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What overcomes us, that is, what overpowers us and has its way with us? These are the things that overcame men of God in the Bible:

· I am overcome by the blow of Your hand.[1]

· I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.[2]

· All the people of the Gerasenes… were overcome with fear.[3]

· Do not be overcome by evil.[4]

· Their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ.[5]

Thus it is trouble, sorrow, fear and sensual desires that can overcome people, which means that these are things that overpower us; overrun us; overshadow us; overtake us; overthrow us; overturn us; and overwhelm us. Thus, the overcomer is one who overpowers, overruns, overshadows, overtakes, overthrows, overturns and overwhelms all that is in his way.

By now, it should be obvious that it is not by faith that we overcome, for there is an abundance of faith in all men, even in the church, but faith per say cannot overcome troubles, sorrow, fear and sensuality. For if that was the case, then all who believed would be overcomers, but yet when Jesus addressed His letters to the seven churches,[6] He kept exhorting them to overcome. These are letters addressed to people who have put their faith in Him and in His Name in varying degrees. As such, if faith alone could overcome, then Jesus would not have given them the promises for overcomers.

Faith saves a person from destruction but does not overcome that which still faces them even after they are saved. It would be ridiculous to even think that once a person has received salvation, that he or she has overcome all troubles, sorrows, fears and sensual desires. In truth, faith, yes faith that pleases God, can become a hindrance to the overcomer, which is why Jesus said, as the last thing He said to the disciples before He prayed to the Father, “You believe at last! But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me. I have told you all these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”[7]

It was not till the end of three years of being discipled that Jesus could say to them, “You believe at last!” It took three years with multitudes of teachings and miracles before the disciples’ lack of faith was overcome, as well as their misdirected faith. John wrote: This is love for God: to obey His (Jesus’) commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.[8] It sounds from John’s writing that faith in Jesus overcomes the world, doesn’t it? Wrong. It does however start with belief that Jesus is the Son of God, in which case, you would be obeying God’s command to “Listen to Him!” However, when John wrote that this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith, he was referring to the victory that does not find Jesus’ commands burdensome. 1 John 5 can be misleading because, if you are not seeing it from the perspective of Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father, then the part that reads, this is love for God: to obey His commands, can mean to include the commands from the Old Covenant. But it is clear that John is speaking only of the commands of Jesus, for only those who have placed their faith in Jesus are born of God. As he wrote: Yet to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His Name (Jesus), He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.[9] Yet their faith, that is the disciples’ faith, would still fail them, for Jesus said, “You will be scattered,” after He said, “You believe at last!” As such, the victory that has overcome the world, even their faith, depended not on faith, but on something that came after they believed that Jesus is the Son of God.

When Jesus was arrested, they fled in fear, and Peter denied Jesus three times. Why? Was it because he was angry with Jesus or because he hated Jesus or because he loved Jesus? No, but because he feared sharing Jesus’ fate. So, the faith they had could not overcome fear, and certainly not the love they had either, for by now they had some sort of love for Jesus, even if it was not agape but phileo as Peter confessed three times. Neither does boasting or oaths bolster faith and love enough so that it is not overcome by fear, for it was not only Peter who said, “Lord, I am ready to go with You to prison and to death,”[10] but all the others did also, as it is written: And all the other disciples said the same.[11]

Since love can only come after knowledge, then even knowledge is insufficient to overcome troubles, sorrow, fear and sensual desires. Indeed, Paul knew that partial observance of the Law carried a curse, yet even as late as Acts 21, with all the trouble he had experienced with the teachings of men from James in Antioch,[12] he could not overcome the sensual desire to be accepted by James and the elders of Jerusalem when he agreed with their plan not to offend the Jewish believers who were zealous for the Law. So Paul, in agreeing to participate in the purification rites himself, became a liar because he had been telling the Gentile believers to stop circumcising their children and not to live according to Jewish customs.[13] You say, “Sensual desires? I thought that meant sex, gluttony, drunkenness, greed.” Yes, that and worse, worse than sexual immorality, gluttony, drunkenness and greed, is the desire to make peace with men’s way at the expense of Jesus’ way; for the way of Jesus is Spirit, but the way of men is flesh and sensual.

Thus, faith, love and knowledge do not give you the power to overcome; but Jesus said, “I have given you authority… to overcome all the power of the enemy, nothing will harm you.”[14] And while we are at it, wisdom is useless for overcoming, for though Solomon was the wisest of all men, he fell due to not overcoming temptations and thus fell short of the glory of God. We know that Satan, the former guardian cherub, was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,”[15] which means that one of his powers is wisdom as well as a form of perfection, for he was “the model of perfection”. Therefore, to be an overcomer, you must have something that is stronger than faith, knowledge, wisdom and even love, which leaves only understanding as the candidate. In John 16:31, the disciples had not yet had their minds opened by Jesus that they would understand the Scriptures, which He did after the Resurrection, as it is written: Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.[16] Now remember, their Scriptures are the Old Testament, for at that stage, the New Testament had not yet been written. For us, our Scriptures are the Gospels, Epistles, and the Revelation. For them, it is the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms.

