Reading the Bible and hearing those precious promises can be disheartening at times. We read about how we overwhelmingly conquer through Jesus in Romans 8:37, but our lives may feel like a train wreck and a constant struggle. We see the promise of having a rich, satisfying, and abundant life in John 10:10, but only see failure. We hear that everyone born of God overcomes the world in 1 John 5:4-5, but we often feel like wheat between the grinding wheels of a flour mill. How do we solve this discord between God’s promises and our real lives?
For the next few weeks, we’re going to practically explore the Biblical concept and promise of overcoming. Let me say up front however that this is not a magic formula to a wonderful life with a fat bank account, a perfect spouse, a well-paying enjoyable job, and obedient children. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one. We will instead discover peace too awesome to describe, joy that never ends, and a new resolve to win the battle.
To troubleshoot this problem of discord between the Bible’s promises and our lives we first need to arrive at a few conclusions. Is the problem on God’s side or our side? Are the promises just unicorns and lollipops to make us feel better or are they intended as a tangible reality?
We must assume that God doesn’t lie and He does keep his promises. If you don’t believe that then stop here.
Let’s make something clear. Too often folks have made promises for God that He never made. Twisting scripture to arrive at something less but more attractive than what God said. Hmmm, why does that sound familiar? I think it has something to do with a snake in a tree spouting “didn’t God say…”
God’s promises are true, but the meaning we pour into them may be our invention and not His intention.
For just a moment let’s consider one of those promises. John wrote, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4–5, NIV) I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem like we are overcoming the world. Just look at the news. So, what is wrong here?
The problem is that if we only look at those two verses we are missing John’s context which is not about world domination but something much closer to home. John began, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 5:1–3, NIV)
The context of John’s promise about overcoming the world is the battle of who we are going to obey. Are we going to follow the world’s way or God’s commandments? In short, this promise is about overcoming our sin and glorifying God in our obedience. As the sports announcer said when the game unexpectedly tied in the last few minutes – this changes everything.
So, as we look in the next few weeks about the overcoming life we have in Christ, our focus is not based on how we would define that life but on how God defines it. We will take a practical look at overcoming the three receptors of temptation and recognize where they come from. More importantly, we’ll discover the power and tools God has given His children to experience the overcoming life He intends for us.