Message NotesPage 1 of 10
Sunday November 23rd 2008
The Three Great Enemies ? Part Two
The World ? Continued
1). Re 3:21 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I
also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
a). We had seen last week that at the Judgment Seat of Christ a division will
be made between those Christians who will be classified as ?overcomers? and those
Christians who will have been ?overcome?. And that each and every one of us will
fall into one of these two categories.
b). And as we approach that Day we find that standing before each of us are
three great enemies that are inextricably linked and demonically orchestrated
whose purpose is to bring shipwreck into the life of the believer with a view to
disqualification from a position of rulership with Christ in His Kingdom. To cause
us to be overcome.
c). These enemies are of course, the world, the flesh and the devil.
d). If we in that Day are going to be overcomers we will have to overcome
these three enemies throughout the course of our pilgrim journey.
e). And we saw that the first of these enemies, the world, is further described
for us in - 1Jo 2:16 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.
f). And each of these we had dealt with in turn realizing that ?the lust of the
flesh? had to do with covetousness with regards to material possessions; ?the lust of
the eyes? to do with envy with regards to other people and ?the pride of life?, to do
with a prideful self-confidence because of who we are or what we have in the
natural ? with no regard for our identity in Christ. ?The pride of life, we may
remember is typified in the attitude of the Laodecian church recorded in ?
Re 3:17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of
nothing' --and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and
g). And in each of these we see a focus on the desire for present gratification
rather than a future hope.
2). As we continue to look at our enemy, ?the world?, this week, we will go back
into the Book of Revelation to examine another of its deceptive ploys before we
look at the scriptural means of overcoming the world in all its forms.
a). Re 2:12 ? "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These
things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 "I know your works, and
where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did
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not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who
was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 "But I have a few things against
you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught
Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed
to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 "Thus you also have those who hold
the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 'Repent, or else I will come
to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 "He who
has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who
overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white
stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who
b). Now what we read here will be significant for us because the letter to
Pergamos follows the letter to Smyrna. And the name Smyrna comes from the
Greek word for myrrh, which we will remember is a substance associated with
death. And would therefore be pointing to that period of church history when
Christians were severely persecuted by a succession of Roman emperors.
c). This persecution was of course demonically inspired to eradicate those
who would embrace their heavenly calling, and look to attain a position of
rulership with Christ.
d). However, the greater the number of Christians who were martyred, the
greater the numbers in the church increased, causing the famous observation by
Tertullian, one of the early church fathers of that period ? ?the blood of the martyrs
is the seed of the church.?
e). This Satanic strategy was a resounding failure resulting in the one who
inspired it changing it ? reverting back to a previous tactic employed against Israel
in order to prevent that nation from obtaining the rights of the firstborn.
f). This change in strategy began during the reign of Constantine and came
to its goal toward the end of the fourth century AD when Theodosius I issued an
edict that made Christianity the exclusive religion of the Roman empire. That
which was to have been separate from the world system under Satan was now
enmeshed within that system. A place the church in general still finds itself today.
g). And the name Pergamos comes from the Greek word ?gamos? =
c). And would be drawing attention to this very time within church history
when the church became ?married? to the world.
d). This is the very thing that the Lord Himself had foretold in ?
Mt 13:31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is
like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 "which indeed is
the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and
becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
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3). Now there are two things we should note about the Lord?s condemnation of the
church at Pergamos and that is that they had there, those who ?hold to the doctrine
of Balaam? and those who ?hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans?.
a). And both of these ?doctrines? would of course represent a direct attack on
the truth of the word of God. And would be in fulfillment of that recorded in ?
