Here is a definition of an Overcomer. Overcomers are those victorious ones who have learned how to master the flesh, prevail over the world and conquer the devil only through Christ’s Life in them.
Last month, since Valentine’s Day was coming, we diverted a little from our series and talked about my favorite subject, the Love of God. God’s Love should be our passion, our goal and our purpose as Christians. The Epistle of John tells us the whole Bible is summed up in one word, (Agape) Love.
In order to love as God would have us, however, we must learn not only how to be an open and clean vessel for Him to use, but also how to “overcome” the world, the flesh and the devil in our personal lives. This article, then, is the first in a new series about “overcoming”—what overcoming is; how we overcome; and again, why overcoming is so very important.
Being an overcomer (so we can love as God desires) is what the Christian life is all about. It’s what we are called for, trained for and the purpose of our sanctification. Overcomers are the ones who will inherit the future kingdom, because they are able to produce “works of the Spirit” (works of Love) in their lives here and now.
In other words, sanctification (becoming clean and open vessels for God’s use) is what leads us to partaking (experiencing Christ’s Life through us); and partaking is what leads us to overcoming (loving as God desires); and overcoming is what leads us to inheriting (ruling and reigning in the coming kingdom).
Many of us have been taught that if we are true believers, we are automatically “overcomers.” The Scripture used as proof text is in 1 John:
For whatsoever is born of God overcomes 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
Positionally (because of Jesus’ death for us on the Cross) it is absolutely true that we, as believers, are all overcomers. At our justification (our new birth), God gives us the power and the ability to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. The problem is that experientially (moment by moment) many of us have no idea how to become overcomers! In fact, “daily” overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil is often very foreign to us.
If it’s true that all believers are overcomers regardless of what they do here and now, then those living carnal, ungodly life styles (drugs, sex, alcohol, “anything that is not of faith,” Romans 14:23) are right in saying, “Hey, I’m saved. It doesn’t matter what I do with my life here and now!” And if that’s true, then why does 1 Corinthians 3:14–15 tell us: “If any man’s work [what we do here and now] abide which he hath built upon it, he shall receive a reward; If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved…” And also, 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done [here and now], whether it be good or bad.”
The Greek word for “overcome” is nikao (Strong’s #3528) which means to conquer or “gain the victory over” something. It occurs 20 times in Revelation alone and means to have victory over hostile powers.
Overcomers are those victorious ones who have learned how to master the flesh, prevail over the world and conquer the devil only through Christ’s Life in them. They are the genuine winners! (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37) They have learned to set themselves aside and depend upon His power and His authority to bring about His will. Overcomers are those who willingly relinquish how they feel and what they think and, by faith, choose to trust God’s indwelling power to bring it about. (Galatians 2:20) Overcomers have survived the furnace of affliction and have come forth as pure gold. They have followed in Christ’s footsteps. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Overcomers are not “perfect” by any means, but they are always willing to choose God’s will over their own, again and again and again. That’s why they are called “overcomers.”
Yes, it’s true that we all are meant to be overcomers because Christ, who is the real overcomer, lives in us. However, not all of us choose day by day to lay our lives down so that He can live His overcoming Life out through us. It would be like saying all those that have God’s eternal Life in their hearts, always show forth that Life in their souls. Unfortunately, we don’t! A personal choice is always involved. Just like some of us choose at times not to love with God’s Love, nor use His wisdom nor rely upon His power. In the same way, we are not overcomers automatically! Again, it all depends upon our moment-by-moment choice to let Christ live His Life out through us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Let me again emphasize this does not mean “being perfect”! None of us are perfect nor can we be. Jesus is the only “perfect One.” But, as we make “faith choices” (choices we don’t necessarily feel or even want to make), Jesus’ Life can come forth from our hearts and He will enable us to produce “fruits of the Spirit.”
The Authority to Overcome
God has not only given us His resurrection power to accomplish His will in our lives when we are unable to do so in our own natural strength, He also has given us the authority to choose His will even when we don’t feel like it. After being a Christian for over 55 years, I can honestly say this is one of the most important principles of our entire Christian walk. We don’t have to “feel” our choices to do God’s will; we just have to be willing to make those choices.
The Greek word for this kind of authority is exousia (Strong’s #1849), which means the right to exercise power or the right of the person in charge. This authority originates with God because, if we belong to Him, He is obviously the Person in charge. He is the ultimate source of all authority. He, then, passed that authority on to Christ, and through Christ, to us. (Matthew 28:18–20) Exousia belongs to God Himself, but He has commissioned us as His representatives so we, too, can be bearers of His authority. (Philippians 2:13)
The question so many ask is: Do we have the authority to choose to do something we really don’t feel or even want to do? Is this a legitimate choice? Can we override our real feelings in order to do this? The answer is absolutely!
We not only have God’s authority (exousia) to make choices we don’t feel, but also we have His strength (kratos) to implement those choices in our lives. Otherwise, God’s power would be of no use to us. These are called “sonship” rights.” John 1:12 confirms this: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.”
The Dictionary of New Testament Theology says, “Our authority is founded in the rule of Christ.” We exercise that power only by the authority or the dominion that God has given us. The Word of God gives us the authority, and the Spirit of God gives us the power. These phenomenal gifts are ours through our new birth and operational through sanctification. Whether we use them or not is up to us.
Therefore, our constant prayer should be just as Jesus prayed in Matthew 26:39: “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Not my will, but Yours Lord.)
by Nancy Missler
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