Identity Crisis: Overcomer

Identity Crisis: Overcomer

This morning, we continue our “Identity Crisis” message series where we are faced with that question, “When everything else fails, at your core, who are you?”  We’ve been reminded how we were created on purpose and for a purpose.

We learned of our need to be born again and how, at that  moment, we become children of God.  We were also reminded of the worship war raging and how jealous the enemy must be of us.  After all, God chose not only to create us in His image, but also for us to be His temples; filled with His Presence through the Holy Spirit. 

We know that we are loved with an unconditional and eternal love that nothing can separate us from; nothing like the way in which we use the word love.  We are gifted.  We receive spiritual gifts to be equipped and enabled to serve others letting the love of God flow through our lives to reach others.

This week, we’re learning how we are overcomers.

The enemy wants us to believe that we are victims.  He would have us believe that we are helpless and powerless victims of life.  Who we are is the result of our upbringing, of our circumstances, of the choices of those around us, of anything and anyone outside of ourselves.  The enemy is even OK with the old adage, “The devil made me do it.”  Essentially anything to keep us oppressed and enslaved in life.

To a degree, this was true of us all at one point in our lives.  However, this no longer has to be true of any of us who have accepted the salvation of Jesus.

Romans 5:6-8

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus came to set the captives free!  We may have been powerless victims at one point, but in Christ, we are overcomers!  We’re not victims, we’re victors!  Oh the love of God!  What we could not do on our own, He did for us.  There is truly no one like our God!

Jesus warned His disciples about His soon coming death and resurrection, their coming persecution, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He warned them of all of these things so that they would not fall away.  He knew that trouble was coming and wanted them to understand what God was up to in the midst of it.  He wanted them to overcome that adversity.  He told them:

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Yes, Jesus endured a horrific season of pain and suffering and loss.  However, it was followed by an eternal glory that far outweighed it all.  He did not only overcome those troubles, but He was given authority over all things!  He then chose to freely give it away to us.

You are an overcomer!  You, like Jesus, may endure painful seasons, but they are just that; seasons.  They will come to an end and to the one that perseveres faithfully to the Lord through them, they will overcome!

Consider all that Joseph endured throughout his lifetime and what his brothers put him through.  In the end of it all, he said to them:

Genesis 50:20

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

No one is an overcomer without facing difficult circumstances and obstacles which to overcome!  There is no superhero without a villain.  There is no healing without sickness and disease.  There is no restoration without loss.  There is no deliverance without bondage.  There is no peace without chaos.  There is no victory without a battle.

Jesus wrote in Revelation chapters 2-3 to seven churches.  He ended the messages to those churches with these lines:

– To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

– The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

– To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

– To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ – just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.

– The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

– The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.

– To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Who is the victorious one?  We go back again to what we learned so far:

1 John 5:3-5

3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Everyone born again is an overcomer; the ones who love God.  They are the victorious ones receiving these promises of Jesus!  These are they!  These are us!  We are them!  We are they!  We are victorious overcomers!

We are victorious only because there is a battle.  We will win some and lose some battles, but we already know how the ultimate war ends for us:

Revelation 12:7-11

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power

    and the kingdom of our God,

    and the authority of his Messiah.

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,

    who accuses them before our God day and night,

    has been hurled down.

11 They triumphed over him

    by the blood of the Lamb

    and by the word of their testimony;

they did not love their lives so much

    as to shrink from death.

We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  The blood of Jesus, the perfect and spotless sacrificial lamb, has already been poured out for us.  The sacrifice has been made once and for all for all of our sin.  He did all of the hard work for us.  We apply it through simple faith.

The word of our testimony.  It’s far more powerful than we realize!  This word in the Greek is martyria, which is where we get our word martyr from.  Stephen, being the first martyr, was not only put to death for his faith.  He was a witness and gave a testimony.  He certainly did not love his life so much as to shrink from death, either!  Just before losing his life, God’s word records:

Acts 7:55-56

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

According to the Strong’s lexicon, this Greek word martyria has a dual meaning.  Yes, it means testimony as in the traditional sense that we understand it.  It does mean to speak about Jesus and what He has done in your life.  However, it also means to prophetically testify about future events.

