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Overcoming for NT Christians #1

All about what we must overcome to be saved

                                    
                            by
                                    
                        Keith Hunt
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    
   On page two is the full reproduction of an article by Ralph
Orr that appeared in the May 17th, 1994 WORLDWIDE NEWS, published
by the Worldwide Church of God.

   There is much to agree with in Mr.Orr's article. As I am not
in contact with him, have never spoken to him, have not written
to him, I only have his article to study and ascertain
the reasons behind his writing on this subject.
   I can not look into his heart as God can. I do not want to
impute wrong motives when there may have been none.
   The article was relatively short and it may have been written
to dispel the idea that Christian overcoming is NOT trying to
amass  more "good" points (in the way of prayer, fasting, Bible
study, tithing, and the like) as opposed to "bad points" in order
to take our list to God and demand His favor and grace, so
earning our salvation by deeds or works of right doing.

   Truly, if some think this is what is meant by OVERCOMING(mor 
prayer, more fasting, more study, more giving of our money to the
Church or poor etc.) then as Ralph Orr has said:
"Can we ever be confident  that eternal life is ours? Does there
come a day when we know our efforts have finally made us
acceptable to God? Is overcoming achieved by fasting? By
prayer? By hard and continual sacrifice? Is it by going through a
series of severe trials? Is it by living sinless for a time? How
many fasts, how many prayers, how many offerings does God
require? How many trials and tests, and how many sinless
commandment-keeping days must we live before God will give us
eternal life? How do we measure such a thing? Is it by
years in the Church? Does God keep us living long enough so we
have plenty of time to overcome all that is required? If so, does
that mean that those who have died after less than a year as a
Christian had less to overcome than those who died after decades
in the faith? We know we will go to our graves having tried to
keep the commandments perfectly, but still having fallen short.
Will our failure doom us? After all, isn't commandment keeping
required for eternal life? Isn't that what overcoming is all
about?"

   The HEART of  the truth of the matter is contained in Ralph
Orr's article, yet there are statements that could lead people to
a false understanding of this subject. So I will endeavor
to make the truth PLAIN.

Can you overcome enough for God?

by Ralph Orr
  
                                    
As Christians we want to do God's will. We wish to obey him, to
keep His commandments, to love God and fellow humans. Yet in our
honest moments we recognize how weak we are. Obeying God,
trusting God and living daily from a pure heart motivated only by
love, eludes us. Paul's words ring so true, for they are our
words: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this
body of death?" (Romans 7:24).
Then, too, those tough scriptures in Revelation cry out, "To him
who overcomes ..." They were written, a cynic might argue, to
taunt us, to frustrate us, because there is no hope that we will
ever attain the goal. "To him who overcomes, I will give the
right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise
of God" (Revelation 2:7). "He who overcomes will not be hurt at
all by the second death" (verse 11).
"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my
throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His
throne" (Revelation 3:21).

What is required?

Perhaps you have read these scriptures or heard them preached,
and afterward thought: "I better fast more. I better study more.
I better pray more. I haven't overcome enough. I've got to do
more or I'm not going to be in God's kingdom." We've
unconsciously concluded that Christ's sacrifice is not enough to
guarantee our salvation, that we must be overcomers and conquer
our carnal pulls and desires. We conclude we must learn to
withstand every blow of Satan and this world, build holy
righteous character and only then will we be true overcomers.
If so, how much must we overcome to have eternal life?
Can we ever be confident that eternal life is ours? Does there
come a day when we know our efforts have finally made us
acceptable to God?
Is overcoming achieved by fasting? By prayers? By hard and
continual sacrifice? Is it by going through a series of severe
trials? Is it by living sinless for a time?
How many fasts, how many prayers, how many offerings does God
require? How many trials and tests, and how many sinless
commandment-keeping days must we live before God will give
us eternal life? How do we measure such a thing?
Is it by years in the Church? Does God keep us living long enough
so we have plenty of time to overcome all that is required? If
so, does that mean that those who have died after less than
a year as a Christian had less to overcome than those who died
after decades in the faith?
We know we will go to our graves having tried to keep the
commandments perfectly, but still having fallen short. Will our
failure doom us? After all, isn't commandment keeping required
for eternal life? Isn't that what overcoming is all about?

Already overcomers

The good news is that God says you have already overcome! You are
already an overcomer. You are an overcomer now! You have overcome
your flesh, this world and Satan! How could that be?
How could anyone say that of a Sinner? John, the apostle who
wrote those troublesome verses in Revelation, gives us God's
answer. As a prelude to God's answer, we can read shocking yet
encouraging words in 1 John 2:13. "I write to you young men, John
says, "because you have overcome the evil one."
God is telling us that John knew people who had already overcome
Satan the devil. They didn't need to overcome. They already had
overcome. Could that be said of you and me?
Yes, it can. In fact, God already has said it. He says we already
are overcomers. He says we have already overcome Satan, this
world and even our flesh. We've overcome all we need to overcome
to have eternal life.
"For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the
victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it
that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the
Son of God.... God has given us eternal life, and this life is in
his Son. He who has the Son has life" (1 John 5:4-5, 11-12).

