The term “Christus Victor” literally means “Christ the Victor” and it refers to the total victory of Christ Jesus our Savior over the enemies of sin, death and evil. As Martin Luther put it in his explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed:
“Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also a true human being, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally.” – (Martin Luther’s Small Catechism)
However, if you have ever felt spiritually beaten down by an illness or by some negative circumstances in life, as though you were under some kind of demonic attack, then it could sometimes seem like Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil is incomplete. Nevertheless, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that his victory over these ancient enemies is, in fact, absolute — even though it is not yet totally manifested in our lives and world.
I prefer to liken this to human warfare, similar to the United States victory over the Empire of Japan during WWII. Even though the USA was victorious, there were still Imperial Japanese sailors and soldiers throughout the Pacific that continued to fight until they finally surrendered as well. Similarly, the victory of our Lord Jesus is won, but there is still a universal spiritual mopping-up operation going on until Jesus’ return at his Second Advent to come.
So, the victory and the power and the glory belong to Christ forever and ever, but we do not yet fully enjoy this great victory. In the meantime, as we await the fulfillment of the already accomplished victory, we still confront the powers of sin, death and the devil. In fact, the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world is under attack, with the growing persecution of Christians worldwide and with the activity of those who would sow the seeds of division and fan the flames of discontent within the Church itself.
I think, from within and without, the Body of Christ is under assault, but we know that Christ is already victorious, and, as we hold fast to our confession of faith in Jesus, we also know that “the gates of Hades will not prevail” against the advance of the gospel (see Matthew 16:16-18). In addition, even though we do not always see it perfectly manifested in our lives, we have the good news promise that, by God’s grace in Christ, we are “new creations” of God:
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” – (Second Corinthians 5:17)
While we always seek to live good lives according to the way and truth and life of Jesus, we often fail at this because none of us are perfect. And when we do fail at times, we seek this renewal of God’s grace in Christ by confessing our sin, repenting, receiving forgiveness and growing more in the Lord.
All people need the Lord. Everyone sometimes needs to be set free from “unclean spirits” (as the Bible says) of one sort or another, and Jesus is the Great Physician who heals us from our every ill. And in the midst of the storms of life, our Lord Jesus is there healing, cleansing, protecting, loving and delivering. For Christ is the Victor! And we claim this truth for our lives and for the world by God’s grace through faith as a free gift of God.
All glory, laud and honor be to our Redeemer King — Christus Victor!
Together in Christ, Pastor Tim