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How We Overcome

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This past Sunday we took some time in our service to reflect on current events. The world as it exists today can be terrifying. A quick perusal through social media or a news website is enough to make you want to crawl into the fetal position and despair. But God does not call us to be afraid. In fact, quite the opposite. As many pastors love to point out, the most common command in Scripture is, “Fear not.”

In light of recent terrorist activity in Beirut and Paris, we looked at a passage from the book of Revelation. There is war in heaven, and Satan and his army are defeated. Then a loud voice from heaven sings a song about the saints:

Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, 
and the authority of his Messiah. 
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, 
who accuses them before our God day and night, 
has been hurled down. 
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 people of God are never urged to be afraid. Instead, God has already written the song of how we overcome the forces of evil. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. That is to say, we triumph over evil because Jesus has won the victory at the cross. Satan’s destiny has already been determined; he will lose, and all those who are on the side of Christ will live forever.

We also overcome by the word of our testimony. This means that we are willing to maintain our commitment to Jesus even in death. As Bible scholar Richard Bauckham writes, “Christians conquer the beast by their faithful witness to the truth of God up to and including death for maintaining this witness. In this way their faithful witness to the point of death participates in the power of the victory Christ won by his faithful witness to the point of death; they conquer ‘by the blood of the Lamb.'” (The Theology of the Book of Revelation, p. 92) We cannot let fear destroy our faithfulness to Jesus. As God’s song says, “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

The truth is, in Christ we have nothing to fear. We don’t have to be afraid because the risen Lord dwells in our midst, and his Holy Spirit resides within our hearts. The way that we overcome the powers of evil is by maintaining a faithful witness to Jesus in spite of our fears. But if we let fear overpower our faith, then we will be overcome by evil. Fear is a weapon of evil. Faith is God’s shield against fear. Let us be among those who have overcome the evil one by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony, because we did not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.

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