The victory is ours

Yes, we are overcomers. We have overcome. The victory is ours.
Eternal life has come to us not through our fasts, prayers,
trials and tests, nor through our commandment keeping, but
through Jesus Christ. Revelation reminds the Church of its need
to overcome. John's epistle reveals how overcoming is possible.
Christ's sacrifice and our faith in Christ, evident in our
willingness to testify to others about it, makes us overcomers.
It is just as we read in Revelation 12:11: "They [Christians)
overcame him [Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by their word
of their testimony."
That does not mean we can ignore our need to grow in Christian
character. If we love God we will strive to be more like Him. But
in the Scriptures growing and overcoming are two separate
ideas.
Only if we turn our back on Jesus Christ through disbelief or
willful disobedience will we be condemned. "If we deliberately
keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the
truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful
expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the
enemies of God" (Hebrews 10:26-27, emphasis mine).
God knows our frailty. God knows our inability to obey perfectly.
For each of us, trapped in this body, subject to its lusts, its
weakness and open to Satan's corrupting influence, God provides
a way to overcome it all. That way is Jesus Christ. Whoever is
going that way has overcome.

End of article by Orr.                                    
                                    
   I want you to note the second paragraph under the heading The
victory is ours in Mr.Orr's article.  It reads:  "Christ's
sacrifice and our faith in Christ, EVIDENT IN OUR WILLINGNESS TO
TESTIFY TO OTHERS ABOUT IT, makes us overcomers" (emphasis
mine).
   Depending on what Ralph Orr means by the words I've enlarged
in the above quote, his sentence is the nut shell of the truth.

   The Bible explains over and over again WHAT IS MEANT by our
willingness to testify to others about it - Christ's sacrifice
and our faith in Christ.

   Like any study on any topic in the Bible, we are to "search
the scriptures" - find all verses that use the word
OVERCOME/ING/ETH in relation to our question. Also find and
note any other verse/s that have bearing on the topic.

   So let's begin.


TWO GREEK WORDS
                                    
   There are three words used in the New Testament(NT) that we
need to be concerned with in this study - OVERCOME, OVERCOMETH,
and OVERCAME (as found in the KJV). For these three words in
English there are only two in the Greek of the NT.
   In STRONG'S CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE the numbers are 3528 and
2274.

   In this article we shall look at 2 Peter 2:19,20. The Greek
for OVERCOME in these verses is number 2274.

   We shall also look at these important verses:  1 John 2:13,14;
4:4; 5:4,5;  Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 12:11; 21:7.

   In all of the above verses that use the English words
overcome, overcame, overcometh, the Greek word is number 3528.

2 PETER 2:19,20
                                    
   The Greek used for overcome is number 2274 in both of these
verses. The Greek tense of the word is the PERFECT TENSE.
   From the Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised(published by
Zondervan) we learn this about the perfect tense: "The perfect
conveys the double notion of an action terminated in the past
time, and of its effect existing in the present: as 1 Cor.7:39."
   This Greek is translated as "A wife is bound" in the
Interlinear Greek-English by Berry.
A wife is bound by the law to her husband Paul said. When did she
become bound? At the time of her marriage, when it was deemed
legal. Now that was an action accomplished at a certain time and
the next day after you would say it was an action of past time.
But a week later, or a month later, or a year later, is that
marriage bond still bound, is she still bound to her husband by a
past action? Yes of course she is! The one time past action and
its effect CONTINUES EXISTING IN THE PRESENT. There was a time
the action was taken and en- tered  into,  the marriage bond was
proclaimed legal, it now took effect - it was STARTED into
effect, and CONTINUES in effect during the PRESENT. Time does not
disannul the action taken in the past.

   This is the PERFECT TENSE in the Greek.

   Now read 2 Peter 2:19,20 with this understanding of the tense
for the word overcome. Read all the way to verse 22. Peter is in
context talking about people who had"known the way of
righteousness" - who had at one time "escaped the pollutions of
the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ" but had at SOME POINT, at some specific time in their
lives made a choice to "turn from the holy commandment delivered
unto them" and return to the pollutions of the world as a dog "is
turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her
wallowing in the mire."
   They had when Peter was writing ALREADY DONE THIS, it was an
ACTION they had already done in the past at some specific time,
but that action they had taken in the past was CONTINUING AS A
LIFE STYLE IN THE PRESENT!

   Because of this fact (these individual's life style and
practices in the present is due to an action taken in the past)
it was only natural that Peter was inspired to use the PERFECT
tense for the word overcome.
   They, these false prophets(verse 1,15), had in the PAST gone
astray and were then at that time overcome by the pollutions of
the world and had become the "servants of corruption" but were
also at the PRESENT continuing to be overcome by the same
corruptions they had willfully turned to and espoused at a past
point in their lives.
   They had chosen an action to live by in the past and were
continuing under that action in the present.

1 JOHN 2:13,14
                                    
   The word is again overcome and it is number 3528 in Strong's
Concordance. The Greek tense is again PERFECT.

   I want you to also note that the Greek for "ye have known" in
verses 13 and 14 is also in the PERFECT tense.

   In verse 13 John writes to "you fathers" and to "you little
children" and in verse 14 to "you fathers."
   He says to them "ye HAVE KNOWN" as the Interlinear
Greek-English by Berry reads. Now was it ONLY in the past that
these fathers and little children knew the Father, the one from
the beginning? Did they not know Him NOW IN THE PRESENT? Of
course they knew Him, the Father, the one from the beginning, AS
JOHN WAS WRITING TO THEM, AS THEY WERE READING HIS LETTER WHEN
THEY RECEIVED IT.

