How To Be An Overcomer
WELCOME TO GOD’S FAMILY
(Ephesians 2:1), “And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins;”
(Romans 5:8), “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
(John 3:18), “He that believeth on him (Jesus Christ) is not condemned:…”
(I John 1:7), “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
We’re so glad that you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to be your Saviour! Now, you not only have a heavenly Father, but many new brothers and sisters all over the world. You’ve made the most important decision you’ll ever make. Why?
First of all, it’s a life and death decision. According to (Ephesians 2:1), you were dead in trespasses and sins. He rescued you from the jaws of death and now you have hope! You inherited a deadly disease called sin, but now you’re cured. The blood of the Lord Jesus has washed you cleaner than you’ve ever been before. God sent Jesus to take your place on ‘death row.’ In (John 3:19), we learn that, as lost sinners, we are condemned already. But God loved us enough to send Jesus to die in our place! (II Corinthians 1:9-10) reminds me of the death sentence that was hanging over my head. But, thank God, we’ve been delivered from death and the fear of it.
Secondly, it was an eternal decision, “…he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6). God never has started anything that He wasn’t able to finish. We trust Him to keep His promise. His most wonderful promise is everlasting life and an everlasting home in Heaven.
When you were saved, you were delivered from the penalty of sin. As you yield yourself to God, you will be delivered from the power of sin. When you get to Heaven, you’ll be delivered from the presence of sin.
Through reading and studying this book, our goal is to help you prepare for the spiritual battles you will be facing as a Christian. Great victories are never won without hard-fought battles. For you, as a Christian, victory is certain, but the devil doesn’t give up easily. Through the truths taught in this book, you will learn how to detect and defeat our greatest enemy, the devil. You’ll also learn about the Christian’s relationship toward sin and be challenged to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ of a real Christian.
I pray that as you study this book, along with the Word of God, you will be an overcomer in your Christian life. And, just as David defeated Goliath, you can overcome the “giants” that rise up against you.
Your Brother in Christ,
Chaplain Rock of Ages Prison Ministry
THE WAR OF TWO NATURES
(Romans 6:6), “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
(Ephesians 4:22), “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt (slowly wasting away) according to the deceitful lusts;”
(Galatians 5:16-17), “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
(II Corinthians 5:17), “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth and all that are in them. On the sixth day, HE CREATED MAN. After the sixth day, God finished His creation, and as He looked around, He saw that “it was very good.” In other words, God was completely satisfied with everything that He created. It was perfect and complete, even the man, Adam. He enjoyed a perfect environment, a perfect body and a perfect relationship with God. In (Genesis 2:17), God gave Adam a warning: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Everything went fine until the next chapter. Then, the enemy, the devil (also our enemy), entered the scene. Through his subtle temptations, the woman was led to believe that sin was acceptable under certain conditions. Also, she was told that sin would make her wise. But, worst of all, she was deceived about God’s warning, DEATH FOR DISOBEDIENCE (ye shall not). After she was tempted, she thought and then yielded to the temptation. Temptation is not sin, but yielding and falling as a result of the temptation is!
As soon as the first bite was taken, Eve and her husband, Adam, began to experience strange and unusual feelings. For the first time, they felt guilty. For the first time, they felt shame. For the first time, they had sinned against God! The God they once loved, they now feared. They remembered His warning, DEATH FOR DISOBEDIENCE and were literally scared to death as they hid in the garden.
How disappointed God must have been as He walked through the garden that day. Even though we try to hide from God and hide our sins from Him, He knows where we are and exactly what we’ve done. Let me remind you, the same God that was so disappointed in Adam and Eve is the God you and I serve today. Even though they had sinned, God still loved them and still wanted to enjoy fellowship with them. But, sin had interrupted this perfect relationship. God hates sin and must deal with it! God had to discipline Adam and Eve. God never says anything that He doesn’t mean and never makes a promise that He cannot keep! As sad as it was, He remembered the promise He had made earlier, …for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
THINGS LOST ‑ Three Things
Man’s one act of disobedience, one sinful decision, caused him to lose three different things:
1. He lost the everlasting physical life that God had provided for him.As soon as they tasted the forbidden fruit, God began to fulfill His promise. Just as yours and mine, Adam and Eve’s bodies began to age. In Genesis 5:5, we read: “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” No doubt as Adam grew older he thought back to ‘what could have been.’ Isn’t it amazing how hind-sight is always 20/20?
