How to overcome the world

1 John 5:5
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Spirit of Truth quietly brought three Holy Scripture passages to mind this morning. There is great hope in adversity, though I understand from my own experience that maintaining this hope can be a challenge. If you are a believer in Christ, and you are suffering, this should give you great encouragement because you have been counted worthy to suffer for His sake:

Hebrews 2:10
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Philippians 1:29
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Revelation 2:11
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 2:11, given above, is said by the Lord in the context of the Church of Smyrna, who is instructed by Him to: “…fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

So we are to endure until the end of our lives, no matter what, and only then will we be saved spiritually.

Other Holy Scripture verses on overcoming the world:

1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Revelation 2:7
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:17
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:26
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Revelation 3:5
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Revelation 3:12
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 3:21
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 21:7
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Now for some essays on this site giving hope and encouragement during adversity:

1. Songs in the Night
2. The Joy of the Lord Jesus

Finally, remember these next passages, as they will give you great hope. God will help you carry your cross daily if you continue trusting in Him:

Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

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Keep your heart with all diligence – fasting & prayer

The Spirit of Truth brought several Holy Scripture passages to mind this morning, reminding me that all who call upon Him must stay upon their God:

Isaiah 50:10
Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.

The scriptures He brought to mind concern man’s heart, which we know from honest self-examination and Jeremiah 17:9 to be as follows:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

And:

Isaiah 44:20
He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

We are furthermore instructed by God in Proverbs 4:23 to:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

How are we to do this? What gets in the way of loving God and your neighbour with ALL your heart, mind, soul and strength, as we are commanded to do (see Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27…this commandment is so critical that it appears in not one but three gospel testimonies).

I know from experience it is possible to not have your heart right with God: many worldly things tempt it and can obstruct the light of Christ. For example, it is known that man has 4 main appetites:

1. An appetite for Godly or spiritual things
2. An appetite for food
3. An appetite for reproductive matters
4. An appetite for worldly things that appeal to the self: “the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

Fasting and prayer is the great remedy for appetites 2 to 4 to be greatly diminished, thereby increasing your spiritual strength and faith. As per a section of an article I have reproduced from the following url:

http://www.revival-library.org/catalogues/miscellanies/prayer/hallfranklin.html

We read that “Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” And the very next sentence tells us that He fasted. Why did He fast at the very time He was being tempted? For we read in Luke’s Gospel that He was “forty days tempted,” and in those same forty days “He did eat nothing.” What is the connection between temptation and fasting? Is it not that fasting is the mightiest possible preparation of soul, to ensure victory over temptation? And would we not do well to follow our Lord’s example, and avail ourselves of this mighty weapon with which to meet and overcome him “who goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”?

We are not told in Matthew, chapter four, the reason for His fast. But in Matthew, chapter seventeen, Jesus explains it. Before this time His disciples were not able to bear this teaching. The great revelation of why He fasted was shown when He healed this lunatic boy, and answered the question that the disciples had asked Him: “Why could not we cast him out?” Matt. 17:19.

Please remember that Christ, as well as being God, was also in the flesh as man.

It seemed that the disciples had become a reproach, or disgrace to Christ, because they could not heal this individual. They apparently were ashamed of themselves so they came to Jesus secretly, to ask of Him the reason why they were not able to cast out the demons. Then the secret of Jesus’ fast was revealed, and He showed to them and to us what “Super-Atomic Power” one can have. Anyone can have that power, thank the Lord. All can have it that will follow the instructions given by Him, and plainly taught throughout the Bible. “Have Faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . and nothing shall be impossible unto you . . . by prayer and fasting.” Matt. 17:20, 21.

The disciples were helpless. No one could give help in this major prayer problem except One. That Person had fasted forty days and forty nights, and He was the only one in the midst who had so fasted. Praise His name!

However, Jesus clearly shows that anyone who had had a prayer and fasting experience could cast out the evil spirit, for He says, “This kind cometh out by prayer and fasting.” Our Lord teaches here the big difference between prayer alone, and prayer, combined with fasting.

In that momentous struggle of forty days of fasting JESUS had AVAILED HIMSELF OF THE MOST POWERFUL AID AT HIS DISPOSAL. Jesus fasted in order to secure His perfect faith from His humanity side, and He urged fasting upon His disciples to remedy their weak faith. He declared that they would fast, using the words, “Then will they fast,” and gave directions in Matthew chapter six, which are intended to ensure to all of His followers the same benefits of fasting which He obtained. The disuse of fasting is in direct opposition to the practice, example, and the teaching, of Christ.

There is no record of Christ healing the sick, or performing any miracle, until after he had fasted forty days and forty nights. After this mighty fast, and not before, He was fully equipped, capable, and prepared for any and all emergencies. At this moment, how much Faith have you at your disposal, to meet any obstacle?

Should you wait until the Lord lays a fasting burden on you?
No, not necessarily, for the simple reason that if we waited for God to lay a fasting burden upon us, there probably would be no fasting or very little. Fasting is like praying. We pray when there is a need, without waiting for a burden of prayer. We should also fast when there is a need, and because it is our Christian duty. In Mark 2:20, Jesus has already laid a fast upon us in these words, “Then shall they fast in those days.”

Do not love the world

I have included this article because it helps people differentiate themselves from being lukewarm in faith (one of the rebuked Laodiceans in the book of Revelation) to zealous. After all, the Lord Jesus Himself was described as having a zealous nature (“the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” – Psalm 69:9 & John 2:17) and he was the perfect God/Man. Hence whatever was appropriate for the Lord to exhibit behaviour-wise must be even more necessary for us, his merely human (though Holy Spirit inspired) disciples. We cannot be lukewarm and have hearts on fire for the Lord and His great commission. He wants to be first in our lives, and in our hearts, or nothing.

The article below explores this theme for us, how to avoid loving the world and hence falling away from our first love in Christ. It is taken from the ever-honest and faithful Journal of Bible Accuracy website: http://www.jba.gr/Articles/nkjv_jbamayjune00a.htm

God’s Word gives this commandment in I John 2:15-17. There we read:

I John 2:15-17
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

According to this passage: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father IS NOT in him”. In other words: the love of the world eliminates the love of the Father. It is impossible for both of them to co-exist. I would like today to have a look at some things pertaining to this subject, starting from the book of Judges.

1. Judges 1-2
In Judges 1-2 Israel, the people of God, had finally arrived in the promised land and were ready to take it. However, God’s command was not only to take it but also to remove from it all the nations that pre-occupied it. As we read in Deuteronomy 7:16

Deuteronomy 7:16
“And you shall destroy all the peoples whom the LORD your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.

Also Deuteronomy 7:2-6

“and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacredpillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire. For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

The Lord had chosen Israel to be HIS PEOPLE. His people therefore should have no mix with the Gentiles. The Lord didn’t want a mixed people, with half a foot in Him and half in the world. In contrast, He wanted His people to be TOTALLY given to Him, knowing that any mixture with the nations would turn them away from Him.

Despite the clearness of the Lord’s command, Israel denied to follow it. Judges 1:27-33 tells us:

Judges 1:27-33
“Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land……..Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites……Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron……Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho,……Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath;”

Then in chapter 2 we read:

Judges 2:1-3
“Then the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, “I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.” But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

Instead of separating from the Gentiles, Israel mixed with them and denied to drive them away. Probably, they might have reasons. They might think that what God had said was ……. too much. That, at the end, they could manage to serve God, having the Gentiles living in their midst. It is not difficult to find excuses to compromise the Word of God. There are many excuses that one can find to justify a place for the world in him. However, the truth was that God had spoken. He had spoken, commanding His people to be separated from the Gentiles. As He has also spoken to us, His people, commanding us not to be yoked together with the unbelievers:

II Corinthians 6:14-18
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty”

God has spoken. He wants His people a holy people, without any mixture with the world and its practices. He didn’t want Israel to mix with the Gentiles, for He knew that any such mixture would bring them far from Him and near to the Gentiles, which is what finally happened:

Judges 2:11-13
“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”

The mixture of the people of God with the Gentiles will always bring loss. The love of the world kills the love of the Father, and the yoking together with the Gentiles leads to the forsaking of the Lord and the worshipping of the gods the Gentiles worship. The love for the Lord freezes, when His children start looking at the world, at “the nations round about them”. When they permit “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19) to enter their hearts and turn them away from the Lord, as the Gentiles turned the Israelites away when the latter permitted them to be their land-mates.

2. James 4:4 and other passages
The fact that the love of God and the love of the world are things entirely incompatible to each other, is also confirmed by other passages of the Scripture that put the one against the other. Such a passage is also James 4:4. There we read:

James 4:4
“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

The adulterer is one who is in a marriage relationship, and yet seeks relationships outside of it. This makes him adulterer. Similarly, adulterer in James 4 is the one that though in a covenant with God, though engaged with the Lord Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 11:2), he is also after other covenants and namely covenants with the world. This makes him adulterer. In other words, it is adultery to have a relationship with the Lord and simultaneously to seek a friendship with the world. Friendship both with the world and with God is NOT POSSIBLE. In the heart of a man of God only God should dwell, and He does not accept roommates there. As Luke 10:27 characteristically says:

Luke 10:27
“So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God WITH ALL your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind”

And Matthew 6:24
“No one can SERVE TWO MASTERS; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

It is impossible to serve two masters. It is impossible to have our eyes fixed both to God and to the world. For:

Matthew 6:21
“where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It is not possible to have our hearts in heaven when our treasure is in the things of the earth. We cannot walk the way of God, having our eyes fixed on the things of the world. To walk the way of the Lord we need the respective vision and Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us how it is called:

Hebrews 12:1-2
“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Also Colossians 3:1-2
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

The things we should set our minds on are the THINGS ABOVE. The Christian vision is the LORD JESUS CHRIST. All the others, though they may seem logical and good, are wrong visions leading to wrong ways. As Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25:

Matthew 16:24-25
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

The way of Jesus Christ, the right way, is not the way of self but its exact opposite: the way of self’s denial. The one that wants to follow him, should no longer seek his own will but the will of the one that died for him. As II Corinthians 5:14-15 tells us:

II Corinthians 5:14-15
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

Jesus Christ died that we should no longer live for ourselves but for HIM who died for us. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and its desires”, Galatians 5:24 says. We will either follow Christ or the flesh. We will either serve God or the world. We will either be yoked together with the unbelievers or with God. There are no intermediate states acceptable. The way of God is contrary to the way of the world and we cannot be walking in both.

Tassos Kioulachoglou