“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Victim or Victor?, by Randall D. Kittle

As born-again believers, we follow Jesus Christ — the great, victorious One who has overcome death, hell, and the grave and is now seated in glory in the heavenly realm. Jesus’ finished work on the cross has given each of us all we need to overcome the enemy and live an abundant, victorious life. The Word of God tells us that no matter what the enemy brings at us we are more than able to defeat him. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Jesus gives to you and me as His disciples today the same authority to overcome the enemy that He gave to the 70 disciples in Luke 10.
“I have given you authority to … overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). This verse tells us that the Lord has not only given us the authority to conquer the enemy and advance His kingdom on this earth, He expects each of us to walk out His victory and be overcomers. This truth will become increasingly more important as the end of the age unfolds. When you look at the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation 2–3, the exhortation and condemnation for the deeds done belong to all of those who are part of the churches, but the promises of final blessings are given to a select group — a group of believers near and dear to our Lord’s heart — “to him who overcomes.”

The Victim Mentality
One scheme the enemy uses to discourage, cripple, and halt the Church from being the victorious overcomers God has called us to be is the victim mentality. You can’t be a part of any church for very long before you’ll discover those whose thinking has become ensnared by this trap of the enemy. They are no longer overcomers. They have been overcome. Betrayal, rejection, falls, and failure have left them only a shell of the men and women of God they used to be … a mere shadow of whom they are called to be in Christ.

In American society, the victim mentality is epidemic in proportion. While it may seem to be merely a minor nuisance, few things hinder the advancement of the kingdom of God in America more than the victim mentality. It has turned victors into victims; winners into whiners; and warriors into wimps.

When someone has a victim mentality, they become focused on others — what others have done to them and how others have wronged them. They take no personal responsibility for their actions. A person with a victim mentality becomes familiar with failure and a slave to sinful habits because “they can’t help it” … “it’s not their fault.” They aren’t moving forward in faith because they are too busy looking back at the past, which creates expectations of failure. They soon find what has happened to them a ready excuse and an acceptable reason for anything and everything that’s not going right in their lives. If they hadn’t been betrayed by so-and-so, this would’ve happened. They were unable to do something remarkable here because they were recovering from the rejection they received over there. Everything undone, every failure, every disappointment is viewed through the distortion of what has been done
to them.

The victim mentality is far more devastating than we realize. The tendency to see oneself as a victim of life’s injustices is widespread today. It’s easy for all of us to feel that our misfortunes have somehow deprived us of the opportunity or the will to become the kind of people we long to be. Perhaps no other stronghold is holding back the Church in America more effectively than the victim mentality. Because this mindset glories in its losses, our losses begin to define us and give us an excuse for never moving forward. Holding on becomes the best we can do. But we have been called to
advance the kingdom of God … not hide out in a foxhole hanging on by our fingernails hoping to make it through.

Renewing Our Minds
As born-again followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible exhorts us not to be conformed to the thinking of the world. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). We don’t have to have the victim mentality of our society. The Lord can renew our minds and give us His “victor mentality” instead.

Allow me to show you three steps to go from victim to victor:

#1 – Renounce the Victim Mentality
The victim mentality gains such a strong grip in people’s lives because it possesses three points with which most of us can identify: I have suffered loss, I feel alone and isolated, and I feel accused and condemned.

You are not alone in your suffering. Everyone has suffered hurts, losses, disappointments, betrayals, falls or failures. That may sound so belittling to the hurts, wounds, and tragedies you have had to endure, but please understand I am not writing this as one whose life has been all smooth sailing. I have stood in the hospital and faced such devastating loss that words fail to express the hollowness it made me feel. It left me with a sadness beyond tears and an emptiness beyond understanding. For weeks, I found life a fog and simply went through the motions of life hoping the fog would lift. I have suffered betrayals in ministry that cut so deep my heart was filled with disillusionment. How could the ones I served, the ones I mentored, the ones I spent my life to raise up so readily betray me? Like all of us, when I faced these trials, I had to choose whether to be a victim and focus on my loss or become a victor by choosing to cling to God and walk forward with Him.