   John knew they had known Him in the PAST, and he knew they
knew Him in the PRESENT as he wrote to them. So he used the
PERFECT tense for these Greek words - an action done in the past
but continues its effect in the present.
   There was a time when the "fathers" and "little children" whom
John is addressing CAME TO KNOW THE TRUE GOD AND HIS TRUE WAY OF
LIFE. At one point they were blinded and did not know the true
God, then at a certain time in their lives the knowledge of the
truth came to them, they had the blindness removed, they saw the
Eternal God in "spirit and in truth" and came to KNOW Him. When
John was writing to them this coming to know the true God was
PAST ACTION in their lives. But that action did not
STOP in the past, it  was not "over and done with" - they
CONTINUED to  know Him who was from the beginning. That action of
knowledge from the past in their lives was still continuing in
the PRESENT.

   So also was the OVERCOMING of the "young men" a PAST action,
but it did not STOP in the past, it was not just a one time
action and then forgotten about. It was not an attitude of, 
"Well I'm  saved - once saved always saved, so I can live as I
like."

   They had at one point in their lives come to see the truth of
the true God, had accepted it, had repented and accepted Christ
as their savior, had been baptized and had their sins forgiven,
had come up from the water to live with God's  help through the
Holy Spirit, a life of wanting to serve and obey the way and
commandments of the Lord. Satan had been overcome. His thoughts
of "you are too wicked for God to forgive you," "sin is
pleasurable," "you will never remain true to God," "Jesus never
did live and die for you," "God is lying to you, there is no
eternal life for humans" had been rejected and cast away.

   They had in the past at that point in their lives OVERCOME the
wicked one. They had come to know the true Father and had
overcome Satan by repentance and baptism. But DID IT STOP THERE
at that past action? NOT AT ALL!
   When John wrote to them they were STILL KNOWING THE FATHER AND
WERE STILL OVERCOMING THE WICKED ONE!
   Their past action was continuing in the present. What they had
come to know in the past, what they had overcome in the past,
namely, the wicked one, was still with them in the present.

   In English we could translate the PERFECT tense in these
verses like this: "I write to you, fathers, because ye have known
and do continue to know Him who is from the beginning. I write to
you young men, because ye have overcome and continue presently to
overcome the wicked one    

   After our coming to the knowledge of the true God and His way
of life, after repenting and being baptized, does Satan NEVER
BOTHER US AGAIN? I think not! He is always there waiting and
watching, ready to try and get us to give up, turn our back on
God, stop living for the Lord. He is there to talk to us, put
thoughts in our mind to "pack in this Christianity and follow
me." The wicked one is always going about like a roaring lion
trying to devour whom he can. He never gives up firing his darts
at us.
   We must put on the whole armor of God to be able to withstand
the Adversary, as Paul taught us in Ephesians 6.
   The young men John was writing to HAD overcome the Devil and
were CONTINUING in the present to overcome him. That is the
meaning of John in these verses using the perfect tense.

1 JOHN 4:4
                                    
   The word for overcome is number 3528 in Strong's. It is in the
PERFECT tense.
  
   Notice the context. Verse one is talking about FALSE PROPHETS
and so false spirits - spirits of demons as opposed to the ONE
true Spirit of God.
   Now ask yourself:  Were demons, false spirits, false prophets,
only for a certain point in time, and then they would be no more,
for only some time in the past, but not for the present?
   Anyone reading their Bible would have to say NO to such ideas
in the above question. Satan, demons, false spirits, and false
prophets are with us TODAY, IN THE PRESENT. They were there in
our PAST, years before coming to the knowledge of the true Spirit
of God, they were there as we came to know the true God, they
were there as we repented and as we were baptized, AND THEY WERE
THERE AFTER OUR BAPTISM, THE MINUTE AFTER, THE HOUR AFTER, THE
DAY, WEEK, MONTH, AND YEARS AFTER. The false spirits and false
prophets "are gone out into the world" and HAVE NEVER GONE
AWAY, HAVE NEVER STOPPED TRYING TO DESTROY US FROM BEING TRUE
CHRISTIANS.

   John says to those he is writing to, to those he knows are
faithful true Christians: "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."
   Jesus said to His disciples that those who would love Him and
keep His words, the Father would love, and BOTH the Father and
Jesus would come and make their abode with him (John 14:23).
   The Father and Christ come to live in the Christian via the
Holy Spirit when the Spirit is given to that Christian.
   Are you born with the Holy Spirit? No, not at all! So there is
a specific time when you will receive it then? Yes, of course. It
will be an action at some point when you will receive the Holy
Spirit. After you have received it, does it continue in the
present? Yes, the one time action in a point of time does not end
after that action has been taken. As long as you are a true child
of God you have His Spirit from the PAST into the PRESENT.
   So the overcoming of the false spirits in the world, by the
little children whom John was writing to, did NOT END in the past
when they initially overcame them to be a true Christian, but the
trying, putting to the test these spirits and prophets, was
continuing IN THE PRESENT as they and John lived from day to day
and year to year.
   So he used the PERFECT tense for the word "overcome" in verse
4.

   John was combating the PRESENT trouble that he and his readers
were battling, namely, false prophets inspired by demonic
spirits. They were not speaking the words of God but the
words of the corrupt world. It was not new. False spirits and
false prophets had been around from the beginning. It was not the
first time his readers had overcome them, nor would it be
the last time.
   These false prophets were presently there at the time John was
writing to them, speaking perverse things, doing away with the
commandments of God, living in sin, practicing unrighteousness,
walking in darkness, saying they had never sinned, and presently
had no sin, seducing the true brethren if they could. But those
who had the true Spirit of the Lord were remaining faithful to
the original "faith once delivered" and had and were continuing
to overcome the false seducers.

