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God's people may experience temporary defeats; they may experience recurring attacks and temptations. However, these verses demonstrate that the genuine child of God will have active resistance against those trials, empowered by the life that Christ has placed within him. He won't passively allow trials - or even failures - to rule his life.
We need to remember that, if Christ's life is present in a person, it will express itself. This victory is both a fact and an obligation. It is absurd to think of victory as merely optional - as though we had no obligation to strive for it!
A. Victory over the evil one, the Devil, the "accuser"
It is already accomplished: The "young men" have overcome / had victory over the evil one, because the Word of God is living in them - 1 John 2:13-14.
It is already accomplished: "Our brothers" overcame / had victory over the devil, because of: 1) what Jesus did (his blood), and 2) their willingness to testify to the truth, even to the point of death - Revelation 12:11.
B. Victory over those empowered by a false spirit (examples: false prophets and teachers)
It is a present fact: We have overcome / had victory over them, because of the Holy Spirit's power within us - 1 John 4:4.
C. Victory over the world system
This victory is an ongoing realty: We who are "born of God" do overcome / have victory over the world, because of our trust in Jesus (and all that such a trust implies) - 1 John 5:4-5.
What makes this victory / overcoming possible? Our trust in Jesus (and all the implications of that trust) is what enables us to have this victory - 1 John 5:4.
D. The ultimate victory of God's people over the "beast"
Those who overcome / have victory over the beast (and his image and the number of his name) will one day sing praises to God - Revelation 15:2. (See also v. 3-4.)
E. Victory over death
We will have victory over death and death's "sting": Death itself will be "swallowed up" in victory (v. 54). Its present-day "sting" and its momentary victory will be gone forever (v. 55) - 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55.
How our victory is made possible: God gives us the victory through Jesus Christ - 1 Corinthians 15:57.
Many of the above victories are described as present day facts. If they are not present in our lives, we need to do some serious reflecting on our spiritual condition. If we fail to obtain the present-day victories, which are available through Christ, we will fail to obtain the future victories, as well.
A. Victory over evil is necessary
We must overcome / have victory over evil, rather than allowing evil to continue overcoming / having victory over us - Romans 12:21.
Fight back! Don't surrender to evil! How? By doing what is good!
Each of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3 is given a promise that is applicable to all who are willing to pay attention to Jesus' instructions (all who have "ears" that can hear). There is an additional promise given at the end of Revelation.
These verses are addressed to people who claimed to be followers of Jesus - which would have included both genuine Christians, as well as counterfeits. The difference can ultimately be seen in the way each group responds to the commands given in the passages. Only the genuine disciples would be willing to pay attention to the obligations found in these verses (and in the context surrounding them). Only genuine disciples would overcome (as they are commanded) and receive the blessings promised. In a sense, these verses can be seen as both an encouragement (to those who have repented, trusted Jesus, and are now obeying him), as well as a warning (to those who haven't done those things).
Two additional notes about the verses in Revelation 2 and 3: First, the context (verses prior to the promise) describe the way we become victorious. There is a connection between what we are willing to do now and what Jesus will do later. Second, these promises are for all who capable of hearing - referring to the type of hearing that results in obedience and trust. This refers to a hearing of the heart, rather than just an ability to hear sounds and voices.
A. The promise given to EPHESUS - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 2:7
How they overcome / have victory: They are willing to maintain a living love (all the while remaining faithful to the truth) - Revelation 2:1-6.
The promise given to them: Jesus will give them the right to eat from the Tree of Life - an expression of God's love.
B. The promise given to SMYRNA - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 2:11
How they overcome / have victory: They are willing to remain faithful and true, even while being hurt by persecution and death - Revelation 2:8-10.
The promise given to them: Jesus promises them they will not be hurt by a second death.
C. The promise given to PERGAMUM - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 2:17
How they overcome / have victory: They refuse to compromise in their faithfulness to Christ, and look only to him for their spiritual nourishment - Revelation 2:12-16.
The promise given to them: Jesus promises to give them a spiritual food ("hidden manna") available only for his people. He also promises each of them a special relationship of approval and acceptance by him (a "white stone" of special significance).
D.The promise given to THYATIRA - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 2:26-29
How they overcome / have victory: They are willing to continue in doing God's will (a love expressed in their actions). They are also willing to judge (rather than ignore) sin in their midst - Revelation 2:18-25.
The promise given to them: Jesus will give them the right to judge nations (just as the Father gave him authority to judge the nations). Jesus himself will be their guide and their example (the "morning star" - compare to Revelation 22:16).
E. The promise given to SARDIS - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 3:5-6
How they overcome / have victory: They are willing to live lives now (in the world's presence) - lives that reflect the presence of salvation in them - Revelation 3:1-4.
The promise given to them: Jesus will guarantee them the opportunity to do so (live lives that reflect salvation) for eternity (in God's presence). Jesus will clothe them in righteousness ("white"). They will be guaranteed a place in God's presence. And since they were eager to acknowledge God, Jesus himself will be eager to acknowledge them.
F. The promise given to PHILADELPHIA - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 3:12-13
How they overcome / have victory: They are willing to keep standing firm in Christ, in spite of weakness, in a world of meaninglessness and instability (trials) - Revelation 3:7-11.
The promise given to them: Jesus promises to give them a permanence and a special significance in the presence of God - the place where they will forever belong (a place they can call "home").
G. The promise given to LAODICEA - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 3:21-22
How they overcome / have victory: They are willing to reject the riches that the world offers, in favor of developing a friendship with Jesus - Revelation 3:14-20.
The promise given to them: Jesus promises to give them everything that he can offer. Their friendship with Jesus will continue for all eternity. Instead of having control over a few of the world's "toys" (riches), he will give them control over vast realms of creation - they will be co-rulers with Christ!
H. The final promise given to ALL - for ALL who are willing to be overcomers / victors - Revelation 21:7
The promise given to them: Those who are willing to be overcomers / victors will forever be considered God's own children (by adoption - Ephesians 1:5). Because of that, they will inherit all that God has to offer in eternity (the new heaven and new earth).
God is wonderful! Should we live for the pleasures and pastimes offered to us by the world? It's just not worth it!
A. There is a glorious "End Result" for all of God's People, the Overcomers
Those who choose to live for God are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)! Said another way, we have overwhelming victory!
NO matter what happens, there is a promise for those who are willing to be (and to live as) followers of Jesus: We cannot lose!
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Dennis Hinks © 2004