Once I know that I am in Canaan, the next question I have is: What does this lifestyle entail? Will I follow in the footsteps of Israel and run after other gods, or will I keep my side of the covenant?
We all live in an era where everybody would rather read books about Biblical subjects rather than reading the Bible itself, and we all wait for the rapture and all the repercussions as explained in great detail by so many writers, that we forget one thing, and that is that we will overcome. Do we know what will be expected of us? Do we realise that we are not going to wander about in streets of gold all day and do nothing?
But, what is it going to be like?
This is what I am going to try and explain. This is how we, as overcomers, of which the Bible declares, “To him that overcomes”, will act like and what is going to be expected of us, when the eight day, according to Enoch will arrive. The day without time.
Do I know exactly what is going to be required of me once I have done everything that is required of me to enter into the Kingdom of God? Do I realise that I am a new creation, and have received eternal life? Do I realise that I have been washed as white as snow, and that the Blood of the Lamb has washed away my sins? Do I realise that I have inherited the righteousness of Jesus?
But that is not where it ends. The Bible is very specific over what will happen to those that overcome. But what is the difference between the two subjects? I thought I only had to become a child of God and that is the end. Now you are telling me that there will be overcomers as well. What is the difference?
If we look to Israel as our example, we see that they went out of Egypt, spent 40 years in the dessert, and then inherited the Promised Land. Maybe that is where you find yourself today. You have done everything that is expected of you, so you must be in Canaan. You know that this is the place where you have to sow, the LORD will let grow, and you have to harvest.
But is this the way it happened in the time of the Israelites?
No. They crossed the river Jordan into Canaan, ate from its fruit and wheat, and the manna stopped. Jericho was still occupied by the locals, nothing had changed, except that they lost their supply of food. They still had to fight to obtain territory. They still had to go through all the land to take possession of each tribe’s territory.
How do I take possession of Canaan?
Deut 4:1 “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you..”
It is fairly difficult to explain what it is like to take possession of something. I would like to use an everyday example in order for everybody to understand it. The example I will use, most people will hopefully experience at least once in their lives, and that is to take possession of a property, be it a house or whatever other form it might take.
But first, what does it mean to take possession of something. It is to make it your own. When a person purchases a fixed asset, it is normally accompanied by a proof of ownership document. The person whose name is on this title deed, is the lawful owner of this fixed asset. This is what the LORD expects from us when we take possession of Canaan.
A title deed always lists what limitations if any, the title deed is subjected to. This normally states things like what the property can be used for, etc. This implies that I cannot use a piece of land for a hotel if the title deed stipulates that it can only be used for a residential dwelling.
The same applies to Canaan. If we look at the title deed for Canaan it contains the following clause: “hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments which I teach you”. We can only take possession and use Canaan for the purposes ordained by God. Canaan was not meant to be used as they pleased, but only to be used as prescribed by God. Why? God declares that He will be a God to us if we will be a nation to Him. He is the one that manufactured the title deed, so He can put whatever limitations He wants on it. I cannot today even add or change clauses on a title deed without any approval from the authorities. No, I must abide by what the title deed specifies.
The same is true for Canaan. The LORD stipulates that we will have to listen to His statutes. If we don’t, we don’t have any rights to be in Canaan. Neither can we add or change any of these statutes, as they were stipulated years ago and are part of the new covenant. In the covenant He says that He will forgive our inequities and we will inherit Canaan. Anything that is not part of this, is not part of the title deed.
Now you may ask that if these provisions were stipulated so long ago, can they not be changed? Unfortunately not. For those of you who know the Cape Town area, you will know that in Fishoek no alcoholic beverages can be sold or served for money in any public area. This provision has been on the title deed for more than 300 years now, and still applies today. The same applies to Canaan. The LORD decided on the provisions when He took Israel out of Egypt, and the same applies to us today. So we have to listen to His ordinances.
I trust you want to stay in Canaan. Thus we must abide by His ordinances.
Do you also want to change the ordinances applicable to Canaan? I know this is what we all want to do. I want to sit back and tell the LORD that I have now received His commands in my heart, and therefore all the fruits explained in the Bible will now manifest in my life. Then I want to continue with my life, or maybe even return to my previous lifestyle. But this is not the way it works. If we look at nature, and we see a plant that is not growing, this normally means one of two things. Either the plant is dead, or it is dying. The same applies to us. If I don’t show any growth, I am either dead or busy dying. I have to exhibit growth. I cannot cross the river Jordan and sit down for a picnic on the grass opposite Jericho. No, the people from Jericho will take me on and kill me.