2. He lost the privilege of living in a perfect environment. When God finished His creation, He saw that it was very good. Why? Because it was just like Him ‑ Sinless. But now man had stained God’s perfect work. (Genesis 3:23), “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden, Cherubims, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. God not only sent the man out of the garden, but placed powerful angels and a flaming sword at the entrance to guard it. Because of Adam’s sin, we have to live in a body of sin and a world of sin. God never planned it that way.
3. He lost his perfect relationship with God. This is without a doubt the greatest loss of all. Adam was not worthy to stand in God’s presence with only fig leaves to cover his shame. But, neither are we worthy in our own righteousness. Adam did not have (John 3:16) to read as we do, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Adam was not able to read that verse but God explained it to him through His actions. God had every right to destroy Adam and Eve, but He didn’t. Just as He showed mercy toward us, He showed mercy to them. They confessed their sins and God forgave them! He proved His forgiveness by making them special clothes to wear. In (Genesis 3:21), we find that God made special clothes for Adam and Eve, He has made clothes for us also, (Revelation 19:8), “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints,” Highlights mine. We’re able to wear the new clothes because we’ve been forgiven of our sins! Sin made us an enemy of God, but through Jesus we are friends again! (II Corinthians 5:18),“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,…”
THINGS GAINED ‑ Two Enemies, (Genesis 3:14-19)
Until he sinned, man had never known an enemy. Now he has two! Sin always produces sorrow. Man now has to work hard to earn a living. Eve would bear children, but it would be very painful. Their children would be born sinners, unlike their parents who were created righteous. They would live long enough to see their children overpowered by sin, even to the point of committing murder.
Living in a world of sin, man began to realize that he has basically two enemies:
- An Outward Enemy ‑ THE DEVIL
He has always been an enemy of God. After the sin in the garden, he became an enemy of man also.
What an awful enemy the devil is! Some of the different names that he is given in the Bible are:
• Devil, which means accuser (Revelation 12:10)
• Satan, which means adversary (I Peter 5:8)
• Lucifer, meaning light-bearer (Isaiah 14:12)
• Abaddon, which means destruction (Revelation 9:11)
• Apollyon, meaning one that exterminates (Revelation 9:11)
• Beelzebub, meaning false god (Matthew 10:25)
After you are saved, you’re HELL-PROOF! There is not anything the devil can do to keep you from going to Heaven when this life is over. Remember: God never makes a promise that He cannot keep. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”If you have received Jesus as your Saviour, then you’ve become part of God’s family by being “born again.” God is a good Father and cannot and will not disown any of His children. He promised to never leave us nor forsake us, (Hebrews 13:5).
So, if the devil cannot send you to hell, what can he do? He will try to discourage you, cause you to doubt God and do his best to keep you from influencing someone else to become a Christian.
2. An Inward Enemy ‑ THE FLESH
Even though God forgave Adam of his sin, his flesh still suffered the penalty of that sin. It died. After we are saved, we still have to live in the same old body. Unless Jesus comes soon, our bodies will die just like Adam’s did. Your body is constantly dying. As a baby grows into a child and that child grows into a young adult, we produce new cells faster than old ones die. After reaching a certain age, this process reverses and the old cells die faster than new ones can replace them. This is why we begin to age. Wrinkles, gray hair, brittle bones and weak muscles are all the result of sin! We fight a constant battle with the flesh, our inward enemy. No wonder Paul said, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
The War Begins
Until you are saved, you don’t realize who these enemies are. When you are lost, the devil is your master. Your flesh is controlled by him and you ‘do what you want to do.’ Everything seems normal until one day, you realize you are a sinner and you will go to hell if you die without Jesus. The Holy Spirit has whispered this truth to you and you begin to wonder, “What will I do?” Deep down inside, the battle has begun! The devil desires to keep you so he can destroy you ‑ God wants to forgive you and save you. If you’re saved, you know exactly what I am talking about. Even though you trust Christ to be your Saviour, the battle is not over. It could be just beginning. Because now, there is a third party involved. Our enemies are the same: the devil and the flesh. But now, the Spirit gets involved in the fight. In one place in the Bible (John 14:16), the Spirit is called ‘parakletos,’ which means ‘one called alongside to help.’ When the devil tried to destroy us and the flesh was in argument, the Spirit came alongside to help us out! We still sin after we are saved. (I John 1:8), “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But as Christians we now have a ‘helper,’ or one that will go to God on our behalf. When we sin, the devil (accuser) accuses us in the presence of God. But God doesn’t condemn us because our helper (the Spirit) reminds him that we are saved through the blood of Jesus!
