In the Book of Revelation in the letters to the seven churches and to every church since then, Lord Jesus first told them about their works and the way forward and then a specific reward to everyone who overcomes. Each and every promise of God in the Scripture can be received through faith. God puts sufficient spiritual, physical and material proficiency in every believer to face and be victorious over the challenges and trials that come their way. However, in the process we are also trained to face the bigger challenges in the future and that is the key to a successful life.
The way to victory- God put man in the ‘garden of Eden to tend and keep it’ (Genesis 2:15). Along with this responsibility God gave man dominion and authority over every created thing on the earth, the right to eat from every tree (except one) and every herb bearing seed in its fruit (Genesis 1:28-29). God created man in His own image and likeness and an image reflects the original in every way (Genesis 1:27). In the whole of creation man is the only one given this special status by God and even angels in heaven neither have authority over anything nor do they reflect God’s character in any way. Since God’s purpose can never be stopped by any created being, man’s purpose, that is in line with God’s character, could not be interfered with, for man was created to operate both in the spiritual and material realm, having a body and a spirit within him.
The temptation to Eve was to eat the forbidden fruit and ‘be like God, knowing good and evil’ (Genesis 3:5). This was despite the fact that mankind was already reflecting godly character, being made in that image and likeness. The sin of disobedience disconnected man from the spiritual and cutting off his power source, restricting him to the material realm only. God created man to rule over everything on earth and this is the reason for opposition from the devil. The dominion and authority then passed from Adam to the devil. Satan took Lord Jesus on an ‘exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ (Matthew 4:8-10). An offer of exchange with a huge hidden motive was then made to the Lord, rule of all those kingdoms of this world for worshipping the devil. The aim was to hand over the worldly affairs to the Son of God and through His submission take charge over His kingdom in heaven.
God gave Adam and Eve everything on earth with nothing sought in return and the one and only restriction was also for their good only. The devil on the other hand never offers anything without seeking a great price to be paid in return.
Every situation that we face in this life is within our capacity to handle and overcome. Apostle Paul confirms this fact that God ‘will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). God is not only assuring us of controlling the enemy attacks on us but also ready to equip us to face all that. The Greek word translated as ‘bear it’ is ‘hupophero’ which means ‘to endure because carried safely away from danger’. The Savior Lord had to take upon Himself all the punishment for our sins so that God could then keep us safe from danger, when we surrender to Him in faith.
Lord Jesus encourages all believers with His own example of having overcome all situations that He faced as Son of Man on the earth and then promises the same reward also (Revelation 3:21). Judas (not Iscariot) sought to know the way, how the Lord will manifest Himself to them and not to others (John 14:21-23). The Lord answered, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’. Herein is the key to living a victorious life through obedience to the great commandment of loving ‘God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:5). God’s purpose can never be stopped by any created being, man or an angel and His plan for each one of us can only be stopped by us ourselves, either through unbelief or disobedience. He is willing but waits for us to let Him lead us into victory in His power.
What must we overcome –Apostle Paul, has identified for us the enemy forces, ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12). Every believer faces opposition from spiritual forces of evil who are opposed to God. Though we see the opposition to all the good that we want to do from men and women but actually they work under the control of the satanic forces. Any of our efforts directed against these human beings will produce no results till the spiritual forces are tackled.
Lord Jesus healed a woman ‘who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up’ (Luke 13:11-16). Since healing was done on the Sabbath day, the ruler of the Synagogue objected, seeing this as work in violation of the command to hold that day as holy. Lord Jesus questioned him, ‘So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham (being a Jew), whom Satan has bound, think of it, for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath’. The Word of God is clear about salvation through faith and grace, but we have added innumerable restrictions in following the same. Many are told to first change their physical appearance before being baptized, thus depriving them of salvation.
Our battle is against these spiritual forces and when faced with such situations, we have to first identify the basic cause and then remove that from the root. This we do in the power and authority of Lord Jesus as led by the Holy Spirit. These forces create strongholds within us to restrain us from stepping forward in faith and the bars of our prison cell could be fear, pride, presumed inability, being busy and numerous such excuses. Every attempt of the devil to tempt/test the Son of God was based on the wrong interpretation of the Word of God. Lord Jesus countered it all with the Word only, forcing the devil to flee from Him. We must use the Word of God to counter the evil thoughts placed in our minds by the devil to restrain us and step forward in faith. There is a definite possibility that we may not succeed many times but we get up, seek guidance from the Lord, learn for the future and move on.
