which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
It is encouraging to think about eternal life as the free "gift" of God. We appreciate the fact that without His grace, we would have little hope.
" For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." ( Ephesians 2: 8)
There is another side to the story, and it is demonstrated in verses such as the one quoted at the top of this page, from Revelation 2:7.
God is not willing that any of us perish, and He will extend His mercy to those individuals who diligently seek Him, and who show their faith by bringing forth fruit. There is effort involved in bearing fruit. It takes work to be among those that overcome. ( see James 2:26)
One of the measures of our faith is our demonstrated resistance to sin. James tells us in his first chapter: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."
James continues his discourse by saying: "Every man is TEMPTED, when he is drawn away of his own LUST, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth SIN: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth DEATH." (James 1:14-15). This is the process that we must learn to overcome with God's help.
In the Book of Revelation, the following blessings are associated with overcoming:
(Rev 2:7 ) "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
(Rev 2:11) "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
(Rev 2:17) "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna."
(Rev 2:26) "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations."
(Rev 3:5 ) "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."
(Rev 3:12 ) "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God."
(Rev 3:21) "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."
(Rev 21:7) "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."
OUR OWN LUST LEADS TO SIN AND THEN TO DEATH. THE HEART IS DECEITFUL. SIN COMES FROM WITHIN. ( Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23)
Jesus told his disciples to Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." . ( Matt. 26: 41)
We must keep our eyes open, always aware of the dangers.
We must be watching the signs of the times, so that we will be ready for his coming.
James tells us to " resist the devil and he will flee from you." ( James 4:7). We must put on the whole armor of God and be strong. This is a battle for survival. Do not give in to sin. Resist. Put up a fight. Your temptation will leave you for a time, if you resist.
Help to restore others in the spirit of meekness. ( Galatians 6:1-2)
When others give in to temptation, be willing to help. Always keep in mind that you are also subject to temptation. You might just as well have been the one who stumbled.
A little humility is much better than a lot of pride.
Look forward to the joy of the Kingdom for your motivation to overcome, but also remember to anticipate the judgment. We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Examine your self today, so that you can avoid judgment to condemnation tomorrow.
Read, study and memorize the Word. Hide it in your heart ( Psalm 119:11)
We cannot overcome temptation alone. God is always willing to help.
We must approach the throne of grace and ask for strength in Jesus' name. Jesus is our example, he offered up prayers and supplication during his trials. He often continued all night in his prayers to God.
Do not make provision for the flesh. ( Rom 13:14) Don't plan to sin.
If you are not supposed to be swimming, don't take your bathing suit along, just in case you get tempted.
Avoid situations and occasions where you know you are likely to be weak.
Keep in mind that you are not out of sight. Your brothers and sisters may not see what you are doing. Your spouse may not be aware of your actions. But, God sees it all. His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. ( Proverbs 15:3) How can you possibly consider sinning in His presence?
Submit yourselves to God. ( James 4:7) Jesus always did those things that pleased his Father. ("Not my will, but thine be done.") We like to do those things that please ourselves. When we are ready to submit to God's will, we will be well on the road to overcoming.
One of the reasons that we often fail is because we depend on the excuse that "we are only human." If we are convinced that it is impossible to overcome sin in the flesh, we are defeated before we begin to try.
We have presented several suggestions that should help us to overcome temptation. In all of these examples, Jesus has led the way for us. He has demonstrated that a partaker of " flesh and blood" can resist. He has shown us that we do not have to give in to sin.
We deny the Truth of the "nature of Christ" if we are not able to identify with his victory over sin.
We must learn to apply the example of our Master to our own lives. He struggled with the same nature that we have. We read concerning his battle:
"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." ( Hebrews 5: 8-9)
Jesus trusted that God would help him. We also have been promised that God will help us. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." ( 1 Cor 10:13)
It was in the promises of God that Jesus found his own strength to endure. It was the prophesies of the joy that would come, that enabled him to overcome the pain of the cross.
We are told in Hebrews 12: 2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
We are instructed to " consider him." To think about his example, so that we do not faint in our own struggle with sin.
Jesus looked ahead to the coming Kingdom of God on this earth. He knew that he would reign as King of Kings. We can look ahead also. We have the hope that we will rule with him.
The struggles that we now face and the pain that we bear, will be forgotten as a dream in the night. The blessings of the Kingdom age will bring joy in the place of our tears.
Peace on earth and the end to suffering, sorrow, sickness, pain. Yes, even an end to death itself. What a blessing and a joy. With this as our vision, we can endure.
Consider the joy that is before us and 'look up, and lift up your heads.; for your redemption draweth nigh."( Luke 21:28)
The scriptures provide us with the tools that we will need as we struggle to overcome sin. Jesus led the way with his example. When he was tempted, he remembered scripture, and often quoted, " it is written" as his defense.
He apparently had followed the advice of the Psalmist, ( quoted above from Psalm 119:11), "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee."
Jesus told us just how important the Word of God is in our lives. In Matthew 4:4 he states: " It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Reading God's Word is not enough. We must be willing to digest it, meditate on it, and commit portions of it to memory. When we are faced with the process of lust, sin and death, we will be able to recall the Word of God from our own heart and find the strength that we need.
Job, who was one of the righteous men in the Old Testament era, had deep respect for God's Word. It is very likely that it was the Word of God that gave him the patience to endure his great trials. Job felt this way: " I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." ( Job 23:12)
The strength in God's Word is found in many ways. It may be the comfort of a favorite passage that helps us to find refuge in the storm. It may be the example of one of the saints of old that encourages us. It may be the teachings of the Master, who spoke as one having authority, that motivates us to overcome. It may also be in the promises and prophesies of the coming blessings that we hope to share when Jesus returns.
There is another KEY BENEFIT to making a hunger for the Word of God a priority in our lives.
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
The fact is that FAITH is essential for salvation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6) It is the hearing of the Word of God that builds our faith.
There is power in the Word of God. Power to build our faith, and power to help us overcome the deceitfulness of sin. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." ( 1 John 5:4)