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Revelation 3:21-22 by Robert Dean

Due to technical reasons, the Video is not available for this class.

Note that Dr. Dean has done a more in-depth study of “Overcomers” in his Philippians series, lessons #11–16.

Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:45 mins 48 secs

Overcoming the World
Revelation 3:21–22
Revelation Lesson #085
October 15, 2006
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
www.deanbibleministries.org

Opening Prayer

“Father, we are indeed grateful that we can come together this morning to be challenged by Your Word. Scripture teaches that it is Your Word that You use to sanctify us under the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

“As we walk by the Spirit, He takes Your Word and He transforms us. The whole process of the Christian life is a process of change, changing us from who we are under the domination of our sin nature in control of the influence of the culture around us and transforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.

“Father, we pray that we might be responsive to Your Word today, that we might not keep it at arm’s length, but that we might be open and receptive. As God the Holy Spirit reveals to us that which we need to learn, that which motivates and challenges us, and that which teaches us and instructs us on the path of righteousness, may we be responsive to apply that consistently in our lives. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”

Slide 2

We find ourselves today in Revelation 3:21, which brings us close to the end of this middle section of the Book of Revelation where we’ve gone through the evaluation reports of these seven congregations of Asia Minor in the western part of Turkey. As we’ve gone through these evaluation reports, we’ve made application showing how these different characteristics, both the positive qualities and virtues as well as the negative, indicate the general trends that takes place in congregations and in individual lives of believers down through the Church Age.

Inherent within these evaluation reports is a challenge, a challenge to every believer to respond to what is taught and to apply what needs to be applied and there is the incentive that is given in these passages to be an overcomer. As we come to our passage here in Revelation 3:21 we read, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” A new element is added here, a new reward to those who press on to spiritual maturity and are classified as overcomer believers.

One of the things that hits me every now and then as I come to a verse is I think that we ought to move through this verse very quickly. Then the more I get into it and the more I study it, the more I think, “Hmm, this may take a week or two because there’s some really interesting things going on in this verse.”

Slide 3

This verse brings up this whole doctrine of the overcomer believer. The term is based on this Greek word NIKAO. It’s an articular present active participle. What that basically means is that this functions like a noun. It’s just a term for the overcomer. Some people will try to emphasize the present tense aspect of participles like this, but when it functions as an adjective or a relative adjective, it is basically a noun. The tense aspects in terms of continuation simply drops out of the emphasis in the word. It’s simply used as a noun.

The word means a victor, a winner, a conqueror, or an overcomer. It’s a cognate to the noun NIKE meaning victory or success. The verb has the idea to overpower, to gain victory, and to win. So, it is talking about victorious believers in the Christian life. That statement reveals my conclusions, but there’s a tremendous amount of debate over this and I want to make you aware of that.

Slide 4

We have to understand the background to that to some degree. Before we get started, I want to do a little review. I’ve covered this before, but I want to emphasize this again. There are distinctions and there will be distinctions among believers when we get to Heaven. There are some things that we will all have in common.

First of all, every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ during this Church Age will be raptured. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns for the church in the air, it does not matter if you are carnal, if you are a reprobate believer, if you are in mired in the sin nature, or whether you are pressing forward. Whatever your situation is, you get raptured because you’re in the body of Christ.

Positionally you are righteous because you have the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. Every believer will get raptured and at that time every believer will receive a resurrection body. We will have a body that will be similar to that exhibited by the Lord Jesus Christ after His resurrection. So, we all have the same kind of body.

We will all have perfect happiness, though the non-overcomer believer, the defeated believer, will have a period of shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ. But all believers will have perfect happiness for all eternity. However, there will be some distinctions in that as we’ll see in a minute.

All will have eternal life and spend eternity in Heaven. Those things will be true for every believer whether you are a victorious believer or a defeated believer.

Slide 5

There are some contrasts. There are some distinctions made between believers who are victorious and those who are not victorious. I don’t think it’s real clear to many of us where we stand on this, and it won’t be clear until we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema Seat. He is the perfect judge. He is omniscient. He knows everything. He knows it better than we do, and He is the One who will be able to properly reward us and evaluate.