The letter to the church of Sardis virtually defines the situation in many Christian homes (Revelation 3:1-6). Sardis was a very rich city, with a loose moral state. The first coins in Asia Minor were minted there and people were pleasure loving. Lord revealed their identity in the letter, ‘That you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead’. They had a reputation of being a very active church with meetings, conventions and other events, spiritually, however, they had no life and like a dead body the battle was already over and lost. Since the devil was not threatened by their works, it was not worth attacking. If all is going absolutely smooth in our lives, we must also analyze our spiritual state.
The first thing that they are told is ‘Be watchful, and strengthen what you have’. God, who searches the hearts and minds, still notices something that could be revived in them and strengthened but is about to or ‘ready to die’. In our situations when we are almost on the verge of giving up on hope, Lord Jesus wants us to regain faith and strength. Their works were found imperfect before God for they tried all sorts of things but did not take it to completion. Many believers try to follow the trends or what others are doing but end up wasting time, money and effort and give up. In the parable of the rich master, he gave to the servants his goods, ‘to each according to his own ability’ (Matthew 25:15). The one who had received one talent buried it in the ground and all who fail to or refuse to use the God given gifts for His Kingdom end up losing and being cast into ‘outer darkness’.
The key to victory is given by the Lord in His letter to the Sardis church, ‘Remember, therefore, how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent’. They were to remember how the Word of God was received by them, hold fast to that, repent and take control over their lives. Apostle Paul further clarifies this, ‘For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe’ (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The reward in the letter that was offered to those who overcome, they ‘shall be clothed in white garments’. This defines the difference between the faith dead and alive, as purity in ‘thoughts, words and deeds’ as seen by the ‘white garments’.
Overcoming fears and doubts – Apostle Paul assures every believer that ‘it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13-16). God’s grace works in our weaknesses and He sets up the well of living waters in us to lead us to victory. When we move in obedience, we let God transform our will and our actions to conform to His will. But this happens with our active participation only and we are to do all things ‘without complaining and disputing’. Complaining against God and disputes with each other, the leaders and with the ungodly, lead to failure and defeat. We are to shine as lights in the world, before a crooked and perverse generation for we ‘are the light of the world’. How brightly do we shine to lead others into the light by revealing the truth to them and to bring joy of salvation in their lives. We do this by ‘holding fast to the word of life’ for we must get life and vitality in and from His Word alone. ‘The Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil’ and as members of His Divine family we are tasked to do the same (1 John 3:8).
The innumerable saints and angels around the throne of God in heaven declared, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and praise’ (Revelation 5:12). As children of God we are heirs of God ‘and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we might also be glorified together’ (Romans 8:17). This is the unique and real state of every believer in Lord Jesus and we receive and claim this by faith.
As per God’s command, Moses was to send spies ‘for yourself’, one from each of the twelve tribes to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel’ (Numbers 13:2). The mission of the twelve spies was not for God but for their satisfaction about the beauty of the Promised Land; the Hebrew word ‘tur’ used here means ‘to search, explore and spy out’. They came back and compared their capabilities with those who lived in the land whereas the land was already decreed for them by God and it was not their strength that was to achieve this. Most battles are lost even before the start, for we fall into the trap of comparing our strength with the task at hand without seeking intervention from God.
Saul was chosen as king for he was a hand taller than others, with a strong build, but he did not face Goliath. David was about 16-17 years old, not yet of age to be a soldier and was discouraged by Saul as being unfit and then clothed by his own armor and sword to fight (1 Samuel 17: 32-40). David tried to walk around with that but felt uncomfortable and removed it, took his shepherd’s staff, five stones from the brook and his sling to fight the giant. Every situation that we face can be tackled by what God has already given to us whereas we start looking for resources that someone else has for his battles.
The secret to victory is to assess the situation as led by the Holy Spirit, seek God’s Word, pray for His help for victory, then face the challenges and claim the victory.
God loves us beyond measure and how can He be pleased with our posturing of defeat even before joining the fight. AS per Scripture, ‘He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him for us all, how will He not, along with Him, graciously give us all things’. Every battle is first planned and fought in the mind and the one who loses out in his thoughts, has already lost. Faith in the Word of God and then living in obedience is the way to victory and great rewards on earth and in heaven. The Son of God has already won the battle on the cross, but are we living as victors.