1Ti 4:1 ? Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from
the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
b). With regards to the doctrine of Balaam this would involve the embracing
and acceptance of the values, perceptions and practices of the world, based on the
assumption that there would be no consequences for doing so. Just as Balaam had
persuaded Israel that there would be no consequence for their becoming entwined
with the nations surrounding them ? as they were God?s chosen people.
c). The doctrine of the Nicolaitans would have to do with the embracing of
worldly power structures and bringing them into the church creating a ?priestly?
class that elevates itself to a position of superiority and exclusivity, thereby
?lording it over? those who cannot attain to such a privileged position.
d). This unhappy picture is then added to in the Lord?s comments to the next
church in Revelation, Thyatira - Re 2:20 "Nevertheless I have a few things against
you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to
teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things
sacrificed to idols.
e). And what we are seeing in all of these is a message that runs contrary to
the truth ? a complete corruption of the word of the Kingdom, just as Christ had
foretold in another Matthew 13 parable - Mt 13:33 Another parable He spoke to
them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three
measures of meal till it was all leavened."
f). And again with the doctrine of Balaam, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans
and the teaching of Jezebel we would see a preoccupation with what would be
gained in the present rather than looking to the future.
g). Now we might readily identify some of the major areas of corruption
such as it not mattering what we do because God?s grace covers it all and we are
already guaranteed of our rewards, even though the scripture says - 1Co 6:9 ? Do
you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
h). And there are of course numerous others we could cite.
i). Such as the church?s embroilment in politics
4). Now identifying that which is blatantly corrupt is a good thing, but if we keep
in mind that we have all come out from churches that are the result of 2000 years
of corruption it must cause us to wonder how much of that corruption do we carry
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around with us without even realizing it? And how much of it influences our
experience here at Cornerstone?
a). It would be extremely sad if our experience at Cornerstone is no more
than just our old church with a different message. And it would be easy to be
sucked into that way of thinking, because we don?t know anything else. And we
are always more comfortable with what is familiar.
b). But if we come to realize that embracing the Kingdom message must
result in life change we must also realize that the life change we experience is not
in a vacuum ? it changes our life in every aspect ? whether here, at work, or in the
supermarket. It can?t just be church as usual.
5). There is so much that could be said about this, but I want to focus on one
recurring theme, something that seems ever before us at the moment.
a). And this is best identified in a scripture from - 2Pe 3:3 ? knowing this
first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell
asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
b). Now we all know this scripture well and we are all assured of the
certainty of the return of Christ, but look if you can to where the mindset behind
the scoffers assertion leads ? if we are not focused on that future Day ? ?where is
the promise of His coming?? - then we are inevitably focused on the present day.
And, as a result, would after some fashion be walking in the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
c). We must grasp that there is a difference between living in the present,
which is inescapable, and being focused on the present. A focus on the present has
its attention on my life now, and places itself within the kingdom of Satan, rather
than looking to our life in the age to come - Joh 17:15 "I do not pray that You
should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
d). We are in the world, but we don?t need to be of the world.
e). Joh 17:16 "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
6). Keeping this whole thought in mind let?s consider what, ?where is the promise
of His coming?? has done to what we call ?church?.
a). For the greater majority of Christendom in the western world ?church?
has become something you attend that has a physical location and set times of
operation. Because our focus would be on our life now and what is acceptable in
the world we could be deceived into thinking that so long as I attend fairly
regularly I?m OK. I may not get the prize for perfect attendance, but that?s alright.
b). But ?church? isn?t something we attend, it?s what we are ? wherever we
are ? at all times.
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c). Church = Greek ? ?ekklesia? = called out
d). Eph 4:1 ? I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk
worthy of the calling with which you were called,
e). Heb 3:1 ? Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
f). Do we realize that if we see ?church? as just something we attend it gives
us the excuse to step away from any personal responsibility towards holiness?
