Overcoming with the Lamb
(Rev. 12:7-12, I John 2:12-14)
I love John, the disciple and apostle. While this is subject to scholarly dispute, I think that the experience on Patmos that resulted in the writing of Revelation happened before John wrote his other works. The unveiling of the glorified Christ so changed John’s perspective, he then wrote in a more profound, more deeply spiritual way. His mind had been so deeply transformed. He beheld Jesus Christ in His glory and was never the same again. So after Patmos, he wrote his gospel account and three letters.
If you read the reference passages, you see a progression in each. First the background. In the cosmos exists one who is jealous, envious, and a thief, a liar, and a murderer. His main weapon is that of accusation. He accuses God to each of us, and accuses us to God. And he accuses us to one another. So John tells us the accuser has been cast out of heaven, cast down to the earth. Now we must overcome him here and now. Notice that angelic forces threw him out. A battle has been fought and won by the Lamb of God and heavenly armies. Through death He destroyed him who had the power of death even the devil.
I believe, I understand, the blood of Jesus Christ has ended the ability for the devil to accuse mankind before God. I believe he no longer has access because it the blood on the heavenly mercy seat simply drives him away. Not to mention that Michael and the hosts of angels have thrown him out. So he has only to try to wreak havoc among us here. For years I would hear believers plead the blood of Christ as if that phrase was the answer to every problem. I did not understand. A few years ago, it was clarified for me. When accusation comes in that legal sense, the atmosphere of a spiritual courtroom, we answer that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. And we simply walk out of that legal atmosphere free to be led by His Spirit. “How do you plead,” an earthly judge may say. We do not respond by what we have done, or not done. Yes, we may have sinned, but the greater reality is His grace poured out through Jesus Christ.
Now John, having seen the glory of Christ ascended and seated, writes the same message. The mercy seat is there, you know, in heaven, where the Lord beckons us to draw near. He called to John to come up higher. It will cost you all your self-reliance. First John fell on his face. We have failed, all of us, but He says draw near with full assurance of faith to find grace to help. Realize that John had been with Him in His earthly days and been through much. Records tell us the Roman emperor had dipped our brother in boiling oil to no effect. Away with him to the vile, the insane on Patmos! That earthly fiend did not know he was sending John to the place of heavenly revelation!
So John expresses our growth, our progress in two different ways. We overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb. That is first, the foundation. Then the word of our testimony. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophesy. The power of an endless life resides in words that truly speak of who Christ is. And we love not our lives, our earthly lives even unto death. See the previous blog post for Jim Elliot’s words. In his letter, John writes of us as little children, whose sins are forgiven, and that we know our heavenly Father. Young men are those who have overcome the wicked one, the devil himself. They are strong and the words of God have a home in them. And of fathers, those who are mature, and bear spiritual children, John repeats the same words twice. They know Him who was from the beginning. They know by intimate relationship the eternal One, they have grown to be sons of our Father.
John was such a one. In his writings he so focuses on Christ. Apart from Revelation, he does not refer to himself by name. Perhaps that was done in wisdom to avoid earthly traps but I sense a deep humility. Nothing compares to the work in our hearts as what is accomplished by a revelation of Christ to our souls. John experienced an open, heavenly vision. May we pursue the same, walking by the Spirit, and allowing Him to bring us through trouble to such a place.