Friday, 5 March 2021
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11
The words of this verse are referring to those in the previous verse, those whom the devil had accused before God day and night. These fallible Christians were unworthy in and of themselves to attain eternal life or the blessings of God. However, their failings are turned into glory because of the work of Another, Jesus. As John next says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.”
It is an aorist verb, “they have overcome.” The deed was accomplished, and it is done. Also, the Greek uses the preposition dia, meaning “through.” Thus, it reads, “they have overcome through the blood.” The meaning is “because of,” “by reason of,” or “on account of” the blood.
The devil can accuse all day long, but those accusations mean nothing when one is in Christ. By faith in what He has done, a person overcomes –
“I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
Because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one.” 1 John 2:12-14
John, writing to fellow believers, wrote extensively about overcoming. Exactly what it means to “overcome” is explained in detail in the commentary of Revelation 2:7. To understand that more fully, please refer to that analysis.
In the passage from 1 John 2, it explicitly says that in knowing Him who is from the beginning, one has overcome the wicked one. It is through this knowledge, and by acting upon it by receiving what Christ has done, that a person overcomes. In saying, “by the blood of the Lamb,” it is speaking of the all-sufficient and substitutionary atoning death of Jesus Christ that this comes about. The blood stands as representative of the work of Christ, culminating in His sacrificial death. With this understanding, John next says, “and by the word of their testimony.”
The thought is similar to 1 John (above) where it says, “Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you.” The word of God is the basis for the word of one’s testimony. Anyone can have a testimony, but what is that testimony based on? If it is based on the word of God which tells of Christ Jesus, then it will be a properly directed testimony. For these saints, they have overcome, but that overcoming is – at times – not without a cost. As John says, “and they did not love their lives to the death.”
The idea here is not that they have overcome because they went to their death, but that they were willing to go to their death because they had overcome. It is reflective of what Jesus said in his words to the church at Smyrna –
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
The death referred to is not a means of overcoming, it is – at times – an anticipated result of it. The scholar Alford renders these words, “they carried their not-love of their life even unto death.” What is it that the saint is to love the most? It is not his own life. It is to love the Lord with all of one’s heart and mind and soul. When He is our highest joy and our greatest hope, the life we currently live will find its proper perspective.
Life application: No one deserves the approval of God because all have inherited Adam’s sin, and all have then heaped up more sins in this life. This is evident because the devil stands accusing us before God. There would be no accusation if there were no actual guilt. However, with this guilt the prosecution then steps forward, fingers pointed at us.
But God has allowed our sin to be transferred to a qualified Substitute – Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. When we call out to Him in faith, we are saved through His blood. And that is based on the word of our testimony. This word is the simple proclamation of every believer, “Jesus is Lord.”
When we confess Jesus as Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, Paul writes in Romans that we are saved. Why does Paul tie belief in the resurrection with Jesus being Lord? Only a dummy would call on a dead lord because a dead lord is no lord.
Jesus prevailed over death because He never sinned, also proving He didn’t inherit Adam’s sin (and thus, Adam’s guilt). The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” Because Jesus didn’t sin, He was resurrected to eternal life, having paid our sin debt by His blood.
Peter describes the absolutely incomprehensible value of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ – “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
Let us be ever grateful for what God has done through Christ. In Him we too are overcomers. Praise God for the Lamb! Praise God for JESUS!
Glorious and Almighty God! You have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves. You have redeemed us from the wages of sin by paying for them through the life and vicarious death of Your own Son. All hail the glorious and splendid works that You have accomplished for us. All hail the Lamb – our Lord and Savior, Jesus! Amen.