Preparation for Being an Overcomer
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7
Dearest Friends in Jesus,
It's a wonderful thing in God to be one that "hath an ear". Jesus encouraged His own to insure that they had a "hearing ear". I believe it's because the "hearing ear" is the preparation for the "overcoming life". When Jesus speaks of having a "hearing ear", it always comes with promise of reward.
Just a couple of examples, before getting into the meat of this teaching, which I truly believe is prophetic for those seeking the advancement of the kingdom of God in their lives.
In Matthew 11:12-15, the promise of God is that for those who have a hearing ear, the kingdom of God, which "suffers violence" , could be taken by force!
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:12-15
In other words, even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord for a blessing, you can do that, too!! (Ref. Genesis 32:24-32)
Our Bible gives two words for "suffereth violence", but the original Greek gives only one, "biazo" and the word means to be pressed, to be seized. Are you going to allow yourself to be pressed and to be seized by the angel of the Lord in a wrestling contest against your flesh in order that the spirit of God might have the supremacy in your life? Before Jacob could have that life altering experience of wrestling with that one who brought him to the place of confessing that he had "seen God", he needed to get alone with God to enter into the contest!!
Dear Lord Jesus, I'm thankful for the Esaus in my life that drive me to "Peniel", a place where I'll see the face of God! A "hearing ear" will cause me to pray through to a changed nature, and a meeting with God!!
In another place, explaining a parable about the kingdom of God, those who have "ears to hear" are expected to advance to the place of righteousness where they will "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father", in a context of MUCH EVIL and JUDGEMENT happening in the world!! (Those who don't understand that God can speak blessings to the righteous at the same time He speaks judgment to the wicked are lacking in understanding. )
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 13:39-43
But for this article, our main consideration is the parable of the sower that went out to sow the seed.
When Jesus speaks to John, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches", I believe he was depending on John to recall something he had spoken to him when he walked on the earth, gathering that little band of 12 about him who were commissioned to preach the gospel, and take it to the ends of the earth.
At one point, Jesus said to His disciples, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears....." Luke 9:44. If you read that in it's context, you'll be able to feel the spirit of Jesus breathing through the words. He was at a point with even a bit of exasperation because he truly wanted them to "get it". So, I'm sure that when John was caught up in visions on the isle of Patmos, that scene was quickened afresh to his memory. He knew that when the Lord said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear......"
To "hear" would mean a blessing, and to "not hear" would have disturbing consequences. To "hear" would mean fruitfulness, and to "not hear" would mean barrenness. To "hear" would mean being an "overcomer", and to NOT "hear" would mean spiritual death and defeat.
There was a day that Jesus sat by the seaside, and began to preach to his disciples, (reading from Mark 4)
Hearken! Behold there went out a sower to sow. (verse 3)
Again, Jesus wanted them to LISTEN, he wanted them to have a "hearing ear". What does the Bible say that the "sower sowed"?
The sower soweth the word. (verse 14)
What kind of "word" did the sower sow? Well, if you look it up in your Strong's, you'll find that the "word" that the sower sowed was not a "rhema" word, but it was the "logos". Now, this disappointed me a bit, until the Lord began to quicken my understanding.
A "seed" is not that which is living, but that which has dried out to a state of dormancy. "Except a corn of wheat fall in the ground, and die, it abideth alone. " Oh how that logos truly seems like nothing more than the dead letter when we are at times receiving it!
Jesus wanted them to sow the " logos " into their hearts, and he gave much explanation to the different conditions that would affect the growth of that seed. There was the "wayside" conditions. There was the stony ground. There was ground with thorns that would choke out any fruitfulness. And then there is "good ground". The "good ground" is those that "have ears to hear, and hear the Word". So, the "hearing ear" is the "good ground" that receives seed so that it can bring forth either 30-fold, or 60 fold, or 100 fold! The greater the "hearing ear", the better the soil, the better the crop yield!
Again, in this portion of scripture (Mark 4) , Jesus never uses the term "rhema", but always "logos". So, the logos, the scripture, the very logic of God is what needs to be sown into the soil of our "ears to hear" in order that we might experience true fruitfulness in our lives. The message is simple: Read your Bible. It may seem like the "letter that killeth", but if you'll pray for God to give you "ears to hear" it's not the end of the story.
That seed, the "dead letter" is meant to be converted into a LIVING WORD, and that LIVING WORD is what denotes fruitfulness and productivity, and overcoming power in our spiritual lives!!
Fruitfulness is the product that comes forth because the water of the Spirit and the sunshine of the attentiveness of the Husbandman has come to bear upon the cultivation of that seed! Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman." (John 15:1)
Why was Jesus the "true" vine? It's because he stayed true to the characteristics of a vine. A vine is a plant utterly dependent for it's strength. Unless it comes to a trellis or a fence post, or the trunk of a tree, or something which it can attach itself to, and climb, it will simply run along the ground. Jesus totally had ears to hear what His Father had to say unto He, he did absolutely nothing by Himself, of Himself, or in Himself. (John 5) If the Father worked, He worked, and if the Father did nothing, He did nothing. The Father was the Husbandman, and He had an ear to hear the voice of the Husbandman, and obedience to that Voice was His water and His sunshine, which caused Him to grow in favor and stature with God and men, and which caused His ultimate fruitfulness.