Because our failure to do what?s right becomes really just the ?church? failing us.
g). And if ?church? is something we attend rather than what we are we can
get sidetracked by the form of it instead of participating in the function. In other
words we can become more concerned about the way things are done, than what
we are here for.
h). Do you know it really doesn?t matter what color the walls are, or how
soft the seats are or whether we sing before the message or after ? these are just
matters of personal choice ? we like some things better than others ? but that is not,
nor ever should be the issue.
j). Scripture is clear with regards to function - Eph 4:11 And He Himself
gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and
teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying
of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning
craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in
all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined
and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working
by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of
itself in love.
k). Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and
good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner
of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day
l). So what do we see in our scriptures here with respect to corporate
gathering? We see the ministry of the pastor/teacher for the equipping of the saints
through the teaching of the word of God - 2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly
equipped for every good work.
m). We see an individual responsibility to act upon what is taught, whereby
every part does its share, causing growth of the body in love.
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n). And then we see an individual responsibility to assemble ourselves
together and exhort one another with respect to love and good works. And
according to our Hebrews scripture why would we do this? Because we see the
Day approaching ? because our focus is future and not present. That which we see
out ahead dictates what we do now.
o). The world in the church requires performance, entertainment and ear
tickling ? the church in the world is here to work out our own salvation with fear
7). Let?s just look for a moment at the church in its infancy in Acts ?
Ac 2:42 ? And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship,
in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and
many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed
were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and
goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily
with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate
their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor
with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being
a). They continue in the apostles? doctrine daily ? in the temple and from
house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. They
praised God. They broke bread, had fellowship and prayed.
b). And all these things they continued to do steadfastly.
c). Steadfastly = Greek ? ?proskartereo? = to be earnest towards, i.e. (to a
thing) to persevere, be constantly diligent, or (in a place) to attend assiduously all
the exercises, or (to a person) to adhere closely to (as a servitor):--attend (give self)
continually (upon), continue (in, instant in, with), wait on (continually).
d). And that which we see here in Acts is exactly what is laid out for us in
our Ephesians 4 and Hebrews 10 scriptures.
e). And this is particularly interesting for us as what we see here in Acts is
the church before the leaven was introduced, before it became enmeshed with the
f). For these folks the race of the faith was their life, it was their daily
preoccupation and their priority and it was not burdensome. And they lived in a
world under Roman occupation, amidst disease and poverty, with the daily
pressure of earning a living and raising a family.
g). So how in the midst of a regular life with the same pressures as we have
were they able to keep that focus? Verses 44 and 45 give us the answer - 44 Now
all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their
possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. Now it?s
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not the selling of their possessions and goods of itself that is the answer, but the
reason why they chose to do that ? it was because their focus was now on the age
to come, they were now focused on their appearance at the Judgment Seat of Christ
and because of that nothing they had in this world had any intrinsic value any
longer - Mt 6:20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither
moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
h). Now we do not have to rush out and sell our possessions and goods, but
we do need to emulate the mindset behind doing so, we do need to emulate their
practice with regards to the teaching of the apostles? doctrine they received and
their own personal responsibility to that. For it was out of that teaching and their
engagement with it and their exhorting one another from it that their future hope
became more real than their present reality.
i). We do need to let go of the temporal and cling to that which is everlasting
Ps 102:25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the
work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all
grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be
changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.
j). 2Pe 3:11 ? Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what
manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
k). And we need to do it in one accord - having the same mind ? with
gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God.
l). A quick self check at this point may help us see if the world has
conformed us to its pattern or whether we are breaking free ? let?s just ask
ourselves the question ? ?Is my week framed by seeking the Kingdom first, or does
seeking the Kingdom first have to fit in to the framework of my week??
8). If our answer is in the first part of our question, then what we are about to see
will enable us to continue to overcome the world, and if we should find our self in
the second part of the question then what we are about to see will transform us
from being overcome by the world to being an overcomer, if we will embrace it
and put it into practice.
a). Firstly, do you remember the scripture last week that spoke of us keeping
ourselves unspotted from the world? - Jas 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before
God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to
keep oneself unspotted from the world.
b). And how being unspotted from the world had to do with being washed
with water by the word?
c). And secondly how we were not to be conformed to this world but
transformed by the renewing of our mind and how that renewing of the mind came
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through mature knowledge - Col 3:10 and have put on the new man who is
renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
d). Well both of these scriptures have as their focus Christ and His coming
Kingdom, and contextually they are both set in antithesis to this present world
system and as we will now see this is the key to overcoming the world.
