You Overcome by Losing

Revelation: Hot Topics  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Revelation frequently says "To the one who overcomes or is victorious...". What does it mean to overcome as a follower of Jesus? What happens if I don't overcome? Our culture loves to say someone "nailed it or crushed it." We want to be people in life, and especially as a follower of Jesus who overcome. How do we do this? Let's explore God's Word together.


One of the questions submitted in our Hot Topics Series on Revelation...
“hot pockets...”
“I’d like to hear a whole sermon about what exactly Jesus meant when he spoke about the one who “overcomes” (or conquers, or is victorious, depending on your translation). Because it definitely seems like He’s talking to Christ-professing members of the Church.
It seems he means it’s possible for a Christian to choose “not” to overcome too.
This seems like not only a major theme in Revelation, but also a pretty pivotal thing for us to make 100% sure we understand.
I definitely want to be one of those “overcomer” folks.
What does it mean to overcome?
how can I fail to overcome?
what happens if I fail to overcome?
Sounds like it’s not easy and it sounds like it has something to with sanctification.
Is it the same as salvation?
Is it just for super-martyr type missionary Christians and not for cushy Americans with religious freedom.
These may seem like really dumb, sad questions, but they seem way too important to chance missing the answers.
I love this question—I know you are not supposed to have favorite questions—just like you are not supposed to have favorite children…but I do.
this person mentioned the word sanctification.
(this is different than justification)
Both are words used in the Bible.
Justification is that moment—when you admit your sin, believe on Jesus—at that moment—God the judge declares you just and righteous and forgiven in his sight. happens in a moment the moment you receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Sanctification is everything after that moment as a Christian—it is the process where grow to be like Christ more and more everyday—and it is a life-long process. not perfection…but a process that the Spirit produces fruit in your life.
so---this is a great question. whoever submitted it—I will send a hot pocket your way if you let me know. I will send it pre-cooked in the mail. Enjoy.
Let’s look at some passages that talk about this:
Scripture passages on overcoming
church at Ephesus
Revelation 2:7 NIV
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Church at Smyrna
Revelation 2:11 NIV
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
Church at Pergamum
Revelation 2:17 NIV
17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
Church at Thyatira
Revelation 2:26–28 NIV
26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.
Revelation 3:5 NIV
5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
Revelation 3:12 NIV
12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
Revelation 3:21 NIV
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Importance of it/Danger of Not
so whatever overcoming is—or being victorious (depending on your translation) is very important.
do you see what’s at stake—not only rewards from God as Christians but eternal life. (paradise and tree of life—we will not face the second death. we will sit with Jesus on his throne.) These are images of eternal reward with God forever.
this implies the opposite—that we do not overcome—we won’t get these things, and we won’t spend eternity with Jesus Christ in the new heaven and new earth.
every Christian is called to overcome…to be an overcomer...
Defining it (and compare it to culture)
before I define it--
think of our culture for a moment...
we love the idea of overcoming...
but we use different words.
That person is crushing it, nailing it, killing it...
they are succeeding at life in every possible way—business, career, as a parent, working out, school.
every sector of society has a definition of what they mean by overcoming it and crushing it.
I don’t usually read Men’s Health Magazines, but I have noticed that every cover is pretty much the same. Their vision of overcoming as a man---is a picture of a studly guy on the front, with his shirt off, a 6 pack of abs, and headlines like “How to have abs for the beach in 8 minutes a day.” “how to have the best romantic life ever.” “6 tips for a promotion at work.”
Their vision of crushin’ it—involves a successful career---promotions and more money, more muscular body, and romance all the time. That’s overcoming as a man.
but it’s not just men’s health that shows this—pick any media company--
or look at social media—we are constantly displaying what overcoming, victory, and conquering look like...
parents—we are constantly sold on social media—as we scroll and see other parents—that it often feels like they are crushing it. My friend who is a parent just posted—that they did a craft with their kid, took them to a museum, and made them an organic, gluten free meal, and it’s only 11am. My kids are still in their PJ’s from 2 days ago. I am not killin it.
overcoming and conquering as a parent feels like I should be the perfect parent—constantly looking out for them, giving them every opportunity to take underwater basket weaving lessons...
