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We Still Overcome

In last week’s post, “We Have Overcome,” we shared a man’s story of his personal battle against “always getting mad.” Struggling for years to conquer his anger, he cried out to God one day, “Why can’t I change, Lord? I’ve tried so hard!” Then God showed him two Bible verses that would transform his life. As we saw last week, one was Colossians 1:27, which points to the source of our conquering strength—“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”1 Centuries before Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us,”2 God foretold through Ezekiel the prophet, “I will give you a new heart . . .  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws,”3 and in Christ, this is exactly what God has done in us.

It is in this liberating truth that the man could apply the other verse God showed him, a practical “how-to” instruction on the moment-by-moment Christian walk. In Romans 6:13, Paul writes, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”4 On our own, we are powerless—even disinclined—to choose God’s ways over our own, but the Holy Spirit fills us, inspires us, and empowers us to submit ourselves not to the selfish desires of our sin nature, but to the higher, meaningful, and fulfilling ways of our “divine nature”5 in God.

As the speaker shared this verse, I formed an analogy: I pictured myself floating down a river, gently carried along in its flow. Approaching a small island in the middle of the river, I could yield to the current that flows to the left, or I could choose that which carries me to the right. Likewise, when tempted to speak ill of others, we can use our tongues to tarnish their reputations, or in the strength of the Spirit we can speak words of hope and grace or say nothing at all. When offended, we can float in the direction of grudges or move in the current of grace. In dispute, we can drift away from relationship or steer toward the way of reconciliation.

Paul instructed the early church, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”6 This we do by faith—offering every part of ourselves to God (Romans 16:13) by the power and presence of Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Remember these two verses; rely on their truth, and overcome.

Lord Jesus Christ, You have overcome the world—both the evil one and his temptations—and You live victoriously in us. Fill us with Your Spirit, that we will be overcomers today to the glory of the Father. Amen.

1 Colossians 1:27
2 John 1:14 ESV
3 Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV
4 Romans 6:13 NIV
5 2 Peter 1:4 NIV
6 Romans 12:21 NASB

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We Have Overcome

“I was always getting mad,” confessed the conference speaker, “I would try to overcome my tendency toward anger . . . I’d grit my teeth, clench my fists and resolve, ‘I’m really going to do it this time!’ And I’d be faithful—for two whole days.” He felt so discouraged, so defeated. “Then while on vacation with my family one summer,” he continued, “I got away by myself for a couple of hours and poured out my heart to God: ‘Why can’t I change, Lord? I’ve tried so hard!’” Can you relate? Are there desires and temptations that seem to get the best of you more often than not? Maybe for some of us anger is not our vulnerability; maybe it’s envy—being discontent in what we have, seeing someone else with more. Or maybe it’s lingering where our eyes and thoughts ought not go, our actions naively tagging along behind. Perhaps we tend to criticize the flaws in others, slow to extend to them the grace we seek for ourselves. This world has its enticements—“wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important”1—temptations that easily overpower our natural selves.

As the man prayed that day, God showed him two Bible verses that changed everything for him. The first was from Paul’s letter to the Romans; it provides reliable guidance when encountering temptation, a moment-by-moment “how to” resource for the believer. We will feast on that verse next week, but in today’s post, let’s consume the second verse in which Paul summarized the unassailable reality in which we live: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”2 John further explains, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”3 Therein lies our victory, for Jesus who said, “I have overcome the world,”4 now lives in us. He is our strength, He is our confidence, He is our life; His victory over sin is our victory over sin. “For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”5 We win when we entrust ourselves entirely to Him who has won. We conquer when, forsaking all else, we take Him at His word—gratefully believing His promises of love and joyfully walking His paths of life. We overcome by faith.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.—Colossians 2:6-7 NIV  

Father, this I confess: Jesus has overcome the world, and living in Him by faith, I too have overcome. Grace me to live and thrive in this marvelous truth. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 1 John 2:16 The Message
2 Colossians 1:27 NIV
3 1 John 4:15 NIV
4 John 16:33 NASB
5 1 John 5:4-5 NASB