This post is on a general Christian living topic. Hope it encourages you!
I couldn’t find the word “overcomer” in the dictionary, and when I type it into Microsoft Word, it gets that squiggly red underline; you know, that computer version of the finger wag when you typed a no-no. So I will invent the word, stick my flag in it, and claim it for myself and for all who want to be one!
Sorry, it may not be a new word and I’m probably overreacting, but rightly so, since this “new” word is the noun version of the words “overcome”, or “overcomes”, which are used throughout the Bible in over 30 different passages, many of which were spoken by Jesus with a very strong meaning. Additionally, this new word excites me because my life these days seems to be filled with more troubles, more tribulations, and more suffering, than any period I can remember, and I want to overcome those trials. So the meaning of this word is significant, I want to learn it well, and with Jesus’ help, strength, and leading, I want to be an “overcomer”!
One day when I was needing encouragement I read each passage in the Bible where the word “overcome”, or “overcomes” occurs. The more I read, the more excited I became about the word, and the more I wanted it to be the goal of my life. So here is what I learned, and I hope you will agree, as a Christian, you WANT to be an overcomer.
Here are a few passages where this word has special meaning:
- Jesus said in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” If Jesus is an overcomer of the things of the world, including troubles/tribulations, and if we Christians are to be more and more like Jesus, then I want to overcome these things too, and have His peace that He mentioned too. Scripture tells us we are in the world, but not of the world. So we will have troubles and tribulations that are just part of living in this world. However, even though they will come to us, if we are in Christ, we can overcome them because He did. (And he had worse troubles and tribulations than we ever will have). As an overcomer in Christ, we can have peace.
- John recorded Jesus using the word “overcome” in the above John 16:33 passage, and I can’t help but think it was a word that made a big impact on him, and he never forgot it. Many years later, John used that word several times in 1 John, where he used it to describe true Christians (“little Christ”, or follower of Jesus Christ), and what can be overcome.
- John used the word in 1 John 2:13 “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.“ John says that to be an overcomer, you have to overcome the wicked one. Satan, the devil, the thief, the father of lies, the great deceiver, the enemy, whatever the description, in Christ, you can have victory over him. John says in John 10:10 that he does not come except to steal your possessions, to kill your plans and you, and to destroy you. With that type of an adversary, it is great to know that through Jesus, we can overcome him, and that is exactly what John said in 1 John 4:4: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
- Then again John said in 1 John 5:4-6 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ:” This tells us WHO can be an overcomer, and what the requirement is to be an overcomer. It is that you believe on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and believe in all that He came and did. That is why John mentions water and blood. He is very eloquently and succinctly stating that you have to be repentant of your sins, and that they are washed away by Jesus’ blood like water. It is also, and please make sure you get this: an emphatic statement of the deity of Jesus. He refers to Jesus’ baptism (water) and death (blood), and infers His resurrection by the term “this is He”.
- But, taking a step back and looking at that passage as a whole, to be an overcomer you have to pass a test: You have to prove that your belief in Jesus is real, you have to put action to your words, or to walk the talk. The test has four parts, and you only get the “merit badge” of being an overcomer if you pass all four:
1) You have to pass the doctrinal test of truth. 1 John 5:1-5 has God’s truth mixed throughout but the main truth is that you believe Jesus is the Messiah the Old Testament predicted and pointed to. It says you have to believe who Jesus is and continue in your faith in Him.
2) You have to pass the social test of love. Verses 1 and 2 tell that you have to love God, and love other people. If you love God, you will also love those who also love Him. This love is shown by how you love them, and 1 Corinthians 13 tells you how. Also, you demonstrate that you love God by the third test:
3) You have to pass the moral test of obedience. Keeping God’s commandments is how you show you love Him (John 14:15). If you believe in Jesus, truly do, then Jesus is Lord of your life. If He is Lord of your life, then you show that by obeying Him. John mentions obeying is not hard, He is not a cosmic kill-joy, or a mean boss, but that His commandments are not burdensome (verse 3), they are for our own good. Since God loves us, and we love Him, then we trust that He knows what is best for us and will work together all circumstances for our good and His glory. That is the essence of being an overcomer!
4) You have to pass the faith test. Verse 4 says to be victorious over the things of this world we have to maintain our faith. James 1 says that various trials will come to us (temptations, troubles, hardships, suffering, etc.) and one of the main reasons they come is to test our faith. In fact, James says that we are to count it joy when trials come because it is to test our faith. It is sort of like God saying “If you say you have faith in me, I want to see how you handle this trial…” The word “faith” has two sub words embedded it it: hope and trust in God. Faith is our firm belief in the unseen, and for the Christian, that is our hope in God’s love for us and His plan for us, and that we trust Him and His wisdom that He will work out His plan in and for us. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not allow a temptation to come to you that you and Him together cannot bear. He will also provide a way out, if you look to Him. An overcomer maintains enduring faith, hope, and trust in God no matter the circumstance.
- I mentioned that you only get the “merit badge” of being an overcomer if you pass all four of those tests. That is a very flippant comment, because there really is much more that you receive than just a “merit badge”. With that in mind, the most intriguing use of the word comes from Jesus again (recorded by John again) in Jesus’ seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus uses the word “overcomes” seven different times. Each time, the person who overcomes, gets a reward:
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” … “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” … “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” … “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—“ … “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” … “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” … “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Doesn’t that make you want to be an overcomer?!
- The last time the word is found in the Bible is one of my favorites: Revelation 21:7 where God is talking: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” There are three promises there, and the first and last ones are huge! An overcomer will inherit all things, and will be God’s son. Picture yourself for a minute as an orphan that has just been adopted, and your new dad is the owner of a huge estate with land and buildings and creeks and trees and lots of expensive things. Your dad puts your arm around you and says “all of this is yours, my son, it is your inheritance!” THAT is what God promises to an Overcomer. Wow!
Do you feel victorious as a Christian? Or, do you have issues you need to overcome? Do you, as James chapter 1 says: “count it all joy” when various trials come? What needs to be “overcome” is different in each person, but usually involves sin, pride, doubt, fear, worry, laziness, apathy, worldliness, self-centeredness instead of Christ centeredness, unfruitfulness, etc. Take a little life evaluation and see if Jesus would call you an “overcomer”. If not, make sure you are a true Christian. Be in the world, but not of the world, and be in the Word. Don’t let the enemy win anything over you. Don’t let any circumstances (prosperity, troubles, trials, tribulations, temptations, or sufferings) overcome you.
Maybe you would want to identify one or two areas that you need to overcome, and concentrate on that. But remember, to be good at overcoming issues in your life, you have to first make sure you pass the doctrinal test of truth, the social test of love, the moral test of obedience, and the trials test of enduring faith, hope, and trust in God.
BE AN OVERCOMER!
Copyright © 2012 Kevin Brownlee