   Again, if we were to put verse 4 into English remembering that
the word for overcome is in the perfect tense, we would render it
something like this: "Ye are of God little children, and have in
the past as you are in the present time, overcoming them, because
greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
  
                       1 JOHN 5:4,5
                                    
   The words we are concerned with in these verses are the words
rendered "overcometh" in the KJV. All three of these words are
number 3528 in Strong's Concordance.
   The first "overcometh" is in the PRESENT tense, as is the
third "overcometh." The second time the word is used in verse
four,  it is in the AORIST tense.

   What is the present tense in grammar? From the book Essentials
of New Testament Greek by Ray Summers, page 11, we find this
statement:
     "The present tense indicates progressive action at the
present time-'he is loosing.'" The World Book Dictionary says:
"Grammar,denoting action now going on or a state now
existing ."    

   Now what about the AORIST tense? Let me quote from the
Analytical Greek Lexicon, under "The use of the Tenses."  
    "The aorist is strictly the expression of a momentary or
transient action ...... and in the indicative mood ordinarily
signifies past time. It is, however, used of a prolonged action,
if there is no positive need to make a direct expression of that
circumstance. It is thus of constant use in the narrative of past
transactions."

   A little confused about the aorist tense? It is not easy to
get because in some cases you have to understand the writers
intention in how he is using it. Generally it is past single
action, yet the single action started at a past time could be
prolonged action, but it is viewed as one single action.

   Two Greek scholars render this aorist tense word "overcometh"
in slightly different English words. Jay P. Green Sr. uses the
English word "overcoming" while George Ricker Berry uses the
English word "over-came." See their respective Interlinear
Greek-English Bibles.
   The word overcoming to our English grammar minds, connotes
prolonged action, while the word overcame leads us to think of
past action completed.
   I believe the way John was using this aorist tense word in
verse 4 was to denote a specific action take in the past but
prolonged action leading to the present. So both the above
Greek scholars are correct.

   Bear with me, I hope to now show you what John was saying,
namely, that overcoming for Christians started at a given point
in their lives in the past, yet as prolonged action leading
into the present progressive action at the present time.

   I will use Berry's Greek-English Interlinear - quote: "Because
all that has been begotten of God OVERCOMES the world...." The
Greek for overcomes is in the present tense. Are Christians
PRESENTLY, TODAY, being begotten of God? Yes indeed! Were people
being begotten of God when John was writing this letter? Yes!
Those to whom John was writing, were they remaining faithful to
the truths of God, and not allowing themselves to be seduced by
false spirits and false antichrist prophets? Read the whole
letter and you will find the answer to that question very clear.
   John knew the true Christians he was writing to, WERE
PRESENTLY AT THAT TIME, CONTINUING WITH PROGRESSIVE LIFE STYLE
ACTION, TO  OVERCOME THE SEDUCTIONS OF THE WORLD, THAT WANTED
THEM TO REJECT THE TRUTHS OF GOD, AND RETURN TO THEIR FORMER
UNREPENTING SIN FILLED LIVES.

   John knew that the truly begotten children of God would be
continuing in the faith, resisting the temptation to "throw in
the towel" and go back into the corrupting life style of
the unconverted world. Knowing that, and with that thought in
mind, his NEXT THOUGHT is WHAT keeps the faithful child of God
returning to the fold of Satan, turning around from living the
way of the Lord, and with deliberate "mind set action" following
the way of the wicked one. John's thought was not just WHAT keeps
the Christian on the straight and narrow, but also WHEN did that
action START!

   He saw the true Christian DOES HAVE VICTORY over the world of
Satan. That victory DID START at a certain point in the PAST life
of the people of God, hence he uses the AORIST tense for the
second "overcometh" word in verse 4.
   A person is part of this deceived, sinful, false spirit world,
UNTIL God calls them (John 6) to His light and truth. When that
light comes we are in the state Paul was in Romans 7:7-12. We now
see clearly what sin is and our position in relation to it as
sinners. We must NOW CHOOSE, God does not force us, it is up to
us to now choose the way we shall go - life on the one hand,
death on the other. God wants us to choose life(Deut.30:15-19)
but it is our decision to make.
   At some point of time we must make a decision which WAY we
will go, the way of the world of Satan, or the way of the Lord.
Is the world going to continue to rule our thoughts and actions,
while we "thumb our nose" at God, or will we resist the pull of
rejecting God's call and humbly REPENT and be BAPTIZED?
   If we BELIEVE God and His word. If we have faith in the truth
of God when He said His Son Jesus was sent to die for our sins,
and that both of them will come and live within the repentant
sinner to empower them to live their way and not the world's way.
If we have faith, we then at a certain time in our lives make
that single mind action, we repent and we get baptized.
   We have then AT THAT SPECIFIC TIME, DONE A SINGLE ACTION IN
OUR LIVES. But does that single action of faith STOP after we
have initially repented and come up  out of the waters of
baptism? Not at all, God forbid!
   Our single specific action RESULTS in a prolonged action of
singleness. We continue in that past single action of the moment,
into prolonged action, which LEADS into present PROGRESSIVE
action at the present time.

