If you have
a Bible with you, I would like to invite you to open to the book
of Revelation. The last chapters in the Bible are chapters that
we should all take special time to study. Right at the end of the
book God gives final and closing instructions. Some of the most
important instructions and commands in the Bible are found in the
last three or four chapters.
Here in Revelation
21, the new earth and the new heavens, where there is going to be
no more death and no more pain and no more sorrow, has been described
there in verses 1-4. Then we read the following in verses 5-8.
It says, "Then he who sat on the throne said, 'Behold,
I make all things new. And he said to me, 'Write, for these words
are true and faithful. And he said to me, 'It is done! I am the
Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the
fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who
overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he
shall be my son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, (The majority text
has the third category that is left out of the King James Bible
as the sinners.), abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers,
idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which
bums with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Here in these
verses there are pointed out two categories of people. The first
category is those that overcome. If you overcome, the Lord says,
I am going to give you everything. I am going to give you everything.
You are going to inherit everything. You are not going to have to
earn it, I am going to give it to you. These words are faithful
Well, what if
I do not overcome? What if I am in the category that is listed in
verse 8. Verse 8 lists the people that do not overcome. Now the
Old King James that says for the first one the fearful or the New
King James says the cowardly. Those that do not trust in God so
they are fearful, they do not overcome. The unbelieving, the abominable,
the murderers, the sorcerers are those that have contact with spirits,
evil spirits. Sexually immoral, idolaters and all the liars.
Now there will
be people in heaven that have done all these things. There will
be people in heaven that have done all the things listed in verse
8. But while they were still alive in this world, a change happened.
Christians call it conversion. They decided to turn their backs
on their former way of life and they overcame their former bad habits.
Can you think of anybody in the Bible that you know from inspired
writings that is going to be saved who, for instance, committed
Can you think
of anybody? Moses, Manasseh, David, Paul; all of those people were
murderers and all of those people are going to be saved. But the
reason that they are going to be saved is because they repented
of what they had done, they turned around and they overcame those
evil habits. They quit doing that. They were overcomers. So, if
you are in one of the categories listed in verse 8, you can be saved
if you are willing to change, if you are willing to overcome.
The more you
read this passage of Scripture, the more important you see that
overcoming is. It is not enough for me to come to church or to make
a profession of religion. That is not enough. I have to overcome,
ill am going to receive eternal life. If I do not overcome, I will
not receive eternal life--even if I go to church or make a profession
of religion or preach or teach or do any of those things. If I do
not overcome, I have no promise of eternal life from the Scriptures.
This is a theme
that is recorded over and over and over again in the book of Revelation,
the necessity of overcoming. Of course, it is all through the Bible
but in the book of Revelation all the parts of the Bible are summarized
and come to their end. In Revelation 3 we find the instruction.
If you look in Revelation 2 and 3 you will find that to each of
the seven churches the promise of salvation is given only to those
is the same as to conquer. Look at Revelation 3:21. It says, "To
him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I
also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." So
when you think about this, you read what it says in Revelation 3.
You read what it says in Revelation 21. You meditate on it. You
think about it. You realize as we get closer and closer to the end
of the world, are we close to the end of the world? We are living
very close to the end of the world.
As we draw closer
and closer and closer to the end of the world, listen carefully,
it becomes more critical to overcome. Now it has always been critical
to overcome because if you do not overcome before you die, you are
lost. That has always been the case. The problem is that there are
always people that think that because of their age or some other
reason, death is a long ways away. So they think, Well, I can enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a while and then I can overcome later.
But as we draw
near to the end of the world, listen, my young friends, do you know
that when probation closes and the end of the world comes, there
will be some people in this world that are just twenty years of
age? They will not be old. There will be some people in the world
that are just ten years of age. They will not be old. So, as we
thaw closer and closer to the end of the world and the close of
probation, it becomes absolutely critical, vital for everyone of
us of every age to study carefully what does the Bible say about
how to overcome?
It would be
almost cruel to tell people, or preach to people, and say that you
or I need to overcome if we do not know how, would it not? It would
be cruel to say that we have to overcome, if we do not know how.
How is this going to happen? How is it going to happen in my life?
And how is it going to happen in your life?