So what do I have to do? I must ask the LORD what I have to do to overcome Jericho. There will still be strongholds in your life that you must overcome. Maybe it is just my playing boss over my wife and kids. Maybe it is my game of golf on a Sunday morning. Remember one thing, you cannot be fruitful in Canaan if you don’t possess the land. The enemy will play yo-yo with you if you don’t destroy his strongholds.
What did the LORD tell Israel when the entered the Promised Land? Deut 7:1 “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”
When I know that I am His child, I cannot have excuses any longer for any improper deeds and actions in my life. No I have to totally break with them. If I don’t bring glory to the Name of the LORD with what I am doing, then it is not from the LORD. That is what the Bible proclaims.
Fortunately for us their follows another verse later in Deuteronomy 7 that provides us with a sort of a way out. Verse 22: “And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.”
So we don’t have to break with everything all at once, but only as the LORD points them out to us. But I cannot use this verse as an excuse for any wrong doing, because what I am trying to cover up is still sin. I have to break with everything that the LORD points out to me. This is what Jesus meant when He declared that I have to take up my cross and follow Him. He will show me daily what I have to change to be acceptable to Him. The moment He shows me something, I have to break with it. Israel also had to do the same thing. They did not avoid the towns in Canaan. No they destroyed them.
But what are all these strongholds? Fortunately for us the Apostle Paul did most of the homework for us. Gal. 5:19 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
Paul also wrote to the Ephesians the following: 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. 1 ¶ Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3¶ But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Once all these strongholds have been broken in my life, I will be walking in victory, I will be an overcomer. Why? I have removed everything that was a barrier between the LORD and myself. This is why the Bible declares I have to be an overcomer. Then will I share in everything He has in store for me, a never-ending life with Jesus Christ, His Son and my saviour.
What are the characteristics of an overcomer?
The Bible declares that we are more than overcomers through Christ who loved us. What does the life of an overcomer entails? Can I share in it now, or is it only available after death?
When we look at our everyday lives, what does an overcomer or victor look like. There are many people given these titles to by the media, athletes, rugby players, cricket players, political leaders, workers, beauty queens, even lottery winners.
This principle reminds me always of a song by a local gospel singer Danie Botha called Wenners, or translated into English as Winners. This is something we all want to be. We all want to stand on the winner’s rostrum with a winner’s wreath around our neck. We all want to show others that we are something. I am not the freckled faced little boy wandering around in the street alone. No, I am a champion for my age group. I ended up as number one. Then there is still all the pizzazz that goes with being a winner.
In the world we get two types of victors. The story of the first group normally goes like this: “Mommy, do you know that Tommy is so clever at school, he is always the smartest student in his class. He is such a hard worker.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch Tommy is not even allowed to go to the toilet because he has to learn. But this is normally not what we hear. Most of these victors are victors because they are living someone else’s dream.
The second group of victors are those people who want a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They want to get the best out of life. They are normally used as an example for us to follow. They will work long hours just to get somewhere, to get acceptance from their piers and loved ones. They will always strive to even higher goals, but they never get to the point where they accept themselves for who they are. They always answer you with a “I’m really sorry but I do not have time for this right now, as the business requires all my attention”
But, this is not the victor or overcomers I want to write about. The Bible tells us that we will overcome, and that specific rewards are waiting for those that overcome. But what does the term overcome, actually mean. Luke sheds some light on it for us. Luke 11:21-22 “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”
When we analyse these verses, we find what the Bible states an overcomer is. We have to be stronger than our enemy, and guard that I do not lose my weapons and allow it to be distributed as loot. How is this achieved? Let us look at the various parts of this scripture.
“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:”
This is what the Bible declares. Firstly, I have to be strong. I must know where my strength comes from. I must know that through Jesus I am capable of everything. I must know that only in Him am I strong.
What does your life look like today? Are you strong in your faith? Can you take on the enemy the way Jesus did in the dessert? Are you sure of your strength? Just remember that you might appear strong, but actually you are not. Your strength can only be determined when it is tested. Now I do not want to proclaim that you have to expose yourself to situations where your faith will be tested every time. No, because I know my strength is only in Jesus. Only He is my strength. The Bible declares that we do not have to worry about what we have to say when we are confronted as Christians, as the Holy Spirit will lead us.
