Letters to Seven Churches (Part Eight): Overcoming
Striving and Enduring to Transform Into Christ's Image
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Sermon; #1484AM; 76 minutes
The Book of Revelation provides practical strategies to survive the Day of the Lord. The verb "overcome" appears 12 times in the Apocalypse in the transitive form, denoting overcoming what appear to be impossible obstacles. As it attaches to the biblical concept of purifying one's character, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us of the lifelong task of overcoming our recalcitrant human nature, the alluring influence of the world, and Satan the Devil, who continually leavens our nature with his rebellious character. Growing in Christ demands that we both strive and endure, perfecting our character with the same intensity as exhibited by Jacob, who wrestled with Christ in order to attain a blessing. God has promised to give His called-out ones the will and the power to keep His Commandments. Contemplating Christ's commands in Revelation 2 and 3 to overcome in aggregate, we understand that we must avoid 1) a calloused spirit towards God's people and a loss of affection for God, 2) the paralysis caused by wrongly-placed fear, 3) any penchant to fall prey to false teachers, 4) an affinity for corruption, 5) a desire for worldly reputation and status at the expense of an nonperishable crown, and 6) a distant relationship with Christ. God commands that we overcome these life-destroying, carnal behaviors or traits, replacing them with the sound mind.
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