By David Berg
You never have a victory without a battle, and there are some battles you have to fight your whole life until your dying day! But you have to keep getting the victory. You can't just "forsake all" once and for all. You've got to keep "forsaking all" every day. You can't just be a martyr one day; you're a martyr your whole life! You have to keep leaving Egypt every day or you're going to build up a new Egypt. It's just something you've got to do every day.
Life for the Lord is not something about which you say, "Well, hallelujah! I made that victory. I got over that, and now I'm free! I don't have to sacrifice anymore. I don't have to hurt anymore. I don't have to suffer anymore. I've got the victory! I've won the battle and the war is over, and now I'm going to settle down and be selfish and unsacrificial and enjoy life."
David said, "I will not give unto the Lord of that which hath cost me nothing" (2 Samuel 24: 24). He was saying, "It's got to hurt to be worth something. It's got to be a sacrifice." What is a sacrifice? It's something you lay on the altar. It's something you kill.
You have to fight the Devil and your old self every day. You are a new creature, yes, but how that old self likes to try to pop up again! Paul said, "I've fought a good fight"--and most of it was probably against his old self (2 Timothy 4:7). It's a battle every day--especially with your besetting sins--"the weights and the sins that so easily beset you" (Hebrews 12:1), like selfishness, laziness, and jealousy.
Some people have the idea that you start off your Christian life with your biggest battles, like getting saved. Those are just little ones. That's just a starter! Once you pass the little tests, then He starts giving you bigger ones. And if you think just because you have a one-time victory you've got victory once and for all, you sure are mistaken!
Some people have the idea that once they're saved, that's it. They've given their heart to the Lord, but they go on living for themselves. They think they've already made their sacrifice, so now they don't have to make any more. The truth is that you keep making more and more sacrifices every day, dying daily. The Lord keeps testing you with bigger and tougher and better ones, so that you grow and get stronger with every battle, and you win bigger victories all the time.
You never stop battling, you never stop winning victories, you never stop progressing, or you'll backslide. You can never stand still. You don't just get the victory once and for all over some besetting sin; you have to keep fighting it. But the more you win, the easier it gets, with His help--on that one.
You think you have "forsaken all"? I've never found anybody yet who'd forsaken all forever--until they forsook their life! You have to keep forsaking every day. If you don't keep forsaking every day, you keep accumulating every day. Because stuff is constantly piling up in your life, and if you don't constantly get rid of it, you'll be up to your neck in clutter.
Just like you keep eating food every day, and if you don't have good elimination every day, think what you would be. You'd be a human septic tank! You'd soon die. To say, "I finally got the victory over forsaking" is like saying, "I finally got the victory over going to the toilet. I don't have to get rid of anything anymore. I don't have to keep eliminating anymore--I got the victory over it!" With that kind of victory, you'll soon die. Like the story about the farmer with his cow: He said he got her off feed and he'd have gotten her off water too if she hadn't died!
Some of you seem to think you can get the victory once and for all over something and you'll never have another battle. But that's where the Devil is apt to test you the most, on the one thing where your weak spot is, your Achilles heel, your greatest weakness, your besetting sin, your greatest temptation. Or the one thing that is dearest to you, or the area that is most important to you.
That's the trouble with some Christians. They say, "Lord, here is my dearest Isaac. Here is my sacrifice. I'm going to lay it on the altar now. Lord, see, it's all Yours." And then they pick it up and walk off with it again! Some people go to church on Sunday morning and sing, "Just as I am, without one plea. I surrender all"--and then they get up and walk out with it just like they came in, and they don't "surrender all" at all!
Let's face it: you will never get total victory until you are dead. You have to keep sacrificing and keep forsaking all and keep battling and keep winning the victory every day--and usually even a bigger battle with a bigger victory. And if you win this one, then the Lord is going to trust you with a bigger one next time.
It says in 2 Timothy 2:3: "Endure hardness, as a good soldier." And the more you're a soldier, the tougher you get! The more you're able to take, the more you're able to give up, the more you're able to forsake, the more you're able to suffer, the more you're able to sacrifice, the more you're able to stand wounds and hurts, then the tougher, stronger, and harder soldier you become.
But "forsaking all" and sacrificing isn't just a one-time thing. It's not something you just do once and for all and get it over with and never have to do again. It's something you have to do almost every day--die daily. Every day He'll probably have you sacrifice a little more to see if He can trust you with more responsibility, if you can become stronger and tougher and a better fighter. He'll give you more and He'll trust you with more if he finds out you can give up more, if He finds out you won't get so attached to it that you won't give it up.
It's like the rich man that had such a big harvest and so many riches that, instead of deciding to share with others, he decided to build bigger barns to hold more for himself (Luke 12). It wasn't the big crop which God gave him that was his sin. Being rich is not a sin. It's being unwilling to share and give the poor those riches. It wasn't the barns that were his sin, but that he could have been passing out food from those barns to the poor, but didn't. It was the barniness, the selfishness of his heart that was the sin.
God entrusts some men with riches in order that they might share them with those who need them. There have been some Christian captains of industry who felt a great responsibility for the employment of the poor. If their business failed, thousands of people would be out of work. They shared their riches and its fruits, their industry, their factory, their business with others. It gave tremendous employment, sometimes to thousands. As long as they were faithful in their responsibility and continued to share and made it possible for others to have their fair share, God trusted them with even more. The more you give, the more He will give you
It's the too-rich industrialists and selfish capitalists who covet it all and want more than their rightful share, and withhold from the poor and withhold the hire of the laborers that reap down their fields. They are the ones that God is displeased with. It says that the canker of their gold and their silver shall be a witness against them (James 5:3). In other words, the rust or corrosion of that wealth from disuse will testify that they didn't use it and share it with others.
