The Victorious Christian Life

A Lesson Series for the Earnest Christian

© 2002 by Thomas W. Finley, 2013 Revised Edition

Lesson Twenty-Three: Challenges to the Overcomer (continued)

We will now continue with some other challenges to the victorious Christian, as seen in the word of God.

Overcoming sin and spiritual deadness

The overcomer must overcome indwelling sin and spiritual deadness (Rom. 6:12; 8:2). Although the Bible does not use the word “overcome” specifically in connection with sin, this victory is implied by the verses just noted. We are all aware of the most basic problem we struggle with – the problem of sin.

The Bible also teaches us that sin leads to death (Rom. 5:12). Sin in our lives can lead to physical death, but there can also be a sense of spiritual deadness, or death, in our experience. This comes when we have our mind set on the flesh and the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:6). We must be in touch with the living God in our spirit in order to experience righteousness and life (Rom. 8:4-6). With spiritual deadness we may sense our fellowship with God is not alive and fresh. When we sense this deadness within, we should turn to our living spirit to contact God and His life. Any sin should be repented of and confessed.

Overcoming evil with good

The overcomer must overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Sometimes evil persons may come against us. Perhaps these will even be the members of our own family. We must overcome such evil with good. We should never return evil for evil (Rom. 12:17). In order not to be defeated by evil, we must do good to such evil persons. “’But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21). See also Luke 6:27-36.

Overcoming the devil

The overcomer must overcome God’s enemy, Satan. The apostle John wrote, “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn. 2:13b). Then, he writes an expanded version of this statement in the next verse: “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 Jn. 2:14b). The description “young men” is a word picture for the believer who has achieved some measure of maturity. The strength of these believers is connected to the word of God being active and alive within them. This gives us insight into victory over the devil. With the word of God being our source of spiritual strength and supply, we can stand in faith against the subtle attacks of the devil.

The word of God counters the lies and deceit of the devil. He is the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). The devil may try to tell us that we can’t have victory, or that God won’t hear us, or that we have committed the unpardonable sin. He may send a thought into our mind to cause us to have doubt, tempt us to sin, or attract us to the world. Yet, every lie, every temptation, and every deceit can be countered by the truth of God, plus our willingness to obey God. This is the way Jesus met the temptations of the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11).

In Revelation, John recorded how the saints overcome the enemy: “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 to death” (Rev. 12:11). Firstly, the blood is needed to defeat the devil’s accusations against us. The Greek word for devil is diabolos (Strong’s #1228). This word means an accuser, or a slanderer. The devil is an accuser who will remind us of our sinfulness and failures (Rev. 12:10). We can answer all of his accusations by the cleansing blood of Christ that secures our righteousness before God (Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 1:9).

The second item mentioned in Rev. 12:11 for defeating the devil is “the word of their testimony.” In the context of Rev. 12, a time of persecution, this testimony means a holding fast to the confession of Christ as Lord and to the truth of God’s word at a time when the devil attempts to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). In principle, in our daily lives now, this testimony could include our speaking of the truth of God to counter the lies and deceit and accusations of the devil. For instance, when a thought enters our mind that we are weak and will fail, we must say, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). When the devil tries to condemn us by reminding us of our old sinful nature, we must speak the word: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). “Thank you, Lord, that I am in Christ. I am a new creation and the old things of my old life have passed away. My old life was crucified with you, Lord, at the cross. Now Christ is my life.”

We may even speak to the devil: “Devil, my old man was crucified with Christ. I am a new creation. Who is he who condemns? God is the one who justifies [see Rom. 8:33-34].” The devil attacks us in our thought life. We must fight against him by “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God . . . taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) We must tear down the lies that are against God’s revealed truth and stand firm in our faith, maintaining the word of our testimony.

The devil particularly likes to attack us with anxiety concerning our situation. We need to cast all of our anxiety upon our caring Father, trusting in His care, and firmly resist the devil by our faith in God and His truth.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all of your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Pet. 5:6-9).

The third secret in Rev. 12:11 for overcoming the enemy is to not love our lives even unto death. This means that we are willing to give up everything for Christ, even our lives. This kind of willingness to follow Christ at any cost leaves Satan no ground for successful temptation and defeat of us. Rather, he is defeated and we are victorious over him!

The Lord Jesus Christ fully defeated Satan at the cross and in resurrection (Jn. 12:31; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15). We share in this victory in Christ (1 Cor. 15:57; Eph. 1:19-22). Our need is not to try to defeat the devil by any of our efforts, but to stand firmly in faith in all that Christ has accomplished for us. “Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Eph. 6:13). Satan will assault us in our thought life with all kinds of doubts, discouragement, temptations and evil thoughts. But, we must take up “the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). Standing firm in faith in our position of victory in Christ, while being fully yielded to Him, Satan will have no ground to defeat us.

It is possible that a Christian may come under particularly strong attack or oppression by evil spirits. This can occur if we have given place to the devil through some disobedience (Eph. 4:27), if we have dabbled in the occult, or perhaps for other reasons. In such cases, a more concerted warfare against the foothold of the enemy is required. For help with this problem, I recommend the book entitled, “The Adversary” by Mark Bubeck (published by Moody Press).

