Book Review: Victory in Christ

Book of the Month Review

Sometime ago I was challenged to read through the book:  Victory in Christ by Charles Trumbull.  What I found within the pages of this classic book has brought such clarity to what the Christian life is all about.  I sat down to read it once; but found such truth and freedom as I read, I felt compelled to read and re-read it again.  I believe within the last year and a half I have read through this book seven times.  Each time, I am challenged again to confront wrong thinking patterns that have been established in my head.  This book has had such an impact on my life and for that reason I have chosen it for this month’s book review.

I have never believed in a legalistic salvation.  If there is something that I must do in order to be saved – some good work or deed it ceases to be of grace and is not Bible salvation.  I know this to be true.  Salvation is a work of God Himself, a gift to me if I choose to accept it.

However, for a long time in my life I had adopted a legalistic view of sanctification.  While I knew that there was nothing I needed to do in order to be saved from sin; I found myself believing that there was A LOT I needed to do in order to live the Christian life.  While there was no physical list attached to my fridge readily available for me to check off as I complete each task; there was a mental one.  The longer I was saved and trying to live the Christian life, the more checks I kept mentally making on my list – the more tired I became.  I was tired because I was trying to live the Christian life in the strength of my flesh – my effort.  Only Christ can live the Christian life – I cannot in my own effort accomplish such a divine task.

Charles Trumbull really challenges this philosophy and mindset in his book Victory in Christ.   He explains that, “We make the mistake of thinking that we must share in doing what only God can do.  As I read these words I realized I was reading a truth for which I had been searching for a long time; and a piercing question kept coming to my mind:  

“Could it be possible to have a correct view of salvation by faith in Christ alone but have a legalistic view of sanctification?”

“Freedom from the power of sin, just as from the penalty of sin, is received as an outright gift. By faith you let him do it all.”  -Charles Trumbull

In the chapter, ‘Real and Counterfeit Victory’, the author exposes the philosophy that I had adopted as how the Christian life is lived.  This paragraph caught my eye and I marked it in the book as something I needed to mediate upon:

I read not long ago some extracts from a sermon by a well-known preacher, and they were something like this: “We all of us need to do weeding, rooting up the bad weeds in the garden of our own life.  The thing to do is to give your attention to some weed, some sin that has taken root in your life, and with prayer and effort dig it up  It may take you a long time, but keep at it day after day, week after week, month after month if necessary, till you have weeded that sin out  After you have gotten rid of that sin, take another, and keep at that tell you have weeded it out  And then another and another of  the sins of your life, till you have made your garden what it ought to be.”

This pretty much sums up how I viewed the Christian life.  This philosophy is the reason why I was SO tired and defeated as I just kept trying harder and harder to live the Christian life.  (Something that is impossible to do!  You fail all the time).   My eyes started to be opened to the truth of the Christian life.

A legalistic view of sanctification is just as much a false doctrine as a legalistic view of justification!

How much more clearly I understood the verse I have committed to memory years ago as a teenager at summer camp.  “As you therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”  Colossians 2:6.  I loved what Trumbull had to say in regards to this verse:

“We are to walk in Christ.  But how? Just as we received him.  And how did we receive Christ? By setting our teeth and saying, “There, thank God, I am going to help Him get me born again”? No! We received Him by faith.:  We received Him as the gift of God.  That’s the way we are to walk.  “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

I cannot fully explain in words what freedom and liberty I found in these truths.  I highlighted this quote and reviewed it over and over again: 

“The same faith you exercised for your salvation is the only faith you need for victory.”

If I can trust God for the salvation of my soul from the penalty of sin – I can trust Him for the salvation of my soul from the power of sin.  The Christian life is a life of faith – just like salvation is!  It is not an effort of the flesh – I don’t have to keep trying to impress God and be worthy of Him.  The work is already done.

I HIGHLY recommend this book.  If you have grown up in Christianity (as I have) I think you will be especially challenged by the truths within this book that shed light on the philosophies that are so easily adopted to what it means to live the Christian life. 

The book is a short easy read.  I took one chapter a day and read it during my Bible reading time.  There is a lot of meat in each chapter – so you could take a chapter a week and really have plenty to meditate upon.  I would encourage anyone who calls themselves a Christian to take the time to read this classic book!  There are several places where you can purchase this book; I have found a lot of helpful reading on the subject of the Christian life from Revival Focus.  

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