Look again at
Revelation 3:21. There is a very little word here that I want you
to look at. Actually it is a much bigger word in the Greek language,
but in the English language it only has two letters. This two-letter
word has the secret about how to overcome. Revelation 3:21, look
at the text. I will show you the word as we read it. "To him
who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne," the
next word is the two letter word in the King James Bible.
What is that
two-letter word? As. You do not have to always understand big words
to understand the most profound concepts of the Bible. What does
that word AS mean? Just like, or in the same way. That is what that
word means. It means just like or in the same way. Now look at the
text. If I am going to overcome, how am I going to do it? How? The
same way Jesus did.
That is what
it says. Just like I overcame. So if I want to know how to overcome,
might it be of great importance for me to study the life of Jesus
to find out how He overcame? Might that be very important? That
would be very important. So we are going to study for a few minutes
this morning. We are going to study the life of Jesus and find out
in His life an example of how to overcome.
As I have studied
this subject, I have found out that it is a very big subject. I
thought when I started studying it that I could just go right through
the gospels and I could just summarize it but I found out when I
started doing that, it is a very big subject. I do not
know that we can cover all of it this morning. You need to be studying
the life of Christ yourself to understand this subject.
Well, let us
go in the Bible back to the book of Matthew, right at the beginning
of the New Testament. Let us study a little context of one of the
first great battles that Jesus had. As I have studied the life of
Jesus in the gospels, I find that His life was a struggle, a conflict.
Jesus said to people, He said, "Follow Me." And His life
was a struggle; a conflict a battle and he would overcome as He
went through these battles and the first great battle that is recorded.
Now this is not the first battle that He had, but it is the first
one that is recorded in the New Testament.
Here in Matthew
4 you have recorded the temptation of Jesus in verses 1-10. This
is the first great battle in which Jesus overcame the devil. Now
remember that here we are not talking about a physical battle. We
are talking about something much higher than that. We are talking
about a spiritual battle. But I want you to see the context of this
battle and see when it happened.
went into this battle, notice what happened in Chapter 3. We could
study all of Chapter 3, but we will just look especially at verses
13 to 17. It says, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at
the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him,
saying, 'I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?
But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for
thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he
allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately
from the water; and behold the heavens were opened to Him, and He
saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, 'This is My beloved
Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
Jesus was baptized and at the end of verse 16 it says that the Holy
Spirit came down and lighted upon Him. Notice, that before Jesus
went to this first major battle, He was baptized and He had received
the Holy Spirit, it says in verse 16. Now might that be significant?
Are you having any battles with the devil? Or with sin? Or with
the desires of your sinful nature? Are you having any battles? Have
you lost any?
Now Jesus did
not lose the battle in Matthew 4, but before He went into the battle,
He was baptized (we will study that more in a moment), and He had
received the Holy Spirit. In fact, if you read the first verse in
Chapter 4, it was the Holy Spirit that led Him into the battle.
As I pondered that, I said, Well, if Jesus had to receive the Holy
Spirit so that He could win the battle, do you suppose it is necessary
for me to receive the Holy Spirit if I am going to win the battle?
Do you suppose that is necessary?
In fact, Peter
told the people the day of Pentecost that was the reason you needed
to be baptized so that you would receive the Holy Spirit. Look at
what Peter said here in Acts 2. Acts 2:38. "Then Peter said
to them, 'Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name
of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive
the gift of the Holy Spirit."
them, If you repent and you are baptized, you are going to receive
the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was baptized and received the
Holy Spirit before He went into His first major battle recorded
in Matthew 4. Maybe we should back up one more step. Is there some
prerequisite, listen carefully, not every Christian in the world
understands what I am going to say now.
think you can baptize somebody when they are first born. But according
to the Bible, is there some prerequisite before you can even be
baptized? Is there some prerequisite for that? Oh, yes, there is.
There was even in the time of John the Baptist. Look in Matthew
3:6. It says, "(They) and were baptized by him, . . . (by John
the Baptist) confessing their sins."
Why were they
confessing their sins? Because look at what John the Baptist told
them in verse 2. He said, "Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand." So what is necessary in order
to be baptized? Well, two things. Let us look up one more text and
I will summarize it for you.
Look at Mark
16. These are the words of Jesus Himself. Mark 16:16. It says, "He
who believes and is baptized." Now notice, the baby cannot
believe yet. It is not old enough to believe. Belief or faith is
necessary to be baptized. He who believes and is baptized will be
saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
So there are
two prerequisites to be baptized. One is to experience repentance.
Two is to experience faith. Now faith, of course, involves study
and teaching. Jesus said that when people were baptized, they were
to be taught all that He had commanded. Matthew 28:19, 20. Repentance
And then when
a person is baptized, he receives the Holy Spirit. I must have that
experience if I am going to have victory and overcome in my life.
Now let us just study for a few minutes and see why that is so.
First of all, what is repentance anyway? Where did that come from?
Repentance is a word that we use so often as Christians, and I wonder
sometimes if the children and young people have heard this word
ever since they can remember. I wonder if they know what it means?
Do you know
what it means? I was very interested when I first studied where
the word repentance comes from in the Greek language, which is translated
in the New Testament. Repentance is not; a similar word is not found
all that much in the Old Testament. But Repentance is a word that
is used constantly throughout the New Testament. They had synonyms
for it in the Old Testament.
The basic word
means that you have changed your mind. That is what it means. You
have changed your mind. Changed your mind about what? You changed
your mind about sin. What is sin? 1 John 3:4 says that sin is what?
It is the transgression of the law. It is lawlessness. And why do
people sin and live a life of sin? Why do they do that? Because
they want to.
There is something
about it. In fact, the Bible talks about it. The Bible talks about
the temporary pleasures of sin and people want those temporary pleasures.
But when a person repents, they change their mind about that. The
sin that they used to love, they do not love anymore. They turn
away from it. They begin to hate it and they turn away from it.
They are sorry that they used to do it.
Well, but that
is not the hardest question to answer, that is the easy part. The
easy part is what is repentance. The hard part is how do you experience
it? Did you know that you and I, we cannot make ourselves repent?
We have no power to do that. Oh, somebody says, Pastor John, I can
change my mind if I want to. Try it. Just try it. Just decide in
your mind, Well, I am not going to love any sin anymore, and see
You will find
out that you are powerless to change your mind and even more powerless
to change your heart. That is what you will find out. You try it.
The Bible is very clear that you and I cannot repent on our own.
Repentance is a gift that we receive from God and let us see how
and how God works to give it to us. However, there is something
that we have to do to receive it.
Turn in your
Bible to Romans 2:4. "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness,
forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of
God leads you to repentance." What is it that leads people
to repentance? It is the goodness of God. It is the goodness of
God. Now, notice how these people were led to repentance here in
Acts the second chapter when Peter was preaching. There were three
thousand souls that repented and believed and were baptized.
it was that led them to repentance. Acts 2. We will not read Peters
entire sermon here, but we will just look at the punch line down
in verses 36 and 37. "Therefore let all the house of Israel
know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified,
both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to
the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men
and brethren, what shall we do?"
What was it
that cut right to the heart and the result was that three thousand
people repented and were baptized? What was it? It was the story
of the crucifixion of Christ. They had been there and many of those
people had been involved in it because it had just happened a little
over seven weeks before. What was it that brought repentance? Well,
it was the study first of all of the life and especially the closing
events in the life of Christ.
So, you cannot
make yourself repent. I cannot make myself repent but there is something
you can do. If you will study the life of Christ and make a special
study of the closing scenes of the life of Christ so that you understand
what it means. You see, the cross is a story that most Christians
even do not know what it means. It is just a story. They have never
been cut to the heart, They have never realized that it was because
of what I did that Jesus had to go to the cross.
Until you realize
that, friend, you do not understand the story of the cross. The
story of the cross is not about what Jesus did for somebody else.
It is the story of what He did for me. It is the story of what He
did for you. Until you realize that and until that comes home and
you are cut to the heart, you will not have the experience of repentance
that you have to have because the study of the cross causes a person
to stop loving sin because they see what sin eventually does. It
turns them away from it.
They find out
that sin is not pleasurable anymore. They find that it is hideous;
that it is awful. It is something to be hated and fled from. It
is not something to be enjoyed, because they see where it leads
to, the ultimate end. Now everybody is going to find that out sometime.
The Old Testament said concerning Jesus that He suffered the pains
of hell for us. He suffered that so that you will not have to suffer
But if you will
not listen, you can pay the price for your own sins someday. Then
you will find out that sin is not something that brings pleasure
and enjoyment. The Bible says that the way of the transgressors
is hard and that there is no peace to the wicked and that it brings
destruction, misery and death. Read it for yourself in your Bible
in Romans the third chapter.