Being saved does not mean you will never have any problems, but it does mean you are not alone with your problems.
What Do You Really Want to Do?
Before you were saved, sin didn’t bother you. Why? Because you wanted to sin. Now you have a desire to do right, but, you still sin. When I was in junior high school, we had a motto: DO RIGHT BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT TO DO RIGHT! This would be a good practice for every Christian. I once enjoyed doing wrong, now I enjoy doing right. What do you really want to do?
In Romans, Chapter 7, the Apostle Paul had the same problem that we have.
Paul still committed sin. In verse 14 he states: “…but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Paul was saved but he still had to live in a body of flesh.
In verse 23, we see the war going on inside of him. “But I see another law in my members (flesh), warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
So what did Paul really want to do? Verse 22, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”
He seems to get frustrated in verse 24 when he asks the question: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
The Holy Spirit answers in the next verse: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
The flesh is not and never will be saved. Flesh must be mortified or put to death. Before you were saved, the flesh ruled. As a Christian the Spirit has that right, but the flesh refuses to give in. If we yield to the flesh we cannot please God, we cannot have peace and we won’t ever have real victory in our Christian lives.
(Romans 8:13), “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
We can be victorious over sin! (I John 5:4), “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
You can overcome the flesh, but … HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT’S RIGHT AND WRONG?
We’ve already seen how the Holy Spirit is our helper. But He is also our Teacher. John 16:13, “Howbeit when he , the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:…”
In (John 16:13-14), we can see six things the Holy Spirit does:
1. He hears
2. He speaks
3. He teaches
4. He guides
5. He glorifies Jesus
6. He illustrates truths
Many times the Holy Spirit is forgotten. We understand God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ), but the Holy Spirit is just as important as they are. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. As we read and study the Bible, He helps us understand it. As we pray, He reminds us for whom and what to pray. As we live each day, He wants to teach and guide us, making us into something that God can use.
Often in your Christian life, you will be put into situations where you must decide right from wrong. During these times, you must depend on the Holy Spirit to help.
To have victory in your Christian life, you must separate yourself from known sin. The Holy Spirit will point sins out to you if you will ask Him.
GOD SPEAKS TO US IN ONLY TWO WAYS TODAY:
1. Through His Word ‑ The Bible
2. Through the spirit ‑ Our inner man
These two will never disagree! If you feel the Spirit is leading you to do something, confirm it with the Word of God. The Spirit of God will never lead you to do something that goes against the teaching of the Word of God.
I cannot tell you how to live, but I can tell you how to be an overcomer. When you know something is sin, LEAVE IT ALONE!
‘Little Sins’ become ‘Big Sins’ after we are saved. We are more sensitive to sin. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. But we cannot receive forgiveness unless we confess them to God. As it was for Adam and Eve, so it is for us. Sin separates us from God.
Equipped For The Battle – Ephesians 6:10-19
(Ephesians 6:12), “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,…”
Now, turn back to the Old Testament to I Samuel, Chapter 17, and read the story of David and Goliath. What a mismatch young David was against Goliath the Giant! What a long-shot he was to win in a one-on-one contest. But, David won the victory through the power and ability given to him by the Lord. By understanding the things David saw, you also can have victory in your Christian life.
How Christians Can Have Victory
I. Be Aware of the Battle
• David was immediately aware of the conflict.
• He realized that it was more than just a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. It was a battle between God’s forces and the forces of the devil.
II. Recognize the Enemy
• David recognized the enemy. It wasn’t Goliath, he only represented the real enemy.
• The real enemy is the devil.
• Goliath wanted to do battle on his terms (one-on-one). The devil always attacks us when we are at a disadvantage. Under his conditions, we are no match for satan.
III. Use the Armor
In (I Samuel 17:38-39), David was so persistent and confident that Saul finally agreed to let him go out against the giant Goliath. As a last resort, Saul offered him his own personal armor. David tried the armor on, but then refused it by saying, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them.”
Why was Saul’s armor not a good choice?
A. It was man-made armor
(II Corinthians 10:3-4), “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (physical or fleshly), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) ” You cannot fight spiritual battles with man-made armor.
B. It was a limited armor
It couldn’t offer complete protection against the enemy. It had weaknesses of which the devil could take advantage.
C. It was a useless armor
(I Corinthians 1:27), “…God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”
Saul’s armor represented the wisdom and traditions of man. When David went into battle without it, it caused him to put complete faith in God. As you read and study (I Samuel 17), you will see that David made a wise choice. By refusing the man-made armor, he was able to put on the “whole armor of God.” David was protected from Goliath with the same armor that is available to us today as Christians.
Let’s study this story with (Ephesians 6:10-19) and discover if David was really ready to do battle.
THERE ARE SEVEN PIECES OF ARMOR LISTED IN THE TEXT; LET’S GO FROM HEAD TO TOE:
1. The Helmet of Salvation ‑ the helmet of the soldier is specifically designed to protect the head. Your first battle and most of the problems you will face as a Christian will begin in your head or your mind.
Many times I’ve heard my Pastor say, “The only thing better than being saved is knowing it!” The helmet of Salvation will protect you from doubt. It is very important in these last days to protect our heads. A good soldier always wears his helmet.
• DAVID WOULD HAVE NEVER FOUGHT GOLIATH WITHOUT THE HELMET OF SALVATION!
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness ‑ the breastplate of the soldier was designed to protect the vital organs (heart, lungs, liver, etc.), but especially the heart. Righteousness is simply doing the right things. Righteousness is yielding yourself to God and allowing Him to do the right things through you. The heart throughout the Bible represents the true character of man. A wound to the heart is often fatal. By putting on the breastplate of righteousness, you can protect your heart.
• DAVID CERTAINLY HAD ON THIS IMPORTANT PIECE OF ARMOR.
3. The Girdle of Truth ‑ God desires truth in every Christian. Truth is the ability to be honest and sincere about everything. The Roman soldier wore the girdle to keep his robes together and out of the way. If the robes fell down and became entangled with his legs it would hinder his forward progress. Without wearing the girdle of truth, you are weak as a Christian and are unable to stand.
• THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT DAVID HAD ON THE GIRDLE OF TRUTH.
4. The Shoes of Preparedness ‑ these shoes were a very necessary part of the “whole armor.” Many times as the army marched forward, the enemy would put sharp sticks and traps in their path. If the soldier didn’t have on good shoes, these little hindrances would become huge stumbling blocks. In the military, great care is taken to provide good shoes.
You can discover how strong a Christian you are by measuring what it takes to stop you. Throughout your Christian life the enemy will constantly put ‘little things’ in your path to try and stop you from moving forward.
Again, in (I Samuel 17) we find four times that David ran!
• Toward the camp to visit his brothers (verse 17)
• Into the army (verse 22)
• Toward Goliath (verse 48)
• Toward complete victory over the enemy (verse 51)
He was able to make tremendous progress because he had on ‘the shoes of preparedness.’
5. The Sword of the Spirit ‑ (Hebrews 4:12) ‑ “the sword was the offensive weapon of the soldier.” In Hebrews, it is called the “two-edged sword.” Why two edges? One to use on the devil and the other edge to use on us. By using the Word of God, we can perform ‘spiritual surgery’ on ourselves by cutting out the things within us that God cannot use.
