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Thursday: Revelation’s Overcomers — 20 Comments

  1. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.

    God is this energy that makes everything move; although humans try to develop other marketing ideas, life exists because of Him... And while observing any detail of this complex universe, intelligence arises and calls for explanations - there is no end to such a pearl of infinite wisdom.

    However, the most simple example of what God is, can be seen in His flesh-embedded Son. And through Him, anyone can conquer even death! Thus, in Him, anything is possible. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace..."

  2. “We’ve been made more than conquerors, overcomers in this life. We’ve been made victorious, through the blood of Jesus Christ.”

    There are things that I desire to overcome, but I have to be intentional about it; it’s not easy, but I have to be reminded that I can do ALL things through Christ and there is nothing too hard for Him to do.

    If we desire to achieve something by a certain age or timeframe, or for a certain event, we pour in the extra work, no matter the cause; we are determined that no matter the sacrifice, we’re going to achieve whatever it is. That is how it should be about our desires to overcome anything that will hinder us from serving God wholeheartedly -- earnest prayers and alone time with Him -- so that His work can be fulfilled in us.

    • I agree there can be a place for willpower in regards to certain habits or sins we want to overcome, but I think we have to be careful. We can say all the right words about Jesus doing the overcoming for us, when really we are trying to clean ourselves up.

      A couple of examples emphasize this for me. I struggled for years with a sinful behavior that I detested but just couldn't seem to get over. I tried all sorts of things to break it, but nothing worked, though I might break free for a few weeks. When I found myself focusing on God more, and His great love, the problem went away. God took the desire away from me. It really was all about Him.

      I also have struggled for most of my life with addictions or compulsions of many sorts. Some were bad things, some were things that were okay, but I was using them in an addictive fashion, and they were controlling my life. At times I would break the addiction to one of these things. And guess what happened? Something new would take its place. Finally, I concluded that the addiction was just a symptom. I would never win these battles without healing the root of my problems, which goes back to childhood and experiences I faced. I now feel we need to start at the root. And that's what salvation is about. Someone pointed out to me that salvation and healing are basically the same word in Greek. Jesus came to heal us in every way. And when we experience that, the individual struggles and sins begin to fall away, not always immediately, but God will be faithful to do His work in our lives. Unfortunately, I think our tendency is to do it backwards.

      • I totally agree. If we focus on Jesus, we will become like Him. If we go back to the beginning of sin, to Lucifer’s choice, he chose to look at self rather than God. Eve did the same and Adam followed. Sin always boils down to taking our eyes off Jesus.

      • Thank you, Christina, for sharing your struggle, in overcoming sinful behaviors and addictions, in a very practical way. Your experience resonates with me, and I pray that other readers may experience the victory that accompanies shifting our focus from our behavior and/or addictions to Jesus Himself.

        Focusing on "overcoming" our behaviors and addictions just doesn't work, because it is still a focus on self. Focusing on Jesus does work to change us.

        As the song says, when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, "the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." (The behaviors and addictions lose their controlling power.)

  3. In order to overcome, we must be willing to ‘crucify our flesh with its passions and desires’ (Galatians 5:24). The only way to do that is first to ask God what is standing in the way (because we are often blind to our own sinfulness or find ways to justify it), then confess and repent, believing that He will give us the grace to overcome. As we daily purpose to nail our sinful nature to the cross, we experience victory over sin and walk in the newness of life that Jesus offers while walking by the Spirit — and no longer the flesh.

    I recently took something to God that I thought was nearly impossible, given that it felt so entrenched and natural to me. But God is faithful and He has transformed my mind (and continues to) so that it is no longer I that’s living, but Christ living in me. (Galatians 2:20)

  4. I just want to respond with ‘Amen’ to the lesson writer’s conclusion – to stay faithful, to keep trusting that the Word of God leads us through this life safely to be ‘overcomers’ of this world; that this ‘Faith of Christ’ is not in vain, but that “it is faith in action”.

    What practical steps can we take to be one of Revelation’s “overcomers”? My answer is - by focusing on loving God with all my being, giving to Him all that I am; trusting that through loving my fellow man I express my love for my heavenly Father. Perfect love casts out all fears - 1 John 4:18.