It says destruction
and misery are in their ways. Their throat is an open grave. The
poison of vipers is under their tongue. The way of peace they do
not know. They run to shed blood. Sin is not something to be petted.
Would you want to pet the head of a cobra? And when you study the
life of Christ and especially the closing scenes, it will lead you
to have a completely different view, a different mind set about
sin. That is the first thing that has to happen if you are ever
going to overcome sin.
You are not
going to overcome sin while you are loving it and cherishing it,
and clinging to it and saying, Oh, Lord, what shall I do? It is
not going to happen. So the first principle if you want to be an
overcomer is that you need to study the life of Christ, especially
the closing scenes in the life of Christ and that will result in
repentance. You will have a different set of mind about sin. Until
that happens there is going to be no victory in your life. You are
not going to be able to overcome.
You are not
going to overcome something that you are clinging to, holding, grabbing,
hugging, and cherishing. It is not going to happen. But when you
study the life of Christ, especially the closing scenes and you
see the end result of what sin is, a change happens in the mind.
The Bible calls that repentance. But repentance is not enough by
itself I have seen people; in fact the apostle Paul describes this
in Romans 7.
The man who
does not want to sin anymore but he does not have any power to break
loose from it. Preachers meet these kind of people all the time
who say, I do not want to keep living the kind of life I am living,
I want to turn away from it but I cannot get loose. That is where
faith comes in.
Turn in your
Bible to Mark 9 and we will start at verse 22. "And often he
has thrown him both into the fire and into the water (This is a
boy possessed of an evil spirit.) to destroy him. But if You can
do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him,
'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears,
'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief When Jesus saw that the people
came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to
it: 'Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter
him no more."
Here is the
story of the man who came to Jesus and said, Lord, I am in so much
trouble, but if you can do anything to help us, please help us.
And Jesus said, That is not the problem whether or not I can help.
That is not the problem. The problem is whether or not you can believe.
That is the problem, because all things are possible to him who
I have thought
of this story often when I have had people say that to me, and I
have had people say this to me, words like this. Well, Pastor John,
I would like to be a Christian but I cannot. Why cannot you? Because--and
then they describe for me what the Bible calls a besetting sin and
they cannot get loose from it. And they say, I would be a Christian
if I could get loose from this.
What did Jesus
say to people like that? We just read it n Mark 9:23. What did Jesus
say? If, what? If you can believe? Is there any bad habit that you
have that the Lord cannot deliver you from if you can believe? Is
there? What did Jesus say here in verse 23? All things are possible
. . . . Well, is this true or not? Let me ask it harder. Is this
true for the weak people as well as the strong people? Is it?
If you can believe,
all things are possible to him who believes. Somebody says, Pastor
John, I wish I could believe. That is what this man said. He said,
I am choosing to believe, help my unbelief Do you know what Ellen
White says about that statement? She says, You can never perish
if you say that. If you choose to believe in Him, that is, you choose
to put your trust in Him. Even if you are struggling with unbelief,
if you choose to trust Him, you can never perish.
How are you
going to have that kind of faith? Turn back to the book of Matthew
and we will look at the same story in Matthew 17. This is the same
story and right after this happened, notice what happened starting
in verse 19. "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and
said, 'Why could we not cast it out? So Jesus said to them, 'Because
of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith
as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here
to there and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
We are now at
principle Number Two. Principle Number One is you are not going
to repent unless you study the life of Christ and especially the
closing scenes in the life of Christ, which will draw you to repentance.
Principle Number Two is you are not going to be able to yank yourself
loose from your sinful life style unless you have faith. Jesus said,
That faith does not go out except by what? Prayer and fasting.
this. Look what Daniel said about it in Daniel 9:3. He says, "Then
I set my face toward the Lord to make request by prayer and supplications,
with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes." So Daniel talks about
his prayer and fasting again in Chapter 10. Look at what it says
in Daniel 10:2, 3. "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three
full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my
mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were
fulfilled." He was fasting for three weeks.
is called Daniels Fast. It is evident from the language used that
he was eating a little bit of food but he was not eating dessert,
he was not eating meat (flesh), he was not drinking wine. All the
things he could have eaten at other times, he refrained from those
things. He was living in a most simple way. Why? Because he wanted
to concentrate all the powers of his mind to seek the Lord. Jesus
said, This kind of faith, the kind of faith that will move the mountains
of difficulty out of your life, does not happen without prayer and
Do you still
want to be an overcomer? If you want to be an overcomer, in addition
to studying the life of Christ and especially the closing scenes
in His life, you are going to have to become a person of prayer.
