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In any competition, people almost universally want to win. This is true in sports, games, business, war, or courtship. Leaders are often hired or fired based on whether they can win (coaches, generals, executive officers, etc.).
We are involved in a great spiritual conflict between good and evil.
2 Corinthians 2:14 – …thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.
In many contests one person or team wins and everyone else loses. In the spiritual war between good and evil, anyone can be victorious if they know how.
(1 Corinthians 15:57; Psalms 92:4)
We will see the evidence that Jesus has been victorious. Then we will consider the ways we can triumph through Him. Finally, we will consider what reward we will receive if we win the victory and how we receive that victory.
John 16:33 – In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
The world repeatedly tried to defeat Jesus. Many contradicted His teaching or tried to provoke Him to make mistakes. Finally, they arrested Him, mocked Him, struck Him, spit on Him, and crucified Him. They thought they had defeated Him, but in the end He overcame.
No power on earth could defeat Jesus.
Hebrews 4:15 – Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Satan and his followers often tempted Jesus to commit sin, yet sin never tainted His life. Sin often defeats us, yet never Jesus. Through Him we can overcome the guilt of our sins.
In explaining how He cast out demons, Jesus said a strong man may guard his goods; but a stronger man can overcome him, take away his armor, and divide his spoils. This is what Jesus did to the devil.
Satan uses many weapons to accomplish his goals: demons, sickness, death, love of money, lies, sexual immorality, pride, selfishness. He tried them all on Jesus, but like a mighty warrior, Jesus overcame all the devil’s weapons. Now He is taking away the devil’s spoils: the people under the devil’s power.
People often differ regarding many aspects of the Revelation, yet everyone agrees about one point: the main theme. The theme of Revelation is that Jesus will ultimately conquer every force of evil, and His people will conquer through Him.
No one can read the Bible and honestly conclude that Jesus is a namby-pamby weakling who accepts everybody and never speaks out against anything. The Bible presents Him as a conquering warrior doing battle against the forces of evil. The outcome of this war is certain. Jesus will win, and we can be victorious through Him!
A well-known baseball announcer used to describe home runs: “You can put it on the boards! Yes!” You can put it on the final scoreboard: Jesus will be the winner in the end.
Only Jesus can give us victory over Satan. Satan overpowered everyone except Jesus. Some people trust Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Karl Marx, political leaders, or educators. But every one of them has at times fallen to Satan’s tricks. They all sinned, they all died or will die, and they will all remain dead while the world stands.
Only Jesus proved by His own victory that He can give us the victory!
Hebrews 2:9,14 – By the grace of God Jesus tasted death for everyone, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Satan has the power of death because death was a consequence of sin, and the devil brought sin into the world by tempting Adam and Eve. Death then passed to all Adam’s descendants. Before Jesus died, a few people had been raised from the dead, but none had been raised to live forever. No one completely conquered death … until Jesus.
Jesus won the victory over death by rising from the dead never to die again.
Jesus conquered the devil and every power the devil had including sin and death. Nothing could defeat Jesus. Now we too can be victorious, but only through Him.
Jesus defeated Satan by overcoming all his weapons. Now Jesus has promised that we too can be victorious even though the devil is stronger than we are. What victory can we achieve through Him?
Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9 – Israel feared to enter Canaan because of the size and strength of the inhabitants. Joshua and Caleb said they were well able to overcome the people if God delighted in them. They could win because “the Lord is with us.” Unfortunately, the people suffered defeat because they chose not to trust God.
Joshua 1:5-9 – God appointed Joshua to lead the next generation of Israelites into Canaan. God promised that no one could stand before him because God was with Him. He need not fear the enemy. Who can defeat us when we are on God’s side?
Romans 8:35-39 – We face tribulation, opposition, persecution, and hardship. These forces may seem insurmountable. Consider the forces of evil in high places in government, in entertainment, in education, and in denominations. At times they may appear unbeatable.
But none of them can separate us from Jesus. Remember that similar enemies opposed Jesus’ teaching, tempted Him to sin, and eventually killed Him. But He conquered every form of opposition. Through Him we are more than conquerors (verse 37).
Ultimately no form of opposition, no trouble on this earth can defeat us if we are faithful to Jesus. We are losers only when we allow ourselves to become unfaithful to Him.
(Deuteronomy 28:7; 1 Samuel 17:37,45-47)
Romans 12:21 – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. The fact God tells us to overcome evil proves that we can do it. People may mistreat or persecute us, but we can do good despite the wrong done to us, even as Jesus did.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Like athletes striving to win a crown, we must exercise self-control and discipline our bodies, bringing them into subjection. Jesus did so, and by His example and power we can do the same.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
God expressly promises that we can overcome temptation. There is no such thing as a temptation that is impossible to overcome. There is always a way of escape. We can conquer sin as Jesus did.
Sadly, in practice, all of us at times do give in and commit sin (1 John 1:8,10). Yet even here Jesus gives victory over sin by offering forgiveness through His blood (1 John 1:7,9; Acts 8:22).
(James 1:12; Romans 8:35-39)
Even as Jesus defeated the devil, so through Him we can ultimately overcome every power the devil uses to defeat us.
We face a spiritual battle with the devil’s evil forces (verse 12), but we can withstand (verse 13). We can quench all his fiery darts (verse 16).
