The disciples of Christ are in the world, but they are not of the world. They have been chosen out of the world, but sent into the world as witnesses for Christ. Jesus said: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:16, 18).
The world is hostile to the cause of Christ and hate Christ’s disciples even as it has hated Christ. Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18). No one can therefore follow and serve the Lord faithfully without overcoming the world. It is therefore very crucial for anyone who wants to follow and serve Christ on the His terms to know how to overcome the world and its lusts, evil influences, pollutions and oppositions.
First of all, it is very crucial to understand what it means to overcome the world. The word ‘overcome’ in the New Testament is from the Greek word ‘nikao’. This word is a verb which denotes an action, occurrence, or a state of existence.
The word ‘nikao’ literally means to subdue, to conquer, to overcome, to prevail or get victory. It implies to carry off the victory, to come off victorious, or to maintain one’s cause. It is used of Christ as victorious over all His foes. It is also used of Christians that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, tribulations and temptations.
From the understanding of the Greek word, ‘nikao’ translated ‘overcome’ in the New Testament, it is clear that overcoming the world is not a passive thing, but an active, dynamic or on-going experience or exercise. Overcoming the world implies not seeking after or pursuing the earthly things like the children of this world (the unbelievers) do.
Jesus commands: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33 NKJV).
It also speaks of not loving or living for the things of this world as the ungodly do: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV).
The believer who is overcoming the world is the one who though living in the world is not conforming to the world, or living according to the mode, standard, maxim, precept, custom, principle, or fashion of this world (Rom. 12:2, Col. 2:20-22).
The believer who is overcoming the world is the one who in spite of the abounding distractions, temptations, tribulations or persecutions he faces or encounters in the world still maintain his focus, allegiance, loyalty, dedication or commitment to Christ and His cause, vision or purpose (Heb. 6:10-12).
Overcoming the world connotes not allowing the pressures and cares of this world to dampen, suppress or quench your first love for Christ, but rather holding fast your first love and confidence firm to the end (Heb. 3:14).
In a nutshell, as Apostle Paul puts it, it is to be dead or crucified to the world and the world to you. Paul said: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14 RSV).
However, no man can overcome the world and its negative influences without first confronting and defeating Satan, the god or ruler of this world (2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2, John 12:31, 14:30). For the Scripture says: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. “But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.” (Luke 11:21-22 NKJV).
Unfortunately, there is no natural man who is stronger or wiser than Satan, the Devil, the great dragon and the serpent of old, and who can defeat him, thereby overcoming the world which is under the sway, influence, dominion and power of the devil. How then can a mortal man overcome the world which is under the authority of Satan? Jesus Christ has done it for mankind on the Cross. Praise God! Is there anything else for man to do? Certainly there is!
First, victory over the world is yours when you put your faith in the person of Christ and His finished redemptive work on the Cross. The Scripture declares: “For whatever 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?” (1 John 5:4-5 NKJV).
Christ’s victory over Satan – the god of this world is for all mankind (1 John 2:2). How do you make it yours? It becomes a reality in your life or your personal experience through the new or spiritual birth. When you believe in Jesus Christ and His atonement for your sins on the Cross and confess Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, you are born again as a new creation and you also become spiritually joined to the Lord Jesus, thereby becoming one with Him. The Scripture says: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17 NKJV).
Beloved, through the new birth experience you have become one with Christ. What then are the implications or benefits of your spiritual union with Christ?
First, by reason of your spiritual union with Christ, you died with Christ and also rose up with Him (Rom. 6:3-5, Gal. 2:20). “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3 NKJV). You are now dead to the world and all its lusts and enticements, but alive to God. And because the world has no power, control or influence over he who is dead, you have overcome the world (Gal. 6:14, Rom. 6:7).
Second, because you are now one with Christ, all that Christ has done, achieved or accomplished is now imputed to you. His victory over the god of this word through the Cross is now your own victory. That is why Jesus said: “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV).
Third, by virtue of your union with Christ all that Christ has is now credited to your account; you are now heir of God and joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). As a joint heir with Christ, you now share His authority, power or dominion over the god of this world. Jesus said: “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19 NKJV).