Do you have stated times or places where to pray? In the sixteenth
century there was a great reformation. We still read about it today
in the history books. The world has never been the same since
In fact, it
will never be the same. Do you know what it was that brought about
that great reformation in the sixteenth century? There were some
men; Martin Luther was one of them. Martin Luther said one time
that he got so busy, and we think we are busy, he got so busy that
he had to spend three hours a day in prayer! But many Christians
today maybe they spend thirty seconds, sixty seconds, two minutes,
three minutes a day, six minutes a day in prayer.
Then they say,
Pastor John, I just cannot overcome. Now do not misunderstand, I
do not ever ask anybody bow much a day they spend in prayer. We
would not want to become pharisaical in our praying, to try to pray
for a certain number of minutes. That is not the point. But it is
going to take some investment in prayer and fasting if you are going
to have the faith that you need to overcome.
Or are you not
battling any big battles in your life? Are all of your struggles
and trials so small that you can just pray for a minute or two a
day and then you can just sail right over it? Is it that easy for
you? It is not for me!
Turn to Matthew 4. You see, this is a big subject when you start
to study the life of Christ to find out what He taught us about
how to overcome, you find out that it is a very big subject. Look
in Matthew 4. This is the account of Jesus great battle with the
devil on the mount of temptation. Jesus here had three temptations.
In every case when Jesus answered the devil, and this was a spiritual
battle, is what it was.
When Jesus answered
the devil, He did not even answer the devil in His own language,
His own words. Now He could have but He chose not to. How did Jesus
answer the devil? What words did He use? He used the words of Scripture.
Every time. You can read it there in Matthew 4:1-10. Every time
Jesus answered the devil by saying, "It is written, man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from (out
of) the mouth of God." That is the fourth verse. That was the
How did Jesus
know that? There is no record that He had a Bible there. How did
He know that it said that? In Deuteronomy 8, how did He know that?
He had memorized that verse. Jesus memorized Scripture and when
the devil came to Him, He did not need to use His own words. He
could answer the devil in the words of Scripture. That is point
number three. Are you memorizing Scripture? Jesus beat the devil
with the words of Scripture. He won the victory with the words of
But if you do
not know what the Scriptures say, if you have not memorized the
promises, you have not spent time in prayer and fasting, you have
not been studying the life of Christ and especially the closing
events in the lift of Christ, so that in your mind you have turned
away from the attractions of sin, you are not going to overcome
Let us go to
another point. Turn to Matthew 26. Now this is the record of the
last great battle, the first stage of the last great battle that
Jesus had with the devil that started in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Here we read in Matthew 26:39 to start. I want you to notice what
Jesus prayed on this occasion. There is something here that is vital
I believe to understand if we are going to overcome.
Look at verse
39. Jesus says, "0 My Father, if it is possible, let this cup
pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
That is the first time. The second time in verse 42. "0 My
Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it,
Your will be done." And then the third time it says, in verse
44," So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third
time, saying the same words." That is the same words that He
said the second time.
What is the
main thrust of these petitions that Jesus was making in the Garden
of Gethsemane? He surrendered His will to the Fathers will. Now
it is very evident when you read it that He did not want to go through
with the process. In His flesh he wanted to avoid it. But He said,
Not My will, Your will. Have you surrendered your will to Gods will?
Are you doing it every day?
Are you saying,
Lord, not my will, Your will? The surrender of the will to God is
one of the hardest human things for a human being to do. In
tact, mien White describes it. She says it is the greatest
battle ever fought. It is the battle in the human heart. Am I going
to surrender my will to Gods will? I am going to say, Lord, I am
willing for Your will to happen in my life and not my will.
Oh, no, somebody
says, I am afraid God will want me to do something I do not want
to do. That could be; not because God wants to hurt you. God is
constantly working for your present and your eternal good. But sometimes
what is good for you is not what you want or what you like. Do you
ever have that experience with your children? What is really good
for them is not always what they want or what they like.