We overcome the enemy not just by our testimony about what God has done in the past, but also by testifying about what God has yet to do.  When we are facing adversity, when the battle is raging, we can come out of it as a victorious overcomer by declaring the promises of God appropriate for that battle.  We can prophesy our way to victory!

1 Corinthians 14:1;5

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.

Why did Paul emphasize prophecy so often when it came to spiritual gifts and especially in the context of the church?  It is the key to being and overcomer and winning the victory in the battle against the devil!  We overcome the enemy by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony!

When we prophesy, we agree with God and His word releases breakthrough!

Jeremiah 23:29

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

The word used here for rock is the Hebrew word sela meaning either rock as in a literally stone, but also a stronghold as in a fortress!  God’s word is a fire, a hammer that breaks down and demolishes strongholds!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

We are overcomers!  We are ones who win the victory over the devil through Christ.  We are members of God’s Kingdom and we are unstoppable!  Jesus had such incredible success overcoming the enemy that the teachers of the law began to suspect that He was just being a deceiver and faking these miracles.

Mark 3:22-27

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.

The word of God is a sword, a weapon formed that has the ability to demolish the strongholds of the enemy in our lives.  It can end the “spy versus spy” never ending loop of taking back what the enemy has stolen from us just to have it stolen again.  It can end the vicious cycle of being free for a season, then ending up back in bondage for a season, then getting free again for a season, etc.

In this very same account as recorded by Luke, Jesus goes on to teach this:

Luke 11:24-26

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Breaking these cycles in our lives doesn’t happen the way that we think that it does.  We get free for a season and think that we can stay free by simply choosing to live a good, moral life; staying away from that thing which bound us.  We think that we overcome by simply “keeping our nose clean.”  When we fall again, and we will, it will be harder and further than we ever were bound by it before.

The way to break these demonic cycles is instead by being filled with the Holy Spirit and with His word!  We don’t want to have our house clean and put in order, we want a house full of the Presence of God.  It may not be neat and tidy by appearance and human standards, but it will be totally clean by God’s standards! 

When our old demons come back around, they’ll see a full house and will simply move along.  If it finds an empty house all neat and tidy, it will invite seven other demon buddies to come join them.

It reminds me of the two thieves from the movie, “Home Alone.”  They kept an eye on the house to make sure that it was empty, swept, and put in order.  When they came back to rob it and saw that there was a party going on, they moved on and didn’t attempt to steal a thing.

We need to get our Holy Spirit party on!  We need our house to be filled with the Spirit and all of His fruits!  There’s a reason that Psalm 23 says that God prepares a table for us before our enemies and overflows our cup.  A life like this may be messy, but it’s a full life with no room for our old demons nor their buddies.  It’s a Spirit-filled life and the only way to live a life of freedom!

This is how we overcome!

We rid our lives of those strongholds by:

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

This chapter then goes on into a whole list of earthly things that trip us up and ensnare us.  We overcome them all by winning on the battlefield of our minds.  We fill our mind with God’s word.  Our old way of worldly thinking, we put to death.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

God’s word demolishes strongholds of the enemy enabling us to be victorious overcomers through Christ!  We set our minds on things above, we prophesy God’s promises, and we win!  Any opposing thought, we take captive and force it to be obedient to Christ and His word and ways.

Yes, we face battles and feel overwhelmed by them at times.  However, we look beyond the battle that we are facing in the natural world to what is happening in the spiritual realms.  We need to ask God to show us what He is up to like Elisha did for one of his servants feeling overwhelmed.

2 Kings 6:15-17

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

God, who is with us and for us, is always greater!  There are always more for us than against us.

1 John 4:1-6

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us…

Whatever your battle, you have an advocate who is greater!  Therefore, you are an overcomer!

Don’t let the enemy convince you that you are just a victim of your circumstances any longer.  Don’t let him deceive you to believe that this is just how it has to be, that it’s too late for change, or that it is hopeless!

Receive Christ’s salvation and stand firmly on God’s word.  That prophetic sword will enable you to demolish the stronghold of the enemy and transform you from a victim to a victor!  You are an overcomer!