So I have to find my strength in Christ. Only when I know what He did for me, will I be able to overcome. Only then will I be able to stand firm.
So the first characteristic of an overcomer is someone who is strong.
The second characteristic of an overcomer is someone who is well armed. This is what this scripture proclaims. But what does my weapons look like? Where in the Bible do we get a description of what our weapons? There are three passages I would like to refer to.
The first scripture comes from Romans 13 verses 11-14 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the LORD Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” This passage declares that I have to put on the armour of light. I am not allowed to have anything to hide. If all my works are exposed, I must be able to stay in the light. All people must be able to see that I am a child of God. I must be able to live a life where no one can bring anything against me. That is my armour. My life must witness that I am someone whose life is controlled by Christ. A life without blemish. With such a life the enemy has no hold on you.
The second scripture is from 2 Cor.6 verse 7:“By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left”. If I do not know that it is only through the work of Christ that I received my righteousness, I might falter when taken on by the enemy. I must know that the covenant He prepared for me is an endless covenant, and that Christ fulfilled every aspect of it. This I must believe. This is my armour. This I can only do when I understand the message of the Bible and what the purpose was of Jesus.
The third scripture comes from 2 Cor. 10 verses 3-6: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” This scripture gives us more information concerning our weapons, in that they are spiritual weapons, and not carnal weapons. In other words it is in my soul and spirit that I have to know and act like one that has laid down his life for Christ. This will help me to eradicate every stronghold or custom that is not of Christ. It does not matter if it is a bad habit or even a unwanted action, I will be able to overcome it. That is what this scripture declares. My weapons will allow me to break with every stronghold of the enemy. I can overcome any and every area where there is a distance between the LORD and me. I will not have to doubt it at all.
But the scripture we started of in Luke also states that I have to watchful over what you have. I have to be watchful all the time. Only when I do that will I be able to overcome. Only then will I be able to keep my possessions that I inherited from the LORD, my future with Him.
I have to be watchful all the time. That is what the Bible declares. The Bible does not declare that the enemy will not confront us. No, I have to be watchful every moment of my life.
Let me give you an example. The original part of this section was written between seven and half past eight one evening. It was surprising to me that I could not get my thoughts fixed on this subject. I then decided to save everything on the computer and switch it off for the day. Just as I got up from my chair, the phone rang. The moment I answered the phone I knew something was wrong. My youngest daughter asked to speak to her mom immediately. When Hettie told her how to stop the bleeding of a wound, I knew something was horribly wrong. I heard that we would meet them at the hospital.
When the conversation ended, I heard that two persons attacked my son in law in his garden, and that he suffered a stab wound in the back. In today’s lifestyle in South Africa it is not uncommon to hear of attacks on people. What got me thinking immediately on the subject that I was writing about was that they lived in a security complex. This complex had armed guards patrolling the perimeter, and electric fences around the complete complex. They have done everything possible to ensure that they do not have to worry about security at home, but still he was attacked.
You see he was not watchful. He was convinced that it was not possible to still find criminals in the secured area. The only thing he wanted to do was to water his garden. You do not expect the enemy there. Not in your own garden.
But this is where the enemy will attack you. He knows that you won’t go to that sleazy nightclub because you would expect him there. That is why you will not go there. But I won’t expect him in my own house, let alone on the pulpit of my church. But that is where he will start sowing seeds of doubt. It is through our own people that he will take us on. He even seduced Eve in the presence of the LORD, with Him in paradise.
The enemy will not overcome someone who is watchful. It is only when I am not looking out for him that he will attack and overcome me. That is what the scripture in Luke declares. What does that scripture declare again? “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”
So I have to be armed every moment of the day. Then my possessions will be safe. I must remember not to let my watchfulness go for a moment. What does the writer of Hebrews declare in chapter 12 verses 11 to 17? “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the LORD: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” This writer knew the rules of an overcomer. He knew that I couldn’t change my life at a later stage. No, I have to be watchful and do it immediately; else I could end up like Esau.
Fortunately I know this is not what we want. No, we want a life with Jesus.
What characteristics do you have to exhibit to be counted as an overcomer?
Depending on whom you ask this can have any number of answers. The answer from those that are not strong in their faith, would be that you only have to believe and leave the rest to the LORD. Then you could find those that tell you to do this and that and the next thing, that you end up totally overworked and stretched out at the end of the day. Then another group might tell you that you have to live a life as Christ would have lived. And that is only three viewpoints.