Remember that the focus of the Judgment Seat of Christ is not to expose our failures or flaws or inadequacies during this life. The focus is to expose that which is good. What is burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ is the wood, hay, and straw, not the gold, silver, and precious stones. The whole focus of the Bema Seat is to reveal that which we have done which is divine good, not to expose failure, although after everything there is burned up, there will be shame and embarrassment because there is nothing left.

Let’s look at the contrast between victorious believers and defeated believers. First of all, victorious believers receive rewards, privileges, and blessings at the Judgment Seat of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:12–15 is a very familiar passage, I’m sure. We’re told that everyone builds on that common foundation which is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every believer has a foundation laid at the instant you express faith alone in Christ alone. At that instant we receive the imputed righteousness of Christ, and we have the opportunity from that day until the day we go to be with the Lord in death or the Rapture occurs to do something with what God provides for us. He provides at least forty things for us at the instant of salvation.

In Ephesians 1 Paul says He blesses us “with every spiritual blessing”. We have the assets necessary to handle any and every situation in life. God has given us the Holy Spirit who indwells us. He has sanctified us positionally. He has given us a completed Canon of Scripture.

Every believer who is alive today at the beginning of the 21st century we have the availability of Bible teaching unlike any other era in history. We not only have print forms, thousands and thousands of great doctrinal publications and books that have been written by believers down through the ages, but we also have quite a few very good live Bible teachers and we have numerous others whose teaching is preserved on some kind of electronic format over the last thirty or forty years since World War II.

There is so much that’s available today for every believer to learn the Word of God that it’s just amazing that people ignore it to the degree that they do. I think that’s a sign of divine judgment on our generation and on our culture, that we have more spiritual truth than at any time in history and yet we ignore it more than at any other time in history.

We have all of these various assets that the Lord has provided for us, and we have to decide how we’re going to live our lives. That’s the analogy in 1 Corinthians 3 is that you’re going to build something on that foundation. Whether you were saved when you were five years old or whether you were saved when you were fifteen, twenty-five, or any other time the rest of your life, you are constructing something on that foundation of your salvation in Jesus Christ.

That is going to accrue to something that has eternal value which we call divine good or it will not. It will either be done in the power of the Holy Spirit, walking by the Spirit, abiding in Christ, or any of those various terms that we study in Scripture, or it will be done out of your own strength, your own effort, or your own sin nature. That will be nothing more than morality and having the façade of a relationship with God.

The decision is yours. What is your life going to count for? I know from looking at many of you and talking to many of you, especially as you near that forty-year mark or fifty-year mark or sixty-year mark or seventy, we become more and more aware that the time is short. What we do in this life may be fun. It may be stimulating. It may feed various goals we adopted when we were younger, but we realize that when we’re older that the only thing that’s going to count is the doctrine in our soul and what we’ve done in the power of God the Holy Spirit that will endure forever.

That’s the only thing that we take with us. It’s on that basis that we will be rewarded, granted privileges in Heaven, and given various blessings. That develops. The spiritual life you have today is developing a capacity for leadership and responsibility and ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second thing we learn is that victorious believers are going to be praised personally at the Judgment Seat of Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That’s the term used in Matthew 25:12 and following.

Third, victorious believers have different levels of privilege and authority in the Kingdom. Some are going to have authority over smaller groups. Some are going to have authority over larger groups. This is part of what we see in our study of the overcomer believer in these two chapters of Revelation.

Slide 6

Revelation 2:7 talks about the fact that the one who overcomes will have the privilege of eating from the Tree of Life. This is going to be in the center of Heaven, a special privilege place called the Paradise of God.

Slide 7

Furthermore, in Revelation 2:11 we’re told that the overcomer believer won’t be hurt by the second death. You’ll have a special crown in verse 10, a crown of life, and you won’t be hurt by the second death. We studied that and saw that it means that rewards won’t perish in the Lake of Fire.