So if the parent
has a different idea about what is good for the child, who should
be willing to yield their will? The yielding of the will to God
is one of the great reasons that there are so many Christians that
suffer failure in the Christian life. They want to be in control
of their own will. They are not willing to yield their will to God
and say, Lord, whatever Your will is for me, I am surrendered to
it. I am willing to follow it even if it is completely opposite
of what I would think.
Let us go to
John 12 and look at another point. This is another example in the
lift of Jesus about how to overcome. If we are going to overcome,
the only way to do it is the way Jesus did it. John 12:25, 26. "He
who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this
world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him
follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone
serves Me, him My Father will honor."
If you want to serve Me, then you need to follow Me. You need to
follow Me. What does it mean to follow? Look at Matthew 20 what
it says here about this same subject. Starting with verse 25.
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over
them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet
it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great
among you, let Him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first
among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not
come to be served but to serve."
I did not come to be served, but I came to serve. So what does it
mean to follow Him? It means that you are going to live a life of
service. Not only a life of service, but did you notice what it
says? "To give His life a ransom for many." Not only a
life of service, but also to deny yourself for the good of those
that you are serving. That is what it means to follow Jesus. That
is the way to overcome. To live a life of service, a life of self-denial.
There are three
more points that I wanted to cover and we have less then ten minutes,
so we are going to have to go very quickly. But I want to let you
study these out on your own but I will go over them quickly so that
you can notice three more points that have to do vitally with your
overcoming and we find them all in the life of Jesus. In the gospel
of John there are reviewed over and over again.
Let us look
at John 14. We will just read one verse. We could read in John 14,
15, 16 and 17. It is reviewed there over and over again, this principle.
But in John 14:15 it says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
If you chose to follow Jesus as you study His life and as you study
especially the closing events in His life and you begin to realize
that all of this was done, not just for the world out there, but
it was done for me.
As you do that,
something happens inside. You cannot force somebody to love you,
but when you study the life of Christ and especially the closing
scenes in His life. As you study it and you begin to recognize what
it means and you begin to recognize how much He loves you, only
by love is love awakened. As you study that, the love of God, you
start receiving it. You receive more and more and more, After you
receive it, you begin to love Him.
The result of
love is devotion and obedience. Obedience that is not the result
of love really is not worth anything anyway. That is why Jesus said,
If you love Me, keep My commandments. As you study His life and
you begin to love Him, the result of that is devotion to Him and
obedience to Him. Now that is a big subject. It would not be unprofitable
to spend a whole fifty minutes studying just that one point. How
Love is the
great power in the Christian religion that results in obedience.
Not only does a person forsake the way of sin, but also they are
devoted to the Lord and they want to obey the Lord and they do obey
the Lord. Why? Because they have to? No, because they love Him.
That is also one of the great reasons that many people find and
think that the Christian life is so hard, and overcoming is so bard,
because this love for Jesus has never developed in their hearts.
So for them,
the Christian life is just a bunch of rules and it is not fun, If
you do not have the love of Jesus in your heart, it is not fun.
It is just drudgery and you do not want to do it and eventually
you will not do it. It is like being married to somebody that you
do not love. Marriage is wonderful. But have you ever thought what
it would be like to be married to somebody and you did not love
him or her at all?
not be so good then, would it? If you had to live in the same house
with somebody and you did not love them at all. So, the love of
Jesus in the heart produces devotion and obedience. Unless that
has happened in your life, you might try to obey the Lord and say,
Well, I gotta obey the commandments so I will be saved. But eventually
you are not going to.
It is the love
in the heart for Him that results in devotion and obedience. Oh,
somebody says, why do I have to go to church? It takes so much time.
Why do I have to do this? It takes too much time to get involved
in all this church work. Why? Why do they feel that way? Actually
it is better for people who think that way not to go to church and
not to get involved in church work because it is just drudgery for
them because they do not
They are not
going to enjoy it and it is not going to help them to be saved and
it probably will not even help anybody else because you cannot give
love to somebody else that you do not have and if you are trying
to work for the Lord and you are going to try to save souls but
you do not have the love in your heart for the souls, what are you
going to do? You are going to drive them away instead of saving
It is a big
subject, see. Where does the love come from? Only by love is love
awakened. When you spend time with Him and you find out what He
is like, the love will happen in your heart.
