“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” ().
Prior to this verse, there are many other promises given to the overcomer. (See, , , ; , .) In all these verses God lists many things that will be given to an overcomer—but what is it that we need to overcome?
There’s something called temptation, . . . and we all struggle with it. Inwe are told that Christ overcame temptation in His human form and He was victorious—which means we can be also!
Our life as Christians is a constant battle with temptation, and we must be victorious over this if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. You cannot enter heaven if you have a heart full of sin—this is why you have to overcome that urge, desire, impulse, or inclination to sin. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure! “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” ().
Against whom are we wrestling? Not against flesh and blood, that is, our fellow human beings. When you’re fighting a war, against whom are you fighting? Humans—your own flesh and blood. But this war is much greater. We’re fighting against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high/heavenly places. Satan and his army of fallen angels—that’s who we’re fighting against on a daily basis! This war will not end until Christ’s second coming! The question is—are we going to be the overcomer or the one that is overcome?
Until Christ’s second coming we have to face temptation. . . . But a promise is given to those who stand that temptation successfully. “Blessed is the man that endureth [resists] temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” ().
Do you want to be a blessed man or woman? Then resist temptation! It’s easy to say, but a lot harder to do! We need to face reality—we need to overcome temptation if we are to enter heaven. No sinful heart will enter! The only other place we’ll be going if we don’t overcome temptation—is Hell! No tree of life, no external life, no second chance—It’s now or never! If we endure temptation (not falling into it), we will receive a crown of life—which is eternal life—that the Lord has promised to us! How many of us want that?
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (). The word “of” here indicates the origin of something. Temptations to sin do not originate with God. Temptation originated in heaven—yes! But not with God. . . . It originated with Lucifer, known today as Satan or the devil. In , the Bible calls Satan the tempter. It’s very important that we understand this. . . . God cannot be tempted, neither does He tempt anyone, for it goes completely contrary to everything God is!
The only person tempting you and me today is our adversary—the devil.
“But every man is tempted [by Satan], when he is drawn away of his own lust [desires], and enticed” ().
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (, emphasis added).
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are the three avenues which Satan has used to tempt every person on earth, including Jesus Christ.
Lust is an intense longing. It is not necessarily a sexual desire—it could be a lust for anything. The devil is so cunning—he uses our own lustful desires or our own weaknesses, our own pet sins—the things we struggle with most—against us, to make us fall. There are things that the devil knows about you that are not temptations for me and vice versa. He figures out what he can and can’t use to trap each one of us. Once he knows our weak points, we’re in grave danger because the struggle becomes harder!
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” ().
I think it's pretty safe to say that each one of us has been guilty of one of these lusts of the flesh at one time or another. These are strong words—because if these things are found in us, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. I believe this is clear! A heart filled with any one of these lusts of the flesh will not be permitted to enter heaven.
This is simply a temptation to look at something wrong, for example coveting—which we are warned against (). Coveting is simply a strong desire to have something that is rightly not yours to have—because it belongs to someone else. A prime example is when David saw Bathsheba, as recorded in .
The pride of life is that sinful temptation for excess greatness or power that we’ve probably all have the desire to attain at one time or another. This is one of the sins that God truly hates most! The Bible says that “pride goeth before destruction” (). Pride of life is what made Lucifer (that beautiful angel) turn into Satan—the tempter, the deceiver, our adversary—the one that wants to destroy us!
Every sin we commit will involve at least one of these three temptations, but it may include all three. Thankfully, we have a Saviour who understands, “for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (; ). In we read that Christ was tempted with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, yet He did not sin. Since He was victorious, we can be, too!
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” ().
Temptation is a common thing; there is nothing unique about it. Yet everyone has a different temptation tolerance level, and because God is a God of love and mercy, by His providence, He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle.
The best part of this verse is that God personally has made a way of escape in the time of temptation—so that we can bear it! How?
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ().
What do we need in order to overcome temptation? The armor of God! Human-made armor can be penetrated or destroyed and is no guarantee of safety. But not so with God’s armor! When those temptations come flying at us, they will bounce off our armor and will not even affect us! The only reason Satan gets so many people to fall into temptation is because they don’t have the impenetrable armor. We need to watch and pray without ceasing (; ; ); our spirit is willing not to fall, but our flesh is weak. Again, watch and pray lest you fall to temptation. Our spirit is willing not to fall, but our flesh is weak!
Satan doesn’t come in the ugliness that he is! He comes wrapped in a beautiful package.
When Eve heard the voice of a beautiful serpent coming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, what should have been her first inclination? She should have been out of there faster than lightning. Satan uses beautiful packages like this to tempt us today, hoping that we fall.
If we merely crawl away from temptation, it’s because we are secretly hoping that it catches up with us. The idea is to run or flee, as the Bible says. And don’t leave a forwarding address. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” ().
When we have on the armor of God and are focused on Him in constant prayer, our protection is bullet-proof.
“It is not safe for us, when going into battle, to cast away our weapons. It is then that we need to be equipped with the whole armor of God. Every piece is essential.”—My Life Today, p. 309.
If we fail to maintain this whole armor, we are casting off our weapons of mass destruction against Satan.
“The experience of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane contains a lesson for the Lord’s people today. . . . They did not realize the necessity of watchfulness and earnest prayer in order to withstand temptation. Many today are fast asleep, as were the disciples. They are not watching and praying lest they enter into temptation. Let us often read and give careful study to those portions of God’s Word that have special reference to these last days, pointing out the dangers that will threaten God’s people.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 97.
The second coming of our Lord and Saviour is near, and Satan knows this!
Christ had told His disciples to watch and pray lest they entered into temptation. But they didn’t listen. They were too busy sleeping.
Are we sleeping? Everywhere we see the signs pointing to Christ’s soon return, and Satan is now working harder then ever!
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (). The enemy is trying to destroy our lives so that we can’t go to heaven; that’s all that matters to him.
There is a remedy if we yield to temptation and break God's law. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” ().
If we fall, all we have to do is get back up, ask the Lord for forgiveness, have faith that He will forgive us, put back on the armor of God, and continue fighting the battle.
“We are not required to overcome in our own strength; by living faith we can grasp the hand of Infinite Power, and when Satan comes with his temptations, we can point to the cross of Calvary, and say, ‘Christ died for me; in His name I can and will overcome. I want the Eden home that Adam lost. I must, I will, fight the battles of the Lord and become a victor and have a place in the kingdom of glory.’ ”—The Signs of the Times, August 4, 1890.
The only way we can overcome is if we have Jesus Christ as our personal Friend and overcome as He did.
There are in the Bible many promises to the overcomer beside those cited earlier. The reading of these promises makes you want to overcome temptation and make it to the kingdom of heaven. We don’t have to overcome by our own strength. . . . And even if we wanted, we couldn’t! But with God’s help, let us keep these promises in mind, because we must be victorious over temptation if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven.