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Pastoral 2012

Christians: The Great Overcomer’s People

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INTRODUCTION

DChristians are overcomers because they follow Christ, the Great Overcomer. As soldiers of His kingdom, we are called to be overcomers by the power and wisdom of our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God affirms that Christ is greater than the prince of this world, Satan, and because He dwells in believers, they have become overcomers of Satan’s army in this world. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Likewise, in 1 John 5:4- 5, we read, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh 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?”

In other words, we are born into His kingdom to be overcomers of this world and its prince, the devil. Many hindrances and dangerous obstacles may be laid before us; but as Paul declared in Romans 8:37, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Without Christ, we cannot be overcomers. It is in Him that our victory is assured. So let us consider our Great Overcomer!

CHRIST, THE GREAT OVERCOMER

Jesus declared that He has overcome the world: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

No human being could genuinely claim, “I have overcome the world.” Only a man of presumption and pride would make such a claim. So when Jesus said that He has overcome the world, He was declaring Himself to be God. The Lord Jesus must have been more than mere man to make such an assertion about Himself.

The wonder of this claim of Christ is that He said it while He was preparing Himself for His arrest and crucifixion. He said this just before His agony of Gethsemane and the crucifixion which followed it. Yet, He stated emphatically, “I have overcome the world.” Jesus claimed this victory “before the battle” so to speak. Was Jesus just giving Himself and His disciples a pep talk like a football coach might do before a big game? “Okay team, we are going to win this one!” Certainly not. He was not merely predicting but affirming that He is the Great Overcomer of all time.

Since Christ affirmed that He has overcome the world, let us consider the world that He has overcome.

The world that He has overcome

Here, “the world” means that which “lieth in the wickedness” (1 John 5:19). It refers to the ungodly system of Satan that is at work in this world. It includes the ungodly people, customs, fashions, maxims, forces, principles, desires, governments, etc., which is the present system of all things in this fallen state, for everything has come under satanic dominion because of sin .

Christ was referring to the world of sinful temptations, defiance of God’s will and purposes. It is also characterised by opposition and persecution that bring about the tribulation of believers (John 16:33).

Let us also recall that Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). About this wicked world, Paul advised Christians, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed” (Romans 12:2).

The manner in which He has overcome the world

When Jesus said, “I have overcome the world”, He was not just saying, “I am going to overcome the world.” The grammatical nuances of His statement reveal much more. In Greek, the verb for “overcome” (nikao) is in the perfect tense, which denotes a past action or experience with abiding consequence or effect into the future.

So when Jesus said, “I have overcome the world”, He clearly indicated that He had already overcome the world and will continue to be the overcomer of the world. Christ was speaking of His past, present and future experience as an overcomer of the world. He has been triumphant over the world thus far and He will continue to triumph over the world even in the future.

His birth as the virgin-born was a triumph over Satan, for it fulfilled God’s promise of “her seed” who will “bruise” Satan’s head. In Genesis 3:15, God did indicate that Christ who will be born as “her seed” (i.e. the virgin-born son of Mary) will be bruised by Satan and his seed, but He will crush the head of that “old serpent”. God said in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

The apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 4:3-5 further demonstrate the truth that Christ’s birth itself had proven Him to be an overcomer of Satan, as He came to deliver us from the curse of the law under which Satan has kept everyman in sin. “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:3-5).

In a similar vein, 1 John 3:8b affirms: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Hebrews 2:14-15 declares: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Another proof of Jesus’ overcoming of the devil’s plot was seen when Herod’s attempt to kill baby Jesus was thwarted (Matthew 2:13-15). There are more such events in the New Testament that unequivocally prove Christ’s overcoming power. His act of cleansing the temple by chasing out all the covetous men that made it “a den of thieves” was a display of His triumphant power over ungodliness of the world that had crept into the house of the Lord (John 2:14-22).

Moreover, His teachings were a display of the triumph of the truth over the devilish teachings, ideas and practices (Matthew 7:29; 15:1-9; 23:2-6, 15-24). His miracles, especially the casting out of demons, were a demonstration of triumphant authority and power over the demonic powers (Luke 4:36, Luke 9:1; Mark 7:37; Matthew 9:33; 12:2-23; 15:31). While He taught, He also spoke of His victory over Satan through His death on the cross - “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Christ’s earthly life, ministry, death and resurrection were a full manifestation of His power to overcome the world and Satan.

Jesus’ claim that “I have overcome the world” also indicates His certainty of victory with respect to the impending battle. Jesus had fully committed Himself to do His Father’s will by dying for sinners. He knew that in His death there is victory over death. Hence, He was able to speak as if Calvary lay behind Him.

CHRIST’S VICTORY, OUR CHEER

O Christians, your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Great Overcomer. In the midst of your tribulations, remember that you are following the Great Overcomer of the world. His victory is your cheer. So Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The phrase “be of good cheer” expresses His desire that we will “be of good courage” in this hostile world. If you keep looking to Jesus by faith and follow Him in obedience, all your fears will be quelled, and all the agitations of heart will cease. So you can be of good comfort. Christ will bring you into the higher domain of gladness, for it is our courage and joy in Him that guarantees our victory.

“Look, ye saints! the sight is glorious:
See the Man of Sorrows now;
From the fight returned victorious,
Every knee to Him shall bow;
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crowns become the Victor’s brow,
Crowns become the Victor’s brow.”

 

Pastoral Exhortation