Overcome – to defeat, conquer, successfully resist
Athletics has never been a strength of mine, and my weakness showed up in all its glory during Physical Education classes in my school years. I did okay in some of the activities, but I wasn’t really good. Obviously, everybody else knew it too, because I was usually one of the last ones chosen to be on a team. That continued until the day the teacher announced that we would begin a segment on badminton. We played in teams of two, and I suddenly found my niche in that class. A friend of mine who was good at everything and later became a P.E. teacher, teamed up with me and we won the championship for all the P.E. classes! We were unstoppable, and it felt great! You don’t forget moments like that when you are used to being defeated and suddenly you are the conqueror. It was glorious! I am probably the only person who remembers that, because it didn’t mean as much to anyone else. But it felt so good to change my status and be a conqueror who was no longer beaten by my inadequacies.
How about you? Are you being beaten and defeated in your Christian life by the pull of the world? This world, this culture, can be a trap to keep us down or it can be the challenge that causes us to rise up and overcome. There is a way out of the trap, if we are willing to follow that path.
Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone.” That sounds like ominous news. They were all about to fail on a large scale. They were about to desert Jesus. But Jesus didn’t stop there with their failure. He went on to clarify His words. He said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33) Jesus was telling them that even in their scattered, fearful and unbelieving state, they could find redemption and peace. They did not have to live in defeat. They could be overcomers. What was the game changer? Jesus won the victory. He has overcome the world, and because He did, we can too.
Jesus came in human flesh, and in that flesh, He lived a spotless, sinless, perfect life fully in the kingdom of God even while He walked the dusty roads and faced the devil in this world. He was the perfect sacrifice Who took our sin on Himself, died and then rose again. His death is our death (we are crucified with Christ). His victory is our victory (we are risen with Christ). The enemy has been conquered. God has prevailed! That is where we get the power to conquer. The Spirit of God in us will uproot the spirit of this world and the spirit of antichrist (the spirit in the world that opposes Christ and works through those who allow it). The Spirit of God in us is unstoppable and will give us the power and strength to overcome. We no longer have to be ruled by the dictates of this world. We do not have to live in defeat. We can be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ Who loves us.
Those who are not overcoming are the ones who don’t know they can be overcomers, or those who have no desire to overcome the world. Those who don’t want to overcome are comfortable in the world and have accepted sin as a normal lifestyle. They really don’t see any reason to overcome. Their lifestyle looks pretty much like everyone else’s, and they don’t want to rock the boat, even to be an overcomer and have eternal life. Sadly, many believe it doesn’t matter because everyone goes to heaven, but as we will see, that is not the case.
In order for you to be an overcomer, there has to be something to overcome. What is in the world that we are to overcome? Certainly our sin nature, but let’s be more specific. Galatians 5:19-21 gives us examples of the outward behavior that stems from the nature of this world. “Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. ” (Amplified Bible) These components of earth-living will keep us ensnared by the world, and will lead us to destruction in hell for eternity. They will prevent us from entering into the kingdom of God, because choosing to be friends of the world means we are enemies of God. But we don’t have to remain chained to that existence, because Jesus made a way for us.
Let’s look at the next few verses in Galatians 5. Like the words of Jesus we read previously, the good news will cancel the bad news if we apply it. “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Amplified Bible) When we have been born again of the Spirit of God, we exchange the spirit of this world for the Spirit of God.
With the power of God working in us, not only can we overcome the practices of the sin nature, but God will do more than we can ask or even think. He will do mighty works through us that we could never think of, much less accomplish on our own. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21) We will also overcome death, hell and the grave just as Jesus did.
The ability to conquer this world with its temptations and trials comes by faith in Jesus. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5) Through faith in Christ, we break free from the spiritual gravity that holds us down, and we are lifted up into the kingdom of God. We are like the space shuttles that separate themselves from this world’s atmosphere and soar into a whole new region.
We remain in this world, but are no longer of it. We are citizens of God’s kingdom. However, Satan will continue to bring accusations against us, and try to make us believe we have to be a servant of sin because we cannot possibly live up to God’s rules. He indicts us every time we make a mistake. He tries to make us forget about the mighty power of God that works in us. But overcomers will rise again when they fall. “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” (Micah 7:8 NKJV) God gives us whatever we need to overcome our enemies and even our own failures.
We can be overcomers instead of being overcome if that is the life we choose. It is a battle, but it is not a battle we fight on our own. Romans 12:21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Don’t allow evil to conquer you. You have the power of God’s Spirit within you to conquer it. We conquer evil by doing what is right and good, by allowing the Spirit of God to work in and through us. James 4:7 puts it this way. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Be subject to God. Yield the control of your life to Him. The word ‘submit’ means to come under God’s control allowing His Word and His Spirit to govern us. Study the Word of God so you can do what it says. Let it change you. Listen to the voice of His Spirit so you can follow Jesus. Let Him lead you. Then we are to resist the devil by setting ourselves against him, not by coming into agreement with him. We oppose him. It is the direct opposite of what we are to do with God. We oppose the control of the enemy by allowing God’s Spirit to be in control. When we do that, Satan will have to run. The word ‘flee’ means to vanish, to avoid, to escape or to seek safety by flight. An overcomer submits to God and resists the devil.
Let me leave you with a few Scriptures to encourage you in your life as an overcomer.
Galatians 1:4 is speaking of Jesus when it says, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” (Galatians 1:4)
As we submit, He delivers.
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
The greatness of His power is in us to conquer.
“Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5 – Amplified Bible)
It is our choice.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17
Now, go out and OVERCOME!