What does the word “overcome” evoke in you? Does the thought of overcoming seem negative and uninviting in your mind? On the other hand, does it fill your mind with eager anticipation of something new, deeper, and more fulfilling than ever before?
The natural man doesn’t get any uplift with the idea of overcoming. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). The natural or carnal mind literally hates God. It hates so much that it refuses to be subject to the laws that define God’s character and love. To the Church in Ephesus, the apostle wrote this, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;” (Ephesians 4:17-18). The natural man walks in the emptiness of his mind because it is destitute of God and his understanding is therefore darkened. Such a mind only answers to itself and would scorn the concept of overcoming, as that would intimate a higher authority – namely God.
God’s understanding, then, is essential in viewing “overcoming” as the priceless thing that is. In both the second and third chapters of Revelation, Christ exhorts each of the brethren in the seven Churches of God in Asia Minor to overcome. It is His final admonition to each of them just as it is to each of us in His Church today. The word “overcome” that Christ used needs to be understood. It means to conquer, overcome, prevail or get the victory! It means to conquer every thought or action within ourselves that does not reflect God’s mind or character. And prevail means to prove to be more powerful than the opposing forces so that victory is obtained. A good example of the word is found in Numbers 13:30. “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Israel was at the doorstep of the very thing God has promised them, the land of Canaan. With His presence and intervention, the inhabitants of the land would positively be overcome. However, the decision to overcome or not was their choice, same as ours is today. But the point is that overcoming takes us through the door and into God’s promised, victorious conclusion for us!
The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the victory we gain through overcoming does not come through the carnal strength of self. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:57-58). The victory we seek comes by steadfastly yielding to the mind of Christ that dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. That mind will always lead us, guide and empower us to overcome. Victory upon victory upon victory does not sound negative or uninviting at all!
God has the final word of encouragement in the matter. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).