Two more points
quickly. Jesus made it very clear to His disciples in Matthew 20,
the apostle Paul made it very clear in Acts 14:22 and also in Hebrews
5:8, 9. The apostle Peter said the same thing in 1 Peter 4:1, 2.
Jesus asked the disciples, Are you able to be baptized with the
baptism that I am baptized with? And they said, Yes, we are able.
They did not know what they were talking about.
was He talking about? He was not talking about the baptism of water.
He was talking about the baptism of suffering. Paul said, "Through
much tribulation you must enter into the kingdom of God." He
said in Hebrews 5:8, "Though He was a Son (speaking of Jesus
Christ), yet He learned obedience through the things which He suffered."
"He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin."
I Peter 4:1. Now I cannot explain all this but I know that the Bible
says what I just quoted to you. I gave you the references. I cannot
explain it but I know that if you are gong to be saved, you must
be willing to endure the baptism of suffering in order to be saved.
That is part of the process of sin coming out of the life.
if we never suffered, we would never have as good an idea about
what sin is and why we should hate it. Just remember, if you are
going through any suffering, mental or physical right now, that
all suffering is the result of sin. All. The Bible teaches this
very clearly, I gave you several references. It is impossible to
follow Jesus and to be an overcomer if you do not experience the
baptism of suffering. I cannot explain all that. I just know that
is what the Bible says. That is what it teaches.
Last of all,
this is another one that you will have to study out on your own,
but it is very, very interesting to study. I find that there are
many people today that do not like this teaching. In fact, we even
have preachers telling people, Do not try, just study your Bible
and pray. But listen, the life of Christ does not teach that. When
you study the life of Christ, you find that His life was a conflict.
In fact, what
was the cross all about? Do you understand what the cross was all
about? Oh, somebody says, it was an instrument of suffering. Well,
it was that all right but it was something more than that. The cross
was an instrument of conflict. What was happening at the cross?
The devil was trying to torture Jesus to force Him to sin. The Lord
said to him in effect, You can do whatever you want to do to my
body, but you cannot make Me sin.
You cannot make
Me become impatient. You cannot make Me get angry. Who won? You
see, the cross was not just an instrument of suffering, it was an
instrument of conflict. If you want to be an overcomer, you must
engage in the conflict and Christians that do not want to engage
in the conflict will never be overcomers. You do not conquer without
a conflict. That does not happen.
That gives great
significance to the statement of Jesus in Matthew 10 that we read
in our Scripture this morning where Jesus said, He that does not
take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me. And what is
the cross? It is not just a symbol of suffering; it is a symbol
But if you are
willing to deny yourself and take up your cross, we serve as Christians
we serve a General, a conqueror. Jesus said to His disciples, Be
of good courage, I have overcome the world. We serve Somebody that
does not lose battles. You will not be able to come to the Lord
in the Day of Judgment and say, Lord, I followed all the instructions
that I found in the life of Jesus. I followed the instructions and
I lost out. I did not overcome, You will not be able to say that.
be able to say that. There will be a lot of people that do not overcome
and get separated in the Day of Judgment. But nobody that put their
trust in Jesus and chose to follow Him all the way will fail.
Do you want
to do it? Do you want to be an overcomer? Your eternal destiny is
at stake on whether or not you overcome. It is more critical now
than it has ever been in the history of the world. Then you can,
even if you are the weakest, you can; if you will follow the directions
in Jesus life, Jesus said, The one that loves husband or wife, daughter,
son, parents more than Me is not worthy of Me.
There are a
lot of people that say, Well, I will pick up my cross and I will
follow Jesus when my husband does, or when my wife does, or when
somebody else does. All those people are going to be lost, by the
way, if they do not change their minds. Jesus said, You have to
make Me Number One in your life.
Do you want
to do it? Do you want to make a commitment to the Lord and say,
Lord, I want to follow You. I am willing to pick up my cross, I
am willing to follow You and be an overcomer. If that is a commitment
that you want to make, let us pray and make the commitment now.
Let us not wait. While we are thinking about it, let us make the
commitment now. Let us get down on our knees and pray and ask the
Lord to do this for us.