Jesus taught us how to use the sword by using it on the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness, (Matthew 4:1-11). Each time the devil tempted Jesus, He counter attacked with Bible verses. Soon, the tempter had to leave.
The sword of the Spirit was designed by God. All of men’s ideas and theories are cut down by it.
• THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WAS DEFINITELY PART OF DAVID’S ARMOR!
6. The Shield of Faith ‑ the Roman shield was so large that, if necessary, the soldier could stoop down behind it and hide himself completely from the enemy. It is so important that (Ephesians 6:16) says, “ABOVE ALL, taking the shield of faith,…” The shield of faith indicates complete confidence in God’s ability.
• SURELY THIS WAS THE SHIELD THAT PROTECTED DAVID!
7. Prayer ‑ the ‘secret weapon’ of the Christian. Prayer is necessary to gain God’s help in the fight. Prayer is necessary if you ever are to have peace and victory in your Christian life. God speaks to us through His Word, we speak to Him through prayer. We must pray for God’s strength and wisdom. (Luke 18:1), “…men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”
Usually, we faint and then pray! If you faint you will not pray, but if you pray you will not faint.
• WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE AT THE END OF YOUR ROPE, TIE A ‘PRAYER-KNOT’ AND HANG ON!
IV. No Participation in the Warfare Results in No Victory
There is no such thing as getting something for nothing. Anything worth having will cost you something. But, God will never ask you to ‘give up’ something without replacing it with something better. The battle gets hard, but the victory is sweet.
As Christians, We Must:
1. STAND ‑ in the power of His might. (Romans 4:21, II Timothy 1:12 and 2:19). Stand and withstand the wiles (deceitful devices) of the devil.
2. WRESTLE ‑ wrestling is a personal conflict with an opponent. To win, you have to ‘get him’ before ‘he gets you,’ (II Corinthians 10:4). Wrestling against satan is foolish unless you have God’s power.
3. WATCH ‑ the devil has the ability to appear good, as an “angel of light.” Be ready for him when he comes, (II Corinthians 2:11).
Who Are the Real Enemies?
At St. Quentin Canal was a cemetery containing the graves of 37,000 German soldiers killed during the war. A wounded French soldier was placed in charge of the upkeep of the cemetery.
One day as he was hoeing around the black crosses, he was asked about the strange predicament in which he had been placed; which was caring for the graves of his enemies. He was silent for a minute and then said, “These are not my enemies, and they never were. They are the innocents of the war. The real enemies never approached the front line.”
Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk – Philippians 1:27-30
(Philippians 1:27), “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:…”
The least Paul expected was that their conversation (manner of life, life-style) be consistent with the Gospel of Christ. This section from verses 27-30 deals with the steadfastness of the suffering Christian. In other words, “act like I’ve been taught to act.”
There was a missionary once, who began his work in a foreign country. He began to tell the natives about Jesus. They listened carefully as he told about Christ’s selfless love, infinite compassion, tenderness and healing power. He noticed that many of the listeners were nodding and smiling as he told about the Man who went about doing good. Finally, the young missionary asked how many knew the Man. Many responded and it seemed that they all knew Him. After checking around, he found that they were thinking of a Christian doctor who had ministered to them in sickness and health. “Yes,” they said, “we know that man well.”
Is it too much to ask, that Christians act like Christians?
Becometh ‑ appropriately ‑ suitable to a given responsibility. It looks good on you. It becomes you!
The very title we use as we call ourselves Christians, places on us a great responsibility. CHRISTIAN = CHRISTLIKE
It is sinful to expect more out of other Christians than we expect out of ourselves. (II Corinthians 10:12)
“…that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs,…” (Philippians 1:27b)
Paul’s desire and no doubt, the church’s, was for him to be released from prison and to visit them. This is indicated by (Philippians 1:26).
He didn’t want them to ‘straighten up’ just because he was coming by to visit. He wanted them to please the Lord, not Paul.
Lot in (Genesis 19), he acted different around the angel. He was ashamed of what he had become.