One thing that is certain is that every group of people will be well armed with their correct interpretations of scripture to warrant their views. So it does not matter what your view is, someone will undoubtedly always differ from you.
Even the Bible seems to have various viewpoints on this subject. If we look at Hebrews 4 verse 16 the Bible declares that we must go to the throne of God with boldness. A person who exhibits boldness has always meant to me that such a person knew exactly what to do and he does things without even questioning it. But, David declares that the LORD is close to those who are meek and broken hearted. This has always meant to me that such a person did not really exhibit any self-confidence, and someone who did not have a very strong viewpoint either.
My question then is: Who is right? As an added question, we might ask that if we come to a conclusion, how will we know that the conclusion is correct? The second question is fairly easy to answer, as we know what the Bible declares will be in store for such a person, but the first question is a totally different kettle of fish. I will start with the second question, as this will provide some light on the first question for us.
So where do we start?
I want to start and look at the promises the Bible has for those people who are overcomers. Revelation declares that only overcomers will receive eternal life. We have to overcome. But how do we overcome? The answer comes from Revelation 12 verse 11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Three different aspects come to light from this scripture.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.
How do we overcome by the blood of the Lamb? I have to make a declaration that I do not trust in myself anymore, but that I trust in the Blood of Jesus to save me from the enemy and eternal fire. Israel had to do exactly the same thing in Egypt. They had to use a hyssop branch to mark their doorposts with the blood of the lamb that they slaughtered. This action meant that the angel of death passed them over that fearful night in Egypt. They had to confirm the covenant with the LORD.
When we look at this part of history, we find that is was subjected to certain conditions. They had to prepare the Passover meal the night before the angel of death went through Egypt. How was this done? That had to remove all yeast from their homes. The same way yeast causes bread to leaven, sin does to our lives. We become all puffed up when we have sin in our lives. So removing the yeast means that we have to break and remove all sin from ourselves. They then had to slaughter the lamb and cover their doorposts with the blood of the lamb. Why? The blood declared that they the house was cleansed, that all inequities had been removed. For us today this means that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. But I have to break with sin. I can then eat from the Lamb and drink from the cup. I have to fill myself with the Lamb. That is why Israel had to totally consume the lamb that night. Nothing could be left over. They could not still long for an Egyptian burger, no, they had to fill themselves with the lamb. For us it means that my life must be so consumed by the Lamb that I will not even think of anything else. No, Jesus must be your all in all.
This also unlocks the scripture in John 6, where Jesus declares that He is the bread of life. Our life must be totally and utterly consumed with Him. I cannot leave a backdoor open to the world. Once the Israelites had applied the blood to the doorposts, they were not allowed to leave their homes again. They had to stay under the blood of the lamb. The same rule applies to us. I cannot come out from under the Blood of the Lamb. It is my protection. If I am under the Blood of the Lamb the enemy can’t touch me.
This is what is meant by the passage in Revelation. We have to overcome the enemy by the Blood of the Lamb. If we stay under the blood, the enemy can’t touch me. This ties in with what Peter declares that if I resist the devil, he will flee from me. He cannot fight against the Blood of the Lamb. This is what the new covenant means and does for us.
And they overcame by the word of their testimony.
What does your testimony look like? This scripture teaches us that we must be able to take a stand as Christians. Is that your witness? Remember that 80% of what you say is not spoken physically but by the way you act, while only 20% of what you say is reflected in the words you say. Verbal communications never counts for more than 20% of your communication.
So what does my testimony have to entail? Jesus declares in Matthew 23 verse 23 (b) “for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”” Isaiah describes it in chapter 58 as follows: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 8¶ Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.”
From this we can see that our lives have to prove that we have done that which the Bible asks us to do, the right must be upheld, I must be merciful to everyone, and that I must not live faithlessly. In short I have to ensure that there is equality amongst all people. The LORD did not give to me so many resources that I might sit back and not worry about anybody anymore. No, He has provided for me because He wants me to share with my neighbour, with those who cannot make end ends meet. Did you decide that you should be blessed with a high intelligence? No, everything comes from the LORD, and He expects me to share it with everyone around me.
