Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
There had been a television reality show called “Survivors.” It is a show where a group of people volunteered to be abandoned on an island. In the process of their stay they faced a lot of hurdles. The inmates are to vote one person out every week and the last person not voted off won the price. The winner is called ‘Survivor.’
The world today talks about different kinds of survivors: Cancer survivors, earthquake survivors, accident survivors etc. The Bible has no such word as survivors; instead the Bible calls the one who wins obstacles as overcomers.
Today we are going to look at what are we to overcome as Christians. We will also see who is an overcomer.
In 1962 a study was done of 413 “famous and exceptionally gifted people” of the world. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through all of these outstanding people’s lives. Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, 392 out of 400 had to win over very difficult obstacles in order to overcome. So the world defines an overcomer as the one who wins over difficult situations.
AS BELIEVER WHAT ARE WE TO OVERCOME?
According to the Bible Christians have three different enemies that we have to overcome:
a. Overcome the world outside us. (The world means the evil system of the world.)
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
b. Overcome the flesh in us. (Flesh is our sinful nature).
1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Romans 13:14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
c. Overcome Satan.
1 Peter 5:8-9 8 Be controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
It is the devil that attacks us in by putting the world inside us, by igniting our flesh, or oppressing us directly. Satan will do all he can to hinder our Christian lives.
HOW DO WE OVERCOME OUR ENEMY?
Our Christian lives can be compared to the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan. Let’s see from the OT how the Israelites overcame their enemies enroute the Promised Land.
The Israelites were under years of slavery and bondage in Egypt. God used Moses and delivered them out of Egypt. As they left Egypt they had to cross the Red Sea. We know in the process the Egyptian army followed the Israelites and God buried Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. The Red Sea symbolizes baptism of a believer and Egypt can be symbolized as the world.
The Israelites were baptized into Moses and left Egypt behind; we are baptized into Christ and are to leave the world behind. The moment we accept Jesus Christ as our saviour and receive water baptism, we are no more of the world, the world is buried.
1 John 5:4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. So the moment we accept Christ and are baptized, we have been given the power to overcome the world and its system.
Once the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, God led them through a waterless place in Exodus 17. The people murmured against Moses for water and God asked Moses to walk to Horeb and strike the rock. Moses struck the rock, water flowed and the people dank their full. Paul says the rock they drank was indeed Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:3-4 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
When we accept Christ we are in fact drinking from the rock. Back in the story of Exodus we find that as soon as the people drank from the rock, that the Amalekites came and attacked God’s people. If the Egyptians symbolized the world, the Amalekites can be symbolized to the flesh. The flesh is the fallen sinful nature, our old nature.
Have you found that in our Christian life our salvation is freely provided to us when we believe in Him? But have you found that the moment we are in Christ and receive him as our savoir and are baptized, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us and we are given a new nature, a spiritual nature. But at this point we experience a conflict within us.
Galatians 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. Thus in every Christian there are 2 natures: One sinful and one sinless; one born of flesh and one born of God. They are always against each other.
Paul himself had this struggle going on between his flesh and his spirit. Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Romans 7:20-25 20 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. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 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 within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Finally, Paul is telling it is only through Jesus Christ that we can overcome the flesh. Christ is willing to help us but if we truly need to overcome our flesh, we need to work hard at it.
Back in the story of Exodus 17, let’s see how the Israelites fought the Amalekites. Moses asked Joshua to choose some fighting men to fight the Amalekites. Moses then stood on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands. This fight against the Amalekites had a peculiar strategy. They used only some fighting men but Moses was uphill with the staff in his hands.
The first point that comes out of this battle is that it is no ordinary fight! It is not won by having great skill or great forces. While Joshua and some men had to fight the battle, the outcome didn’t rest on their strength or weakness. Victory, the Bible tells us rested in Moses lifting up his hands!
Exodus 17:11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. In other words, victory was received as Moses lifted his hands to Heaven in a symbolic act of prayer and surrender.
Exodus 17:12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Secondly, Moses needed help to keep his hands up in this battle, and Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands up. It shows that in this battle of flesh we also need each other’s help. Talk to one another, reach out for one another, encourage one another, and pray for one another. This shows fellowship.
A lot of people are struggling with their flesh. Their spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, but we can win over every desires of the flesh if we can spend time in prayer and fellowship. That is why we gather for cell meetings, fasting prayers, Sunday morning services. It keeps us going in our Christian life.
God has 2 great promises considering Amalekites. Exodus 17:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.
The first promise is that God will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Considering that Amalek is a type of the flesh, this reminds us of the day of the Lord when the nature of sin will be no more. Our full salvation purchased for us at the cross involves a new body. That which is corruptible shall put on the incorruptible. That which is mortal shall put on immortality. No more selfishness, no more sinfulness, no more flesh! All traces of sin blotted out! What a day that will be, always worshipping our Lord in perfect holiness.
Exodus 17:15-16 15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
The second promise is God is with us until that day when we are with the Lord. It is a promise that the Lord will never leave us when we fight with the flesh. The Lord is on our side.
Finally, after 40 years of travel through the desert, the Israelites reached the Promised Land. Their promise was in possession of the giant-like Canaanites. Taking control of the Promised Land was not an easy takeover. God promised the Israelites Canaan and God empowered them to overcome the Canaanites one by one.
The Canaanites in the Bible can be used to symbolize the powers of Satan. Our promises are under his possession. Our blessings are under his possession. It is through the Lord the Israelites won over the Canaanites and it is through the Lord that we can win over every attack of the devil. Jesus Christ has defeated Satan on the cross and it is only through Jesus we can overcome Satan.
In a nutshell; the world, flesh, and Satan can be overcome through Jesus Christ.
Now, that Christ has given us everything we need to be an overcomer, then why are so many Christian living in failure when it comes to overcoming sin of their lives? There are several possible reasons for this:
- Some simply don’t know the power which is available to them.
- Others try to overcome by sin by self effort and will power. (The result of that is temporary victory and eventual defeat.)
- Others have fallen into a sin trap which will keep then in defeat until they are released.
God wants you to be overcomers today. God looks at us as overcomers, for God we are more than conquerors. Overcoming Christian life does not happen in a day, so do not worry if you have failed. Overcoming is a step-by-step process. As we grow in Christ there should be a step-by-step growth. As days pass by we need to get better in overcoming the world, flesh, and Satan.
We are not survivors, we are not just surviving Christians, we are overcoming Christians. Jesus has given us the power to overcome the world, flesh, and Satan. What is it that is holding us back? Where is it that we need a victory? Let us commit ourselves into the hands of God for we are more than conquers in Christ Jesus.