I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD
Today I want to give you three encouragementsto overcome the anxieties you face in this life: Jesus overcame the troubles and pressures of this world during his life time on earth. He did not overcome it when he died. He did not overcome it when he was raised from the dead. He overcame the tribulation he faced during his life time before he died or was resurrected. That is why He said plainly: ‘I have overcome the world.’ It is passed tense; it is finished!
Looking to Jesus gives us hope that we can overcome our anxieties too. John, the beloved apostle, wrote to his disciples and said, ‘we overcome this world by faith in Christ Jesus.’ Paul wrote in Romans: ‘we are more than overcomers in this life through faith in Christ.’ He reminds us that God always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus. It is present tense victories – not something that will take place after we die and leave the earth.
If the only victory Jesus accomplished was at His death, then we have no hope for our lives. No, He overcame in His life. That means while He was walking on the earth He was overcoming things He constantly faced.
When someone has to be operated on in a hospital we say he ‘undergoes surgery’. He is ‘under the knife’ of the physician. We speak of ‘undergoing’ some things. We refer to our situation that we are ‘under pressure’. When someone is doing badly we say, ‘he is going under’. Australia is known as ‘the land down under’. When someone asks: ‘how are you?’ the reply normally is: ‘fine, under the circumstances!’ Well, God is telling us through His Word today that He does not want us to be ‘Undergoers’ but ‘Overcomers’ in this life! It is far better to go over than to go under!
Today God wants to cheer you up and put you over your circumstances through faith in the life Jesus Christ lived. If he overcame in His life; so can we. John reminds us of the fact that Jesus lived an overcoming life to encourage us that we can also overcome ‘this world’ or the things we have to face in this world.
When Jesus prayed for His disciples in His High Priestly prayer in John 17 He did not ask that God take them out of this world, but that God will help them in this world and that they will succeed with their mission in this world.
Here are the three encouragements to help you overcome in this life:
Jesus said: I have overcome anxieties
- In this world you will have anxiety
- But be of good cheer
- Do not be anxious
John said: we overcome anxieties by faith
- In this world you will have anxiety
- Do not be afraid
- We overcome this world by faith in Him
My message: by faith we overcome anxieties
- Jesus overcame His anxieties during his life
- John overcome his anxieties during his life
- You and I can overcome our anxieties during our life
I John 5:4, 5
For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is He who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Jesus explained future things to His disciples about His decease and about their tribulations. But he ended the discourse with these words: ‘These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)
Paul tells us exactly how to overcome the things that make us anxious: ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4: 6, 7)
Anxieties in life
Younger people are often anxious about the life that lies ahead of them; older people are anxious about increasing physical and mental weaknesses. People of all ages are anxious in the presence of others who are always demanding things from them; they are anxious in crowds where oddly enough they often feel alone and isolated. People are anxious about life’s responsibilities; they are anxious at work: their bosses are hard task masters that set impossible targets for them and then makes them feel useless at every appraisal meeting; school teachers tell the kids they can always do better – in other words, they are never good enough; parents are harsh on their children to perform better all the time; children treat parents without respect and make parents feel unworthy. We are living in a time of great stress and anxiety because of the constant flood of bad news on the media. We feel responsible for all the hardship and suffering of the whole world. There is no joy in life for most people. It is such a struggle to survive. Business people battle to make a profit. Pastors find it difficult to survive because people do not tithe to the church.
Be of good cheer
In spite of all these anxieties and stresses, Jesus said, ‘be of good cheer!’
How is that possible? He said, ‘because I overcame the anxieties in my life during my life time, by believing in Me, you can do the same!’ He did not say when I die and am resurrected I will overcome the world. He overcame the world and the things in the world while He was alive! His life style overcame the world. He was an overcomer during His life – not after he died. That will have no meaning at all. If we can only overcome this life after we are dead we are not overcomers at all!
No, it is during life, that the Life of Christ makes a difference in our lives! As we study the life of Christ we draw strength from Him; our faith in Him increases; we start believing that we can overcome the world just like He overcome the world!
Jesus clearly warned His disciples that they will have tribulation in this world. It is not easy to make a living in this world. Men that have to provide for their families know the feeling of inadequacy that they seem to never be able to provide enough. The family always demands more and more of a working father. Their needs never decrease – it always increases. Most mothers have to work to add their salary to their husband’s salary in order to survive as a family. This causes great stress on the family. Most children are left to themselves in the afternoons after school. They get up to all sorts of mischief because none of the parents are home to oversee them. When the parents come back from work they are tired and the quality of time spent together as a family is even further reduced by Television and cell phones and iPads. Everyone is busy with their own private little world and no one communicates properly anymore. It is a lonely planet full of lonely and lost people. The stress level in today’s world is so high it causes a lot of heart failure.
People die before their time because of anxiety and stress. Anxiety that is allowed to fester in a heart causes depression. If you do not deal with the things that make you anxious you become depressed.