The church at large has faith, even faith in Jesus, and has some knowledge about Jesus and wisdom to stay away from evil, and that some even truly love Jesus, there is no doubt. Many, many lovely believers of Jesus have faith, knowledge, wisdom and love, yet they have not overcome the world, but are overcome by the world and its powers because they have lacked understanding. We have lacked understanding and still do, though we have more than we did. Yet, I would not boast that our understanding of God and His ways are perfect, no more than I would boast that our faith, knowledge, wisdom and love for God and of God is complete, but we are acquiring more everyday. Now, these are the true riches of the world, the world God so loved that He sent Jesus to save—faith, knowledge, wisdom, love and understanding. For faith pleases God, knowledge is pleasant to the soul,[17] wisdom saves from wicked men and love is God, but understanding is what keeps God One, even as They have faith in Each Other, even as They know and love Each Other and deal with Each Other with all wisdom—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For with understanding, you will understand the fear of the Lord.[18]

So, when the church reads these words of Jesus’, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy, nothing will harm you,” it thinks of authority, as men do with titles and positions to lord it over those they rule, not realising that the next verse, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven,”[19] speaks of understanding our final destiny. Authority is useless unless there is power to enforce that authority; even the kings of the world understand this. Therefore, when Jesus said, “I have given you authority to overcome,” it goes without saying; He has also given us power to back up that authority, miraculous power and divine power from the Holy Spirit. Yet the church has none, and so it has made do with financial, political, intellectual and military power, just as they made do with the bronze shields of King Rehoboam after the gold shields Solomon had made were taken by Shishak, king of Egypt.[20] In the same way, when we stopped listening to Jesus, our old enemy was sent, the Law, to take away our golden shields of faith and we replaced them with bronze shields of faith, a faith of lesser worth. For a Christian who seeks justification by faith in observance of the Law of Moses has lost his higher faith in Christ, which dictates justification by faith in Christ even to the breaking of the Law by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

What lost us the ability to operate in miraculous power is because we lost our understanding, or rather, we never understood what Jesus was saying because we never listened to Him. We spoke the word, we mouthed it and quoted it as part of our church liturgy, at least parts that were not offensive or not too incredible, but we never took the time to understand what God had done and was doing through Jesus, no more than the original eleven did, otherwise they would not have asked Him, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”[21] It is sad to think that it is their Scriptures, the Proverbs, that tell us how important above all else, understanding is. Though it cost all you have (whatever else you get), get understanding,[22] all you have, whatever else you get, and we, like everyone else, think of houses, fields, family, friends, reputation, money, and we forget the most valuable of treasures we can get—faith, knowledge, wisdom and love.

Understanding is so supreme, that even if it cost you all your faith, all your knowledge and wisdom and love, even if you become faithless, and a fool, rejected by all and outcast by all, even forsaken by God, gain understanding. That is what Jesus did; even when forsaken by God, He continued His work and gained an understanding into salvation and raised the perfection of God in His suffering by being perfected through it, so that He now also understood what it was to be God-forsaken as a righteous Man. This is the gold that He asks us to buy from Him[23] so that our shields of faith are not bronze, but a solid gold of great worth, that can put out the flaming darts of the enemy, which are lies, deceptions and doubts sent with the power of wisdom. Understanding that makes up our faith puts out all the arrows of Satan, which is why, if perfect love casts out all fear, perfect understanding casts out all doubt.

Thus, the power that under girds the authority that Jesus gave us to trample on serpents and scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy is understanding. It is the power of the Overcomer Himself, and it is the power by which we will succeed in overcoming the world as He has, even our faith as He has, and be overcomers just like Him.

To understand is to overcome even faith.


 

[1] Psalm 39.10

[2] Psalm 116.3

[3] Luke 8.37

[4] Romans 12.21

[5] 1 Timothy 5.11

[6] Revelation 2-3

[7] John 16:31-33

[8] 1 John 5:3-5

[9] John 1:12-13

[10] Luke 22:33

[11] Matthew 26:35

[12] Galatians 2:11-16

[13] Acts 21:21

[14] Luke 10:19

[15] Ezekiel 28:14,12

[16] Luke 24:45

[17] Proverbs 2:10

[18] Proverbs 2:5

[19] Luke 10:20

[20] 2 Chronicles 12:9

[21] Acts 1:6

[22] Proverbs 4:7

[23] Revelation 3:18

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