The world of finance has its definition of killing it—I should always have a great portfolio that is always going up no matter what—and I should be able to anticipate when things will go down and invest wisely...
the world of fitness - workout culture—I see so many people posts pics and videos of their workout, doing lunges, throwing semi tires.
when we think of overcoming in culture—we think we are succeeding at a very high level in every domain of life…
overcoming in culture = winning…dominating...
how does Revelation define it:
Overcoming =
---Enduring faithfully with and for Jesus until the end (we die or Jesus comes back)
—becoming more like Jesus day by day so we can spend eternity with Him
Revelation 2 and 3 was written to real Christians..what are some examples of things they had to overcome---
The church of Ephesus—they have to overcome their lack of love for Jesus and others—they had forsaken the love they had at first
2 of the churches—Symrna and philadelphia — endure patiently through suffering—overcome the temptation to give up and give in to the world
the church in pergamum and thyatira—they needed to overcome false teaching—they were living and looking too much like the world, falling into idolatry and sexual immorality—they needed to overcome false teaching and sin and repent.
the church at Sardis and Laodicea—overcome their apathy, their laziness for Christ, their worldly comforts
but at the heart is this definition — enduring faithfully with and for Jesus until the end.
this includes suffering! part of overcoming is just patiently enduring suffering with and for Jesus until the end. it is keep a love and passion for Jesus even if the world is persecuting us, the gov’t is, our friends are—we overcome by patiently enduring.
overcoming will sometimes feel a lot like “losing.” we overcome not by fighting back or taking up the sword, or shouting louder, or entering culture wars…we overcome by staying faithful to jesus—suffering for Jesus, keeping a clear focus on Jesus.
the churches then (and even churches now) we want to organize, take up our political rights, maybe even fight—and maybe there are times to do that—BUT MOST OF THE TIME we are called to give up our rights as Christians, stay faithful to Jesus, show the world the joy we have in Jesus—live out the vision of a healthy church community that loves one another well
Overcoming will sometimes feel like a lot like losing.
culture says overcoming = winning all the time
but Jesus says overcoming = often feels like losing
and this is the irony of the Christian life…that often you overcome by what feels like losing...
now---let’s face it…most of us hate losing.
our kids are in youth sports—soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming. Our son is currently in little league, grown a lot this year. and let’s ask the question—does it really matter if our kids’ team wins or loses—as hard as it is to say—because come on—I want to see my dominate, I want to see them crush your kid (metaphorically speaking on the ball diamond or field) and put a bumper sticker on my minivan that says my kids is better at baseball than yours.
It feels so good doesn’t it—but most of us as parents know—that these W and L’s don’t matter. In fact, Losses are often the best time to learn valuable lessons not just about sports but about W’s. They give them opportunities to work harder, motivate them, and overcome something—overcome their bad form hitting, or overcome their fear...
it’s often in the losses, that we learn the most if we allow them to.
and it’s not just baseball skills we are forming—we are forming young women and young women to be leaders to the glory of God
same is true as Christians—we learn most through suffering, trials, disappointments, it feels a lot like losing…that rounds off the rough edges in our life—it shapes us into Christ.
and here is why you overcome through losing is at the heart of the Christian faith
look at Revelation 5.
Revelation 5:1–6 (NIV)
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. (this scroll is important because it is God’s plans to bring about his kingdom purposes on the earth—to judge evil and reward his servants—who is worthy to open it?)
4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Irony - Jesus overcame by death!