9). Jesus said - Joh 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may
have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have
overcome the world."
a). How did Jesus overcome the world?
b). What did His resurrection make possible in a broad sense? -
Ps 2:7 ? "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
c). What did His resurrection make possible in a specific sense? -
1Pe 1:3 ? Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according
to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and
undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept
by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last
d). This is our hope, this is the subject of our faith. This is the end to which
we need to be steadfast and diligent, daily.
10). 1Jo 5:1 ? Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and
everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By
this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His
commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.
And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God
overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our
faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the
Son of God?
a). And here in our scripture from 1 John the whole of the matter is put
succinctly for us.
b). Those who are born from above -born of God ? are then in a position to
be faithfully obedient to the commandments of God, and in this way overcome the
c). The word born in v 1 and 4 is the Greek word, ?gennao? and is written in
the perfect tense showing that this is a work completed in time past the results of
which extend into the present time in a finished state. This is our eternal salvation,
the salvation of our spirit, as a result of the finished work of Christ.
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d). Overcomes in v 4 and 5 is the Greek word, ?nikao? written in the present
and aorist tenses showing something that is continuous and occurring, not
completed as we would find with the use of the perfect tense.
e). So what will be the victory that will overcome the world? Our faith. And
our faith overcoming the world is a continuous process, never a one time event
Ro 1:16 ? For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God
to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,
"The just shall live by faith."
f). And our faith is not some nebulous concept of wish fulfillment, no, the
definition of our faith is clearly laid out in the fifth verse of our 1 John scripture ?
5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of
God? ? did you catch it? ? ?he who believes [who has faith] that Jesus is the Son of
God?. Don?t miss it because this is such a common expression.
g). Where does ?Jesus is the Son of God? take us? ? 2 Samuel 7 ? let?s read it
2Sa 7:12 "When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up
your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his
kingdom. 13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne
of his kingdom forever. 14 "I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.
h). And do we realize that we can?t get to 2 Samuel 7 without we begin our
journey in Genesis 1:1. This is what is contained in that seemingly simple
expression, ?believes that Jesus is the Son of God? ? it is the understanding and
accepting of everything God has said about His plans and purposes for His Son and
for Man that have been set in place from the foundation of the world coming to
their glorious culmination in the Millennial Kingdom - Lu 24:27 And beginning at
Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things
i). And it will be this belief encapsulated here in Luke that will enable us to
overcome the world because we will not set our heart and mind on our present
circumstances but on the great and precious promises that have been given to us.
And what it takes to receive those promises. We won?t want our best life now, we
will be looking for a glorified life then.
j). And it won?t of course be just the believing that will do it ? it will be our
faithful obedience, our putting into practice that which scripture teaches ? it will
require us to be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.
k). And this faith comes by only one means - Ro 10:17 So then faith comes
by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
l). Which brings us right back to the very reason why we are here this
morning and the purpose for us being gathered together ? to receive with gladness
and simplicity the word of God, to continue steadfastly in it throughout the week
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ahead and to exhort one another with respect to it whenever we gather together and
to pray for ourselves and others, both individually and corporately, because of it -
so that we might overcome the world and be found worthy at His Judgment Seat.
m). Let us not listen to the doctrine of Balaam and the teaching of Jezebel
that would cause us to be self seeking as we look only to the present and let?s not
listen to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans and construct for ourselves a priestly class
who would do our reading and our Bible study and our praying for us. Rather let
our model be that which we see in Acts.
n). Let?s close with one more scripture - Col 3:1 ? If then you were raised
with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right
hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For
you died,[to the world, the flesh and the devil] and your life is hidden with Christ
in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him