From the end of verse 27 (Philippians 1:27-30) to the end of the chapter, there are many expectations. I think we can safely say that the Lord expects those characteristics in a local New Testament Church. Also, you could refer back to verse (Philippians 1:27a) and realize that these are ‘becoming to the Gospel.’
I. He expected them to stand fast (secure) in one spirit (inward man). Not grieving the Holy Spirit by spiritual confusion, (I Corinthians 1:3-5).
II. He expected them to be of one mind (outward man), (I Corinthians 1:10-13).
III. He expected them to strive together for the Gospel.
‑ Not striving for our own opinions, but striving for the TRUTH, striving for the Faith.
‑ In Ephesians 6, we are instructed to put on the whole armor of God. Why? To strive against the adversary.
‑ In II Timothy, chapter 2, we are given advice on how to be a good soldier. What does a soldier do? He is trained to strive against the enemy and support a cause, (II Corinthians 12:24-25).
Why over 3,000 denominations in the U.S.A.?
Two tough old mules said, “Get this, we’re tied together with a piece of rope.” Said one to the other, “you come MY way, while I take a nibble of that new-mown hay.”
“I will not,” said the other, “you come with me. I have some hay over this way, you see.” So they got nowhere, just pawed up the dirt, pulling each way. How that rope did hurt!
Then faced they about, those stubborn mules, and said, “We’re acting just like those human fools, let’s pull together. I’ll go your way, then you come with me, and we will both eat hay.”
So they ate their hay, and liked it too, and said, “Let’s be comrades, good and true.” As the sun went down, they were heard to say, “Ah, this is the end of a perfect day.”
IV. He expected them to handle adversity, (Philippians 1:28).
Real Christians have always faced hardships, especially during the earlier church days. The devil has constantly battled the local church. Paul encouraged the Philippians to take courage and not be afraid.
Also, in (Philippians 1:28) we see:
• Those who oppose the Gospel are headed for destruction. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION. (II Peter 2:9-12).
• Those who suffer adversity for the Gospel’s sake are more than likely ‘on the right track.’ (II Timothy 3:12), (I Timothy 6:6).
V. He expected them to understand suffering, (Philippians 1:29).
The most beautiful furniture is made from trees that have constantly been exposed to almost constant conflict with storms and severe weather.
• The world watches to see how the Christian reacts to suffering.
• Paul recognizes two gifts in (Philippians 1:29).
1. The gift of salvation ‑ believing, (Ephesians 2:8-9).
2. The gift of suffering, (Acts 5:41, Matthew 5:11-12, Psalm 119:71 and I Peter 2:20).
Make sure when you suffer, you suffer for His sake and His glory.
The Gift of Suffering – Philippians 1:29-30
(Philippians 1:29), “For unto you it is given (it is granted as a favor) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him,…”
God’s GRACE is a divine favor to us. We did nothing to deserve it. The Faith that leads to salvation is also a gift from God, Ephesians 2:8-9. The end result is a new birth that is totally dependent on God. That’s Bible Salvation!
There are two things mentioned in verse 29 that God gives us as a gift or favor:
1. BELIEVE ON HIM ‑ not to believe ‘in Him’ which might indicate that we support His cause. Not to ‘believe Him’ which might indicate that we only believe the things which He says. To Believe On Him ‑ is to trust Him completely for an eternal salvation.
2. SUFFER FOR HIM (For His Sake) ‑ not only is salvation a gift, but God sees suffering as a gift too! The world is sure to take notice of our reaction to, and attitude during suffering.
Right and Wrong Suffering (I Peter 4).
Verses 12-14 ‑ Right, Verse 15 ‑ Wrong. I Peter 4:14 ‑ indicates suffering according to the will of God.
I. SUFFERING DUE TO WILLFUL OR UNCONFESSED SIN ‑ needless suffering, not according to God’s will, (Hebrews 10:26-31, I Corinthians 11:27-31).
• Many times God is blamed for suffering that we bring upon ourselves. God gets ‘long-range’ glory out of this type of suffering. Numbers 32:23, “…and be sure your sin will find you out.”