Over and again in Scripture we see the apostle Paul facing hardship. The Bible shows Paul being lashed till his back bled profusely, beaten with rods, shipwrecked, and stoned and left for dead. When Paul testified,
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), what were “these things” he was talking about in this verse? In the passage two verses earlier Paul told us what they were: “tribulation … distress … persecution … famine … nakedness … peril, or sword.” Certainly Paul faced diverse trials.

While our losses and disappointments will
affect us … they don’t have to define us. You are not your fall or failure. The hurts and disappointments of the past don’t have to dictate your future. The triumph of Jesus Christ through the cross is great enough to provide victory even in the midst of all these trials. Your circumstances don’t determine whether you become victorious — Jesus does!

No Condemnation or Accusation
Many believers find themselves feeling condemned and accused. Yet the Bible clearly promises in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus paid the price not only for forgiving your sins, but also for removing your shame (see Hebrews 12:2). If you have given your life to Jesus and made Him your Lord, you are no longer under condemnation.

On the other hand, I have found over the years that the primary reason for people feeling guilty is guilt! What they need isn’t a better biblical understanding or someone to hear them out, they need to forget their excuses and repent of their sins. Forgiveness comes from repentance … not rationalization. Jesus promises that,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Repentance is harder for those with a victim mentality because they feel they have a right to be hurt and offended. But when you took Jesus as your Lord, you gave up all your rights.

Just because you don’t stand accused before God it doesn’t mean the enemy won’t bring accusations against you. After all, Satan is called
“the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). We must choose to stop listening to Satan’s accusations. Often they are nothing more than declarations of our past falls and failures.

Isaiah 54:17 promises,
“‘No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.” Because of the finished work of the cross, we have been blessed beyond any curses the enemy can bring. Our loving Lord has given us mercy for the past, grace for today, and hope for the future!

#2 – See Yourself as an Overcomer
Identity theft is one of the most rampant crimes in America. But it is even more prevalent in the kingdom of God. The enemy of your soul is constantly telling you that you are something other than what you are: something smaller, weaker, and less important. He will tell you you’re a trivial pauper when he knows you are a child of the most High God!

As a child of the Most High God you are a victor! Don’t let what the world says, the losses you have endured, or the disappointments you’ve experienced change your identity. You are who God says you are — a victorious overcomer! After all, 1 John 5:4 promises,
“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world,” and all true Christians have been “born of God.”

You were meant to live for so much more than merely survival — you’re meant to thrive. You cannot be a loser, because in Christ you have already won. Unless we begin to see ourselves as the Father sees us we will never be able to do the great deeds He has created for us to do.

Don’t let the setbacks you’ve faced change how you see yourself. Your struggles and losses don’t define you. They are your history … not your destiny! When we look at the past, we should simply keep the best, forgive and forget the rest, and choose to move forward. We weren’t saved merely to cope with life; we are called to be conquerors in Christ! Let us believe and behave accordingly.

#3 – Walk in Victorious Celebration
Because we live in a sin-damaged world, we will suffer injustice. Not every obstacle will disappear merely by our exercise of faith. So how does the Lord want us to overcome the circumstances that try to paralyze us? Overcomers put their trust in God with great expectations — expectations that He is at work healing, restoring, and providing for them.

Victors never lose the simplicity of their first love for the Lord. They never stop marveling at the greatness of the salvation they have been given. We need to take the time to marvel at the awe of God and ponder the unfathomable love of God for us that was displayed on the cross!

Most importantly, we need to have
thank-filled hearts. Thankfulness is powerful both for undoing and preventing a victim mentality. A thankful spirit quickly begins to erode the victim mentality because it causes us to view life in light of what has been done for us. Instead of seeing things we deserved but never attained, we begin to see things we attained but never deserved. It is impossible to have a truly thank-filled heart toward others and God, and at the same time maintain a victim mentality. The ongoing practice of being thankful will destroy the false argument that you are some pitiful victim … every time!

How are you facing life’s trials these days? As a defeated victim? Or as an overcoming victor? God has given you the power of choice; you can choose life or death and you can choose to be a victor or remain a victim. Make up your mind to live in victory from today forward. Have the mindset of an overcomer in every area of your life. It is time to renounce the victim mentality, begin to see yourself as an overcomer, and march on victoriously.

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