Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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He Who Overcomes


By Dennis Pollock

Nestled in the midst of those two amazing and unique chapters in Revelation (chapters 2 and 3), where Jesus addresses 7 different churches, giving His assessment of their progress, we find a verse which has always captivated me. It reads:

And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations… (Revelation 2:26).

In this terse statement, Jesus gives the requirements for reigning with Him when He returns to this earth, of living with Him in heaven, and essentially of attaining eternal life. If we are to reign with Christ and live with Him forever, we must do two things: overcome and keep His works until the end. Some evangelicals might be a little disappointed and confused that He didn’t simply say, “He who is saved will reign with me forever,” or “He who is born again will be assured a place in heaven.” I firmly believe that those substitutions could be made, but it would seem that Jesus wanted to emphasize here that simply claiming a salvation experience is not enough; if we are truly and thoroughly saved, we will evidence that salvation by overcoming and keeping His works until the end of our days.

In this devotional study we will look at these two concepts and how they relate to all who call themselves followers of Christ. First, let us consider the concept of overcoming. To overcome means to successfully resist a challenge of some sort. When all is well, when the sun is shining, when your bank account is full of money you hardly need, when you are successful at your job, when your family members all think you are the greatest, there is nothing to overcome. It is only when the dark clouds of adversity begin to gather over your skies that overcoming is necessary. And according to Jesus, every one of us has something to overcome. No matter how pleasant and carefree our lives appear to be, evil is lurking nearby, desirous to drag us down.

Spiritual Overcoming

When most people think about overcoming, they probably think about various physical forms of adversity and hardship. But Jesus is clearly referring to spiritual overcoming, which may include painful experiences, but involves a whole lot more. If we lose our job, that is a problem. But if we lose our faith, that is a catastrophe. This is why the apostle Paul, as he approached the end of his life, wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul did not die as a backslider or a doubter or questioning whether there was anything beyond the grave. At the close of his life, Paul was eagerly looking forward to being with the Lord, as he had written earlier, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In short, he had overcome. Satan had challenged him, men had beaten him, his fellow rabbis had mocked him, and friends had deserted him. Still he kept the faith. He wrote:

Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst… (2 Corinthians 11:24-27).

There was no turning back, no slackening of the pace, no questioning the Lord’s wisdom about his difficult life, no philosophical wondering: “What’s it all about?” Paul had stayed true to His Lord and true to His mission. And as he sensed that the end was close, he did not boast of all he had accomplished, but simply declared, “I have kept the faith.”

If you are curious as to exactly what must be overcome, we can discover this in the writings of the apostle John:

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

Essence of the World

It is the world which we must overcome. Not the people of the world, but the sinful, carnal, ungodly attitudes which prevail in every culture and in every nation. John writes: “For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world” (1John 2:16). Strong passions which arise in our flesh, appealing sights which entice our eyes and then our hearts, and the desire to glory and take excessive pride in our accomplishments and in ourselves – these are the things that must be overcome daily, weekly, and constantly.

The moment we wake in the morning and throughout each day, myriads of temptations come rushing at us like roaring, vicious lions. Ultimately behind them is the dark one; that cruel, malicious spirit known as Lucifer. His desire is to ruin us any way he can. But his greatest desire is to rob us of our faith. He delights in converting men and women who once joyfully gave praise to the Lord Jesus into spiritual wimps, saying nothing, never praying, never reading the Scriptures, avoiding church, and withdrawing into their own depression and disillusionment. Such folks, if they were honest at their time of death, would have to testify: “I have lost the faith.”

What is the key to keeping the faith? Why do some reach old age full of faith and zeal, and happier in Christ than they were in their youth, while others live out their latter years with disappointment, drained of all enthusiasm and zeal for Christ? Once again, John gives us the answer, writing: “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” Overcoming is not a matter of gritting our teeth and determining to “hold on till the end.” It is more than simply vowing to be good or to win an attendance award for regular church attendance. It is simple faith in Jesus Christ, which will always result in an abiding relationship with Him. Staying in God’s word and talking to the Lord daily are key components of the abiding life which produces a constant faith, which in turn overcomes the world with its lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and arrogant view of self. Every chapter you read in the gospels, every epistle of Paul, Peter, or John which becomes food for you daily, and every time you pause from your busy schedule to take time to share your heart with your Creator are building faith and receiving the fuel to rise beyond the gravity and pull of this world with all its lusts and delights. We find that the grace of our God is more than a match for the temptations and urges that come from living in a sin-saturated world, with its ungodly entertainment, proud celebrities, and educators who know much of worldly wisdom, but nothing of the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of all true wisdom. All these forces surround us and exert pressure on us every day and nearly every hour. They must be overcome, and it is overcomers who will reign with Jesus one day.


The second criterion Jesus lists is to “keep His works until the end.” It seems that to our Lord, keeping His works and doing the things He tells us is important, in fact vitally important. Jesus tells us:

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:47-49).

Jesus clearly wants all of us to a) Hear and know His teachings and commands, and b) do them! He asks, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Or to put it another way, it could be asked, “How can we call ourselves ‘Christians’ when we have absolutely no intention of living the life Jesus demands of us?” We evangelicals have rightly understood that salvation is of grace through faith. Yet this by no means excuses us from our Lord’s expectation that His followers and disciples will seek to obey Him in all that He asks, through His word and by His Spirit whispering to their hearts.

Take Up the Cross Daily

It is a daily commitment. When we wake up on Tuesday morning, our job is that for that day, we will seek to honor Christ by obeying Him all day long. We will live honestly and honorable, doing the things the Bible says to do and shunning the things the Bible says we must not do. We will fulfill our responsibilities the best we know how, we will not lie or steal or indulge in sexual immorality, we will attempt to show love and respect to our fellow believers and to all people. Husbands will keep the charge to love their wives, and wives the charge to respect their husbands. As we go through the day, we may not do it perfectly. There will always be situations where we feel we could have done better, or we have said something we probably should not have or have kept quiet when we should have spoken. But our goal is always the same: to be obedient followers of the Lord Jesus.

Tuesday will come to a close and finally we will go to bed and wake up the next morning. It is now Wednesday. And this day our goal is exactly the same as yesterday. We will seek to obey and honor our Lord. The apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). Seven days a week, month by month and year by year we live our days like this. When we feel Jesus is leading us to start something new in our lives, we start it. When we feel He is telling us to shut down some ministry or activity or involvement, we shut it down. We read His word regularly to discover what He approves and what He condemns. We become those who “keep His works” day by day. When we are feeling great, we keep His works and when we are feeling lousy, we keep His works. Whether we are prospering or whether we are really struggling, we keep His works. We do what Jesus asks of us, and we shun what He tells us is wrong.

How long do we do this? Jesus says we are to keep His works until the end. Unless we are alive at the time of the Rapture, we will all have a final day, we will have a concluding day to our time on earth. What will we be doing on that last day we have to live? Or that last week before our death? What will be our activities and our goals? Our goals should be the exact same goals we had in our youth, ever since we became disciples of Jesus Christ. We will be keeping His works and seeking to please Him. Whether on an African mission, or working in a homeless shelter in America, or dying in a hospital bed with loved ones surrounding us, our aim is always the same – to keep the works of Jesus. This is our life. This is who we are; this is what we do. This is certain evidence that our new birth experience was the real deal.

At the time of this writing I am in my sixties. I don’t know how much time I have left to keep the works of Jesus, but I know one thing for sure – I have a lot fewer days left than I did when I was a young twenty-year-old new believer. My daily activities and schedule are not the same as in those early years, but the goal has never changed – to be pleasing to the Lord on Monday and Tuesday, and throughout the week. And so it is with every true believer. All God asks of us is pretty simple: we have but to trust in Jesus as our Savior, to overcome the world, and to keep His works until the end.



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