II. SUFFERING TO GLORIFY GOD (John 11:4, 21, 31, 33-35)
a. plan ‑ verse 4
b. problems ‑ verses 21, 31, 33-35
c. purpose ‑ verses 45, 46
III. SUFFERING HELPS US KEEP OUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER (Psalm 119:67)
Example ‑ King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4
Glorifying Self —> Suffering —> Glorifying God
Acts 5:41 ‑ “…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” Also see Hebrews 11:35-39.
The Suffering of the Apostles
Andrew ‑ through his preaching the governor’s wife was saved. The governor was so upset he ordered Andrew crucified on an X shaped cross. As he hung there alive for two days, Andrew preached to the people encouraging them to be constant and faithful to the truth.
Bartholomew ‑ tradition affirms that he was crucified with his head down or flayed to death after King Polymois was saved.
James, the son of Zebedee ‑ he was cast into prison and sentenced to die by Herod Agrippa. The officer in charge of James was so inspired by his mighty courage and constancy, that on the way to the place of martyrdom, he repented of his sin and fell down at the Apostle’s feet and begged pardon for the part he had played in the rough treatment of James. The Apostle raised up the officer, embraced and kissed him and said, “Peace, my son, peace be to thee, and the pardon of thy faults.” Immediately transformed, the officer publicly confessed his surrender to Christ and was beheaded along with James. STEPHEN AND JAMES WERE THE FIRST MARTYRS.
James, the Lord’s Brother ‑ a Nazarite. It is said that he was always kneeling as he gave instructions for the people. His knees were said to be calloused like a camel’s. The scribes and pharisees cast him down from the Temple wall into the valley below. He fell by the fuller’s workshop, and they, finding him still alive, beat him to death with their clubs.
Peter ‑ crucified by his request with his head down. “Crucify me head downward. I die for my Lord; but I am not worthy to die like Him.”
Simon the Zealot ‑ preached in Egypt, Africa and crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. After preaching the Gospel in Egypt, he joined Judas or Thaddeus in Persia where both were martyred, Simon was sawn asunder as were some other saints.
Thomas ‑ suffered death as a martyr on the Indian coast near Bombay. He was thrust through with a lance as he knelt in prayer.
Paul ‑ (II Corinthians 11:23-28) indicate the Apostle Paul suffered much. “…in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered ship wreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”
(Philippians 1:29-30), in these verses Paul indicates ‘You are partakers of the same suffering and conflict that I am.’ The Apostle Paul gave them a good example to follow.
Suffering for a good cause, but having the wrong spirit about it, has no value, (I Peter 1:2 and 4:1). Maintaining the right spirit during suffering is precious (very valuable) in God’s sight. William Tyndale was the first to translate the Bible for the English speaking people. For this cause he was imprisoned and sentenced to death by slow burning. As he left prison to go to the stake, it was said by those that kept the prison; “If William Tyndale is not a Christian, then there is no such thing as a Christian.”
Some other verses on suffering are: (II Timothy 3:12, II Timothy 2:12, II Corinthians 4:17).
Practice What You Preach
(I John 3:7-10)
Sometimes we tell our children, “Do what I say, but don’t do what I do.” Doing good does not make us righteous, but being righteous does make us good. Jesus said to the Jews in (John 8:47), “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” Also see (Romans 10:1-5).
Works don’t justify, but a justified man will work! You prove what you are by what you do. He that makes it his business to do righteousness is righteous, even as Jesus Himself is righteous.
(I John 3:8a), “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.“ A complete contrast to those who do righteous. See also verse 10 and (John 8:44).
It is impossible for you to have more than one father. “for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” From the time that Lucifer became satan, he has sinned. He has been sinful from the beginning. He is the cause of all sin and has constantly tried to seduce man to commit sin. He is a destroyer. (I John 3:8b), “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” See also (I Corinthians 15:55-58 and I Peter 5:8).
(Philippians 2:12-13) ‑ We have seen how Jesus left his throne in Heaven and came to earth to become the sin sacrifice and Saviour. “…he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,…” (Philippians 2:8-9).
