The Mark of the Overcomers
As you have read this book with its focus upon God’s command for men and women to subdue and rule over the beast nature, you may have considered your own life and the struggles that you have known within your own body as the flesh and the spirit have warred one against the other. Most people, myself included, have had certain areas that they have struggled with for years. For one person it might be an independence in the spending of their money. For another it may be a problem with lust. Yet another may struggle with anger, and another with a critical spirit. Perhaps you have struggled with a tendency to gossip, or a rebellious attitude, or with jealousy, covetousness, or envy.
In my own life I have seen victory in a number of areas, but there are still some strongholds to be pulled down. As you have read this book, perhaps you have thought of some area in your own life that you have experienced conviction in time after time, and you have desired the victory, but you have found yourself coming back to God repeatedly to confess your transgression and to ask for His forgiveness once again. You may have even come to doubt that victory is an attainable goal while you are still clothed in this sinful flesh.
I want to encourage you by saying that complete victory is attainable. Every fleshly impulse can be conquered, every stronghold can be brought down, and you can attain conformity to the image of God in your life. Though you may not see any examples of men or women today that have reached this place of conformity, this crucified life of complete surrender to the will of God, and though the majority of ministers may tell you that such a hope is a vain dream, let God be true and every man a liar. God has said that He will have men and women in His image, and He will accomplish what He set out to do. He will finish the work that He has begun.
God never asks men or women to do that which is impossible. Where He commands obedience He will give sufficient grace to obey. Since God has commanded men and women to subdue and rule over the beasts, we must agree that it is possible to obey God. Through His Son, Yahweh has made a way for all men and women to attain to the high calling of God. What sinful man could not do because of the weakness of the flesh, God did in sending His Son to condemn sin in the flesh. The Scriptures declare that the power of sin has been broken and those who have been immersed into Christ Yahshua have been freed from sin. The saints are now able to present their members as slaves to righteousness. He whom the Son has set free is free indeed.
Satan works to keep Christians in bondage through the power of deception. Many have been deceived regarding God’s will for them to rule over the Adamic nature. They do not discern that the cross of Christ changed things in a very fundamental way. They may believe that they now have forgiveness for their sins, while not believing that they have power over sin. The Scriptures testify that the saints have both.
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
I Peter 2:24
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…
How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Yahshua. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts…
For sin shall not be master over you…
But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
I John 3:9-10
No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God. By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God…
With many more similar words the Scriptures do declare that those who are born again of the Spirit of God, and united with Christ in His death and resurrection, have been set free from the bondage of sin. They are now able to exercise dominion over the beast nature. The book of Revelation testifies that there will be a company of overcomers who have attained victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name.
We need to believe that such a victory is not only attainable, but it is what God expects and demands of His children. If His children are obedient they will walk in this victory. Only the children of disobedience will fail to crucify the flesh and will fall short of attaining conformity to the image of Christ.
We are not to think, however, that this victory is handed to the saints on a silver platter. Christ is the believer’s victory, but the saints must follow wherever He leads. There are battles to be fought, strongholds to be torn down, giants to be slain, and wild beasts to be subdued.
Consider the imagery that God has provided for the saints through the Israelites of old who were led by Joshua (a type of Yahshua the Messiah) as they went in to possess the land of promise. God told them that He was going to give them wells they did not dig, vineyards they did not plant, and houses they did not build. He promised to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. He spoke words of comfort and assurance to them, letting them know that if they followed Him fully that no enemy could ever stand before them.
“For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love Yahweh your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then Yahweh will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours… No man will be able to stand before you; Yahweh your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.”
God did not give us the history of Israel and of her battles that we might be entertained with stories of peoples and nations from long ago. He gave them to us for our instruction. These things are a symbol of the spiritual battles that the children of God face today. It should comfort us to know that God has said that no enemy will be able to stand before those who love God and keep His commandments. We should be emboldened by the promise that every place we set out foot will be given to us.
Christ, our Captain, has not delivered us from some of our enemies, but from all of our enemies. He did not free us from anger while leaving us enslaved to lust. He did not loose us from the bondage of pride while leaving us enslaved to covetousness. He conquered every foe, and, if we will follow Him, He will lead us into victory over all things to which we have been bound.
Joshua led the children into the promised land, and they began well, destroying Jericho, and then Ai, and then many other strongholds and fortresses while dispossessing the inhabitants of the land. Yet they did not make a complete work of removing all enemies from the land.
I have often heard testimonies given where people have borne witness of God miraculously delivering them from some addiction, or besetting sin, when they first came to Christ. Some have been immediately delivered of a drinking habit that had persisted for many years. Some were delivered of drugs, or from cigarettes, or from pornography. Many did not even pray for deliverance. They merely believed in Christ, confessed faith in Him, and were baptized. Their salvation experience was attended with a mighty deliverance.
Yet I have never heard any person testify that they were set free from all things in this way. God may drive some enemies out of the land without our raising a finger, as He also did with the Israelites, but He will not dispossess all of them in this way.
Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow.
God does deliver us from some enemies in our flesh in such a miraculous manner, and others He gives us a quick victory over as we follow Him. Yet some enemies are less easily vanquished. God has a reason for this, and He revealed His mind to the Israelites.
Now these are the nations which Yahweh left, to test Israel by them (that is, all Israel who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of Yahweh, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.
God wants His children to be delivered from all bondage to the flesh. He wants them to rule over all the beasts in the land. The reason that He doesn’t dispel all enemies from the land at the moment of the saint’s new birth in Christ is so that He might test them to see if they will obey Him. He tests the love of all Christians in this way, for Christ said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” We must learn warfare in order that we might prove our love for Christ.
If we understand this purpose of God, it will bring us to view our temptation to sin in a new light. We will not lightly sin if we understand that disobedience is evidence of a lack of love for Christ. The apostle John wrote the following:
I John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
I John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
It is the disobedient who are punished. John therefore says that those who are perfect in love have no fear, for to be perfect in love is to be perfect in obedience. The obedient need not fear any punishment.
Let us begin to think of obeying God in terms of loving Him. If we love Him we will crucify the flesh. If we love Him we will subdue and rule over the beast nature. The Lord allows us to be tried by the presence of sin in our flesh that we might prove our love for Him.
The highest manifestation of the divine nature is love. If we love Him and love one another then we have become like God. We bear His image and His likeness when we walk in love.
If we say we are not able to walk obediently in all things before God, we are actually saying that we are not able to walk in perfect love. Yet God has given us sufficient grace to walk in love all the time. We need never choose to walk apart from love.
The mark of the overcomers is love, whereas the mark of the beast nature is selfishness. Those who attain victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name are those who love God. Those who receive the mark of the beast are those who love self.
Which mark will you receive?
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