The Spirit of The Overcomer
CCCAG November 25th, 2018
Scripture- John 16
Intro: Self Help
Starting out with a question this morning- What industry had an over $15 Billion profit margin last year?
Here's a hint- you can buy this product on Amazon or get it from any retail store.
The answer is self-help videos or books.
I was surprised when I read that statistic. $15 Billion is a lot of money
But it's nothing compared to the $500 Billion, spent by people in this country alone, on antidepressant or other mood stabilizing medications to help them feel better about life.
This seems to be the new normal in America, and it tells us something about ourselves.
There is a huge need in this country and even throughout the world for people to learn overcome the difficulties we have in life.
As you might expect, the bible has a lot to say about how we are to face the hardships of life and overcome them.
John chapter 16 gives us the answer for some of these issues.
So today we're going to go back into the upper room discourse and see what Jesus had to say about how you and I are to face the hardships of life. Jesus had a lot to say about this during his earthly ministry- in fact, it's almost like He looked ahead 2000 years and saw us in 21st Century America and prophetically is speaking into our lives today.
This morning we're going to go through John chapter 16 in small bites and we're going to start by reading the last verse of this chapter because it is the summary statement to the main idea of what Jesus is trying to impart to his disciples right before he goes to the cross. I contains the principle idea that Jesus wants to impart to you and me today.
John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Let's start by asking god's blessing upon our time together in his word this morning
The title that we as believers give ourselves is that of “Christian”. To be a Christian means that you are a follower of Jesus Christ and adhere or obey His teachings.
In essence, it means that you are to be just like Jesus.
We see here in John 16 that Jesus said “I have overcome the world”.
That’s a pretty big deal isn’t it? Most of us have problems overcoming little things like overeating, getting enough exercise, or using bad language. But Jesus took on that, and everything in the entire world and overcame it!
He’s our example, and the one we are supposed to follow and emulate to show the world the wonder of what His Love and Power can do in our lives.
Today we are going to talk about overcoming as a Christian, just like Jesus did.
Before we get into how we learn to overcome as a Christian, let’s look at what Jesus had to say about the Christian life-
I. Description of Christian Life
A. Jesus warns us life will be hard, and there are fakers out there
When we read the gospels and see with Jesus actually teaches us and says to us, it can sometimes be a far cry from the preaching we see on TV or hear on the radio or read in Christian books. Some of the most popular preachers in America preach a version of the gospel that tells you that God wants you healthy, he wants you wealthy, and he wants you to live a completely pain free life.
Let philosophy might be a great way to sell some books or get people to send money into your ministry but it is not found in the Bible.
In every gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus tells us that we will have trouble in this world. In every gospel He warns us about that trouble will come because of our belief, and that may include persecution and even being beaten and possibly even killed for being faithful to him. If you read the last book of the Bible, particularly in Revelation 2 and 3 you see severe persecution coming up on the church and the exhortation to be faithful until the end.
Jesus gives his disciples illustration of great hardship that might be lost on us in the 21st century, but to those living in bible times, this was the worst thing that could happen to you short of being killed for your faith.
B. Thrown out of synagogue
In verse 2, Jesus said that his disciples would be thrown out of their local church, called a synagogue. In 21st century America this doesn't seem to be a big deal. So what? If a church tells you that you can come back, you just go down the street for the next church. If the Lutherans make you mad you can go be a Baptist. If the Baptist get you upset come on over to the Assemblies of God. You don't even necessarily have to switch the denominations because in many cities there are multiple churches of the same denomination within that city.
In fact, today you don't even have to belong to a church or even go to a church and no one is going to think twice about it.
However there was a time in our nation where you were defined by the church you went too. I would say even 30 or 40 years ago if you did not belong to a church you had no chance in getting elected to public office. You remember in 2008 when President Obama what is running for office, they made a huge deal about where he went to church, how often he went to church, and even what was preached at his church.
That was 10 years ago. In this last election between President Trump and Hillary Clinton, how much was each candidate's church even talked about? I barely remember anything being said about either candidate.
In our lifetime, America has become a post Christian nation. That is not necessarily a bad thing because we know that many of the people who were attending our churches, were doing so because of the benefit that they got from being affiliated with the church, not because they had actually ever made a real commitment to Jesus Christ.
But that isn't the world that Jesus is talking to in John chapter 16.
