Jesus called us to overcome. Overcome what?
Source: Wikimedia Commons/David Friel
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God…To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7; 3:21).
These words that Jesus spoke are clear. We are called to “overcome,” just as He overcame. But what exactly are we to overcome, and how?
We are called to defeat the dominion that our carnality has over our minds. We are called to overcome “the sin which so easily ensnares us,” the apostle Paul wrote to his countrymen (Hebrews 12:1).
It is out of fashion to talk about sin. Yet the bonds of evil that beset our life are many: envy, lying, deceit, hatred, murder, greed, ingratitude, indifference, pride, vanity, corruption, love of money or power, and moral licentiousness, to mention but a few.
There is no human being on earth who is not a slave to at least one of these sins, whether consciously or unconsciously. Denying this truth harms us. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
But if we speak the truth and we walk in fellowship in the light of God, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” “If we confess our sins”—if we manifest our desire to be free of them—“He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:7, 9-10).
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4).
What exactly is faith in Christ?
God inspired the Apostle Paul to write that, though our salvation depends on the faith we have in Christ, we are called to overcome evil with His faith, doing our part (Philippians 2:12-13). This wonderful miracle happens when our will becomes the same as that of God. God’s “willing and doing” are expressed in His commandments: They must become our willing and doing, fully and with our whole hearts!
A False Freedom
Most people do not have an “ear to hear” and have discarded God’s commandments. They say that Jesus Christ destroyed the law when He, in fact, said the exact opposite (Matthew 5:17). It should not surprise us then that almost no one knows what “sin” is.
People have been taught to obey their own human rules rather than to recognize the difference between good and evil and do what’s good. What’s the result? In the most opulent, technologically advanced societies, sin is ever more glorified, while virtue is increasingly derided. All in the name of the god of money, freedom and material pleasures. But the sins of our century are very grave (Romans 1:24-31) and they herald destruction like that which struck the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).
Yet many people feel free. They claim to accept everyone as they are. They’re pleased with themselves, just like the Pharisees in the time of Jesus, who did not think themselves slaves to sin. To give just one example, the movie Jesus suggests a wrong-headed belief that the modern world, particularly the Western one, is the Kingdom of God. Illusion!
In reality, moral decay in our world will go from bad to worse until Jesus Christ returns (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Those who answer “yes” to the call of the Father do not consider this world as “their world.” Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world (John 17:16). Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
The truth is that, without Jesus Christ in our lives, we are all slaves of sin and the evil one, who “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).
If we sincerely repent, God the Father forgives us and covers our past sins, erasing them through Christ’s blood. He also gave us his Holy Spirit, which enables our freedom from the slavery of death through the future resurrection of our mortal bodies into eternal life (Romans 8:11).
Called to Fight
Over the centuries, the Eternal Father has let the world harvest the evils that it has sown upon itself. Yet, He is also forming a “little flock” to reign with Him on the day when the rest of humanity will inherit salvation (Luke 12:32, Revelation 20:4-6). Those who want to be part of the “little flock” know that they are the first called to fight to overcome their carnal nature! This victory cannot happen without a spiritual fight. Paul wrote: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses…that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing”(1 Timothy 6:12-14).
Fight Against Whom, Against What?
• Invisible demons— “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
• Sin— We are called to overcome the sin to which we have become slaves. We are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16).
• Flesh— The apostle Paul wrote this confession: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringingme into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:14-15, 23).
• Fear— We are called to overcome the “fear” that afflicts the world. The devil succeeds in making us fear, sometimes through relatives or friends who slow down or impede our spiritual enlistment in the army of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:37, Hebrews 2:15, 1 Peter 3:14-16). To start fighting, then, we must first rid ourselves of fear, convinced that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Our losing situation begins to turn around to find us victorious when we sincerely repent and ask God for forgiveness. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).
Fight. But How?
God calls us to fight for justice, with instruments of justice and not with weapons of corruption. Machiavellian philosophy suggests that a good end justifies the use of any means or methods, even unethical or dishonest ones. The Word of God teaches that our means to defeat evil must always be faith in God and obedience to His commandments.
Here is some advice on how to fight against evil without falling into evil.
Fight according to the laws of God (2 Timothy 2:3-5). We are not talking about “holy wars,” which worldly religions wage in the name of God. This is not how God wants it.
Fight wearing the armor of God. This is spiritual armor, of course (Ephesians 6:11-17).
Paul also added one other important element to our armor: team spirit! “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19, New International Version).
When you decline the call of God or you remove your armor, you will fall right into the crosshairs of the fiery darts of the devil. Sin, which is the transgression of the divine command, takes advantage of the law and produces all kinds of covetous desires (Romans 7:8).
Sin, even if through ignorance, makes you a slave to sin. But if you love the law of God and always hold high the truth (2 Timothy 3:16), then your fight is not in vain, even if you slip.
Fight without lying to yourself. We must recognize that without the help of the Spirit of God, we will never overcome sin (Romans 8:7). Realizing that alone we are too weak to defeat the evil one is an essential for our ultimate victory.
Fight asking God for help recognizing our weakness is not enough. We must humbly ask God for help, because “the Spirit of God also helpeth our infirmities” (Romans 7:18, 8:26, King James Version).
Fight following in the steps of Jesus “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23. See also Mark 1:17, John 8:12 and Hebrews 2:10).
Fight to encourage others. This is one of our most important daily responsibilities. We are “enlisted” in the spiritual army of Christ and have the obligation to encourage, defend and cover our brethren from the attacks of the enemy. If one of us falls captive to fear, he asks for help and the whole platoon will run to help him and free him. If one of us deserts the holy assembly and shoots against it, it becomes very clear on whose side that person stands. He or she plays the game of the evil one to discourage us and make us all fall. In this situation, we must avoid those people (Romans 16:17-18).
In conclusion, we have become loyal soldiers carrying out orders from our good captain, Jesus Christ.
The Final Victory
We therefore fight the good fight of faith to attain the eternal life to which we are called. If we do these things, our final victory is assured.
God made this promise: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God…To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 2:7; 3:21).
In that day, God will dwell with us, and will wipe away every tear. Death shall be no more. There will be no more mourning or crying or pain. God does not lie. He speaks the truth. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).