Slide 8

Revelation 2:17 says we have hidden manna and a white stone. We’re given a new name, and all of this speaks of special privilege and access in Heaven.

Slide 9

Revelation 2:27 says we will rule with the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will also be given the morning star as a special award.

Slide 10

Revelation 3:5 says we are clothed in white garments, a special uniform of some kind indicating our status as victorious believers.

Slide 11

There’s a memorial set up as a pillar in the temple memorializing that which we have done and the pillar in the temple is a key element in the worship of God, serving as priests and kings in the Millennial Kingdom. We’re given a new name which indicates a new position, a new privilege in the Millennial Kingdom. That’s all part of what we have as victorious believers.

Slide 12

The victorious believer is going to participate at the wedding supper following the marriage of the bride, the church, to Christ. Those who are defeated, those who are failures in the spiritual life are not allowed to enter this special wedding feast. They will enter into the Kingdom. They won’t inherit the Kingdom, but they will be excluded from the marriage of the bride. Matthew 25:1–3 and Revelation 19:6–8.

Victorious believers will also participate with Jesus Christ in His final defeat of Satan. Psalm 110:1 and Revelation 19.

Victorious believers will rule with Christ as kings and priests. We will have reigning responsibilities in the Millennial Kingdom and on into eternity.

Slide 13

Now for defeated believers. Defeated believers are believers who do not put doctrine first. They fail to apply the Word and they fail to grow spiritually. Somehow along the way they are just overwhelmed by the details of life, and they just never get to that point where they realize that going to Bible class, listening to doctrine on a consistent basis, hearing the Word of God, being refreshed by the Word of God, and having their thinking changed by the Word of God is the most important thing we can possibly do.

I watch so many people struggle with this. One of the times I watch is when you have a young couple first having children. Those of you that have children know that is a time when your whole world changes and all kinds of demands and all kinds of issues erupt. It’s very easy to just become overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and time demands and you’ll watch them disappear for a while. Then they’ll show up again. It’s a time of learning to adjust their priorities so they get done that which they need to get done.

I’ve watched this many times as a pastor over the years. You’ll see people who are there fairly regularly. If they haven’t made those priority commitments to learn the Word before they start having kids, then as soon as those kids come along, they only show up now and then. They have to deal with other issues but that’s a real testing and time period.

The other one is retirement. You may realize that, but when you get a little older and all the kids are gone there’s a certain motivation you have to be in church because of the kids, but all of a sudden when you hit 60, 65, 70 you think, “Well, I served the church when I was younger. Now it’s time for me to relax and travel a little bit. I’ve got to go see the grandkids this weekend, then the other set of grandkids next weekend.” Then rather than being involved in Christian service at a time you have lots to offer with all the time you have on your hands, what we see is that seniors just tend to just drop out. That’s a shame. I think those are two of the most important testing periods in life.

There’s a lot of differences. In my first church the mean age in the church, the age at which you had an equal number below the age and an equal number above the age was 58. That included all the bed babies in the nursery.

I learned a lot in that congregation. I was 28 so that was a real challenge. People who were 50, 55, 60, 70, and 75 often are not asking the same questions that are being asked by 25- and 35-year-olds. You have to recognize those differences. We go through different seasons of life and there are different tests and different issues.

I’ve had occasions twice now in the last month to talk to young guys who have gone to congregations that are primarily older, who are having to deal with some of these issues. They can’t get anyone to do anything. They’re all retired, and they don’t want to commit to anything. That’s just another test in life. It just comes back to that issue of putting doctrine first, counting the cost, learning the Word, applying the Word, and growing spiritually.

Secondly, defeated believers are often wonderful people for this world and they’re successful in the things of temporal existence and the details of life. Part of the reason they’re very successful is because rather than taking the time to learn the Word, grow spiritually, and be involved in a local church, they take that time to be involved in their profession and their career.

That’s one of the tests when we come to priorities. How do we balance this? On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong in pursuing excellence in your career. There are certain careers where people make choices that are extremely demanding time-wise. I understand that. That has to be factored in.