In first century Israel being part of the synagogue was everything. Your entire life, your entire social status, your family's reputation, your business dealings, the lives of your children's as they advanced Toward adulthood,
It was all tied up in the synagogue.
If you are ever put out of the synagogue that meant you could not do business within your community , no one would talk to you and in fact that they even saw you on the street they would cross the street so they wouldn't come anywhere near you, your children would be ignored, and you could even be prosecuted as an apostate to the Jewish faith which was a death penalty.
Being thrown out of the local synagogue was the ultimate in bad things that could happen to a person outside of being immediately executed. This touched not only the person but the entire family. If your children were put out of the synagogue, he could have no contact with them or vice versa if your parent was put out of the synagogue you can have no contact with them. No thanksgivings, no birthdays coming to Christmas no anniversary celebrations, absolutely no contact. They would not even be allowed to bury you and you died.
This is why this illustration was so powerful in the minds of his disciples. It literally meant they were giving up everything to follow Jesus.
Some of you have experienced that on a smaller scale.
There may be some who have had the same thing happen within their families when they became Christians. Many of your family members may not want to speak to you anymore. Some of them may not invite you to family functions. Sometimes coworkers won't invite you to their events because they don't want you to spoil their fun.
Jesus did not leave us with a false sense that our following HIM would not cost us anything. While salvation is free for all those who believe- living for Him will most likely cost you something, which is why Jesus told us to count the cost, pick up YOUR Cross and follow HIM.
Therefore Jesus gives us several ways that we can have the right mindset that will enable us to be like HIM- to overcome the world, to overcome the enemy, and even overcome our own sinful desires.
Some of the Ways can be an overcomer like Jesus
II. Remember this is not our home
1 Peter 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
At the beginning of today’s message, we talked about the self-help industry and how it influences life in our nation today. There are a lot of reasons why people, even Christians, turn to the things of this world to fix the things of this world.
Much of it is because of a lack of discipleship on their part in learning the word of God for themselves,
The also have a problem believing what they have read ,
and then they fail to live it out before the world.
Here's the problem with going to the things of the world before you go to the things of God-
If you're a Christian, then you are literally dead to the things of this world. If you try to do it, it’s like taking a hammer and nail to fix wood that has been burned into ash- there is nothing there for the nail to fasten into.
You are like a fish out of water living in this world right now, therefore when you go to the things of the world to try and help you breath air when you are physical unable to do so-it doesn’t work.
It is like getting bit by a poisonous snake and then going back to the snake for the cure by asking it to bite you some more.
Using the tools of the world to fix your spiritual problem will never work.
The Bible says you have been born again not of A perishable seed but an imperishable seed.
This is why the Bible is describes us as foreigners here. When you become a Christian you literally died to the things of this world on the spiritual level.
We alluded to this scripture in last weeks message but let's look at it in a little bit more depth today:
1 Cor 10: 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. (remember we said a stronghold is a sinful thought, deed, or behavior that we refuse to surrender to Christ) 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.
This last week I was talking with some people about an article that was published in which 2 men were killed by a grizzly bear and it said that one of them did not know how to operate a small caliber pistol that he had in his backpack and that contributed to their death.
Anyone who knows anything about firearms and grizzly bears will tell you that a small caliber pistol will not do anything to a grizzly except make it more angry. A grizzly skull is 4 inches thick and sloped upward at an angle making any bullet shot at it likely to glance off or ricochet away from it. Even the larger or faster bullets like a 357 or 44 Magnum will only kill a grizzly if you're fortunate enough to hit it right in the nose or eyes. You just about have to be Wyatt Earp in order to accomplish that. I'm not sure how many of you have actually seen a grizzly bear in the wild but imagine this 800 to 1000 pound animal running at 20-30 miles an hour toward you wanting nothing more than to eat you and you having the calm demeanor to take a well-aimed shot at this beast that's coming.
This is a great illustration of us using the things of this world to solve the problems of this world.
I would even take it a step further. Do you remember making spitballs in school? We did this sometimes would take a wadded up piece of paper and chew it until it was nice and gooey and then put it in a straw and blow forcibly through the straw to make it hit someone. Using the principles , tactics, tools of this world against spiritual problems is like using a spitball against a grizzly bear.
Why would you want to use a spitball when God gives you a bazooka?