Let me give you an example. Why do we find poor people? It might be a totally useless question to you, but actually it should address a very interesting question. What did the LORD instruct Israel? Deut.15:4 “Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:”
The LORD says that if we do what is required of us, that there should not be anyone poor amongst us in Canaan. Why? Because He expects you to distribute that which is left over after paying for what you need, to the needy. But there is more. If you own your own business, it is your obligation to ensure that brothers and sisters in faith have a job. You are not allowed to provide for an unbeliever before you provide for a believer. Now you might say that the believer does not have the same qualifications as the unbeliever, or maybe the believer does not provide the same quality as the unbeliever. If the person does not have the same qualifications, what is the reason for this? Does the person not have the means to get these qualifications, or maybe he never got the opportunity.
It is your duty as the stronger and wealthier one to provide the opportunity to the less fortunate person to qualify for this qualification. If the work of the person is not at the same level as the unbeliever you should talk to the person to correct the problem. If he does not have the ability to achieve this level of education, it is your duty to supply the necessary support in what is required to have a decent life. This is what is meant when people say that they read your deeds.
I also have to be someone who can be trusted. My word and lifestyle has to be trustworthy, with no hidden agendas. If I should write something, like I do, I should not try to bring across my own doctrine. No, I should only declare what the Bible declares. This is the way the first Christians lived, and this should be our aim.
My life should not be full of little add-ons. No, people must be able to declare that my life speaks of someone who is sold out to Christ.
And they loved not their lives unto the death.
This is probably the most difficult part for any person. Are you willing to give up your life for the LORD? Will you make the same declaration as the schoolgirl in America that was killed by fellow students in the schools library that they could kill her, as she would not change her stance that there is no God? Really? Will you still do it when they start chopping you to pieces?
This is how we overcome. Overcoming is not for sissies. You must be able to stand firm. This is what the Bible declares. You will have to be able to stand up for Christ when professors and other so called clergy cast doubt on the contents of the Bible and say that some items are just stories. Maybe it is a case that they have not met Jesus yet. You must be able to declare with authority what the Bible declares, that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD. That is how we overcome. You may be ridiculed, but as I said earlier, overcoming is not for sissies.
Part of the prize that we will receive is that we will rule with Jesus Christ. So I have to learn here on earth to rule, as I cannot learn to do that in heaven. But what do I have to learn to rule over? Sin. I have to be able to rule over my own sin before being ready to rule in heaven. I must learn to break with every sin in my life. I must not allow myself to get into situations where I might sin. When I do end up in these situations I must be able to walk away from there without allowing sin to rule over me.
What is the correct attitude then?
Now that we know what an overcomers lifestyle is, we need to find out what the correct attitude of an overcomer is. I am going to be puffed up because of my lifestyle, or will I adopt a lowly lifestyle? What does the Bible declare? Will I walk over everyone in life because of who I am? Will I follow every doctrine that tells me how great I am or motivate me to be puffed up?
The Bible declares that we are more than overcomers, but there is a second part to the passage. This part says that I am more than an overcomer through Christ who loved me. I am not in an overcomer by myself, but only through Christ. The question that immediately stands out is: How do I get His attention to be loved by Him? What does the Bible teach on this subject?
The following passages will shed some light on this subject.
“Ezekiel 21:26: Thus saith the LORD GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.”
“Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
“Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
From the above passages, we find two attitudes that must prevail in a person. The first is that one should be humble, and the second one is meek. When I look at these verses and many more in the Bible, I see that the LORD has a special place for those that know that they are nothing. For those that know that they are not better than anyone else. For that person who knows that they are rejected, cast outs, and those that are just rejected by society. Those are the people that get His attention. That is why Isaiah declares in chapter 61 that the good news is meant for those types of people.
Am I convinced that it is the case? Lets look at another verse in Scripture. Isaiah 57 verse 15: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones..”
This is what the Bible declares. I have to humble myself. I cannot do as I please. No, the LORD dwells with him that is humble and of a contrite spirit.
Why? When I am not humble, I am still full of myself. I am still in control. I have not yet been stripped of my own dignity. I have not yet come to the place where I know that I am totally dependant on the LORD. I still think I can look after myself. I still think that when I work hard, I will be able to support my family. But are you aware of the fact that you could have a heart attack tomorrow, or that you can find out that you have cancer, or that one of your largest clients decides not to settle their account? Or maybe even the bank manager decides to call in your overdraft facility.