Notice that up until the book of Revelation, whenever Jesus speaks of having "ears to hear", he never adds to it the phrase "what the Spirit saith unto the Churches". He simply says, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."
( Matthew 11:15, Matthew 13: 9, 16, 43; Mark 4:9; 23; Mark 7:16; Luke 8:8; Luke 14:35)
So, when we come to the book of Revelation, and Jesus adds the phrase "what the Spirit is saying to the churches" to his constant and heartfelt admonition that we have "ears to hear", I believe He is encouraging us to accept that by this time, in the process of our maturing and growing in God, we should have had spiritual advancement in our lives that indicates the Word we have heard, the scriptures which we have allowed to be implanted within the good ground of our hearts because we've had "ears to hear" is truly now SPIRIT and LIFE and it's that "word" that gives us the strength to be the overcomers God is calling us to be!!
( Within the context of the book of Revelation, we understand that the Lord is speaking at the completion of the dispensation of the fullness of time for the Church age, and the commencement of the kingdom of God. That which is to be understood both in historical periods of restoration of truth as well as in characteristics of very identifiable movements and churches has climaxed to the point that there is a clear understanding of the "good, the bad, and the ugly", and spiritual review is in order, and when Jesus says, "Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches", He's also encouraging us to examine our own lives in the light of that testimony.
Have you left your first love? Do you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes like God does? Do you have a name that you "live" when you're really "dead"? Do you think you're rich and increased in spiritual goods when perhaps your true condition is that your poor and wretched and miserable and blind and naked? Is there a chance you might be just "lukewarm" rather than hot or cold?? Better to be cold than lukewarm!! )
Beloved, you need something to back up your heartfelt decision to be an "overcomer". There's a saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".
Paul very aptly describes the plight of the battle between flesh and spirit in the 7th chapter of Romans. The fight is a never-ending, and quite exhausting one:
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25
Thank God, this chapter is quickly followed by the solution to the problem, which is to walk in the Spirit.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:1-8.
A decision made in our flesh to be an overcomer will never produce an overcomer. It will only produce frustration? Why? Because God said that NO FLESH will glory in His Presence!!
"Overcoming" springs forth from being "spiritually minded", and being "spiritually minded" springs forth from "minding" or paying attention to the things of the Spirit!! The overcomer is the one that has "ears to hear", the one that is paying attention to what the Spirit is saying rather than what the flesh is desiring!
In Mark 4, Jesus is talking about a seed when He says, "Let him that hath ears, hear" . In the book of Revelation, Jesus is talking about things which have come to full fruition, when He tells us to "hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches". It's time to take spiritual inventory to see if what is captivating you spiritually has brought forth 30-fold, 60-fold, or is bringing forth 100-fold fruit.
If we're going to be overcomers, we need to let the Spirit begin to discern the condition of the soil that has either produced fruit or prohibited it. It's time to squarely face the uncompromising and unvarnished truth regarding the condition of our own "spiritual soil", or "hearing ear" because we cannot truly be overcomers until we've done that.
What the Spirit is saying to the Churches is really so simple and direct it's like the Holy Ghost is the kindergarden teacher, and we are at the "parent-teacher" conference, and the "child" is our obedient or disobedient soul. Are we going to "own" that child and make the corrections in order that we be an "overcomer", so that we can once again eat of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, or are we going to "miss it" even as Adam did because he did not have 'ears to hear".
When God said to Adam,
" ...., Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:16, and 17.
Adam did not have "ears to hear". This saying did NOT "sink down into his ears". Dullness of hearing will prevent us from being overcomers.
Beloved, no matter what stage you are at in your spiritual life, it's advantageous to you spiritually to allow yourself to be seeded with the "logos" word of God, His very logic that comes through attentiveness to scripture.
But you are as boring and agitating and as dead as the dead letter you're preaching to the people of God if you have not personally opened your ears to the voice of the Father, and the water of the Spirit in order that life might spring forth from that Word, converting into a "rhema word" for the people of God, imparting to them overcoming power!!!
This reminds me of some brothers I knew many years ago, the "Smith Brothers'. They used to love to get up and sing a little chorus in our local church, and they'd sing it with such feeling and such joy and such "heartiness unto the Lord" that everytime they sang it, the glory of God would fall:
"Oh I marvel at the wisdom of my God, Yes, I marvel at the wisdom of my God, When I see a little lily push it's way up through the sod, Oh, How I marvel at the wisdom of my God!"
Has that seed of the word of God planted in your soul become the lily (the rhema word) pushing it's way up through the "sod" your very flesh (we are of the earth, earthy) bringing forth a fragrance that is a blessing and an encouragement to others to cause THEM to meditate a meditation OF HIM that "shall be sweet"??
Overcomers are not those who have the fortitude to resist sin and evil more-so than others. Overcomers are those who mind the things of the Spirit because they've had 'ears to hear'. Lord Jesus, give us ears to hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches!!
Always in the Love of Jesus,
Herald of His Kingdom
in Africa and many other projects set forth.