Fourth, truly the world is under the dominion and influence of Satan, but the truth is – you are not although you are living in the world! How can that be? It is simply because by the reason of your spiritual union with Christ you have been raised up together with Him and made to sit together with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6), “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” (Eph. 1:21 NKJV). So, though you are physically living and walking about in the world, you are spiritually operating from the heavenly places, far above the god of this world.
Lastly, because of your spiritual union with Christ, you are now all that Christ is. The Scripture testifies that: “as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 NKJV). Like Christ, you are now the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness of this world cannot comprehend, apprehend, defeat, dominate or prevail against you (John 1:5). Hallelujah!
That is why Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14, 16) NKJV.
Though the world is full of darkness, Christ’s disciples are the sons of light and as light always overcomes darkness, they have overcome this world (John 12:36). “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” (1 Thess. 5:5 NKJV). Praise God!
Sheep among wolves! That is Jesus’ exact description of His disciples among the children of this world. Jesus warns: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16 NKJV).
Should Christ’s disciples (the sheep) be afraid of the world (the wolves)? Certainly not! Christ has overcome the world for the believers, His sheep, by defeating Satan – the god of this world through the Cross. Should the sheep of God then become careless in their dealing or interaction with the wolves of this world? Certainly not! We should be cheerful that Christ has overcome the world, but also be watchful as long as we are still living among the wolves in this world (John 16:33, 1 Pet. 5:8).
The believers have overcome the world by their faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus on the Cross. “For whatever 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?” (1 John 5:4-5 NKJV).
By virtue of your spiritual union with Christ through spiritual birth all the feats, exploits or achievements of Christ through His death and resurrection are credited to your account, for you are now a joint heir with Him (Rom. 8:17, 1 Cor. 6:17). So, the victory of Christ over the world and the god of this world is now your personal victory. That is one of the tremendous benefits of being a child of God, a joint heir with Christ.
While it is absolutely true that all the believers or followers of Christ have overcome the world through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:37, 1 Cor. 15:57, 2 Cor. 2:14); yet many believers today are not experiencing or walking in the victory in their day to day interaction with the world. What could be responsible for that? Ignorance!
Your daily victory over the world and its lusts, cares, and trials depend primarily on your spiritual understanding or revelation knowledge of the victory that Christ has already won and given to you through His death on the Cross. It is the revelation knowledge of Christ and what He did for you on the Cross that produces the faith that overcomes the world. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV). Ignorance only generates or produces fear, doubt or unbelief.
The only way or means to total and lasting victory over the world and all its temptations, distractions, pollutions, tribulations or persecutions is the Cross of Christ. That is why Paul said: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14 NKJV).
Paul was able to overcome all the trials, tribulations and persecutions he encountered in the world and finished his race and kept the faith because the world was dead to Paul and he also was dead to the world through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4:7). It is only by dying that you also can overcome the world, for it is only the dead that the world cannot tempt, hurt, wound, disturb, or distract!
Unfortunately, many believers today are too alive or sensitive to the world. That is why the world and its lusts, trials, cares or pressures are overcoming, overwhelming and dominating them on a daily basis.
Since the believers’ victory over the world came through the Cross of Christ, it can only be sustained or experienced daily through the Cross. It is absolutely impossible to follow Jesus closely, wholeheartedly or faithfully in this world without bearing your cross daily. Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 nKJV).
Any day you fail to bear or apply the Cross in your dealing with the world, the cares and trials of this world will rule, dominate and overwhelm your heart and thus distract or hinder you from focusing on the Lord, listening to the Lord, obeying, serving and following the Lord. What does it means to bear or apply the Cross daily? How can you bear and apply the Cross in your day to day interaction with the world?
Jesus Christ won a perfect and permanent victory over sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan for all mankind on and through the Cross. The victory of Christ becomes the victory of anyone who puts his faith in the person of Christ and His redemptive work on the Cross. It is only through spiritual birth or being born again that the captives of sin, the flesh, the world and Satan can receive and experience true freedom and victory in life. Through the experience of new birth the repentant sinner becomes a child of God and a joint heir with Christ, thereby sharing in Christ’s victory and authority (John 1:12, Rom. 8:17, 1 Cor. 6:17, 1 John 5:4-5).