What am I saying? I believe you have to get to the place where Job was. That you cannot prescribe to the LORD what He can or cannot do in your life. What does Jeremiah say on this subject? Jeremiah 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Just as an Ethiopian has no control over the colour of his skin, I have no control over what will happen in my life. If I was born with an above average intelligence, I must realise that it is a gift from God. I cannot use this as a measure to count myself higher as the one with a below average intelligence. This is the type of person the LORD can work with, those that have been totally and utterly stripped of their own selfish beings. People that gets up in the morning and ask the LORD what He wants them to do today. If you have not yet reached this point in your life, ask the LORD to lead you in getting there. The easiest route I found was to follow Jesus.
We all think that the cross was a place where Jesus died. But do you realise that if you want to be His disciple you will have to follow Him to the cross? A disciple does what his teacher does. Have you laid down your life at the cross? Have you clothed yourself with His life afterwards? That is what you have to do. Once you have done that, you will exhibit His humbleness. That is what the Bible teaches.
All of these words and ideas can be combined in one word: Obedience. This is why Jesus came to earth, and that is why He was exalted.
Deut 12:28 “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.”
1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
This is how we get the LORD’s attention. When I join myself to those who are obedient. Those who do what the LORD commands, those that are humble and have a contrite spirit. The moment I do this, I will get His attention. Something that will happen almost instantaneously is that the Bible will open up for you in a way never experienced before. Then I will realise that I only have a short life on earth, but the way I live my life here will define where I will spend the rest of time. And that is the prize we all long for, an eternity with the LORD.
This brings us to the next question.
What are the prizes that we will receive as overcomers?
“exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high” This is what the Bible declares. Then we will be with Him in Heavenly places. But this is not all. John described a number of things that will happen to overcomers. Let us look at these passages. Most people probably know the promises described here, as we all want to receive these blessings. But I have to remember that I can only share in the spoils if I participated in the race. This is the way Paul discussed it in Philippians 3 verse 14:”I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
What does this prize look like?
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
If you wonder if this is not the same tree that Adam and Eve ate from, the answer is no. There were two trees in paradise, one giving life and one leading to death. The tree described here is the tree of life, so it will feed us with life giving fruit that will bring us still closer to God.
Where is paradise? What happened to it after Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden? Is paradise still guarded by angels? Have you ever wondered about this subject? The Bible does not really give us any definitive answer, yet we know that it must still exist somewhere. Even Jesus told the person on the cross that he will be with Him in paradise.
Not only will we be in paradise, but also we will eat of the tree planted in paradise. How do I answer these types of questions?
Paradise is described for us fully in the Book of Enoch. This book was left out of our Bible in around 400 AD, as people believed we only needed one book that described the end times. People like Jesus, Peter, John, and James quoted Enoch in the Bible. Enoch is also the one person we know of together with Elijah that was taken to heaven alive. They are also the two witnesses people believe that John refers to in Revelation that will return at the end of time.
Paradise is described in Enoch chapters 24 and 25. As most people do not have their own copies of this book, it is quoted in full.
“Enoch 24:4: And amongst them was a tree such as I had never yet smelt, neither was any amongst them nor were others like it: it had a fragrance beyond all fragrance, and its leaves and blooms and wood wither not for ever: 5 and its fruit is beautiful, and its fruit resembles the dates of a palm. Then I said: ‘How beautiful is this tree, and fragrant, and its leaves are fair, and its blooms very delightful in appearance.’ 6 Then answered Michael, one of the holy and honoured angels who was with me, and was their leader.[Chapter 25]: 1 And he said unto me: ‘Enoch, why dost thou ask me regarding the fragrance of the tree, 2 and why dost thou wish to learn the truth?’ Then I answered him saying: ‘I wish to 3 know about everything, but especially about this tree.’ And he answered saying: ‘This high mountain which thou hast seen, whose summit is like the throne of God, is His throne, where the Holy Great One, the LORD of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when He shall come down to visit 4 the earth with goodness. And as for this fragrant tree no mortal is permitted to touch it till the great judgment, when He shall take vengeance on all and bring (everything) to its consummation 5 for ever. It shall then be given to the righteous and holy. Its fruit shall be for food to the elect: it shall be transplanted to the holy place, to the temple of the LORD, the Eternal King. 6 Then shall they rejoice with joy and be glad, And into the holy place shall they enter; And its fragrance shall be in their bones, And they shall live a long life on earth, Such as thy fathers lived: And in their days shall no sorrow or plague Or torment or calamity touch them.’ 7 Then blessed I the God of Glory, the Eternal King, who hath prepared such things for the righteous, and hath created them and promised to give to them.”
