Be An Overcomer

Those who truly possess faith will be known by their life of overcoming sin.

Be An Overcomer
Photo by Michael Rosner-Hyman / Unsplash

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: The one who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death" (Rev. 2:11).

It is the plain teaching of Scriptures that a mere profession of faith in Christ is of no profit, but what is truly saving is the possession of faith. Those who truly possess faith will be known by their life of overcoming sin. Hence the Lord says in the above verse that only those who overcome are the ones who will not suffer the second death. What is the second death? Revelation 20:14 and Revelation 21:8 says the lake of fire where Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet will be thrown in is the second death. Will anyone else suffer the same punishment? Rev.21:8 makes it plain, "But as for the cowardly, the unbelieving, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." The preposition "But" is comparing and contrasting it with the ones mentioned in Revelation 21:7 who are the overcomers who will inherit the blessings of eternal life in New Jerusalem. They will experience the fullness of life (Rev.21:6) and the intimacy of God as their father (Rev.21:7). But those who are not overcomers, whether unbelievers or even those who merely professed faith in Christ, will rather suffer the lake of fire (Rev.21:8). Hence Jesus said back in Revelation 2:11, it is only those who overcome sin that will not be hurt by the second death. So as believers, we should ensure that we are not nominally born again by looking for this life of overcoming sin in our walk of faith.

What are the sins we should overcome? In Rev.21:8, the Lord lists eight specific sins which should not characterize our lives. They are:

  1. Cowardice: The root word means timid or fearful especially when it comes to believing in God. This word is found in Matt.8:26 and Mk.4:40 when Jesus rebuked his disciples for being afraid and having little faith when the storms were rocking their boat. When it comes to believing in God, we should not be found lacking in courage fearing circumstances, other men, or our own sense of how impossible it is. We should trust God fully knowing nothing is impossible for Him.
  2. Unbelief: The root word is the one commonly used for unbelievers in the New Testament. However, it is used by Jesus for His disciples as faithless in Matt 17:17, Mk 9:19, and Lk 9:41 when His disciples could not heal a demon-possessed boy. Unbelief is evil (Heb. 3:12) and should have no place in the life of a believer.
  3. Detestable: The root word means that which is abominable and loathsome. It is found elsewhere in NT only in Rom. 2:22b, where the context is paganism. Embracing the beliefs or practices of unbelievers is abominable to the Lord. We are a called and separate people and nothing of the sinful fallen humanity should characterize our lives.
  4. Murder: We should of course avoid physically murdering another person made in the image of God. But also, remember Jesus' teaching from the sermon on the mount that sinful anger is tantamount to murdering someone (Matt. 5:21-22). A believer should overcome all bitterness, rage, wrath, and anger of all kinds and should be known for his/her mercy, forgiveness, and tenderness of heart (Eph.4:31-32).
  5. Sexual Immorality: The root word is from porneia and means fornication. So all sexual pleasure and practice that is outside marriage are included in this word. As Paul said in 1 Cor.6:9-10, no fornicator will inherit the kingdom of God. A true believer, therefore, is one who is increasingly overcoming sexual immorality in his/her life.  Here we have to be careful even with today's Christians, for our churches are filled with people who think unrepentant, repetitive, habitual indulgence in sexual sins is alright and would not affect their salvation one bit. Remember Paul begins 1 Corinthians 6:9 by saying, "do not be deceived" meaning this is an area of much deception. Let us avoid the folly of deceived Christians and fear God's word in overcoming every form of sexual impurity.
  6. Sorcery: The root word is the one from which we get the word pharmacy and refers to all kinds of superstitious black magic and also the use of drugs to induce religious experiences. A believer should have no part in such deeds of darkness. All satanic works, influences, and voices should be cast out of our lives.
  7. Idolatry: The root word is image-worship and refers to adoring and honouring anyone or anything in the place of God. Believers should love God, not money (Lk.16:13). Believers should love God, not pleasure (2 Tim.3:4). Personal profit and personal pleasure should never become our functional god who controls all our choices and decisions. An overcomer is one who takes up his/her cross and puts to death all their selfish desire for profit and pleasure outside of God. If we profess to love Christ, but functionally we love to spend more time in the world, then we are harlots. Jesus alone should be the love of the heart of a believer. Then we are truly the bride of Christ.
  8. All Lying: The Lord added the qualifier "all" to include every form of lying, be it black or white. Every kind of deception, hypocrisy and pseudo behaviour we enact to fool others is included in this sin. On the contrary, believers should be honest, sincere, and truthful, even if it will cost them dearly (Ps.15:4). God hates all lies, and Jesus said, lying is the mother tongue of Satan (Jn.8:44). An overcomer finds no refuge in lies or deception, but lives by the God of truth and the truth of God. Neither our tongues nor our behaviour should be deceitful.

In Revelation 21, Jesus told John to record these words by first of all pointing out that these words are trustworthy and true (Rev.21:5). Our God cannot lie and so when He says only those who overcome these things are saved from the lake of fire and inherit the eternal blessings, we better believe Him with all our hearts and diligently obey Him in the fear of the Lord.