Vol. 5, No. 2
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Every one of us is painfully aware that there are many obstacles to be overcome in our lives. Some of these are great and take a huge amount of effort on our part, and some are simple and easily overcome. Some of the obstacles, trials, tribulations that we must overcome are of a physical nature, and we often seek the help of physicians or others to help us take care of these. Some are emotional and mental, and sometimes we have to seek the help of professionals in overcoming these also. But for the Christian there are spiritual obstacles to overcome such as various kinds of temptations of the flesh, or the resurgence of poor attitudes, or something of the sort.
In all probability spiritual obstacles are the most difficult for us to overcome, as a matter of fact, there are many of these that we cannot overcome on our own, and so it is necessary for us to call upon God in prayer, and he gives us the spiritual strength to overcome these problems and negative situations in life.
In the great and inspiring Book of Revelation, we have a number of statements made about those who overcome. It should be noted that the people to whom the book was written were going to be suffering some agonizing persecution at the hands of the enemies of Christ, and they needed to be encouraged regarding overcoming and remaining faithful in their service to the Lord. So, our Lord, through the blessed apostle John gave a series of promises that would be granted to those who overcame such things as persecutions, false teaching, sin in their lives and other spiritual problems that were about to beset some of the Christians in the churches to whom the Lord spoke. We think that it may be helpful as well as inspirational if we look at some of these.
In the second chapter of the Book, Christ through John spoke to the church at Ephesus and told those Christians that he had something against them. The first thing that he mentioned was the fact that they had left (forsaken) their first love. What all may have been involved in their forsaking their first love we cannot dogmatically say, but the Lord urged them to repent and do the first works, or else he was going to come to them quickly and remove their lampstand from its place. The removing of the lampstand was a figurative way of saying that they would be punished for forsaking their first love. The command for them to repent was God's way of assuring that they would overcome the sin of leaving their first love. Then to encourage them to repent and stand firm, the Lord said, "To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." The promise of eternal life was the Lord's way of encouraging these people to repent. Certainly when one thinks of eternity, and what it would mean to be separated from God for an eternity, one would urgently feel the need to repent of whatever may be amiss in his/her life. One way we overcome spiritually is to repent of that which is out of harmony with the will of God.
Next the Lord wrote to the church at Smyrna. He complimented this troubled church for standing firm against the false teachers of the day. The people in this church were going to undergo some severe persecution and they would need to hold on to the position of being faithful to Christ. The Lord promised them if they would be faithful even though they were put to death, he would give them a crown of life, and then he said, "He who overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death." The overcoming for this group of Christians was to remain faithful to Christ in spite of the persecution that was coming their way, and they were promised that they would not be destroyed in the lake of fire which is the second death mentioned later on in the book.
Next, the Lord wrote to the church at Pergamos, and they too were suffering, and would suffer, for the cause of Christ, as a matter of fact, Antipas had already been put to death for being a Christian. But this church had some problems, among which were such sins of the flesh as fornication and eating foods as acts of worship to idols and holding the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. This church was commanded to repent or they would be judged by the Word of God, but if they did repent, and by repenting overcame the evil among them, Christ would give "To him who overcomes...some of the hidden manna to eat." Manna is what sustained Israel in the wilderness, and the manna of the aid of God is what sustains us as we journey through the wilderness, and if with the help of God we overcome our obstacles we will receive that which will take us to the promised land.
We can see from these three simple examples from Revelation Two that overcoming is something we are to do, and when we do overcome, with the help and strength of God, we will be appropriately rewarded by the God of heaven because "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."Keep on overcoming, it is worth it!