In Enoch’s second book, called The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, paradise is described. Chapter 8 from verse 1: “Of the assumption of Enoch to the third heaven 1 And those men took me thence, and led me up on to the third heaven, and placed me there; and I looked downwards, and saw the produce of these places, such as has never been known for goodness. 2 And I saw all the sweet-flowering trees and beheld their fruits, which were sweet-smelling, and all the foods borne by them bubbling with fragrant exhalation. 3 And in the midst of the trees that of life, in that place whereon the LORD rests, when he goes up into paradise; and this tree is of ineffable goodness and fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing; and on all sides it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and it has produce from all fruits. 4 Its root is in the garden at the earth’s end. 5 And paradise is between corruptibility and incorruptibility. 6 And two springs come out which send forth honey and milk, and their springs send forth oil and wine, and they separate into four parts, and go round with quiet course, and go down into the PARADISE OF EDEN, between corruptibility and incorruptibility. 7 And thence they go forth along the earth, and have a revolution to their circle even as other elements. 8 And here there is no unfruitful tree, and every place is blessed. 9 And there are three hundred angels very bright, who keep the garden, and with incessant sweet singing and never-silent voices serve the LORD throughout all days and hours. 10 And I said: How very sweet is this place, and those men said to me: Chapter 9 The showing to Enoch of the place of the righteous and compassionate 1This place, O Enoch, is prepared for the righteous, who endure all manner of offence from those that exasperate their souls, who avert their eyes from iniquity, and make righteous judgment, and give bread to the hungering, and cover the naked with clothing, and raise up the fallen, and help injured orphans, and who walk without fault before the face of the LORD, and serve him alone, and for them is prepared this place for eternal inheritance.” (Different original manuscripts might refer to this as chapter 5)
I am aware that these are two fairly long quotations, but I trust that it will shed some light on what and where paradise is. It is very interesting to note that the second section ends with the same promises as what Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 25, and also prophesied in Isaiah 59.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
What is the second death? That is eternal death. The death from which you can never escape. A death with Satan and his army, in the everlasting pool of fire. We find the second death mentioned in Revelation 20 verses 11 to 14: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death..” Not something to be on the look out for. Fortunately as overcomers we will be free from the second death.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
We find two promises in this verse. The first one says that we will eat of the hidden manna. Manna was the food that the Israelites ate during their trek in the dessert. This manna was a reference to Jesus, the bread of life. So we will never ever have a shortfall of what the LORD promised, as He Himself is our everlasting manna.
The second promise says that we will receive a white stone with a new name written on or in it, that only you will know. Have you ever thought that you are worth nothing? Do you realise that you are so precious to the LORD that He will give you a name that only you and He will know. That is how much He loves you. And it will be a white stone, telling you that you will be washed white with the Blood of the Lamb.
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:”
Can you rule over nations? That is what is expected of you. You will rule over nations that don’t know the LORD. But you must do His work till the end. That is what is expected of you. Revelation 20 verses 4 to 6 enlighten us on this intriguing subject. “4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. “
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
This is probably the one promise that we can all quote. This is the one passage that we all want to remember. It gives me the satisfaction that I know that I will be with Jesus in heavenly places. It also provides us with the undisputed evidence that we will be with the LORD that Jesus would always confess my name with the Father, as long as I am an overcomer.
“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.”
The LORD is on the lookout for pillars to trust on, people He can use. People that will only proclaim His Word, not His Word interpreted by our own doctrine. People that knows what is expected from them. People He can trust through thick and thin. Were you aware that He wanted to use you in His temple? Not only does He want to use you as a pillar, but that you will be in His presence forever. Not only that, but you will be a support to Him.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Jesus is looking for people to reign with Him. We will not be acting like counsellors to Him and be seated on His right or left hand side. No, we will reign with Him. We will share His throne, just as He is sharing His Fathers throne. Do you realise what it must be like to sit on a throne? That is what is expected of us, and declared by the Bible. The only proviso is that we must have shared His life.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
This must be the best verdict anyone could ever receive. That you would inherit all things, and that Jesus would be your God forever. That you will be counted as His son always, and that He would want to share His life with you forever and ever.
What is the main characteristic required to be counted as an overcomer? Obedient. I must be willing to count myself as nothing like David pronounces in the Psalms, someone who is willing to be counted with slaves when it comes to the LORD. A broken spirit is a peace making spirit. Contentious, hard-nosed people can never be in agreement. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Isaiah 66 summarises it as follows: Verse 2 “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”