  5. 1 John 5:2-15 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. For whoever is born of God overcomes the world; And this is the victory that has overcome the world: even our faith. Who then overcomes the world? Only he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
    This is the One that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood....
    And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:
    And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

    Believing in Christ and receiving His transforming grace is not automatic. To be able to reflect Christ’s character means we have to be focused on Him, His life, His sacrifice and His love for us.
    A mirror can't reflect a person who isn't standing in front of it, so we can't reflect Christ's character if we aren't close to Him, focused on Him. By beholding we become changed.

    Jesus was born a human being -- by water and blood. It was when His humanity was very evident, hungry and faint in the wilderness, that Satan came and mocked Him with, "If you are the Son of God" show some evidence. But Christ believed, in spite of His sorry condition, that He was the Son of God, and as Christ resisted Satan, so we must resist him; not by trying to offer some proof that we are children of God, but by faith, believing and clinging to the word of God.

    “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” 1 John 5:1, children of God! This is true, God says so; and upon His word our faith is to rest. Because Faith is the connecting link between us and God; when that is broken by doubt, the individual ends up in Satan’s power.

    It is this faith through which God works in us to empower us to keep God's commandments, and overcome in His Name.

    • Thank you, Ulrike. I love your practical analogy:

      A mirror can't reflect a person who isn't standing in front of it, so we can't reflect Christ's character if we aren't close to Him, focused on Him.

  6. "Yet, the only way anyone can keep the commandments of God, then or now, is through the faith of Jesus."

    The phrase "through the faith of Jesus" acknowledges that our own faith is imperfect and incomplete, and that we need the perfect faithfulness of Jesus to save us.

    And as the lesson explains,"We overcome not because of who we are but because of who He is."

    It is a blessing to know that we overcome not because of our own strength or abilities. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection, conquered death and sin once and for all.

    • Hi Raewyn - just as you say that: "we overcome not because of our own strength or abilities", so it was with Jesus, the Son of Man.

      I want to ask you what is the power, or whose power it really is, which motivated Jesus to endure all His suffering, His death by the cross which 'conquered death and sin once and for all'? Is it not the power of love vested in His Father's word, in which He believed and trusted and so giving all of Himself into His Father's hands? - Matt.26:39.

      • That's a good question, Brigitte. When the divine Son of God also became a human being -- the Son of Man within the Godhead -- this created a great mystery that I doubt we'll ever fully comprehend. Thus, as a Man on earth, Jesus did prevail by faith in the Father.

        On the other hand, Jesus said,

        "I and My Father are one.” John 10:30 NKJV


        "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." John 14:9 NKJV

        From these two statements, I deduce that the love of the Father is the love of Jesus. The love of Jesus (i.e. His power) is no more derived from the Father than is His life.

        As for Jesus prevailing by His own strength and abilities, it reminds me of an interesting Scripture.

        "Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him
        That there was no justice. He saw that there was no man,
        And wondered that there was no intercessor;
        Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
        And His own righteousness, it sustained Him." Isaiah 59:15-16 NKJV

        Is Jesus "the LORD" of the Old Testament? His early disciples called Him that (see John 21:7 for instance), and I heartily agree.

      • Hi, Brigitte. Yes, I agree. Jesus' motivation to endure suffering and death was anchored in His love for us. His faith in the power of God's love and will.

        "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us." - 1 John 3:16

  7. What about the repentant thief that also died when Jesus died too? What did he have to overcome? Wasn't his faith a faith "In Jesus?" Jesus did not need a faith to overcome sin, as He was perfect and also sinless. Jesus also did not need a Savior like we do. Jesus' faith was different than ours. Jesus had to have a faith that would take Him through the Valley of The Shadow of Death that would eventually make Him to be our Savior. Our faith is just to be in what He has done 2,000 plus or minus years ago in spilling His Precious Blood for all humanity, and what He is doing for us with that victory over death and sin for us at His Fathers' Right Hand in Heaven.

    • Pete, by your comment, I suspect that your understanding of faith is very different from mine.

      Yes, Jesus needed and exercised the very same kind of faith we need to exercise - complete trust in and dependence on the Father. This faith is described in the lesson text:

      He faced temptations trusting in the promises of God, surrendering His will to the Father’s will and depending on the Father’s power.

      We need to do the same if we want to be "angels" delivering His last message to this dying world.

