Five Marks of an Overcoming Christian

About eight months after I became a born-again Christian, I was invited by a friend to a series of meetings held by a vibrant Christian group. When I got there, I was immediately drawn to the life of God that I sensed in their midst. I had recently begun to hunger for a deeper walk with God, so the seriousness and spiritual depth among those believers resonated with me. As I continued to have fellowship with them, I began to hear messages about the coming kingdom of God. I understood few details at the time but felt in my heart that the burden was of the Lord. After fellowship meetings, I would review the scriptures shared and when I did, the words came alive; God seemed to be speaking directly to me.

One of the terms I heard a lot in those early days was “overcomer.” I learned about the lofty promises the Lord Jesus holds out to Christians who overcome spiritual complacency, sin, the world, and the devil (see Revelation 2 and 3[1]). As a result, I desired to be an overcomer. Practically speaking, it has taken me years to firmly grasp what being an overcoming Christian entails. I have been privileged to hear many great messages that have tackled different aspects of this high calling, but perhaps my greatest teacher has been walking with God and observing His Spirit lead me into the practical aspects of the truths I’ve learned. So, now I have better understanding.

Many believers have not received in-depth teaching about living an overcoming Christian life—a subject that runs throughout the gospels and epistles and culminates in the book of Revelation. Some believers have heard messages about becoming an overcomer but find them too deep or too difficult to understand, so they turn away. However, becoming one who overcomes sin, the world, and the devil is one of the pinnacles of the Christian faith, as revealed by the Lord in Revelation 2 and 3, so understanding what it involves and pursuing the same are crucial. To this end, I want to share, in simple terms, a brief list of attitudes that characterize overcoming Christians. I’ll share from Revelation 14:1–5:

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

In this scripture, the Bible describes a scene where the Lord Jesus Christ stands on “Mount Zion” with a company of people described as “the 144,000.” John, the apostle who received this revelation, heard several things about these people, and what he heard gives us insight into the lives they lived prior to the moment shown.

“Mount Zion” and “144,000” are used symbolically in this scripture. In the New Testament, “Mount Zion” does not refer to a physical location but to a spiritual realm (see Hebrews 12:22-24), and “144,000”, like other numbers in the book of Revelation, is not a physical head count. For instance, we know that when the Bible says in Revelation 5:6, “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne . . . , stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes,” the reference is not to a physical baby sheep with abnormal features, for in the verses that follow, we learn that the slain Lamb symbolizes the Lord Jesus Christ in His role as Saviour and the “seven eyes” represent the seven Spirits of God that are upon Him. Similarly, the “144,000” standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion does not refer to a physical head count; rather, it symbolizes a group of born-again Christians who have cultivated deep relationships with their Saviour, Jesus Christ. These believers are unique because of certain qualities found in their lives and in their walk with God. They are overcomers.

What then is this overcoming lifestyle? What attributes characterize overcomers?

1.They think like God (Revelation 14:1b). This sounds lofty, for who can claim to know God’s mind? Indeed, no one can unless God makes it possible. Thankfully, He has chosen to reveal His mind to His children through the Holy Spirit.[2]

There are two ways of thinking prevalent in the world today: God’s way and the devil’s. Those who adopt God’s way of thinking, like the 144,000, receive the mark of the Father on their foreheads (minds), but those who embrace the world’s way of thinking receive the mark of the beast.[3] To become overcomers, we must learn God’s way of thinking from His Word and make it our own. We must accept the things He says and strive to live accordingly.

2.They develop godly character and a holy lifestyle through their daily walk with God (Revelation 14:3). Overcoming Christians make the choice to involve God in every aspect of their lives. As they do, He teaches them His values, which they wholeheartedly embrace. They develop routines[4]and disciplines[5] that keep their spiritual lights burning bright and nurture the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. These choices, followed over a long period, lead to a lifestyle that’s patterned after Jesus Christ.

