Overcoming The World
(JOHN 16:33) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Death and taxes are not the only certainties of life in this world. For the devout disciple of Jesus Christ there is also the certainty of tribulation. Tribulation may be in the form of everyday hassles and dangers, common to all men. Added to that for the devout disciple of Jesus Christ is the tribulation that comes from a Christ-despising world: reproaches and sufferings for His name's sake. It may even be said these are “givens.” Note: (PHIL 1:29) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (2TI 3:12) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It is an ongoing temptation that flows from our love of self and the fear of man to avoid these “givens.” It may be by outright denial of Christ, as did Peter (MAT 26:69-75). It may be by not committing to what one knows to be true because of the price, as did King Agrippa, who was only almost persuaded to be a Christian (ACT 26:27-28). It may be by committing to Christ but then altering His gospel to take away its inherent offense. This did the quasi-believing Hebrew Christians of the First Century who didn't like the stigma of being in fellowship with uncircumcised Gentile Christians, “...only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (GAL 6:12). And for this same basic reason, many Christians have softened the true gospel order with things like entertainment-oriented church services, religious holidays, and novel definitions of sexuality and marriage. Such are not overcomers, they are overcome. But Christ's word to those who seek Him in spite of the flack associated with the true gospel is, “...be of good cheer...” (JOH 16:33), “...count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (JAM 1:2), “...glory in tribulations also...” (ROM 5:3), “...rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings...” (1PE 4:13). The reason that troubled saints can thus be upbeat, Jesus proclaims, is, “...I have overcome the world” (our text). To overcomers many great and precious promises have been made. For example, looking only at the letters of Christ to the seven churches of Asia in the second and third chapters of the Revelation, we note the following: 1) They shall be given to eat of the tree of life (REV 2:7), for eternal healing (REV 22:1-2). 2) They shall not be hurt of the second death (REV 2:11), which is the lake of fire (REV 20:14). 3) They shall be given to eat of the hidden manna (REV 2:17), spiritual partakers of Christ Who now is beyond sight (JOH 6:58; 1PE 1:8). 4) They shall be given a white stone with a new name written therein (REV 2:17), perhaps a positive vote of their acceptance through Christ (the same Greek word here rendered “stone” is translated “voice” in ACT 26:10, representing a vote). 5) They shall be given power over the nations (REV 2:26), judging the world (1CO 6:2). 6) They shall be clothed in white (REV 3:5), purified from scarlet sins and filthy rags of self-righteousness (ISA 1:18; ISA 64:6). 7) They shall not have their name blotted out of the book of life (REV 3:5), preserved forever (PSA 37:28; JOH 10:27-29). 8) They shall be confessed by Christ before the Father and His angels (REV 3:5), presented faultless (JUDE 1:24). 9) They shall be made a pillar in the temple of God (REV 3:12), notable saints (GAL 2:9). 10) They shall go no more out (REV 3:12), all enemies vanquished, and no excommunication. 11) They shall have written upon them the name of God and of the new Jerusalem (REV 3:12), government property of heaven. 12) Christ shall write upon them His new name (REV 3:12), greater than every name (PHIL 2:9-10). 13) They shall be granted to sit with Christ in His throne, He says, “...even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (REV 3:21). It is to be observed that overcomers overcome, Jesus said, “...even as I also overcame...” (REV 3:21). This world threw its worst at Jesus Christ and He overcame it; He yielded not to any temptation (HEB 4:15). Jesus overcame this world's temptations and tribulations by faith. We know Jesus was a Man of Faith because He always did those things which pleased the Father (JOH 8:29), and “...without faith it is impossible to please him [the Father]...” (HEB 11:6). When this world's power of darkness (LUK 22:53) had its way with Christ, delivering Him unto soul sufferings, bodily death and the grave, He overcame those too by faith, believing fully beforehand that the Father would not “...leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (ACT 2:27). This faith was His greatest work. All of His other works were things in which He was personally active but in the matter of the grave, He had to passively trust in the promise of His Father. If there was any doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Son of God before the crucifixion, there could be no such doubt after the resurrection. He was “...declared to be the Son of God with power...by the resurrection from the dead” (ROM 1:4), the greatest example of overcoming. All of the promises to overcomers pertain particularly to believers, for “...whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1JO 5:4). How important and blessed it is to trust in the merits of His work alone for sinners and in the written word which declares Him, for “...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (ROM 10:17). How important it is to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, for “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1JO 5:5). In all of the griefs of life, in all the tribulations of this world, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (ROM 8:37).