord over us – then God has accomplished His will and victory IN US. The rest is merely outcome – nothing else can happen until God establishes His faith and will IN US.

I am not talking merely about us DOING the will of God, or about us being willing to do it. That, of course, is necessary. But more so, I am talking about us BECOMING the will of God in Christ. God’s will for us is a relationship in Spirit and in Truth in Christ Jesus. THAT relationship and fellowship in Christ is the will of God before anything else is the will of God. When God gets that relationship established He has victory established; He has faith established.

Victory means that all that would hinder this is overcome. But again – and I have to keep stressing this – we are not talking about OUTWARD circumstances. We are talking about an inward condition and relationship with God. Isn’t that where faith operates?

God’s will is Christ – He wants us to KNOW CHRIST. He wants us to be utterly dependent upon Christ. He wants Christ to be our life. He wants us to operate in the faith of Jesus Christ. None of this starts in the outward. It is all by the Spirit of God in the inner man. This is the core of God’s will. Everything else depends upon it.

Faith and Unbelief

So what is standing between myself and experiencing the victory of Jesus? Me. My unbelief. Faith IS the victory. Thus, unbelief is the defeat. God must get me to where I believe and rest in Christ.

Well, that is easy to say. It is the Truth. But what I am talking about here is not a matter of merely believing the fact of the victory. I’m talking about living in it – I’m really talking about Jesus Christ having victory over ME – over my unbelief.

Now, none of this will make much sense if we don’t understand the meaning of faith and unbelief. We often think of faith and unbelief in relation to believing facts, or in relation to giving assent to certain precepts. But they are more. As I mentioned earlier, faith and unbelief are RELATIONSHIP words – they speak of our relatedness to God. We might even say that faith and unbelief are evidence of our harmony or fellowship with God. If I have faith, I am in harmony with God on a matter. I do believe and trust Him, but more than that, I am, in my inward parts, in harmony with Him. If I am in unbelief, there is a lack of harmony. Of course, there are phases to these things, and dimensions of understanding. But in the end, if I am walking in faith – which is His victory – I am, at least in my heart, in harmony with the Lord. I want His will. In short, faith is submission to God – voluntary submission in love and Truth. You cannot say you trust the Lord and then refuse to submit to Him.

Now note: Faith doesn’t just believe God’s will. Faith WANTS God’s will. Indeed, faith IS God’s will – it is a matter of becoming God’s will. If I have faith, I am swallowed up in Christ. I am ONE with Him, and His will. I have no personal agenda.

Now, if you and I think that we can grab a hold of ourselves, and somehow muster up the faith that will push through all of this unbelief – if we actually imagine faith to be a force, or some frame of mind that can overcome unbelief – we are going to meet utter and complete failure. Faith IS victory and faith IS evidence and faith IS substance. Do we think we have those materials in ourselves?

Man IN ADAM is ruined. He has no affinity with God. He is UNTRUE to the core. He is governed by unbelief. If you try to turn inward and gather together materials that you think will please God or generate faith, you will find nothing of value. That which is born of flesh IS flesh.

You and I cannot produce ANYTHING of spiritual value. But there is ONE thing that we can do, and must do. We must present ourselves, just as we are – and it will ALL be bad – to the Cross of Jesus Christ. That we CAN do. We cannot birth or produce anything good, but we can relinquish to God what we are, and what we do have – OURSELVES.

This is the Truth that absolutely devastates heresies like Calvinism. Calvinism rightly teaches that we cannot initiate our salvation, and rightly teaches that we cannot make any contribution to our salvation. We cannot birth ourselves anew just for the wanting. But Calvinism, in the end, denies the Cross. Calvinism teaches that God births us anew BEFORE we believe, so that we can believe. Thus, it teaches that we are saved before we believe – not by faith, but by God’s election. What this really means is that you do not come to the Cross FIRST – but that you are born again first, only later to come to the Cross. This is a denial of the Cross. It is nothing short of that.

The fact is, salvation itself is the result of God convicting us of sin – it is a matter of God bringing LIGHT upon us. And once God brings light we can choose – even while we are still UNSAVED. Never say that seeing the light mandates that you be saved. No. God can bring light to us even when we are dead in sin. Whether we receive that light is the next question.

When God brings light and we see our sin, we CAN come to the Cross. This is not, "our contribution," to our salvation – it is not us helping God save us. No. If we truly see the Truth and come to Christ we are doing so because we know we have NO contribution to make. We know we cannot help God. In short, faith in Christ is never a merit or a contribution to our salvation. Faith is the outcome of seeing we have NOTHING – and thus, we give our selves to the One who is everything.

Faith is the outcome of seeing the Truth. I see the Truth and accept it, and then I move forward in that Truth. And when I see the Truth about myself, and see the Truth about Christ – and confess that Truth – I will bring my self to the Cross. I can do nothing else if I want the Truth. And this I MUST do.

So we can, and must, bring the creatures we are to the Cross – God will initiate and show us the Truth that leads to this. This is surely for salvation, but it continues as an on going work of God’s Spirit.

Faith is the evidence IN ME of the Truth. Unbelief is the denial IN ME of the Truth. Or, to put it another way, unbelief is BELIEF in lies. And in the end, it all goes back to God. Again – these are relationship words.

If I come to the Cross of Jesus Christ there is going to occur in me a death – and this will be deepened all through my life. It is here that we find the key to true LIFE in Christ, and the key to seeing the Truth. The work of the Cross will bring death to, and break the power of, all that hinders the victory of Christ in me. You cannot have the victory of resurrection life without the death of the old that must precede it. You cannot. Thus, if you want to know what to do in order to be in the right position with God, continually submit to Him; to the Cross.

As it pertains to faith and victory, coming to the Cross – relinquishing myself to God along any line – is going to result in God crucifying out of me that which hinders faith and Truth in Christ. In short, unbelief will give way to faith.

A surrender to the Cross is not some promise to God that I will start believing. Rather, it is a surrender to God so that He can do in me whatever is necessary to get me to where I can believe. Are you having trouble believing God? Are you afraid that you might be deceived? You have to trust God even for this. You have to trust that God will be faithful to you to guide you into all Truth, and thus, build in you faith. Of course, you must continue TO HEAR. But all of this is a work of God. God must initiate the proving of our faith.

Faith is victory because faith is the result of God’s victory over us and IN US. It is evidence that God has taken ground in us for Himself. It is an eternal relationship that God has established in Christ.

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