   Notice John does not say we HAVE and DO CONTINUE to overcome
the world and remain faithful to God's way, by doing more
fasting, or offering more prayers, or giving more money to God,
or having more sinless days in our life. He says we overcame the
world in the past and continue to overcome in the present BY
FAITH!

   As Paul was inspired to say, we are SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH
FAITH, and not of works lest any man should boast. We cannot
amass "good" works of any kind, take them to God and demand we
have earned His grace and mercy, simply because ANY ONE SIN
earns for us the DEATH PENALTY which no amount of good works can
cancel. We can only have it erased through the mercy of God
applying the blood of Jesus TO WASH IT AWAY!

   It was FAITH in the past that saved us from the death penalty
- faith in the promise of God that if we would repent of our
sins, look to Jesus' sacrifice for us, on our behalf, to pay
the penalty, trust God for deliverance, trust that He would come
and live in us via His Holy Spirit, trust that He would give us
His faith(Gal.2:20) to help us remain in a humble yielded
heart attitude of wanting to live His way of light and life, then
that FAITH would keep us from returning to the corruptions of the
world, as a dog returns to its vomit again.

   Faith and trust in God that He will do what He has promised to
do through Jesus and His Spirit, is what gives us VICTORY, which
was ours in the past and is ours presently today.
   This is what John is focusing their minds on. Not on some deed
or deeds, doing more of this work or that work, but on living IN
FAITH, in the faith of Jesus Christ WITHIN them.
   Open your Bible friend to that wonderful verse of Galatians
2:20 and read it slowly - meditate upon it.

   John started in verse 4,  IN THE PRESENT - begotten children
of God now with continuous life style action, overcoming the pull
of the world to draw us back into its corrupt way of living - he
then moves back into the PAST, when it all started and continued. 
He answers the question of what gave us the victory. It was not
of works but faith. Then in verse 5 he brings us back to the
PRESENT - FULL CIRCLE!
   "Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that
Jesus is the Son of God" (Berry's translation).

   John finishes with the present tense - progressive action at
the present.
   To remain true to God, to stay walking on the straight and
narrow road, to live the way of the Lord, to be a David in heart
attitude of humility and repentance when guilty of sin, to
not allow the false spirits to seduce us back into the continuing
life style of the world of Satan, to OVERCOME rejecting truth and
living in error, takes BELIEVING in Jesus, that He is THE Son of
THE God. It takes believing, it takes FAITH, that all He did and
said, and promised to do, IS TRUE.
   It takes believing Jesus was the true Son of God, that the way
He lived, in following the Father, was the correct way, was the
way of light, and having the faith of Jesus in us, would
continue for us the victory march, we would be continually
resisting and overcoming the pull of the evil world, carnal human
nature, and the seductive whisperings of the wicked one trying to
get us back into his life style of willful rebellious "I know
exactly what I'm doing" attitude of sin.

   This attitude of knowingly rejecting truth and righteousness,
going into a life style of sin, even claiming it was not sin,
following the corruptions of the world, loving the sin of the
world, walking in darkness, willfully rejecting the commandments
of God even while still claiming to "know the Lord" - all of this
attitude was what John was combating in his letter.

   It was an attitude of willful rejection of the light of God,
it was an attitude of trampling all over Jesus and His blood, it
was being again OVERCOME by the seductions of the wicked one and
his world.
   Those who looked to Jesus and God in "truth and spirit" - with
faith and trust, who looked to God for power and strength to
remain loyal to His way of life, who looked in faith to God that
when they sinned in moments of weakness, when they confessed and
repented, they would find grace and Jesus as their advocate, and
so having the victory at all times over the world and spirits of
falsehood and deception.
  
          THE VERSES OF OVERCOMING IN REVELATION
                                    
   We are looking in this study at these verses 2:7,11,17,26; 
3:5,12, 21;  21:7. All of these  verses using the words
overcometh, overcame, are in the PRESENT tense in the Greek.

We have seen the "present tense indicates progressive action at
the present time - 'he is loosing.' "
   When it comes to the Christian's relationship with God's way
of life it is I think best to describe the present tense in these
words:  A progressive habitual practicing life style in
conformity to the will of God.
   The person knows the calling of the Lord, has come to see what
sin is, that they have sinned, wants to repent, desires the
forgiveness of God, looks for mercy through the sacrifice
of Jesus, wants to be free from the hold of Satan and the
corrupting sin of his world. They want to serve the true God in
spirit and in truth, they are willing to do and live the way of
the Lord.
   Such a person is humbled and repentant, willing to be
corrected by God, led  by Him, willing to be taught, moulded, and
shaped into the image of Christ.
   It is a mind set - leaving the ways of sin - willing to do the
ways of the Lord.

   The Christian knows that after conversion neither Satan, the
corrupt world, or carnal human nature, disappear - they are still
there, ready to pull the child of God back into their net of open
willfulness sin and rejection.of God. The Christian knows he will
still sin at times. He does not want to, he sets his mind not to
sin, but the weakness of the flesh, the seductions of the wicked
one, the world with its lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
the pride of life, will at times trip up the Christian and he
will sin.
   He will find himself/herself as the apostle Paul in Romans 7,
wanting to serve the law of God, wanting to do the right thing,
in mind and spirit desiring to do the will of the Lord, yet
seeing another law in their members that fights the law of the
mind, and which leads into sin at times.
   The Christian does not want to leave God, does not desire to
just "give it all up" or to "raise the surrender flag" to sin and
turn away from serving the Lord. He does not want to be like the
pig, turning to wallow in the mire again. He wants to continue
walking with the Eternal down the pathway of light.