Some riches get dull and tarnished if you don't use or polish them, and that's corrosion, oxidation, or rust from disuse. The utensil or silver that is used all the time keeps a high polish from just being used. But something you put away and you don't use very much, like the silver in the drawer of the rich, has to be taken out every month by the maid and polished again because it hasn't been used. It is better to wear out than rust out! Better to wear out from use than rust out from disuse!
I've heard some people say: "But the Lord gave me this house. The Lord gave me this business. I couldn't give it up now! God gave me all this money. He certainly wouldn't expect me to forsake it now." That's what He gave it to you for, so you could share it--for His will, or give it to the poor or let God use it in some way.
That morning when Jesus helped the fishermen catch the biggest load of fish they had ever caught, and then He said, "Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!" What if they had said, "But, Lord, You just got through giving us this huge miraculous catch of fish. You gave it to us! We shouldn't go off and forsake it." No, "they forsook all and followed Him" (Luke 5:10-11).
Abraham could have said that about Isaac: "But, Lord, You gave him to me. This is the child of promise, the one You gave me by a miracle! You don't expect me to give up this child." But no, when God said give him back, he obeyed. And God gave Isaac back to Abraham and blessed him and let his seed be "as the stars of the heaven and the sands of the sea" (Genesis 22:16-18).
"Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9), "lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3). The Devil only wins when you surrender. But he can never win as long as you keep fighting. "Resist the Devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). As long as you keep resisting, he'll keep fleeing. But if you stop resisting, he uses his lies and temptations and persuasions to win. If you stop fighting and surrender, he wins.
Building the Lord's work is something you never get done, till you die. Building a life, you never get done till you die! There is always more to do. It comes down to this whole thing of life: it is to prepare you for the next life, when in the Millennium you are going to have to learn how to run the whole world. (See Revelation 20:4.)
You can't keep on coasting on yesterday's victories and yesterday's accomplishments. You can't just rest on yesterday's laurels. "But, Lord, look what I did for You yesterday!" He'll probably reply, "But what have you done for Me today?" My mother used to say, "There is no discharge in this war." You fight it until the day you die in it, and die for the cause. He's trying to make you stronger every day and able to give a little more, sacrifice a little more, suffer a little more, fight a little more, grow a little more.
He wants you to grow into the stature of a full-grown mature Christian that is a real fighter for the Lord and a soldier, one who's able to stand a lot of responsibility, a lot of suffering, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of giving, and can do a big job, not just little ones. God's Word even says of Jesus that, "He grew in stature and in wisdom and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
Jesus "learned obedience through the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). Every day we learn some new obedience, just like a little child. Every day he learns something new.
A lot of Christians stop growing when they are only a few years old, and they never grow up, never mature. They didn't grow any further than a few years old. They thought that was enough, that they'd learned so much by that time, they didn't have to learn any more.
My mother used to say, "The worst place in the world for a Christian is a comfortable place." It's got to hurt a little bit or it's not a sacrifice. What makes a mother's love for her baby so marvelous? It's so totally sacrificial. She gives her all. She suffers for that baby. She gives up herself and her time and her strength and her sleep, and it costs something; it's a sacrifice.
They wanted busy Dr. D. L. Moody to speak at a luncheon once. They said, "Dr. Moody, you only have to talk about ten minutes--it won't take much out of you." He replied, "Well, then, I'll have to refuse, because if it won't take much out of me, it's not worth going!"
Things that are really worthwhile cost something! This isn't a bargain-counter religion. It's not something you get cut prices on and a shortcut to heaven. You've got to go the hard way and the rough way and take the knocks and make the sacrifices and die daily and suffer, and it costs something.
Not only do you have to die daily, but you have to love daily and sacrifice daily and pay the price daily. It costs something! It even hurts daily. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. We may have enough victory for today, but then comes tomorrow, and we'll have greater battles and greater victories--if we keep faithfully running the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
The only reason you sometimes have to go back and do the same grade this year is because you flunked it last year. My God, I don't want to have to go through some of these things again. I don't want to have to take the same grade over again! I want to go on to the next grade. "Ever learning," sooner or later we ought to "come to a knowledge," and not have to keep learning the same lesson over and over and over again (2 Timothy 3:7). The grades get tougher all the time, but you're more ready for it each time because you've just won the last one. Each grade you progress a little and get greater victories.
"Greater things than these shall ye do" (John 14:12). To get greater victories, you have to keep fighting greater battles. For greater rewards, you have to keep making greater sacrifices. And for greater joys, you have to keep suffering greater pains. To get back more, you've got to keep giving up more, forsaking more. If you're going to keep forsaking more every day, the Lord is going to keep giving you back more.
So for God's sake, let's learn our lesson today and get it down pat so we don't have to learn this one over again tomorrow. But don't get me wrong. Some things do get easier. You don't usually have to fight the same battles over again if you get the victory. Otherwise it would be too hard and a losing game.
God bless you and help you to gain greater victories every day! It's really thrilling to look back and see your own progress. To look back down that rugged mountain road you've just come over and to see you're really getting somewhere. But it's even more thrilling to look forward and up to heights you're soon to attain and views you're soon to thrill to if you keep fighting, climbing, winning and don't quit.
God help you to keep on winning battles and greater victories, until you win the greatest and last of all: death--that graduation to the heavenly world of the hereafter with a crown of glorious eternal life with Him forever. Life and love forever!