Friday, August 21, 2009

The Seven Churches and The Overcomers

The messages to the 7 Churches were given to John around 95 AD. These 7 churches in Asia all existed at the same time in John's day. It is important that we realize these messages are timeless. They may not be in the same place or with the same people but they remain just the same. They represent the body of believers in Christ!
The condemnations and the promises that Jesus gave to each church still stand. They are timeless because the problems with sin still exist within the church today. In fact, Jesus concludes His message to each church saying, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Who is the church, is it a building or a denomination? No, it is every believer. Each of us that have accepted Christ. The church is not a place we go to worship; it is all the children of God. 1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

The 7 churches are not numbered one through seven and they are not sequential or chronological in order. They are not apocalyptic and they do not represent seven time periods since the ascension of Jesus. They all existed at the same time in John's day and they still exist today.

We need to notice what Jesus said to each church and see, which church applies to our own experience in the Lord. Notice what Jesus says to each church.

1. Ephesus: Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Rev 2:7 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 tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

2. Smyrna: Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Rev 2:11 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.

3. Pergamum: Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. See Numbers 22-24 (Balaam style refers to immoral sins committed with heathen who don't know better.)

Rev 2:17 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.

4. Thyatira: Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols Compare with 1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 9 (This refers to sins committed within the church by those knowing better)

Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

5. Sardis: Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

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, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

6. Philadelphia: Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Rev 3:12 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.

7. Laodicea: Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

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.

What does it mean to overcome?

Strong's Concordance 3528 nikao {nik-ah'-o}

from 3529; TDNT - 4:942,634; v

AV - overcome 24, conquer 2, prevail 1, get the victory 1; 28

to conquer 1a) to carry off the victory, come off victorious 1a1) of Christ, victorious over all His foes 1a2) of Christians, that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions 1a3) when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one's cause

Do you see that? God wants a people who have overcome their sins, they are victorious. He wants a pure and holy people to take with Him to heaven. He didn't say join the church and get baptized and go out and keep on sinning. He didn't say I know you can't help it and I don't care. If you are not happy here on earth overcoming your sins then you will not be happy in heaven! God will take no one to heaven that would not rather die than to sin. Do we not have enough faith in the power of God to help us overcome sin? Do we accept the doctrine of cheap grace taught by many that we cannot and do not have to overcome sin? By the shed blood of Christ we can overcome. But, before we can overcome anything we have to first acknowledge what is sin in our own lives and be willing for God to remove it.

Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

1Jo 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

We many times we overlook things in our lives that to God is SIN. We cannot overcome sin on our own. It must be Christ in us. In giving ourselves to Him DAILY, trusting Him to do the work in us and through us. Our part is laying down our lives to Him. Placing ourselves on the altar and allowing Him to work in us. I call it spiritual surgery and sometimes it hurts, but it is always with His love that He corrects us.

God will reveal your sin to you if you ask. He knows things within us that we might not even see ourselves. Remember the story of the rich man. Mat 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 . . . . but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 . . . . Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Now God didn't need this man's money. But God knew this man loved his money more than he loved God. God wants all of you and He will reveal to you things that are inside you. He knows the very depths of our heart and the sin within. Only then can He use you. He wants to do a work in you so you can be Jesus with skin on.

The devil wants you to disobey God and he will use whatever means works. It can even be done in the name of religion. There are those sitting in the pews now that have no idea what sin is. They believe as long as they go to church and do their duty and are baptized that is all that is necessary. Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. These are those who claim to be religious. What is their problem? They have not done the will of God.

Mat 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Satan wants you to believe that you cannot overcome sin. And you can't in your own power because the flesh will win out every time.

What does God want?

Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 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.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

There is a time and God only knows that time when we have rejected the prompting of the Holy Spirit to see truth and the sin in our lives. When that time has been reached God will turn one over to the devil. This is called the unpardonable sin. The heart is so harden that you do not hear God anymore. There is no guilt over sin. The work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth.

Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. John is saying that no one who is walking in disobedience to God can be righteous. He even says that one who is not is of the devil. Strong words!

Does this mean we will never sin. No! But it is what we do with that sin. Do we stay in it or do we go to God and ask forgiveness and ask Him to help us overcome that sin. When we sin we have to lay Jesus aside. We cannot sin when Jesus is abiding in our heart. If we close Him out we will sin. It is always a matter of choice.

What is sin?

We cannot be good enough on our own to deserve salvation. No one can obey the commandments of God on his own. You cannot earn your way to heaven. Do not let any one tell you that you still have the assurance of salvation if you are walking in willful disobedience to God! This is a false doctrine. Truth faith in Christ will overcome sin. In God's sight it is non-negotiable. God didn't say, go to church and be baptized and go on sinning. John 8:11 . . . . And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

1Co 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

1Co 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

Jam 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

The Lord sends each of us people and circumstances to speak truth into our lives to bring us to Him. He speaks to our hearts, but if we willfully reject His drawing there is no sacrifice for our sins. We need to pay particular attention to this one. How often has God sent someone to you?

1Jo 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

1Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

What is the law? It is the Ten Commandments. Don't let anyone tell you they were nailed to the cross with Christ or that God changed one or left it out. This is a lie straight from hell.

1Jo 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

Overcoming sin

Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Rom 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Jam 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Phi 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Heb 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

We need to be constantly aware of what we say, what we do and what we watch. What we feed our mind and bodies have a direct effect on our hearts. We are His lips, hands and bodies. We the church represent Christ to others. How can we expect the world to be drawn to Christ if we act like the world?

1Jo 3:6 Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

1Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

In Psalm 119:10 "For I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I do not sin against You".

We need to know the Scriptures and to apply them to our lives. We cannot know God if we do not know what He has to say. We need to keep in constant communion with Him to know His will and to ask Him to help us to overcome our sin. He forces know one.

The judgment and works

True faith in God will produce good works of obedience. Jam 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Many believe it is legalistic to say that we are judged by our works, but the Bible does not support this.

Rev 20:12 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.

Our works do not save us, but they are evidence of the Holy Spirit abiding within us. Man cannot save himself by works of the flesh. Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will produce works.

The bottom line is if one has truly come to Christ, he will live a life of obedience. He will strive to overcome his sins and will not live in willful disobedience to the commandments of God.

Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

There is not one thing that we might have to give up or go through on this earth that will even compare with what God has for each of us who overcomes. May we each be found among the overcomers when Jesus returns.

There's an important question. When will the promise to each church be given? Answer: When Jesus comes. This little point is very important. Rev 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. We have the promise of salvation, but we will only receive it at the time of the Second Coming. Church it is time to take a stand. Christ will come for His church. Will you be among those He finds to have faith? Will you live eternally with HIM or will you be destroyed with satan?

Rev 6:17 For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Luk 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?

Heavenly Father how loving is Your chastening. I hunger to know more of You, Lord. In all times of temptation may I remember Your example. I praise You for Your Word, which tells me how I should live my life. Make my heart completely devoid of self so I may be filled with Your Spirit. There are times that I may slip once again into the mire. Cleanse and strengthen me for Jesus' sake.


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