Thank God, there are videos and mp3s and everything today to take up the slack. Often one is successful in one area at the expense of their spiritual life and that leads to defeat in the spiritual life.

Defeated believers become distracted by the details of life as they become older and become more successful and have opportunities to take part in all of the pleasures and all the distractions that we have in our world today. Unlike our grandparents, we have so many things we can do on a weekend.

You can finish work and on a weekend hop on a plane and be in another part of the country. You can wake up the next morning and go skiing, go sailing, go scuba diving, or do all kinds of things and then get back Sunday night. So much for church or doctrine. This happens with a certain number of people.

They just become defeated by the distractions of life, the hobbies, and the various things that are available to people today. These lead to a temporal loss of blessing and happiness. If you get distracted from this priority, then in this life you will be defeated and you won’t realize the blessings that God has for you in this life. It will lead to a loss of real happiness because we can’t base our happiness, our contentment, or our stability on the things of this world.

Slide 14

Fifth, there will be for you, if you are a defeated believer, shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Think about the most embarrassing, shameful moment in your life. That is just microscopic compared to the shame that we will feel at the Judgment Seat of Christ as a defeated believer because we will suddenly see reality for what it is.

We will understand how we failed and failed with lost opportunity and there will be true shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Sixth, there’s a loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It’s that which was not distributed, that which was not given. Also, it indicates in certain passages that there may be a loss of reward because the believer grew to a certain stage and then they became complacent and lost significant ground.

Seventh, these believers, though they are disinherited at the Judgment Seat of Christ [they do not receive any inheritance], nevertheless they don’t lose their salvation. They enter the Kingdom, but they do not inherit the Kingdom. In other words, they are not a participant in the ruling and reigning aspect that the Lord is training us for.

Eighth, their rewards will then be destroyed, that is the rewards that are not distributed, in the Lake of Fire according to Revelation 21:8. That’s where it says, “their part will be in the Lake of Fire”. That word “part” is the Greek word MEROS, which indicates share, portion, or that part of an inheritance. That is destroyed in the Lake of Fire.

Slide 15

Back to Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes …” That’s the challenge. Are we going to be one of those victorious believers, one of the overcomer believers, or are we going to be a defeated believer?

Slide 16

We have to understand what this means. It’s part of an entire debate that goes on in our entire theological world today and has for a number of years. There are actually two views that are set forth on this idea of an overcomer.

There are those who believe an overcomer is equivalent to every true believer. In other words, if you are regenerate, regeneration itself identifies you with Christ, and makes you an overcomer. Therefore, every believer is an overcomer. Every overcomer is a believer. If you’re not an overcomer, then you weren’t truly saved.

Now you see where this fits in. This is part of the old debate over “lordship salvation” verses free grace. Last night I was at an event, and someone asked me to clarify for them what this whole “lordship salvation” thing really is. That may be true for some of you, too. I’m going to make it really clear again this morning.

This is how I try to picture this when I’m talking to someone and ask them if they hold to free grace or lordship. Let’s take a hypothetical situation of a drug-dealing pimp in Harlem and he’s selling crack and other drugs and doing all his dirty stuff, like selling prostitutes. He comes along and runs into a missionary in the Salvation Army. There are some missionaries in the Salvation Army that get the gospel straight.

This missionary gets the gospel straight and gives him the gospel. He explains the plan of salvation, how he can get to Heaven not on the basis of any of his works. This is good news for this crackhead pimp because he knows he has nothing valuable to give God. He could never earn salvation if he had to, so he grasps the whole concept of grace and that Christ died for him and paid the penalty for all his sins and this pimp rejoices over that. Then he goes home and decides to celebrate in his usual way, and he gets high and then the two or three “ho’s” he’s living with come in and they manage to persuade him that this was just a really stupid thing to do, that someone really just sold him a bunch of religious lies.

He continues in his former lifestyle doing drugs and living with various prostitutes and three or four weeks later he overdoses and he dies. Is he going to go to Heaven or not? He understood the gospel and he trusted Christ. If you say he’s going to go to Heaven, you understand grace. If you say “No, he never really had works that were consistent with true faith,” then you have slipped into lordship salvation. You’re saying that the only way you are a true believer is on the basis of fruit production.