   This is the bottom line, crying out for mercy through the
blood and advocating work of Jesus, WHEN the true Christian sins.
Not wanting to leave the truth revealed and desiring to not
listen to or act upon the pulling of the world and Satan back
into a mind set of rebellion towards the Father.

   Jesus tells us over and over again in the book of Revelation
that OVERCOMING is very very IMPORTANT. Anyone trying to just
ignore the topic or make light of it as if it's nothing to be
concerned about, has never read or just does not believe Jesus
when He said in Rev.3:5 these words:
   
        "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.
    
                                    
       HE THAT ENDURES TO THE END - SHALL BE SAVED 
                                    
                                    
   Jesus spoke those words to His disciples just before His
death. It was another way of saying the same things as He said in
Revelation 3:5.

   The clear inference in Revelation is that he who does not
overcome will have his name taken out of the book of life. But
again we must ask:  OVERCOME WHAT? ENDURE TO THE END IN WHAT WAY?

   Are we to overcome so we never miss a day of praying on our
knees? Are we to overcome so we fast at least one day a week? Are
we to overcome till we never miss a single penny in tithes to
God? Must we overcome till we never go a day without reading the
word of the Lord?
   Maybe we must overcome till we never again have a thought of
lust or envy towards anyone. Perhaps it is overcoming till we
never allow any wrong words to come out of our mouth. Or
overcoming till we never ever offend anyone in any way.
   Must we overcome till we are the most perfect husband or wife,
father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister? Is it that
we must overcome till we never have a lazy bone in our body, but
every second of every day is "redeeming the time"?
   Well, I'm sure you can add to my list many more "things" we
can work at in overcoming.

   Does God set us a task that only people like a Job could come
close to achieving?

   But we must endure to the end to be saved Jesus said in
Matthew 24. Look at the context of that verse. The context is not
prayer, fasting, tithing, parenthood, marriage, lust, pride,
envy, laziness, or any individual specific sin or error. The
context is that INIQUITY - LAWLESSNESS - SIN IN GENERAL would
abound and the LOVE of many would go COLD. They would give in to
sin in general, would stop the desire to withstand it in their
heart attitude, loose the love of the truth and righteousness as
a way of life and mind set to live, and GROW COLD! They would be
allowing false prophets - seducing evil spirits - to talk them
into casting away the light of truth, to exchange the darkness of
the wicked one for the light of God's way of life. They would
allow themselves to be led into deception, back into the iniquity
and corruption of the world of Satan. They would again go back to
being COLD for God, not able to love His standard and pathway of
living. They would be COLD to God's call, to His correction, to
His Spirit that leads into all truth.

   Let's ask the question once more:  HOW ARE WE SAVED? Is it by
our "good" works or deeds? Is it by overcoming this or that sin
till we have a pretty impressive report card with all A's and
only a few B's?
   No! Not at all.
   We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. No amount
of perfect works can erase one sin, no matter how little a sin it
is. But does God throw out His grace and mercy to just anyone?
Does He give His free gift of mercy - forgiveness - grace - to
those who have set their hearts and minds to be UNrepentant, to
be bold faced, rebellious sinners? Does God grant mercy to those
who laugh at Him, spit in His face, walk all over the blood of
Jesus as if it means nothing, say in their mind they will not let
God rule them or tell them how to live?

   God answers the above question. He tells us who He will give
His mercy to, and to what kind of man or woman He will walk with.
  
                                    
              CONDITIONS FOR RECEIVING GRACE
                                    
                                    
   God tells us in Isaiah 66:2 the type of person He will look at
with favor: "....but to this man(or woman) will I look, even to
him that is poor and of CONTRITE spirit, and TREMBLES at MY
WORD."
   The Lord wants an individual to HUMBLE themselves, be
repentant and of an attitude that is willing to be taught,
moulded and shaped by the word and Spirit of God. He wants to
see in the person a mind that has a very deep reverence and
respect, a healthy fear of the Lord when He speaks via His word -
today that being His written word as contained in the pages of
the Bible.

   Is there ANYTHING that we must do to receive the mercy and
grace of God? Does the Eternal lay down some conditions that we
must meet in order for us to be granted and given His gift of
grace and forgiveness?
   It is written; "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon
Him while He is near. Let the wicked FORSAKE HIS WAY: and let him
RETURN unto the Lord, and He WILL HAVE MERCY upon him
"(Isa.55:7).
   Those that want to receive the gift of grace, mercy,
forgiveness, from the Lord, must acknowledge they are wicked,
they are sinners, they have broken the law of God that defines
what sin is(1 John 3:4; Rom.7:7; Ex.20). They must be willy to
SET THEIR MINDS to forsake their way of life they have been
living, and to TURN THEIR LIFE AROUND TO FOLLOW THE WAY GOD TELLS
THEM HOW TO LIVE. They must be willing as Jesus said, to live by
EVERY WORD OF GOD and not just by physical bread (Mat.4:4).
   In short, the man who will be given grace or mercy from the
Lord MUST REPENT AND BE CONVERTED. His mind must be changed from
carnal stubborn hostility to the way, laws, and thoughts of God,
into a humble, teachable attitude of a willing mind set to
conform to the will, the word, the life of the Eternal and
Merciful God.