The devil has such overwhelming power we may think there is no way we can win. Too often we lose because we convince ourselves we cannot win! We lack confidence in the Lord’s armor, so we do not fight hard enough.
The devil cannot make you be lost. He has already been defeated! The outcome of the contest is known. It is like absolutely knowing the outcome of the Super Bowl or the World Series before the game is over. Satan is a loser. This should give us confidence.
Salvation, strength, the kingdom of God, and the power of Jesus have come, so the devil has been cast down.
Revelation 17:14 – Jesus the Lamb wages war against evil. He overcomes because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. They are the victors because they are on Jesus’ side.
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
If you are on God’s side, how can you lose?
Any of us could be champions in a chosen sport … if we could just get on the right team! Any team consisting entirely of people like me would be sure to lose. But if I could just be on a team with other great players, I could be a champion, not because I am so great, but because I am on the right team.
In the battle between good and evil, Jesus is going to win. Anybody on His team will conquer. And He invites every one of us to be on His team.
1 John 4:4 – John said: You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (false teachers), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
No one can defeat Jesus. Satan is the loser. The only reason the war continues is to give you and me the chance to decide whose side we will be on! Jesus leaves that choice entirely up to us.
(Exodus 15:1; 1 John 2:13,14)
Romans 8:38 – One of the forces that cannot separate us from God’s love is death. We are more than conquerors even here. How?
1 Corinthians 15:20-23,25,26 – Jesus is the firstfruit from the dead. We all die because Adam sinned and death came upon all his descendants. But Jesus overcame death by resurrection, never to die again. In Him, we will all be raised.
Jesus personally defeated death by His resurrection. This is the “firstfruits,” proving He has superior power even over death. But death has yet to be defeated for all mankind. It is the last enemy to be defeated. It will fall when Jesus returns and raises us from the dead.
15:52-57 – This mortal will put on immortality. Death will be swallowed up in victory. Thanks to God who gives us the victory through Jesus.
Even death cannot defeat us if we are on Jesus’ side. He has already proved that death could not defeat Him.
Being on Satan’s side does have some advantages, even if he is the loser. You get to “enjoy” some “fun” in this life: the pleasures of sin. Some people want to do as they please for a few years without rules and regulations. This is the devil’s appeal.
Why should you want to be on the Lord’s team? What difference does it make?
Champions receive honors. They appear in ticker-tape parades, TV interviews, and talk shows. Their names are written in record books.
Karen has a nephew who several years ago was on a soccer team that won the NCAA national championship. We have a picture showing him and his team being honored by the President at the White House.
How much greater an honor to be in the Book of Life!
Winners in ancient athletics received a crown or wreath to wear. Champions today may win a trophy, a gold medal, or a ring. All these are perishable, temporary. Those who are on Christ’s team seek an imperishable crown.
2 Timothy 4:7,8 – As he approached death, Paul concluded that he had fought a good fight and finished the race. He was victorious. What reward awaited him? The crown of righteousness which the Lord would give to him and anyone who loved His appearing.
Christians will receive a crown of righteousness that only righteous people receive it.
Revelation 2:10 – To Christians facing tribulation and trial Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The ultimate reward of our victory in Jesus is eternal life.
There will be no death, sorrow, pain, or tears. Jesus will give them to drink of the fountain of life. This is the inheritance of those who overcome through Jesus. But those who are not Jesus’ servants will be in the lake of fire, the second death.
When our children play games, we sometimes teach them that good sportsmanship includes being good losers. But in spiritual contests, you cannot afford to be a loser. Spiritual victories are more important than any other victories because of the consequences.
Satan is the loser, and everyone on his side will be outside the eternal city of God in the lake of fire. Those who faithfully serve on the Lord’s side receive the privilege to be with God in heaven forever.
(Psalm 47:1; 106:47; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 3:21)
Every competition has rules that must be followed in order to win. In many areas of life, people do not want rules. But amazingly, no one seems to mind it in sports. They may not like certain rules, but no one objects to the fact there are rules.
Jesus is the ultimate Victor, and we overcome through Him. So to gain victory in Jesus we must follow His rules. What do they require?
We must be on Jesus’ side. How do we do that?
1 John 5:3-5 – We overcome the world because we believe in Jesus and are born of God. Faith is the fundamental requirement to being on Jesus’ side. However, true faith requires us to keep God’s commands. No one will receive the victory without obedient faith.
For one who is not a child of God, this requires repenting of sin, confessing Christ, and being baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; etc.).
Hebrews 12:1-4 – We must lay aside sin and run our race with endurance. We must keep our eyes on Jesus who won the victory. Do not be discouraged but endure as He did.
1 Corinthians 15:57,58 – We can win through Jesus, but we must work steadfastly for the Lord. Jesus set the example and provides the armor we need to win; but to be on His side, we must diligently labor for Him. Such labor is not vain because He gives us victory.
No sports contest or war could ever compare. It is the conflict between good and evil. You and I must choose which side to be on.
I doubt that many of us will ever compete for any worldwide sports championship. But in the conflict between good and evil, both teams want you on their side! You have the power to choose.
We already know which side will win. We can choose to be on the winning side or the losing side. Which will you choose?
Jesus has promised to confess the names of the faithful before the Father and before His angels. Don’t you want to be there and have Him confess you before His Father? “This one is one of Mine. Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.”
(Psalm 98:1; 1 Chronicles 29:11; 1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Revelation 3:11)
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2022; www.gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.