If I have works that are consistent with salvation, then that’s how I know I’m saved? Actually, we know we’re saved because the Scripture gives us the promises that if we believe in Christ, we will have eternal salvation. That’s the only thing that matters. It’s not based on works. You can’t slip works in the back door, which is what lordship salvation does, it slips works in the back door.

They say you don’t need works to be saved, but the way you know you’re saved is by having works that are consistent with faith. That is part of this whole debate.

In lordship salvation, the advocates of that will say, “Well, all believers therefore are overcomers. There are no believers who are failures.” They’ll also deny the existence of true carnal believers. It’s all these things put together.

As we look at this particular passage there are three things we have to identify as we look at this verse [Revelation 3:21]. The first phrase is “to him who overcomes”. We have to identify clearly who this overcomer is. Second, the thing we have to identify, and this is part of our study on overcomer, is when did Christ overcome?

Is this verb, NIKAO, ever applied to what Jesus Christ did? And to what is it applied that He did? That is important to understand the concept.

The third thing is what is this thing about the throne? Is there one throne and Jesus and the Father both share the throne, or are there ultimately going to be two distinct thrones? That is very important, and we won’t get to that until next week. That is a crucial aspect of this because that relates to our future destiny and getting a handle on this whole doctrine about the believer ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ.

We have to answer these questions. Is every believer an overcomer, or is it only believers who have advanced in the Christian life? Now I had a little glitch before I came here. I spent an hour and a half this morning working on a power point presentation and somehow it didn’t get saved and I lost a whole bunch of stuff so things on the slide presentation aren’t all they should be.

Slide 21

The real problem in understanding this comes out of another passage written by the Apostle John. This is in 1 John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” What you will find is numerous people who will come along and say see that tell us that it is the person who is regenerate that’s the overcomer.

At first glance when you look at that verse it seems to suggest that the regenerate person is identical to an overcomer.

The way some people try to resolve that is to say that John used the word “overcomer” a little differently in the Epistle of John than he does in Revelation 2 and 3. I don’t think that’s right. They haven’t dug enough into the text of 1 John.

We’ve gone through some of this before, but while I was looking at this verse this morning, something hit me that hadn’t hit me because I hadn’t exegeted this verse or dealt with this issue through the lens of Revelation 3:21. Jesus says, “To him who overcomes … as I also overcame …” That is a key phrase in this verse. So we have to look at that.

When we talk about this concept of overcoming, the first question we have to ask is what we are overcoming? That’s a key question. If the first view is correct, that is that every true believer is an overcomer, then overcoming would be equivalent to what happens at salvation or in other words, overcoming would be equivalent to justification, redemption, and reconciliation. It would be related to the work of Christ on the Cross and the application of that work of Christ on the Cross to our lives.

Justification means that we receive the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to cover our unrighteousness. So we are saved on the basis of Christ’s righteousness. Redemption means that our sins are paid for. Reconciliation means that because we are justified, we now have peace—key word for what’s coming up—peace with God.

All three of these doctrines—justification, redemption, and reconciliation—all deal with the sin problem. They all deal with the work of Christ on the Cross. If the first option is true, then overcoming is related to salvation. On the Cross Jesus Christ was made sin. This is the issue on the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In other words what happened on the Cross, we would say that Christ overcame sin. That would be issue if the first option is true that overcomer is synonymous a believer.

But if the second view is the true view, then overcoming is related to the experience of the Christian life. It’s not related to the work of Christ on the Cross. It would be related to His spiritual life on Earth when He set the precedent for the spiritual life for the Church Age believer.

Slide 18

When you look at Scripture there are two overcomers that are mentioned in Scripture. The first is the believer in 1 John, which we just referred to. The other is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is referred to by the Lord in John 16:33. This is a vital passage for understanding this whole doctrine of the overcomer believer.