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; KJV
Do you want these weapons?
Do you want to have god's mighty power working in your life?
Do you want to be an overcomer instead of a victim?
If you're taking notes, write down this verse that I'm about to read and the principles behind it-
Revelation 12:11- speaking of the time of the antichrist
11 They (believers) 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.
This is the overcomers manifesto. Let’s break it down.
1. The Blood of the Lamb-
The blood of the lamb is A symbolic way to connect the Old Testament sacrifices with the New Testament reality that Jesus was our final sacrifice for sins. In the Old Testament they would have to go at least one time a year to offer a lamb to the priest that would then be sacrificed as an atonement or payment for the sin of the individual and the sin of the nation.
Jesus is our final sacrifice. The book of Hebrews says that he went once into the Holy place and offered himself once and for all for the sins of Humanity.
As the hymn says
Jesus paid it all
All to him I all owe
Sin had left its crimson stain
He (Jesus) washed it white as snow
Jesus Paid the price now and forever and took the punishment that we all deserve for our sins. That is why Jesus is able to say that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. We need to have a revival of belief in the power of Jesus is sacrifice and it is portrayed in the principle of the blood of the lamb.
How do we apply that into becoming an overcomer today?
The name the Bible gives to our spiritual adversary is Satan, and that name means deceiver. Satan will tell you you're not good enough, worthy enough, or well behaved enough to be worthy of God’s love.
In that he is partially correct. As with most lies there is an element of truth in them that makes it believable. Our sin indeed separates us from God but when we come to faith in Jesus Christ all of that is wiped away. If you are placing your faith in Jesus Christ this morning then God sees you as perfect, sinless, and worthy of his love.
Believing that in your innermost being is the first step toward being an overcomer.
2. The Word of Their Testimony
What does the Bible mean by saying we defeat the enemy by the word of our testimony?
To answer that we have to go back to the beginning. Very quickly, God creates Adam and Eve and places them in the garden of Eden with only one command- Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As we all know they failed to believe god's word and the rest is biblical history.
If we were to summarize that biblical history down to its most fundamental level it would all revolve around a crisis of belief.
It revolves around this question, “Do you believe what God says is true?”
Think about that for a moment
(repeat and pause)
The word of our testimony only has power if what we believe what we are saying about God, and Salvation through Jesus Christ is true. We prove it's true by how we live our lives before this world.
There is power in the blood of Jesus only if and as we apply it in every area of our lives.
That's a second step to be in an overcomer let's look at the third
3. They did not love their lives as to shrink from death
When we talk about verses like this that speak of death we automatically just assume that they are only meaning this cessation of life on this earth. That creates within us a certain amount of fear because we are wired to want to survive.
The clear reading of this verse definitely talks about being willing to give your life for the gospel and what you believe.
However, it is speaking even more so to being willing to live dead to this world. You may be thinking “what does that mean?”
It means that because you have trusted in the blood of the lamb and because you are concerned about how the testimony of your life reflects and the Kingdom of God- that you make a choice empowered by the Holy Spirit to live differently than the people around you.
It means that you choose to live for Jesus and not for yourself.
The Apostle Paul, who defined the teachings of Jesus into how we actually live it within the context of life said this:
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Simply put, it means that when you came to Jesus Christ you were born again and dead to your previous life, and therefore the life you live now is to be lived according to HIS will and not yours.
The three steps to overcoming-
The blood of the lamb
The word of our testimony
Live dead- live your life for Jesus only.
Conclusion- Landing Strip- John 10:33 (Jesus said )“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace
A while ago, I participated in the failed resuscitation of a person who was well known as a substance abuser.
This person’s answer to all the hardships of life was too place themselves into a drug or alcohol induced haze. These choices, that had gone on for many years, had now finally caught up to them and cost that person their life.
I was thinking about that as I was writing this sermon because I think there are many people who are hearing a message who are like this person- using the things of this world to sooth the pain of life. You may be caught in a bad habit, or a destructive lifestyle and have no idea how to get out.
Jesus is your answer. He has overcome and wants to help you overcome.
Overcomers have a rare commodity in the world today- and that is an overriding peace no matter what happens to them.
That is why Jesus tells us he has overcome the world. You don't have to overcome by yourself because HE already has.
HE wants to share that with you this morning, and make you an overcomer.