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression; but a good word makes it glad.
You cannot treat depression with tablets! It is the result of anxiety. You cannot analyze depression – you need a good word from God to solve the problem!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, is Good News! To hear the word of God every Sunday will drive depression from your life. A good word will make your heart glad! There is much joy in believing! When you believe you are happy! When you doubt you are sad.
Jesus told His disciples: look I am in this world and I do not let this world get me down. I overcome this world. I am full of joy. I have peace. I cast all my anxieties upon my Father who cares for Me. He provides for Me. He works with Me. He will leave or forsake Me. I am not alone because He is with Me. I wish you can be with Me where I am. I have found this place in My life where I am constantly overcoming the things that drag me down.
When the Pharisees criticize me and want to kill Me, I talk to My Father about them and He tells me, ‘they are whitened sepulchers, a brood of vipers!’ Then I feel much better, because He knows them so well!
When my own family tells me I am mad and that I should not go out and teach and heal people all the time, I talk to My Heavenly Father about my family and He assures Me that one day they will believe and understand Me. Then I feel much better.
When I think of the fact that I have to die for the sins of the world, I get so upset and fearful, but then My Father assures Me that He will raise Me up on the third day! Then I get new confidence to carry on.
When Satan tempts me and tries to make me stumble and fall, I remind him of the words of God, and then he leaves, defeated again!
We live in a world that has been overcome by one man: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God! By putting our faith in Him and His Word, we overcome the world as well!
An anxious moment in Nigeria
When Nigerian soldiers stopped the old taxi I was in and one of them got into the car and stuck a machine gun in my ribs demanding money, I suddenly felt the strength of God rise up in me and I pushed the rifle away telling him, ‘you Nigerians are insane! I am going to report you to higher authority!’ Then I got out of the taxi and took my luggage out of the boot (or Americans say ‘trunk’) of the car and hiked for another taxi! The soldiers robbed the taxi driver instead and drove off showing me rude signs and shouting at me. I got back into the taxi and the taxi man said, ‘they robbed me. I have no money now. So I paid him my taxi fair and also gave him some extra money to help him through the day. By faith in Jesus Christ I was able to overcome the anxiety and stress of that moment!
But we often have petty anxieties that destroy our peace. We worry about our weight, our age, our bills, our appearance; we are concerned about what others think of us all the time; we look for approval everywhere; we never feel worthy enough that God should take good care of us; we are so aware of our shortcomings and failures that we don’t think we belong among the best achievers; we envy others who seem to do well; we think they have no problems of their own; look how confident they are! But inwardly they are lonely and crying – just like the rest of us!
Jesus eventually suffered the supreme anxiety by dying on the cross for our sins and feeling what it is like when God deserted Him. He cried out, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’ and with that He set a limit to anxiety that we never have to cross! Because we can face no worse anxiety than He faced, we can be of good cheer that we can overcome this world!
So here is the recipe Jesus gave to His disciples:
Be of good cheer I have overcome the world
Do not allow yourself to become anxious even though you face anxieties
And John and Paul added the final ingredient through practical experience:
You overcome by faith in Jesus and by casting your anxieties on God through prayer and leaving them there!
Why don’t you take a moment right now and follow that recipe? I have given you three encouragements that it is possible to overcome the world – your world, the world you live in, the world that causes you anguish of soul and stress. By putting your faith in Christ Jesus, for salvation of your soul, you can exercise the same faith in Him to overcome your anxieties in life! In other words, by exercising your faith and letting God know what makes you anxious through prayer, you can live a stress free life! It sounds impossible, doesn’t it, but with God all things are possible!
In this world you will have anxiety, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world! We overcome by faith in the life of Christ! Spread the cheer around: let the joy in believing become your strength. You are an overcomer in this life, through faith in Christ Jesus. It is the good news of the Gospel!
Speak Good Cheer to your family members, speak good cheer to those in prison, speak good cheer to the sick and suffering, speak good cheer to those who are dying in hospitals, speak good cheer to those who are easily provoked and agitated, speak good cheer to the defiant and rebellious, speak good cheer to the superficial believers who live for material comfort instead of spiritual growth; speak good cheer to the cynical ones; speak good cheer to the exhausted parents; speak good cheer to the stubborn children; speak good cheer to teachers at school; speak good cheer to authors, journalists, artists and musicians; speak good cheer to parliamentarians and presidents; speak good cheer to bosses and employees; speak good cheer to magistrates and lawyers and prosecutors of the court; speak good cheer to pastors and congregations; speak good cheer to the strong and the great ones and speak good cheer to the weak and the small; we all have need to be encouraged to be of good cheer today because our Savior and Redeemer has overcome the world for us! Hallelujah! That should brighten up your day! That should encourage you so that you can go out and encourage someone else again! Praise the Lord!