Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ… (
2 Corinthians 2:14a)
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
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. Rome
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
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!