The Overcomer

The Overcomer artwork image. Symbolizing Christian victory overcoming sin, overcoming sin, the devil, the world and bondage by faith in Jesus Christ. Based upon the Scriptures 1 John 5:4-5, 1 John 4:4,Revelation 2-3, 12:11. Japanese Chinese sumi ink painting on rice paper of a white horse jumping over black thorns, spikes.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE, VICTORY, FREEDOM, HEALING SERIES

Click on the image to enlarge it

$175 AUD ($175 USD), Sumi Ink on Rice Paper, Framed in wooden frame with dark stain; Image size: 32 cm x 36 cm (12.5″ x 14″); Framed size: 43.5 cm x 50 cm (17″ x 20″); Prints and Cards Available

 

“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)

Our destiny as believers is to overcome everything that hinders us from being perfectly Christlike: our flesh, the world and the devil. By the power and grace of God we have overcome and we will overcome! God is perfecting us as overcomers!

God’s great purpose and destiny for us is Christlikeness–that all of the holiness and righteousness of Jesus Christ and that all of the power of his indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16) would be manifested through us:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:29-32)

What a marvellous destiny we have in Christ Jesus! God promises to complete his work of perfection in us, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Therefore, in regards to overcoming our flesh, the world and the devil, the three opponents that hinder us on our journey to Christlikeness, let us take to heart Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phillipians 2:12-13).

As Christians, we are eager to overcome the obstacles that hold us back, but how do we actually go about overcoming them?

Natural thinking tells us to try harder and to get harsher and stricter with ourselves. This worldly plan of attack unfortunately permeates much of Christian thinking. In the end this kind of false teaching leaves Christians just as defeated as they were when they started but only a lot more frustrated and exhausted in their battle against sin. Discouragement and disillusionment can even set in to the point where some Christians just give themselves over to the sinful vices and demonic influences they have unsuccessfully tried to overcome. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way!

The Word says, “…for waging war you need guidance, and for victory, many advisers” (Proverbs 24:6). Who are these advisers? All the Words of God. “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:24).

In the Word of God, Paul emphasizes the vanity of the “try harder, get harsher, get stricter” approach to overcoming sin in his letter to the Colossians:

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:20-23)

Paul also describes his own frustrating Christian experience of trying to live a victorious Christian life by putting more “Law” upon himself (try harder, get harsher, get stricter) in Romans 7.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7:14-25)

The reason why trying harder and getting harsher with ourselves doesn’t work is partially because, as the Word says in the verses just prior to this passage (Romans 7:7-13), placing more “Law” upon ourselves and trying to obey it in the power of our own strength actually stirs up our desire to rebel against it!

The other reason why the “try harder, get harsher, get stricter” approach doesn’t work to overcome sin is because it is all rooted in the source of our own human efforts. Not only are we incapable of overcoming our flesh, the world and the devil out of the source of our own human strength, but this approach also stands in contradiction to God’s approach which is presented in the Word.

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:10-14)

God’s way of overcoming sin is not by telling us to get harsher with ourselves, but by the Spirit (Romans 8:13).

The true and victorious Christian life is lived out of a place of rest, a place of total cessation of our own works so that God, by the power of his own Spirit, can do in us what we cannot do ourselves.

“Now we who have believed enter that rest [God’s rest]…for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore make every effort to enter that rest [by believing, not working], so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:3,10-13)

We do not strive into overcoming; we rest and believe into overcoming. We relinquish our own self-efforts and surrender ourselves to God. We do not bash ourselves into overcoming; instead, we surrender and place our faith in God to overcome within us through the power of his Spirit.

(Please see “Empty Hands” (Believer’s Road Series) for my own experience in learning this. I also highly recommend Watchman Nee’s book “The Normal Christian Life”, which offers superb Biblical teaching on the victorious Christian life in Romans 3-8, which should be our normal Christian experience. I wish I would have read that book much earlier in my walk with God, as it would have saved me from wasting many years in my own futile human efforts to live a victorious Christian life).

Indeed simple faith in God and faith in his Word is what gives us the victory! It transforms us from defeated Christians into Christian overcomers!

“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)

FAITH is the great secret to overcoming in the Christian life. This principle of faith that overcomes also extends beyond our battles against our flesh and the world (which inflames our flesh). It extends into overcoming the devil too.

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers [the devil], who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:10-11)

Anyone who has been a Christian for at least a day knows that the devil’s main weapon against us Christians is condemnation. Again, it is our faith in the blood of the Lamb, the precious atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, through which God forgives us and puts us into eternal right standing with him (justification), that causes us to overcome ALL his accusations against us. (See 1 Peter 1:18-21, Romans 3:21-28, Galatians 2:19-3:14). The truth is as Christians, Jesus took our full condemnation for us, therefore there is no more condemnation left for us! Glory be to God and his Son Jesus Christ for his exceedingly marvellous work on Calvary on our behalf!

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!…Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 7:24-8:4)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting mens’ sins against them…God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19,21)

Yes! The shield of FAITH has the power to extinguish EVERY flaming arrow of accusation and condemnation the evil one shoots at us! “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

As we confess our sins, each and every sin we commit is washed away by the blood of the Lamb! Do you believe this? The devil has no grounds to accuse or condemn us because our God given FAITH in the blood of the Lamb (Ephesians 2:8-9) totally overcomes him and his arrows every time!

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9)

How often is this verse true? Always. The blood of Christ is wholly sufficient to cleanse each and every sin every single time, even 490 times a day (Matthew 18:21-22)! (Please see “Where Sin Abounds, Grace Abounds All The More” (Believer’s Road Series), “Look to Christ” (Believer’s Road Series), “Unworthy, But That’s The Grace of God” (Believer’s Road Series) and “Depths of Grace” (Believer’s Road Series).)

From the very beginning, the devil has been a deceiver and an accuser. He frequently tries to get us to doubt God’s Word. Just as he said to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), he says to us, “Did God really say….?” (Genesis 3:1).

But the wonderful fact is that Truth is Truth, and God’s Word is the Truth! “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17)“All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal” (Psalm 119:160).

Therefore, let us stand firm in our faith in God’s Word and the Blood of The Lamb. Furthermore, let us not be shaken from this solid position by coming under deception and false teaching in the church, which also originates from the enemy (1 John 4:16, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, Jude).“You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:1-4)

Finally, let us take to heart the following encouragement from Jesus to his overcomers:

“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God…He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death…To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it…To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations–‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’–just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star…They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels…Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name…To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:4-5, 12, 21)

(See also “The Lion of Judah Triumphant Over The Dragon” (The Lion of Judah Series))