Only Jesus is worthy this lion—who has conquered and overcome—but he is a Lamb—slain.
he conquered our sin by his death in our place on the cross
he conquered through weakness
he conquered by serving—washing his disciples feet, spending time with lepers and prostitutes and sinners, challenging the religious leaders.
his empire was one of service, love, and ultimately death on the cross
but because of that—he died, rose again—and he has triumphed—He has overcome our sin, the devil, and even death—but he had to surrender, he had to die for this to happen.
so if at the center of our faith is the Lamb who was slain—He is ruling and reigning (it’s very ironic, unexpected, upside down) then it makes sense---
that we conquer, we overcome the world, our sin, and the devil, we persevere in Jesus—often in a way that feels like losing--
—by serving…
—by spending time with the nobodies, outcasts, and rejects
—by loving others...
—by humbling ourselves
—by weakness—so that we can depend on Jesus who is strong.
the entire Christian life is this life of irony
—you want to hold on to your life—you will lose it Jesus says—but give it up for my sake, and you will find it and gain it.
—you want your sins forgiven? you don’t work for it and try harder—you humble yourself, you cry out— “I am sinner to God…I need you to forgive me.” and you will have eternal life
—you want to follow Jesus? You have to die to yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus—that is not instinctive—it takes the power of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:33 NIV
33 “I have told you 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.”
as we cling to Jesus—we overcome.
I want to close by looking at one verse.
Strategies to help us overcome - Rev. 12:11
Revelation 12:11 NIV
11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
this passage gives us 3 ways to overcome and triumph—primarily by overcoming the devil--
remember your identity is in Jesus and His blood
The Christian life is not do. It is DONE. We don’t earn our justification and right standing—Jesus did.
It it not achieved—it is RECEIVED. as a gift. by faith.
and the more you realize that—everyday—you have to preach it to yourself. IT CHANGES EVERYTHING.
it calms our insecurities—because we always feel like we have to perform in life to achieve an identity.
it calms our insecurities that God doesn’t love us. He does—and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
it calms our doubts in suffering—we know God still loves us—that may be the biggest challenge you have? fighting cancer—you need to know God still loves you. Going through divorce—God still loves you. Fighting addiction—God still loves you—and He proved it by sending His Jesus. fighting depression or anxiety—God still loves you and nothing can separate you.
when Satan is accusing and roaring in my ear—I overcome by preaching the Gospel.
you overcome—you endure by everyday preaching this good news to your heart. I am loved. I am accepted. God knows my deepest sin, yet loves me to the ends of the earth through Jesus. I am more sinful than I can imagine yet more loved than I can imagine.
I am known and loved to the core by Jesus Christ.
spread the Word of the Gospel far and wide
Revelation 12:11 NIV
11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
by the word of our testimony...
one of things that often bothers me when I hear some Christian groups talk—is they want to get very political. Let’s organize, Let’s rally—if we just get the right Christians in power—everything will be good. there is often a lot of war language used— “we need to take back culture. Fight against the liberals or whoever is our enemy.” And btw—I am all for godly men and women leading our gov’t. I think we need that.
but we don’t ultimately overcome as a Christian through politics.
We don’t ultimately overcome by winning elections. In fact, you know that sometimes when Christians get power, it’s often very bad for us and culture—the power goes to our head. the Christian missions and message gets murky.
we also overcome by battles, or war, or the swords—Christians have tried to do that. Even Peter when Jesus was arrested—picked up the sword—sliced off the guy’s ear—(that was close to killing him).
we spread the word of our testimony—just read the book of Acts—the early Church triumphed by loving one another and spreading the good news of what God had done for them through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
and the early church outlived the dominant Roman Empire.
you and I overcome on mission by loving our neighbor and spreading that Gospel.
Love Jesus more than life itself
Revelation 12:11 NIV
11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
The Apostle Paul understood this
Philippians 1:21 NIV
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:22 NIV
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
Philippians 1:23 NIV
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
for us—even if we lose our lives—and it feels like we are losing as Christians—we gain. Death, while an enemy, only enhances our life with Jesus when we see Him face to face.
overcoming will fee like losing—but take heart—Jesus has overcome the world
Romans 8:37 NIV
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:38–39 NIV
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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