God did His part in securing our Salvation. We can see what He expects of us.
(Philippians 2:12), read the entire verse: It begins with the word, “Wherefore,” indicating that we should go back and take special notice of His obedience. As Christians, we’ll receive a full reward only through complete obedience to God’s will.
How do we know God’s will?
1. Through the Word of God (God’s Word is as infallible as God Himself).
2. Through the Witness of the Spirit (the “still, small voice” within us).
3. Through the work being done in us. (As we yield ourselves to God and His work, we become closer to Him. The closer we are to Him, the better we can hear His voice and understand His will.)
(Philippians 2:12-13). As Bible believers, we know that our Salvation is not accomplished through works of any kind, (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is either all Grace or no Grace at all!
Many times, these same Bible believers will use ‘grace’ as an excuse not to work at all! Many have said that Paul and James contradict each other on the issue of ‘grace’ and ‘works.’ Some have gone so far as to say that James shouldn’t be included in our Bible! More than likely these are the same ones who use ‘saved by grace’ as an excuse to live like the devil’s advocate.
In (Philippians 2:12), Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” God has the ability to deal with each of us on an individual basis. Our salvation is an individual decision, the judgment seat of Christ will be an individual judgment for saved people, the Great White Throne Judgment will be an individual judgment for lost people, (Christ rejecters, agnostics, etc.).
So Paul writes ‑ “…work out your own salvation…”, Paul taught an inward and an outward salvation. Inward, (Philippians 1:6). Outward, (Philippians 1:14, 17, 20, 27).
In (John 15:1-5), Jesus taught the inward and outward salvation. Also see (Hebrews 6:8-9, 12).
In James, is one of the most misunderstood and controversial passages of Scripture in the Bible. Let’s look at it in the light of inward and outward salvation. (James 2:14-26) ‑ there is no contradiction here with the things Paul and our Saviour taught. ‘Genuine faith will produce genuine works.’ We are saved by grace alone, and kept by that same grace according to the promises of God. Good works don’t produce salvation, but salvation produces good works. If you abide in the Vine and are sure of your salvation ‑ you will produce fruit. The more fruit you produce, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the more you glorify God the Father.
Inward Salvation ‑ is immediate. Inward salvation is all that is necessary to get us to Heaven. Outward Salvation ‑ is progressive. It is necessary for rewards, and is also necessary for us to be an effective witness to others. IF IT IS ON THE INSIDE, IT WILL EVENTUALLY WORK IT’S WAY OUT.
(Philippians 2:12-13), “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” The fear and trembling is not due to the possibility of losing our salvation. We are reminded of the security of the believer in Philippians 1:6 (He will finish whatever He starts). The fear and trembling ought to be our attitude toward the future when we will be asked to give an account of our works (our outward salvation), (II Corinthians 5:9-11, Romans 14:10-13, I Corinthians 3:8-10). This will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I think about that day often!
It is interesting that even the lost will be judged according to their works, (Revelation 20:13). They have already rejected Christ or they would not be present at the Judgment. God is righteous in allowing them to defend their case. Works are brought in question here, because ONE Sin will keep our names out of the Book of Life and send us to HELL forever and ever!
(Philippians 2:13), “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” I like what Jesus said in (Matthew 9:37-38). It is His harvest!
God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit share maximum joy and pleasure when we as His children begin to obey and yield ourselves to His will because we want to do so, not because we must. Real or complete joy for the Christian is only possible through obedience to His will. As servants, we are required to obey and remain faithful and steadfast in our position. When you know exactly what God wants you to do and exactly where He wants you to go, it will not only give you joy and peace, but will bring pleasure to God the Father.
As Christians, we are soldiers in God’s army. Through obedience and dedication, a private becomes an officer. In closing, I want to give you some qualifications for becoming an officer in God’s army:
I. Foolish enough to depend on Him for wisdom
II. Weak enough to be empowered with His strength
III. Bare enough to have no honor but God’s honor
IV. Deprived enough to be kept in the dust at His feet.
V. Nothing enough for God to be everything