   Is there something we must do? Are there any conditions we
must meet to be FORGIVEN of our sins?
   This question was asked of Peter on the great day of Pentecost
when the Holy Spirit was poured out - his answer was:
   
        REPENT and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ FOR THE REMISSION(the forgiveness) OF SINS, and ye
shall receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

   Later Peter again showed the people what conditions they must
meet in order to be forgiven of their Sins:

         "REPENT ye therefore, and be CONVERTED (turned around
from your way to God's way - Isa.55:7) THAT(in order that) YOUR
SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT, so that (original Greek) times of
REFRESHING (grace, mercy, forgiveness) shall come from the
presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

   REPENTANCE, being deeply broken up and sorry for all the sins
committed, being heart sick over the times you have broken the
holy and righteous commandments of the Lord, being humbled to the
realization that you are a sinner and have come under the death
penalty (Rom.6:23). Having a contrite attitude of mind that now
leads you to want to forsake your life style and ways of doing
and thinking, to turn around and desire to let God teach,
correct, mould and shape you into His image, ALL THIS IS PART OF
REPENTANCE AND EVERYONE MUST MEET THE CONDITION OF REPENTANCE AND
CONVERSION TO RECEIVE THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS - GRACE!
  
   The Lord is looking for a CHANGE in HOW WE SET OUR MINDS! He
is wanting to see that we acknowledge Him as the only true God,
that we acknowledge He is HOLY, PURE, and in Him is NO SIN. He
wants us to acknowledge that His LAW and COMMANDMENTS are as Paul
said - holy, just and good (Rom.7).
   He wants us to admit and confess that the breaking of His law
is SIN. He wants us to confess that we have by our life style
BROKEN THAT LAW AND ARE SINNERS. He wants us to acknowledge OUR
WAYS have only brought DEATH upon us, that our ways ARE NOT HIS
WAYS, our THOUGHTS are NOT HIS thoughts.
     
   God wants us to be VERY SORRY, REPENTANT, for doing things
"our way" and He wants to see in us a CHANGE OF MIND, a NEW "mind
set" that CONVERTS us to desire to conform to the WAY and MIND of
HIM - the Lord.
   He wants to see in us an attitude of HUMILITY, whereby we will
stop looking at things the way that seems right to us, and be
willing to ask God to teach, lead, correct, and mould us to
conform to His way of life.
   The Father wants to see in us the attitude of "not my will be
done, but your will be done Lord."

   The Eternal is not looking to see how MANY "good" works we can
chalk up for ourselves in whatever time He allots us on this
earth, so we can earn or demand that He shows us grace and
forgiveness. He is not interesting in giving salvation to us
based on WORKING FOR IT THROUGH DEEDS.
   As the Psalmist said, He knows our frame, He knows we are
dust, He knows we are carnal flesh, He knows that we shall sin
from time to time right up to the day we die. He knows that we
shall be in a constant battle against sin, Satan, human nature,
and the world's corruptions, and at times we shall slip up and
miss the mark.
   God is not interested in having thousands, or millions, of
SELF RIGHTEOUS JOB'S in His family.
   He is wanting and He is interested in having HUMBLE REPENTANT
JOB'S who see God for what He is - ALMIGHTY PERFECT HOLY
CHARACTER. He is wanting latter end Job's, men and women who
really see with the spiritual eye what God is all about, and then
can say as Job did: "Wherefore I ABHOR myself, and REPENT in dust
and ashes"(Job 42:6).

   Humble REPENTANCE - a constant heart attitude of repentance
which leads to a desire to serve the will of the Lord's is a
MUST, is a condition we must manifest to receive the gift
of grace and mercy from the Lord that saves us from death into
eternal life.
   Some came to Jesus to ask Him about ones that died from the
hands of Pilate. He knew what was on their minds, namely, were
such allowed to die by God in that way because they were sinners
above sinners.
   Jesus' answer to them was NO! Certain deaths come upon certain
people not because God thinks they are worse sinners than other
sinners. Then He hit them between the eyes so to speak, by
saying: "I tell you, Nay, but,  EXCEPT YOU REPENT,  ye shall all
likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-3).

   Jesus was speaking about perishing in the second death - the
lake of fire death, eternal death.
   There are conditions to receiving the grace that saves you.

   The Eternal Father wants to give us His mercy and grace. He
wants to enter a NEW covenant of eternal salvation with us. He
wants to save us by His grace and forgiveness. He tells us so in
the Psalms, but He also tells us the conditions He requires from
us to be saved.
  
   David was a man who knew how merciful the Lord was, for he had
need of that mercy many times in his life.
   Here are some of David's words as recorded in his Psalm that
is number 103 in the KJV.

        "..... Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all His
benefits: Who FORGIVETH ALL THINE INIQUITIES.......The Lord is
MERCIFUL and GRACIOUS, slow to anger, and PLENTEOUS in
MERCY.......For as the heaven is high above the earth, so GREAT
is His MERCY towards them that FEAR HIM.......Like a father
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that FEAR
HIM.......But the MERCY of the Lord is from everlasting to
everlasting.......UPON THEM THAT FEAR HIM.......TO SUCH AS KEEP
HIS COVENANT, AND TO THOSE THAT REMEMBER HIS COMMANDMENTS......."
(verses 2,3,8,11,13,17,18).