Overcoming false teachers and prophets

The overcomer must overcome false teachers and prophets. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). The “them” in this verse refers back to the false prophets mentioned in verse one. This passage speaks of false prophets who teach a particular falsehood about Christ’s person, and thus deny a basic tenet of the faith. Yet, I believe in principle this particular arena of overcoming extends to all false prophets and teachers.

Peter warned of false teachers that would come among the believers and lead them astray (2 Pet. 2:1). Unless a believer is victorious over the deceit of these teachers and their teaching, the believer will be misled in his or her walk of faith. For instance, the false teachers in 2 Peter 2 entice immature believers by appealing to their fleshly desires (2 Pet. 2:18). Unless the believers can escape the snare of such devilish teaching, they will end up trying to use their faith to satisfy their fleshly appetites. We see this happening today.

Many believers over the years have been caught in movements or assemblies that contain false teachers who were never commissioned by God. These deceived followers do not mature in the Lord and are sometimes terribly wounded by their experience. How important it is for Christians to overcome false teachers and escape from their influence!

Overcoming negative circumstances

The overcomer must overcome negative circumstances. Note the following passage from Romans that mentions this aspect of overcoming.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Just as it is written, “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:35-37)

In this passage the term “overwhelmingly conquer” is a translation of one Greek verb, hupernikeo (Strong’s # 5245). This verb is a compound word composed of two words, namely huper, meaning more, and nikao, meaning to conquer. This passage shows us that even in severe circumstances we can overcome. What do we overcome? We overcome the natural effect of those circumstances, which try to depress us and try to extinguish our testimony for Christ.

The testing of such “fiery trial(s)” (1 Pet. 4:12) seems so frightening to the human mind. Further, the idea that one could overcome the negative impact of such severe trials, and maintain sanity and hope and peace while enduring them, seems so impossible to the natural mind. Yet, history testifies of the many Christian martyrs who went peacefully to their death with the Savior’s praises on their lips. Others, less well known, have endured great hardships and difficulties in their Christian lives, yet have maintained a steadfast trust in the Lord and have kept their peace and joy through it all.

Such steadfastness does not mean that there will be no feelings of anxiety, perplexity or dejection at all. It means that such feelings will not have a lasting effect upon us, or cause us to stop pursuing Christ and following Him (2 Cor. 4:7-9).

The overcomer will continue to seek Christ in every negative situation, and will not succumb to the pressures of the trial. He will find Christ as his strength to endure. He will discover Christ as his source of deep joy and peace in spite of the outward afflictions. This type of overcoming proves that the power of victory is not of us, but of God. Read about some of these overcomers in Hebrews 11:35-39.

Overcoming degradation in the church

The overcomer must overcome all of the degraded situations that may exist in his local assembly. This aspect of overcoming is in line with the removal of the leaven from a mixed religious situation, which we discussed in the last lesson. Perhaps you had never considered this aspect of Christian overcoming, but it is very prominent in the word of God. In His letters to the seven churches in Asia (Rev. 2 and 3), the Lord Jesus spoke of many defects among most of those assemblies. Then, He called for any who would hear to “overcome” all of the shortcomings.

Those seven churches were actual assemblies, but sound Bible teachers agree that the warnings to those assemblies would be applicable to any assembly in the church age. In fact, the Lord stated they what He spoke was not only to an individual church, but indeed to “the churches” (Rev. 2:7, etc.).

With His keen judging eyes (Rev. 1:14), the Lord Jesus saw a number of things among the churches that He condemned, and which required overcoming. Some of these things included the loss of one’s first love (for the Lord and for fellow believers), wrong practices, wrong teachings, idolatry (spiritual, and perhaps literal), spiritual deadness, lukewarmness and spiritual pride. Also, the matter of overcoming was linked to faithfulness in practices which the Lord approved (Rev. 3:10), and to the saints’ willingness to endure suffering for the Lord, even unto death (Rev. 2:10).

Brothers and sisters, we should not tolerate what the Lord condemns. Today, most Christians are just flowing along with the tide of the leavened mixture in Christianity. No one likes to be misunderstood, or even rejected, for not going along with the crowd. Yet, the momentous Judgment Seat of Christ is coming, and we will all be called to account individually for our actions.

In light of this coming judgment upon the lives we have lived (2 Cor. 5:10), we must be willing to deny the self and abandon all of the things in the church that are simply not of God. If we do not do this, we will lose our reward, or perhaps even be chastened, in the day of judgment. Read again the messages from the Lord to the seven churches in Asia (Rev. 2 and 3). There are wonderful promises to the overcomers, and warnings of discipline for those who will not hear. Much of this admonition will find fulfillment at the Lord’s return. The Lord is issuing a call to all who would hear that they must overcome the degraded mixture in Christendom.

The Lord will grant us much grace if we seek Him to overcome in the areas discussed in this lesson.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)