Overcoming the world…and it’s temptations.
Recently, we’ve found ourselves being rebuked much more frequently by lukewarm Christians for being too zealous and extreme. Perhaps you too?
Why do they do this? Do they see us in danger of being too hot? Are we in danger of losing our rewards, or even going to hell?
Do they consider themselves to be too zealous and hot for Jesus, confessing that truth to the watching world with their own mouths?
We never get a clear, straight answer from these people, just that we should cool off and take it easy like them. Being lukewarm (neither hot or cold) have been our observations of them in the Spirit, as we searched their lives diligently for 30-60-100 fold fruit that remains.
So, lest we think all who claim Christ are the same, Paul wrote:
1 Cor. 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
This means to be cut off, i.e. not standing the test, rejected, see also Rom 1.28: depraved mind; 2 Cor. 13.5-7: fail the test of faith, be unapproved; 2 Tim. 3.8: rejected in regard to the faith; Titus 1.6:worthless for any good deed; Heb. 6.8: worthless and close to being cursed.
And again, he exhorts his disciple with this proclamation:
1 Tim. 4:7-8 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Why all the exhortations and warnings if all is automatic, and all are the same?
Last time we wrote:
It has been said that the steps to spiritual downfall of groups during the ages have always followed this cycle. (1) Revelation; (2) Inspiration; (3) Evangelization; (4) Organization; (5) Education; and (6) Stagnation, with this generally happening in less than one generation.
Now let us muse on the western church, and also the affluent church even in 2nd or 3rd world areas. Let us also muse on our own lives, and what our spiritual condition might currently reflect to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. And then let God’s word speak for itself, and to our hearts.
In Revelation 3, the area churches in Asia get a report card from the Ancient of Days. A few in the church (body of Christ) of Sardis were walking worthy, but only a few. Thinking themselves to be OK with Jesus and alive spiritually, He observed they were dead.
Wow, I never want to hear that in my life, and you too? Repent and complete the deeds missing, or else, He commanded them. Is this the nice, kind, gentle Jesus we feel we all know?
Weren’t they serving Him just fine?
The Laodicean church surely had some people who were walking worthy too, didn’t they? Yet Jesus doesn’t mention that in His rebuke to them. If you do not become hot, He promised to puke them out of His mouth.
Extremely graphic. Extreme.
That’s not kind, you might say. But is He being loving as we in the western church define love? Is Jesus displaying the fruit of the Spirit when He is being 100% conditional (if-then) in His demands?
Yes. In the end, holiness trumps unconditional love. We can count on it.
Rev. 3:1-6 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.
Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Rev. 3:14-22 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down 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.’ “
So then, how important is it to overcome this world and it’s desires (Titus 2:12, 1 John 2:15-17) along with our flesh? A matter of eternal life and death?
Let’s look at those verses with the bold word(s), starting with the Greek word used to often describe overcoming. Recognize that Greek word from The Swoosh company? Even the world knows about overcoming victory in their own demented way.
Nike, conquest (abstract), i.e. (figurative) the means of success: victory.
Nikao – To Overcome, Conquer, Be Victorious, To Prevail:
Luke 11:2 But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
“That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged.”
Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 John 2:13-14 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
1 John 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
1 John 5:4-5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Rev. 2:7 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
Rev. 2:11 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’
Rev. 2:17 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
Rev. 2:26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations;
Rev. 3:5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Rev. 3:12 ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
Rev. 3:21 ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Rev. 5:5 and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
Rev. 6:2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
Rev. 11:7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.
Rev. 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Rev. 13:7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.
Rev. 15:2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.
Rev. 17:14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Rev. 21:7 “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
So, then, beloved, it’s not automatic. We have a huge role in entering by the narrow gate and missing the wide path to destruction. The blessed destination is available for all, but attained by just a few.
God’s marvelous grace is the fuel, His cross and blood the Spirit’s means to overcoming like Him. I can’t think of anything more exciting than to sit down together someday soon with our Jesus, can you?
But in the words of Jesus Himself, let us again say:
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (the body of Christ, people themselves in a geographic region, not a building).’
You may read Part 4 by clicking here.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org