   I did not write those words friends, they have been in your
Bible all along, for thousands of years.
   Clearly God lays down conditions for receiving His forgiveness
and grace that will save us.

   They are the conditions we've already seen in Isaiah, the
conditions Peter was inspired to proclaim, the conditions Jesus
preached when in the flesh on this earth.
   The conditions are a HUMBLE REPENTANT HEART ATTITUDE that
produces the right kind of Godly RESPECT and FEAR, AND a turning
AWAY - a CONVERTING from the way that seems right to man, to a
"mind set" of an OBEDIENT HEART to the WILL, the WAY, the
COMMANDMENTS of the Lord.

   That is the attitude of mind the Lord is looking for in those
He will save through GRACE and FAITH in Christ Jesus. He is not
looking to see if you amass a list of "good" deeds that out
number the "bad" deeds. He is looking for the same attitude that
was in King David of Israel.

                 A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART

   What a legacy to have said of you that you were a man or woman
whom God claimed was  "after mine own heart."   That is precisely
what the Lord did say about King David (Acts 13:22).
   If you include all the Psalms of David, there is more written
about him than any other person in the Bible outside of the life
of Jesus.
   What a man! Many talents and gifts. A man who came from being
a shepherd to being King of Israel. A man used MIGHTILY by the
Lord. Look at his life, read it again friend. David was certainly
not a Job. He had faults, weaknesses, sins of various kinds, some
it seems plagued him off and on all his life. We are not given
any record of all the list of "righteous" deeds David did as
opposed to his "unrighteous" deeds. Nor DOES IT MATTER! For David
was not saved by works - he did not EARN a place in the book of
life, he is there because God forgave him of his sins through
grace.
   Why was God so merciful and gracious to David? He certainly
did sin some pretty big sins as we would count sin.
   Again, if you look at the "mind set"(I keep coming back to
that phrase because I think most of us understand what it
portends) of David, you will find the answer to the above
question.
   At some point in his life he came to see the true God, and the
true ways and mind of that God. He made a decision, he chose to
set his sails of a living life style in the wind and ways of the
Lord. He chose to go the way of life as the way of the Eternal,
to walk in the light from God. He chose to humble himself in
repentance, turn from the way of man, the way of Satan, the way
of the corruptions of the world, and to LISTEN to and OBEY as a
mind-set of life, the true God.

   David chose at an early age it would seem, to FEAR the Lord,
to enter God's covenant, to desire with his heart and mind to
serve God, to let the Eternal teach him, guide him, correct him,
mould him, and fill him with the Holy Spirit.

   David set his heart to love the Lord and to remember His
commandments to do them!

   David sinned at times, but when he saw his sin, when God
corrected him, he immediately ACKNOWLEDGED and CONFESSED his sin,
he immediately REPENTED of his sin, he never tried to justify his
sin in his own eyes. He saw where he had fallen short,
where he had missed the mark, where he needed the MERCY and
FORGIVENESS of God. He knew that no amount of good deeds could
cancel his sin, only the grace of God could save him from death,
the penalty he had earned by sinning.
   He did not want to leave the way of the Father. He did not
want to go back into the unrepentant life style of the world of
Satan. He did not desire to tell the Lord to "get lost" or
"I know what is the right way to go God but I'm just NOT going to
obey you or serve you any more."
     He never had that attitude of mind towards the Lord, where
he knew the truth but would choose to reject it and allow Satan
and the world to fully control him in mind and body.
   David always had his mind set to NEVER GET COLD for the Lord,
to always LOVE the Lord, to serve Him, listen to Him, obey Him,
to desire to walk in the light of His COMMANDMENTS. David never
wanted to LEAVE following the way of the Lord, he always wanted
to "stay with it" - "endure through to the end" - "be a man of
God" till his dying day.
   This was David's basic foundational "mind set" and THAT WAS
MEETING THE CONDITIONS OF BEING SAVED BY GRACE AND OVERCOMING!
   Because of that heart attitude in David, GRACE and MERCY was
always given to him. In God's eyes David HAD BEEN an overcomer
from the day he chose to walk with the Lord, and in God's eyes
David was an overcomer in his PRESENT continuous day by day life.
David just needed to KEEP that heart attitude, to ENDURE with
that right mind set TO THE END OF HIS LIFE ON EARTH, and he would
be SAVED into inheriting(now in this life we are only heirs, not
yet inheritors - Rom.8) eternal life.
   David did have VICTORY, he was a child of God, he was under
the grace of God, he was an OVERCOMER in the Father's eyes, his
name was in the book of life, but David had NOT YET, while he was
alive, FINISHED the course, finished the race. If at any time
along the way, he had willfully chosen to discard the truth of
God shown to him, had chosen to trample the Lord under his feet,
to count the blood of the covenant as nothing, then his name
would be erased from the book of life.
   David was in a SAVED condition all the days of his life with
the Lord because of his "trust and obey" attitude of mind, but he
was still a free oral agent, able to make choices, he was never a
robot, neither are we. He could have chosen at any time to "walk
away" from the pathway and light and commandments of God, and
gone back into the life style of the wicked one - Satan the
devil.
   David was not "once saved always saved."  Neither are we. No
such doctrine can be found in the pages of the Bible. Jesus said:
He that shall ENDURE - OVERCOME - unto the END, the same shall be
SAVED.

To be continued
          ........................................

Written June 1995

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