      And, by the way, sinless and perfect are not synonyms in the Bible. Adam was sinless when he was created, but he was not perfect. Jesus was sinless when He was born, but He became perfect through His life of facing "temptations trusting in the promises of God, surrendering His will to the Father’s will and depending on the Father’s power." (See Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 12:9. Both texts refer to Jesus being made perfect - and He was made perfect the very same way God can make us perfect when we exercise the same kind of faith in Him that Jesus exercised. (Also see Christina's comment above for a contemporary illustration of how the "faith of Jesus" actually works.)

    • Hi, Pete. You make some great points. You say that Jesus' faith was different from ours, and no doubt it was, as far as our reliance on Him for righteousness and salvation, and our looking to the merits of His blood and His priestly intercession before the Father. On the other hand, I believe that His trust in the Father, and His consequent obedience, may serve as an example for us. We too have our valleys of the shadow of death to traverse, albeit nothing to compare with His on our behalf!

      You ask what the penitent thief had to overcome, and of course we are not given full insight into that. However, I would point out that there were two thieves on crosses next to Jesus, and the other one was clearly overcome by his sin and by his circumstances.

      Have a great day!

  8. The posts in this section of the lesson remind me of experiences I had with my son when he was a little boy. Often he would face a task that I knew was beyond his ability, and I would ask if he would like me to help him. He would want to do it “all by myself.” Where safety was not an issue, I would let him try and inevitably (and sometimes catastrophically) fail. After a few of these experiences, he would ask for my help, but then take over. Sometimes he would succeed, but more often than not, his efforts would come to a point where impending failure was obvious, even to him. “Dad, would you take over?” Sometimes we could recover, but other times the end result was less than perfect or could not be salvaged.

    Our best experiences occurred when we would both work through tasks together, discussing issues and thinking through potential consequences. Working together, we forged a strong relationship in which we both learned about each other, while overcoming obstacles and reaching the goal at hand.

    These experiences with my son revealed a lot to me of my relationship with God, and the process of maturing into the likeness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13.)

  9. In the Greek, Revelation 14:12 is put together with those who "Keep the commandments of God..." and also "...the faith of Jesus." But who has ever truly "Kept Gods' 10 commandments?" And for that matter, who has ever had flawless faith in what Jesus did at Calvary and is doing in heaven as our intercessor? And there are plenty of scriptures that give "Faith in Chirst," just as much and maybe more than the idea that it has to be "Faith of Jesus." Take for example 2 Peter 1:1, Gal. 2:16, Romans 1:17, Gal. 3:26, Col.1:4 and 2 Tim. 1:13. These verses all place the idea of "Faith in Jesus" as being just as good as "of Jesus" or maybe even better.

    • Pete, I have heard many discussions about prepositions and their nuances, in relation to faith and salvation. Interestingly, I use a free grammar checker when I am writing and it often asks me to change my prepositions. "in", "on", "by"; which one do I use and why? One thing I have learned from experience is that even if I use the wrong one, most people can understand what I am saying. And I am not sure that Koine Greek writers or the English translators were as careful about linguistics as we sometimes make them out to be. I have 63 English translations of the Bible at my disposal. 23 of them say "faith of Jesus". Another 23 translate as "Faith in Jesus". And the rest of them use expressions like "faithful to Jesus", "keep faith with Jesus" and so on. My point is that all of these translations get the idea across about faith and Jesus irrespective of the wording.

      Paul says:

      For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph 2:8

      Ah, another preposition, "through" and the possession of faith is left hanging. Paul was smart because faith is an intereaction, not a possession.

      • Well said, Maurice. I've also noticed that New Testament Greek prepositions are notoriously prone to be impossible to translate literally into modern English.

        One result is that the prepositions in our English Bibles often have little to do with those from which they are translated, but were chosen by the translators based on context. While translators are generally our best scholars of ancient languages, they of course have no actual authority, unlike the inspired writers of the text.

        I don't mean to suggest that we can't trust our English Bibles, especially if we are diligent in comparing the best translations. However, I think it might be a good idea to do some careful study -- maybe even going back to the Greek text -- before saying too much about New Testament prepositions.

        In Revelation 12:14, the Greek appears to include no preposition at all, while one is probably going to be necessary for any English translation. A quick perusal of various translations of this verse indicates that "of" and "in" are both frequently used, and other solutions appear as well, like keeping faith "with" Jesus and holding fast to "faithfulness in" Jesus.

        From this, I think that Pete may have a point. So many Seventh-day Adventists have made such a big deal over the preposition "of" in this verse -- often with a possible legalistic thrust -- that I think Pete may be right to push back.


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