Because the development of their godly character occurs over a long time and involves intricate God-ordained experiences, others cannot imitate them by mere observation. Those who wish to “sing their song” must walk with the Master and learn from Him first hand. This is why the scripture says that “they sang a new song before the throne, . . . and no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”

So when we go through experiences where we have to make sacrifices and deny our flesh in order to follow God, when we pass through circumstances that make us think, what’s the point of all this anyway, we should know that our submission to God not only pleases Him, but also develops in us attributes that will qualify us to be part of the 144,000 that stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion.

3.Their hearts and minds are fully committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of Revelation 14:4a, they are “those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins.” Paul the apostle gave an analogy that gives us insight into the meaning of these words. He said to the Corinthian Christians, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (See 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.)

Like a woman devoted to her husband, overcoming Christians are fully devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One whom they seek to please in all things; all other authorities are secondary. As far as they are concerned, Jesus has the final say on everything. Like the three wise men who, to Herod’s chagrin, took a different route home after seeing baby Jesus, these Christians obey God even when doing so displeases others.

Overcoming Christians keep away from false teachers and from the idols of the world. They subdue all things in their lives that would compromise their loyalty to Christ, no matter how dear those things are to them.

Today, there are many people today who knowingly or unknowingly try to become lords in believers’ lives. They want to tell us what to do and how to live. Some mean well and others do not. But Jesus is our Lord. Indeed, He sends people to teach and guide us but we will find that those who genuinely represent Him point us to Him and not to themselves. When people are truly sent by God, their counsels give us wisdom and urge us to know the Lord for ourselves. Such people readily acknowledge that their roles in our lives are secondary.

True messengers teach us God’s truths but encourage us to look to Him for confirmation. They share their experiences but counsel us to seek His specific will for our own lives. Rather than think and decide for us, they encourage us to think for ourselves with the Lord’s help.

4.They go wherever the Lord leads them(Revelation 14:4b). Overcoming Christians source direction from the Father’s mind not from their sense of right and wrong. They are confident that every experience or place the Lord leads them into is good, so they follow Him. He is their good Shepherd, and they know He will never lead them astray. Even when the situations He leads them into are rough, they trust the Master’s heart and remember that He works for their good in all things.[6]

Following Jesus wherever He goes implies that overcomers do not go where He does not go. No matter how attractive or good an experience may seem, they refrain from associating with it if they do not have approval from the Lord. They reckon that He’s wiser than they are and, as such, submit to His will even when they do not fully understand it.

5.They live in truth (Revelation 14:5). Overcoming Christians live true lives before God. Paul, an overcomer in his time, said this about his life and ministry: “Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this” (2 Corinthians 4:1-3 NLT).

Overcoming Christians know that God sees their hearts, so they learn to live sincerely before Him. They are open about their thoughts and motives, knowing that He never condemns them but desires to make them better. Their hearts are pure and their hands clean. Their lives are consistent with what they preach, whether or not they are being watched by others.

Since they are still works-in-progress, they have shortcomings. They do not deny these shortcomings but lay them before God in search of His help and deliverance. They are eager to bring every aspect of their lives into the light of His truth; therefore, God does not consider them guilty.

Reflect & Pray

According to God’s Word, these five core attributes are present in every overcoming Christian. Do you see them in yourself? Do you see them in your church? Do not be discouraged if you haven’t developed much in these areas. Rather, purpose in your heart to do so.

Ask the Lord to teach you about becoming an overcomer. Ask Him also for the ability to understand the truths that He will teach you. Ask Him to work those truths into your life, and ask for the grace to respond positively as He does. Last but not least, ask Him to place you among a group of believers who are committed to pursuing the overcoming lifestyle under His guidance and authority.

Udeme Anosike

[1] Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28 and 3:5, 12, 21

[2] 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

[3] Revelation 13:11-18

[4] Fellowship with God, Bible reading, prayer, fellowship with like-minded believers, etc.

[5] Obedience to God, death-to-self, surrounding themselves with things and people that strengthen their walk with God, etc.

[6] Romans 8:28

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