by Raymond Mills
Church of God Community Web
The Bible talks quite a bit about being an Overcomer. There are a number of promises offered to those who overcome.
(Rev 3:12) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
A promise similar to this is made to each of the ERA’s of God’s Church and they apply to all of God’s people.
But what is an overcomer, what are we overcoming, why is it important that we overcome and perhaps more importantly what happens to us if we DO NOT overcome?
Most of us I am sure, have a grasp of these questions but I want to look at them tonight with a little different light thrown on them.
First of all, I want you all to absolutely understand that the word “earn” is not a 4 letter word!!!!!!!!!!!!
By that I mean it is not a curse word and we should not be treating it as if it were. You talk to a nominal Christian and as soon as you even mention earning something related to, religion, they run screaming down the hall shouting blasphemy!
So let me just start by assuring you I am not talking about Salvation here at all. We are of course saved by Faith and not by works.
(Tit 3:5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
(Eph 2:8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
And yet if we truly have faith then we will indeed and in fact must have works associated with that Faith:
Jas_2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jas_2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Jas_2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
I want you to notice brethren that in the space of one chapter these verses repeat themselves pointing out to us the great importance of works.
We have had many teachings over the years about What are the Works that we are to be doing. Basically loving your fellow man and trying to live as Christ lived, are the bulk of works that show us as lights to the world. We represent God the Father and Christ by the way we live our lives.
But there is another aspect of works that has a darker side that we need to become aware of and do something about.
We are told to become perfect:
(Mat 5:48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
We are also told that we must absolutely develop the talents/gifts that God has given each one of us. Please go with me as we examine the parables of the talents and the pounds:
The Parable of the Ten Minas
Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Luk 19:12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
Luk 19:13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
In this parable he gave each of his ten servants 1 pound each.
Luk 19:14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Luk 19:15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
Luk 19:16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
Luk 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
Luk 19:18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
Luk 19:19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
Luk 19:20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
Luk 19:21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
Luk 19:22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
Luk 19:23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
Luk 19:24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
Luk 19:25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
Luk 19:26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
Luk 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
Even though the people rebelled against the ruler His servants continued on and developed their individual talents. Some tenfold some fivefold but the ones that did not develop at all had what they had taken away from them.
I believe that was the Spirit of God that imparted to them the gifts that were being referred to. He seems at the last verse there to be equating those that refuse to grow and develop their gifts with those that did not want him to rule over them. And their punishment seems to be a final judgment.
So let’s look at the second parable which is a little different and adds some insight to what is going on.
The Parable of the Talents
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Notice in this parable they are given different quantities of talents again asking them to grow these talents.
Mat 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
Mat 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
Mat 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
Mat 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
Mat 25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
Mat 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mat 25:22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
Mat 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mat 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
Mat 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
Mat 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Mat 25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Mat 25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
Mat 25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Mat 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Notice that the result is similar the ones that grew their individual talents were rewarded accordingly while the one that did not grow at all was cast into outer darkness and what he had been given was taken away from him.
But added to this parable is the fact that this person who does not grow is called an unprofitable servant.
Where else do we see this term, unprofitable servant?
Luk 17:7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
Luk 17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Luk 17:9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
Luk 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Please take careful note that just because we are doing what we are commanded to do does not mean that we are profitable servants in God’s eye.
There is something else that we should be doing here that goes far beyond just keeping the law. ( like going to services each Sabbath and Holy day, keeping the 10 commandments, paying tithes, supporting your congregations – these are the things that we are commanded to do.)
So what else is there? Notice what Paul had to say:
(Heb 6:1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Paul is saying that we need to go forward to perfection. How are we supposed to do that?
Confirm Your Calling and Election
2Pe 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2Pe 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2Pe 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
2Pe 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
2Pe 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2Pe 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
There are so many things in these verses alone that we could speak all night on but I show them so that you can see how we move toward perfection. Paul is saying that if we grow in these areas we will INSURE our Salvation!
These areas of growth that Peter is talking about are shown in Galatians 5
(Gal 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
(Gal 5:23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
(Gal 5:24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
(Gal 5:25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
These are gifts of the Spirit that absolutely MUST GROW in our lives or we risk losing out entirely.