In John 16:33 Jesus says to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.” What did we talk about reconciliation bringing peace? That’s the foundation, Romans 5, but it’s not what Jesus is talking about here in this context. “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Let’s make a couple of observations related to context here before we get into the verb. “These things I have spoken to you,” is what Jesus has just taught His disciples. This is part of the Upper Room Discourse, John 13, where He taught the disciples about the importance of cleansing. He told Judas to leave. He cleansed the room of the one unbeliever, leaving only believers. He then began to teach them about key principles for the spiritual life in the Church Age.

He told them that I give you a new commandment, “that you love one another; as I have loved you.” John 14 talks about the coming of the Comforter, another One like Himself who would indwell us, the Holy Spirit. In John 15 He talks about the key to the spiritual life is abiding in Christ. In John 16 He comes back to tie all of these concepts together: love, abiding in Him, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

He concludes by saying that these things, that which He had been teaching them since they had the Passover meal, “These things I have spoken to you that you might have peace.” Now is He teaching them in John 13–16 how to have a relationship with Him based on reconciliation and justification?

Or is He teaching believers who are already saved how to experience the on-going peace of God in their post-salvation spiritual life? It’s this latter. He is addressing believers. He is not addressing unbelievers. These chapters focus on post-salvation spiritual life truth, not salvation truth. He’s teaching the disciples that they’re going to stay in the world but in the world, they will have adversity and tribulation but what will give them victory in the midst of the world is the fact that He has already done something. He has overcome the world.

Now let’s go back. I want to make sure you understand what I’m saying here. If “overcomer” is a term that relates to salvation, then the victory has to do with victory over sin and what Christ did on the Cross. But if the overcoming is related to the spiritual life, then it’s not related to the work of Christ on the Cross.

The verb form for the word that Jesus uses, NIKAO, “I have overcome the world,” is the perfect tense verb, which indicates it’s a completed action. Before Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, before He was beaten and whipped, before He was taken through the various trials, before He was nailed to the Cross, before God the Father imputed to Him the sins of the world, He had already completed His victory over the world. It is not His work on the Cross. His defeat of the world was not related to Him paying the penalty for sin on the Cross.

He says, “I overcame the world”. The world is distinct from the issue of sin. Overcoming the world is a Christian life issue, not an eternal life issue. I hope I’ve made that clear because when we get over to 1 John 5, we’ll have to do some other work to understand what John is really saying.

The whole Book of 1 John, if you haven’t gone through my series on it, the whole Book of 1 John is a commentary by the Apostle John and explanation of what Jesus taught in the Upper Room Discourse. The parallel vocabulary is overwhelming. It is so obvious. He talks about all the same things that Jesus talked about in the Upper Room Discourse.

Jesus has already—completed action—overcome the world before He ever goes to the Cross, before He ever deals with the sin problem. Overcoming the world is part of Phase 2 in the Christian life. It’s learning how to apply the spiritual life precedent of the Lord Jesus Christ in His life.

It’s how He lived His spiritual life. He lived it on the basis of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and He lived it on the basis of the Word of God. And that’s what He bequeathed it to us as the body of Christ in this Church Age. So, we have to learn that. We have to look at how Jesus overcame the world during the 1st Advent.

Slide 19

It’s not dealing with sin per se. It’s dealing with this whole issue related to the world. This is what we find in Romans 12:2. The command there is “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

What we have at the beginning of that word, “do not be conformed” is the perfect, passive imperative, 2nd person plural verb of SUSCHEMATIZO. This is a really important word. It’s based on the root SCHEMA meaning form and it means to be conformed to a certain pattern or mold, to be pressed into a mold, to be formed into a mold, to be guided along a certain path by external pressures. That’s a great word for describing the world system.

The world system basically describes the value system, the thought forms, and all the trends of a culture surrounding anyone. From the day you’re born you learn all the values, all the thought forms, all the thought systems of the culture around you. You get pressured through peer pressure, through images on television, and through statements that we hear from teachers and parents and friends. This shapes the way we think, the way we make decisions, what we think is important, and our priorities.

All of that puts a certain pressure on us to conform to the mold of the culture around us. But God says that we are to be nonconformists. We are not to be conformed to the world. Here the word in the Greek is AION, the spirit of the age. It’s not the same word that we have in John 16:33 where Jesus said He had overcome the world. That’s the KOSMOS, which refers to another aspect of the same thing. These words are used almost interchangeably.

AION has the same idea here as the zeitgeist as the Germans would say, the spirit of the age, the thought forms of the age. The solution is to be transformed. That’s the Greek word METAMORPHOO, which means to be completely changed. It means to have a complete change of form. The idea is that it changes the way we think, our character, and it transforms us from the inside out.

So we are to be transformed. How? By the renewing of our mind. Let me make a little observation here. If the solution here is your thinking, then what’s the problem? Your thinking! See, the solution has to be consistent with the problem. The problem in worldliness is not what we do, but it is the kind of thinking that leads to what we do. It is being conformed to the popular ideas of the culture around us.

Slide 20

Jesus says that He defeated or had victory over this pressure before He ever went to the Cross. Let’s back up a minute and take another doctrine and bring it in to add a little clarity here. Remember, the believer has three enemies. We have the enemy of our own sin nature. Every one of you has a sin nature and that is the internal enemy.

Then there are two external enemies. The Devil and the world. Now Satan had a certain kind of thinking when he rebelled against God. That thinking was based arrogance, on autonomy. “I can be my own law.” “I can do it my own way.” “I can define truth the way I want to define truth.” “I can define worship the way I want to define worship.”

When we started this morning before I introduced that first hymn, I talked about how worship today has really been diluted and deteriorated, because since the 60s people are redefining what worship is all about and how you evaluate worship by what’s going on inside you. By whether or not you feel worship when you come to church.

That’s totally different from what preceded the church and the previous 1900 years of church history. which didn’t define worship that way. There’s been a radical change that’s taken place because of the pressure from what is valuable to the world system around. In most churches today we have a very worldly form of worship. They have been pressed into the mold of the world around us. They have the same value system when it comes to worshipping God.

We have to have a complete change take place.

Jesus conquered that in the 1st advent. How did He do it? What did it look like? That’s what we’ll have to come back to next time. What we see this time in terms of Revelation 3:21 is that we are to be overcomers and the way to do that has been modeled for us by Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:21 says, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” The pattern is how the Lord Jesus Christ overcame the world. So, the question we have to answer in terms of our own spiritual life is, when did this take place with the Lord Jesus Christ, and how did He overcome the world, and what do we learn from that so that we, too, can follow in that same pattern?

We’ll come back and begin with that next time.

Closing Prayer

“Our Lord we’re indeed grateful that we have the pattern of our Lord Jesus Christ to go to. We do not look to other human beings. We do not look to church history. We look to the Lord Jesus Christ. He set the precedent for us in our spiritual life.

“Father, this is available to every one of us. It doesn’t matter our background. It doesn’t matter our education. It doesn’t matter what sins we’ve committed, what failures we’ve had. We know that You have provided this graciously to every one of us.

“More importantly than that is our eternal status. At this time, we pray that if there is anyone here this morning who is unsure of their salvation or uncertain of their eternal status that they would take this time to make that sure and certain. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins.

“When He was hanging there on the Cross, God the Father imputed to Him every single sin in your life, every single sin you’ve committed, every single sin you will commit. It was paid for. It was dealt with. It’s no longer an issue. The issue for you is to put your faith alone in Christ alone.

“Trust Him and at that instant you have eternal salvation. Once you’re saved, the issue is different. The issue is what do I do with this so great salvation that I have? The issue is what do I do in terms of advancing in terms of growing, in terms of becoming an overcomer, and that’s the challenge.

“It’s a challenge we must face every single day. Are we going to put the Lord first or we going to put the details of life first? How we answer that question determines whether at the end of our life we’re stamped as an overcomer or as a defeated believer. Victorious or failure.

“Father, we pray You would take these things, challenge us with them so that we may live our lives to Your honor and glory. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”