This morning, we’re beginning a new message series entitled “Overcome”. In this series, we’ll learn how to overcome some common sins of life that weigh us down and separate us from the life of abundance and freedom that Jesus gave His life to give us.
To get started, we first need to understand what we’re overcoming.
Long story short, we live in this weak flesh. Since Adam and Eve gave into the desires of the flesh instead of the word of God, the whole of creation became corrupted including every human born. God gave Adam and Eve perfection and yet they still desired the thing that they could not have.
Add to this weakness of mankind what also is happening in the spiritual world surrounding us. Jesus said that He saw Satan cast down to the earth like a bolt of lightning. Satan and a third of the angels who followed his lead have been cast to the earth and have taken captive and control all those who haven’t accepted the salvation of Jesus to gain freedom from that captivity. This is what the Holy Spirit refers to when He wrote in scripture about overcoming the world and not loving the things of it – because the things of the world are not from God, but have been corrupted and are from Satan.
God alone is worthy of worship and gives us freedom and abundant life, however, Satan wants our worship. Until Jesus returns and destroys this corrupted existence, Satan will do all that he can to distract us and keep us from worshiping God and fulfilling His plans and purposes for our lives.
For those who have accepted Christ’s salvation, we’ve been set free and given new life – literally we are a new creation in Him! However, we still struggle. We’ve come alive spiritually and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, however, we still live in this corrupted flesh. We also have become all the more aware of the spiritual war raging around us and now actively engage in it in order to remain free and no longer captives of Satan.
This is why we are about to embark on a journey to learn how to overcome the schemes of our enemy, the things of the world, and the weakness of our flesh by the strength and empowerment of the Holy Spirit who enables us to follow the word of God, which ensures us life and freedom!
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.
This morning, we’re going to learn how to overcome in the area of discontentment.
As mentioned earlier, this is one of the first weaknesses of our flesh that our enemy leveraged against us. Adam and Eve had it all and still wanted more. It seems that we, as humans, always want what we can’t have. Discontentment is quite a root of many sins that ensnare us and bind us.
1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – these are the things of the world and the things that cause discontentment.
This is such an issue that it even made God’s big top ten list of “Don’ts”, the tenth commandment.
Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Discontentment really has nothing to do with that person that you want so badly or that career that you’ve always dreamed of or that thing that you don’t want to wait any longer to purchase, or whatever your case might be.
We know this to be true because as soon as we gain that thing that we lusted after, that we coveted, it’s only a short period of time until we’re lusting after the next thing. Either that thing doesn’t satisfy us at all, or it only satisfies temporarily. Either way, it always comes with a price.
For Adam and Eve, they lost perfection and were banned from the greatest blessing that we could possess here on the earth. For us, it might be that we lose our marriage and family that we loved. It might be that we go into debts that we cannot afford or end up working our lives away to pay for. We may think that we have really gained something, but at what sacrifice? Did we really gain, or did we really lose?
We may have won $500 on the lottery, but we spent $2,500 on pieces of cardboard before getting that winning ticket. Was it really a gain? No, in fact, it was quite the loss and we’ve only allowed ourselves to be deceived!
Paul wrote to Timothy regarding false teachers and encouraged him into true gain:
1 Timothy 6:6-10 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
In fact, contentment was a consistent reminder in Paul’s letters.
Hebrews 13:1-5 1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Shouldn’t that be enough for us? The fact that God will never leave nor forsake us? No matter what our circumstances might be, God is with us; we have not been abandoned. Therefore, we have no need to worry or fear because we’re in very good hands! We need only trust and obey, God is faithful to take care of all of the rest! If we do our part, God will do His part!
Philippians 4:10-13 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Yes, when Paul wrote the commonly quoted scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, he actually meant that he could be content no matter what his circumstances were through Christ who strengthened him. He did not mean that we can do absolutely anything we’d like through Christ who strengthens us like we often mean when we misquote it.
It is possible for us to be content in spite of our circumstances. Gaining what we lust after can actually leave us discontent. That in itself should be evidence enough for us that contentment has nothing to do with our circumstances. Contentment has far more to do with our perspective and attitude toward our current circumstances and far less about what those circumstances actually are.
What are some practical steps that we can take to overcome in this area, though? Paul said that he learned to be content in all circumstances, not that he always was. Whether he was well fed or hungry, in need or having plenty, he learned that he could be content through Christ who gave him strength.
We overcome and gain victory through Jesus alone. We overcome when we:
1. Trust God
God reigns supreme and can do as He wills. Whatever our circumstances, He is fully able to change them. However, He knows what is best for us and desires only our best. Whatever our circumstances, He is permitting them for a reason.
Sometimes, He brings us into seasons of blessing and abundance as a reward for faithfully being obedient to Him. Sometimes, He brings us into seasons of blessing and abundance to show us His grace and mercy despite our unfaithfulness to Him, or so that we can bless others, or for some other reason.
Sometimes, He brings us into difficult seasons of life as consequences for our decisions as loving discipline to encourage us to walk in the light of His word. Sometimes, He brings us into difficult seasons of life not because of any wrong choices that we have made, but to put our faith to the test, or to show us how He alone is our provider, or to provide an opportunity to be blessed by someone else, or for some other reason.
In any case, we can overcome discontentment by trusting God and seeking after Him so that He can reveal His divine purpose in our circumstances. We also overcome when we:
2. Give Thanks
Over and over again throughout scripture, we are exhorted to give thanks to the Lord and for a plethora of reasons. However, the reasons almost always have to do with who the Lord is and very infrequently have to do with our circumstances.
Thankfulness and gratitude is a choice that we make and reveals our trust in God. No matter what our circumstances, God is still God and there is still plenty that we can find in Him to be thankful for! That’s why scripture exhorts us to:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
No matter what our circumstances are, we can overcome discontentment by giving thanks. A thankful heart is a content heart. We also overcome when we:
3. Mind Our Eyes
Just as the tenth commandment and many other scriptures indicate, discontentment frequently begins with what we set our eyes on. After all, we cannot lust after something that we’re unaware of or what we already have. Instead of looking around us at everything that we don’t have, we can choose to keep our eyes fixed on what we do have, on Christ, and on eternity.
Hebrews 12:1-3 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
We can overcome discontentment by minding our eyes and keeping them fixed on the one who enables us to overcome, Jesus. We also overcome when we:
4. Mind Our Heart
Discontentment isn’t always birthed solely by what we set our eyes on. Often, it is the combination of what we see and a pride within our hearts that tells us that “we deserve it” or “we earned it” even if it is not God’s will that we have it. This pride is precisely what lead to Satan’s downfall. He thought himself to be equal to God and lost his place as guardian cherub forever. Don’t fall into his same deceit! Scripture reminds us of the solution to this prideful heart:
Philippians 2:3-4 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
We can overcome discontentment by minding our hearts by valuing others above ourselves and looking to their interests.
This morning, we can make a choice and begin to overcome discontentment in our lives. We can choose to be content with whatever our circumstances are, trusting in God, giving thanks, minding our eyes and hearts. In doing so, we walk in freedom and avoid the many snares and traps that discontentment can bring!
Like David, we can confidently proclaim:
Psalm 131:1-2 1 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.