Progress Requires Change
In order to begin to accomplish spiritual maturity and perfection, there are a number of things a person must change or eliminate as a part of their attitude, behavior, thoughts, and character. Paul spoke of this process of change as putting off the old man and putting on the new. Notice what he says to the elect at Ephesus and Colosse about living as a son of God in the flesh:
“If truly you heard him, and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus; for you to put off the old man, as regards the former behavior, having been corrupted according to the deceitful lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and to have put on the new man which according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph.4:21-24 Para.). Also, read verses 25-32.
A Living Sacrifice
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We have to dig out these things in our lives, the old man if you will. These are the things that we must overcome to become perfect in God’s Eyes.
Take a look at the Greek word translated perfect here:
Many scriptures tell us to keep growing unto perfection, better rendered by the word maturity. The following is a sampling of these verses.
Matthew 5:48. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
perfect = teleios, “complete, as in growth, mental and moral character.”
We are overcoming ourselves and developing the moral character and spiritual maturity to be able to receive immortality at the resurrection. As Mr. Armstrong used to say God is not going to cause to be created another satan by giving someone immortality who has not EARNED it.
By our constant overcoming, we are proving to God that we are growing toward that completeness that perfection that we must attain.
(1Co 15:52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Now, remember that those of us who have grown the gifts/talents that we have are REWARDED with greater authority in the Kingdom. Some over 10 cities some over 5 some 2.
This is not because you are receiving a higher ranking rather it is because you have developed your character and mental maturity to a greater level. You have increased your abilities so that you can handle greater responsibilities. You have in fact EARNED the right to those greater responsibilities.
Notice this curious fact about the resurrection.
The Resurrection Body
1Co 15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
1Co 15:40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
1Co 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
1Co 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
1Co 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
This Glory that is talked about is the difference in how much power that we as resurrected beings will have in the kingdom. It is not a ranking based on authority but rather it is a ranking based on abilities. We are given more responsibilities because we have developed the ability to handle more.
The Bible tells us that we are a nation of Kings and Priest in the Kingdom.
(Rev 1:6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
So look at what Christ is saying about that:
Who Is the Greatest?
Luk 22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
Luk 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
Luk 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Luk 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
Luk 22:28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
Luk 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
Luk 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
I want you to see here that Christ is berating the disciples because they were wanting a higher ranking but that is not our Goal brethren. Christ is saying here that as Kings and Priests in the Kingdom we are to be SERVANTS of ALL.
In the Kingdom we are going to SERVE God’s people. We are going to bring them back from the most horrible set of circumstances that we can imagine and get them on track for God. When we are resurrected as the Church of the Firstborn. We need to have the most abilities that we can have in order to better serve God’s people.
We can EARN those abilities of greater service by what we overcome today in this life.
So how do we go about becoming these overachievers or shall we more correctly say, OVERCOMERS?
Start actively looking for things that need to be overcome in your life. Sins, Attitudes, Weaknesses. Dig deep inside your self. Ask God to show you your hidden sins and weaknesses so you can root them out.
The trials and tribulations that God sends out way are like obstacle courses that need to be completed. If you fail at it just keep trying till you get it right and then God will set up another one that will take you to an even higher level. This is how God trains us and develops our character and qualifications for the job He has in mind for us.
How to be a Successful Overcomer
In order to succeed at anything, there are a number of things that are essential to know and understand.
1. What is the goal?
The goal for a child of God is to succeed in becoming an immortal being in the Family of God and to fulfill the responsibilities that they have been given to perform before and after the return of Christ.
2. What are the obstacles to success?
One’s old self, temptations of the flesh, and the forces of evil that rule this present world are all obstacles to success.
3. How does one acquire the tools and skills necessary for success?
Each person whom the Father calls to salvation already has some of the tools and skills necessary for success. However, the Father gives the holy spirit to each of his children, and through the holy spirit all the other tools and skills that are necessary for success are either given at baptism or can be developed.
The point of all this is to make you see that we are to be rewarded for our works based on the abilities that we develop in this life.
Rev_22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
2Pe 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
How richly/abundantly is our entrance unto the kingdom at the resurrection will depend on the rewards that we get based on the overcoming that we do in this life.
The Army used to have an advertising phrase that said “be the best that you can be“
I think that is an excellent goal for us as the Body of Christ to work toward becoming the best servant that we can be to serve God and His people in the Kingdom rule with Christ….