When you became born again you were not just delivered from the power, dominion and influence of Satan who is the god or ruler of this world, you were also spiritually translated or transferred into God’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). However, you continue to live physically in the world which is anti-Christ, for its mode, maxim, fashion, mindset, pursuit, style or way of life is averse and contrary to that of the Kingdom of God.
The world hated Christ and His cause, so the world will always hate, oppose and persecute the true followers of Christ who are in the world to pursue and accomplish Christ’s cause or mission. Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19 NKJV).
The world will not only oppose and persecute you if you choose and resolve not to conform to its ways, fashions, modes or standards, but the world will also seek to discourage, distract and defile you, and dampen your love, zeal or passion for Christ and His kingdom. Having won the victory over the world for us through the Cross, the Lord’s expectation is that, regardless of how the world treats or maltreats us, we shall remain “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philip. 2:15 NKJV).
How do you keep yourself pure, blameless, undefiled, and unspotted from the world? The same way you got your victory over the world! Through the Cross of Christ!
The believers’ victory over the world came by the means of the Cross – through Christ’s death. It can only be sustained or retained by the same means – through the Cross (death). You can only continue to experience and enjoy true victory over the world and all its lusts, trials and cares or pressures by bearing and applying the Cross daily. That is why Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
Daily victory over the world is tie to taking up or bearing your cross daily! It is not a one-time deal, but an ongoing commitment to die daily to yourself and the world around you. The day you stop to take up your cross is the day you will cease to follow Christ. Why will that happen? Because it is only through the Cross that you can neutralize all the evil influences of the world and insulate your heart from all its enticements.
What then does it mean to bear or apply the Cross daily? It simply means to die daily or to remain dead daily! It is saying, ‘NO’ continually to yourself and the world, but saying, ‘YES’ to the Lord and His will at all times!
Although many people carry or wear the Cross today as an ornament, but in the ancient time bearing the Cross was no fun or pleasure to anyone; it was a sign of damnation or death. Anyone bearing the Cross then was already under the sentence of death, unfit to live among the people, and on his way to die. The Cross is therefore symbolic of death or rejection.
How then can you bear or apply the Cross in your day to day dealings with the world? It is simply by seeing or reckoning yourself to be dead to the world and the world to be dead to you! You must always bear it in mind as you relate with the world that you were dead through Christ’s death on the Cross. With that mindset, you will always relate or deal with, respond to or treat the world and all that is in the world as a dead man will do! That is the only way or secret to experiencing daily victory over the world (Gal. 2:20, 6:14, Col. 3:1-5). That is why Paul declared: “I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:31).
Christ’s death on the Cross is the death that the believers need to die to be free from the enticements, allurements or temptations of the world. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3 NKJV). “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” (Rom. 6:7-8 NKJV).
Beloved, your daily freedom from the pollutions or corruptions that are in the world through lusts (2 Pet. 1:4, 2:20) and your daily victory over the temptations, tribulations or persecutions you may face in the world is in viewing and dealing with the world through the Cross – as one crucified with Christ. That is the secret of Paul’s victory over the world! He declares: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14 NKJV).
Naturally, the dead has no more desire, taste, affection or passion for the ephemeral or worldly things. When a man dies, his mind or mindset is automatically shifted away from earthly things to heavenly things. Nothing of this world matters to the dead anymore! No more selfish ambitions, carnal desires or pursuits.
The dead are only concerned or preoccupied with things that transcend or exceed this world. That is what bearing or applying the Cross daily will do to you. It will naturally shift away your mindset, focus, goal, purpose, pursuit, attention or affection from the earthly to the heavenly. It will enable you to see and deal with issues of this life from the perspective of eternity.
To bear or apply the Cross daily is to daily “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:2 NKJV). It is to count all things which are gains to you in this world as loss for the sake of Christ. That is what Paul meant when he said he was dead to the world.
Paul testified: “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philip. 3:8). Nothing of this world meant anything to him; he regarded all his earthly possessions, positions, qualifications, successes, exploits, attainments or achievements as mere rubbish, refuse or nothing. That was why he was able to seek first and above all things the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33, 2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Beloved, your mindset or perspective is so crucial to your daily experience of victory over the world. You will always overcome the world if you will always view and deal with the world and all that you may encounter in the world through the Cross – as one crucified with Christ (Rom. 12:2).