There has been a lot of interest recently about a television series called “Survivors.” Regardless of what you think of this Television series it is something of a Phenomenon. It was reported that 50 million Americans watched these broadcasts. In case you know nothing of the show a group of people volunteered to be marooned on an island and the last person not voted off the island wins a million dollars.
But, “What does it mean to be a Survivor?”
Webster Dictionary says that to survive means to “To remain alive or in existence. To live longer than: outlive. To persist through: (like plants surviving a frost”.
In our world today we talk about all kinds of survivors: cancer survivors, abuse survivors, tornado survivors, earthquake survivors, hurricane survivors and the list goes on and on!
Their was a trivia question asked once, “That if a plane crashed on the United States and Canadian border “Who would bury the survivors”. Someone answered “I don’t know”. Well, the answer is “you don’t bury survivors”.
You ever ask someone “how are you during” and they said “I’m just surviving”.
My brothers and sisters, it is great to be a survivor but I want to do more than just survive.
The Bible does not use the word “survivor” but it does use the word “overcomer.” The root word for overcome has a very interesting meaning in the original Greek language. It means to prevail, to pass over, to gain the victory.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to settle for just surviving, I want to get the victory, I want to be an overcomer!
And many of us may watch the Survivor Television Series, but far more important than the ability to survive on a desert island or in the Australian outback or even to win a million dollars, is the ability to be a spiritual survivor in this world. And in order to grasp what it means to be a Spiritual Survivor this morning we want to ask and answer three questions.
I. FIRST OF ALL, WHAT MUST WE OVERCOME – Somebody say the world
Turn in your Bibles to 1 John 2:15-16. The Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (NKJV)
Here the world is described as an enemy, a foe. Now the Greek word for world is (Cosmos) which is an ordered system. It is where we get our word “cosmic” from when we look up at the stars and say “the cosmic universe”. So the world is an ordered system that leaves God out. It is also where we get our word cosmetics from, a woman who puts her face in order. Those of you ladies who use Mary Kay or Avon this morning, you put your face in order. And thank God for cosmetics.
16) For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
The Lust of the flesh; this speaks of passion, Lust of the eyes, this speaks of possession, the Pride of Life, this speaks of position. This is the unbridled ambition, the desire to put oneself first. The world still attacks us through these three areas of temptation.
Jesus taught his disciples to be confident and optimistic. Jesus said in John 16:33, “…In this world you will you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We can be overcomers because Jesus was an overcomer. The Lord has provided a way for the believer to be victorious over every foe he faces. Which brings us to our second question.
II. HOW CAN WE BECOME OVERCOMERS (Back to 1 John 5:1-6)
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. (2) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. (3) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (4) For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (5) Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (6) This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”
This text reveals that we will face powerful opposition in this world. This opposition is necessary in order for us to know what it is like to have victory.
Helen Keller, famous for the difficulties she overcame being born blind. made the observation that, “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were not limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”
My brothers and sisters, it is the difficulties in life that give us the opportunity to know what it is like to have victory.
This text reveals three resources that are given to us to enable us to be overcomers.
First, it requires a Birth (v. 4). “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” There is no way to be an overcomer without a new birth, without being born again.
Jesus described this process to a man by the name of Nicodemus in John 3:1-3, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (3) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Being an overcomer demands that we be born again. There is not one lost person alive today who can honestly say that they are living joyful, fulfilled, victorious lives. That person does not have the ingredient necessary for a victorious life. There is a void in their lives that can only be filled successfully with Christ.
Secondly it requires a Belief (vv. 4b-5). “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (5) Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” We do not become an overcomer by ourselves. We do not become an overcomer by trying. We become an overcomer by trusting.
It is by belief or faith, that we are born again. When we by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior we are born again. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
If we want to be victorious, it is time to stop trying and start trusting. What are we trusting in today? Are we trusting in our jobs, or our family, or our friends or our material possessions.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
My brothers and sisters, it time to trust Jesus. If we can trust that a chair is going to hold our bottom, then we ought to be able to trust Jesus.
Thirdly, it requires the Blood (v. 6). This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”
Verse six tells us that it requires the shed blood of Jesus that we can have the victory over sin and death. In our modern day we do not like to talk about the Blood but the Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:22, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission (of sin)” Sin demands a sacrifice.
The payment for our sins requires an awesome price! That price was the blood of Jesus. Colossians 1:14 says, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
The price for your sins and mine was paid by Christ. We are told in Heb. 9:12 “that redemption was made when Jesus once for all time entered into heaven with the offering of his blood, “…but with his own blood He entered the Most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Jesus once for all time paid the price for our eternal redemption. Thus men are redeemed (brought back) as 1 Peter 1:19 says “…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
But these are not three separate things that we must do!They are all part of a single act. We are born again when we by faith accept the payment that Jesus made through his blood.
Let me illustrate by telling you a story that I have heard in several different forms, but I believe gives the heart of what I am trying share with you. “Years ago in London, a liberal minister who didn’t believe in the gospel, was visited by a young boy who had been sent by his mother. He said, ‘My mother is dying. Please come and get her in!’ At first he believed the boy meant that his mother was out drunk somewhere so the minister said to the boy, ‘Get a policeman, it is raining out and I don’t want to go out. Get a policeman to get her home.’ The boy replied, ‘She is already at home. She’s not drunk she is at home and she is dying.’ Now the minister was stunned as he understood that she needed words of comfort to face her Maker, so he was worried about what to say. When he arrived at her bedside, he told her that she had lived a good life. ‘You’ve nothing to fear,’ he said, ‘God is Love.’ But his words gave her no hope. The pastor became desperate. All he could remember was a hymn his mother had sung when he was a boy, so he began to sing, ‘There is a fountain filled with blood drawn Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.’
Seeing the woman’s face brighten, he falteringly related what he had been taught in his youth - that Christ took the sinner’s place on the cross. In those moments the dying woman found peace by trusting Jesus as her Savior. Presenting the gospel to her, the minister ‘got her.’ The next Sunday he told his congregation about his experience. He concluded, ‘Not only did it get her in, it got me in too. From now on I’ll preach Christ and him crucified.”
And Finally, Our Third Question
III. HOW CAN WE LIVE LIKE OVERCOMERS?
John tells us in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
We can overcome the obstacles that we face in this life through the strength that we receive in the Lord. The believer is reminded in 1 John 4:4, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”
If we have been born again, we have already been made an overcomer in Him. We have already been given the victory through the blood of Jesus Christ. Our challenge now is to live in the light of the victory that has already been won.
To be an overcomer you must, have experienced the rebirth, Are you born again? You must have come by faith and have a belief in him as your personal savior. You must have come under the blood. Have you been cleansed by the blood of Jesus?