Overcoming is a very serious topic! We must overcome sins, bad habits, wrong thinking and devise ways to resist temptations if we are to please our God.
Jesus says, "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne" (Revelation 3:21).
"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:26). So we see that it is only we who overcome during our lifetime who shall reign with Christ.
So the Christian life we lead is a new and a different life—an overcoming life. Many professing Christians do not feel they have to overcome. They would tell you they do not have to get better because God's grace covers their shortcomings. We must progress toward righteousness. Failure is not an option for us because this is the only chance for those called now.
Why do we stumble and fall so often? Even when we pray for victory over some vicious habit, we still seem to fall down much too often and progress is ever so slow.
The apostle Paul said, in Romans 6:14, "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Yet I realized that sin did have dominion over me and I was its slave! Why?
The key to it all is, "Be vigilant." Be on your guard. The heavyweight boxing champion of the world knows when his next fight will be and carefully calculates when he should begin to train so he will be prepared. We are not so fortunate. We have to be at our spiritual fighting weight all the time because we do not know the date of the next bout with the devil.
So what does "be vigilant" mean? It means to never slack off on prayers and fasting and Bible study.
So strategy number one is to be vigilant, so when you are tempted to make a wrong choice you will be able to just say no.
Don't Disappoint God
Once upon a time, two friends and I were talking about teenagers who were brought up in the Church and what motivates them. One of these two men was once such a teenager, so I was keen to hear what he had to say.
He told me that he was often tempted to make wrong choices when he was a teenager in the Church, but the biggest reason he did not was because he loved his parents so much that he did not want to disappoint them—especially his dad.
A few weeks after we had this conversation I found myself greatly tempted. I had never been tempted that much ever before. But I walked away from that temptation just like Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness. Not because I was so strong spiritually, but because I began to think how much God loved me and worked with me for 39 years and how disappointed He would be to see me crash and burn after all those years of patiently teaching me and making my every good wish come true.
I walked away from that temptation because I did not want to disappoint my heavenly Father—just as my friend brought up in the Church walked away from temptation because he did not want to disappoint his earthly father.
Stay Away From the Edge
One more helpful hint on how to overcome so we won't sin so often: Don't drive so close to the edge of the road.
About 20 years ago I began to wonder why I had so many flat tires and why they were always the tires on the right side of the car. My wife said, "I have been telling you for 10 years that you drive too close to the edge instead of in the middle of your lane. Maybe there are a lot of nails and broken bottles over there to cut your tires on that side." So I started driving in the middle of the lane from then on so I wouldn't have so many ruined tires.
OK! Here is the analogy. If we know about where sin lies and we always live close to it, we will have more sins to repent of just as I had to replace a lot of tires when I drove too close to the shoulder of the road.
For example, if you look at the clock at 3:30 on Friday afternoon, you should remember the Sabbath then and start tying up those loose ends instead of cutting it close by waiting for the 20-minute period around sunset.
If you do not get wise and move away from the gray areas of where sin starts and stops, you might find yourself wondering why you have to repent so often. Better to live your life in the center of your lane so you do not have so many accidents for which to repent.
So here is a review of the strategies:
Be vigilant so the devil doesn't give you a temptation when you are not ready—a sucker punch.
Be reluctant to disappoint God.
Don't live so far off center you cannot tell where righteousness ends and sin begins.
If we keep these three strategies in mind, maybe they will keep our feet from slipping when our next trial is gnawing on our leg like a bad dog. Let's not disappoint our Father who works with us every single day, and let's be vigilant and prepared to just say no. UN
Jim Smith is a member of the Jefferson, Georgia, congregation.