To overcome – to get victory – is a result of a personal battle against sin in your life. But is it victory when you overcome one temptation, or is it only considered victory when you are no longer even tempted to sin?
Look at it this way: You are fighting a war against the sin in your flesh. But every war is made up of individual battles. Every single time you overcome a temptation to sin, you have been victorious in one battle. You’re a step closer to winning the war.
When an impure thought, or any other temptation, comes up, then you say “No!” You pray to God for strength, you use His Word as a weapon, and you overcome that temptation. That is a victory. Even if the same temptation comes right up again. It’s a new battle; it’s another opportunity for victory, and another step towards the final goal of overcoming all of the sin in your flesh.
When you overcome a temptation one day, you have overcome it. Just because you are tempted the next day to the same thing, doesn’t mean that you weren’t victorious yesterday. It’s just one more opportunity to overcome that sin, so that one day the whole of it will be completely eradicated.
A field full of enemies
Imagine a field full of enemies; they all look identical. It’s your job to clear this field. Each one of these enemies is like a temptation to sin. This one is a temptation to an impure thought. But you overcome it, because God’s Word gives power and strength, and there is no doubt that through Him you are stronger than your enemy! You say, “No!” And you use God’s Word as a sword to cut it down. Then you turn around and there is another enemy right there, with the same temptation. But it’s definitely a new enemy; you can see the one you just overcame there on the ground. So you do the same again. And you look around you, and what do you see? More enemies! But you just keep going. If your sights are set on the reward, on the heavenly, rather than on what you can have here on earth, then you will find the strength to keep going; then the battle never becomes too hard. (Colossians 3:1-4)
Temptation by temptation: you aren’t finished after just one fight. But just because the temptations keep coming does not mean that you are not overcoming. It just means you have a human nature – a flesh, just like every other person on earth. But you are taking down these enemies, one by one. And after awhile you stop and look behind you, and there is a field full of enemies behind you that can never tempt you again! You are making progress; you are on the way to winning the war. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Moment by moment you overcome sin
You can think like this about whatever sin you see in your flesh. Pride. Discouragement. Different things come up because there are depths to our flesh. You don’t see it all at once, or you wouldn’t be able to take it. It’s one field at a time: God shows you just the right amount at one time that you are able to overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:13) He makes it so that you can be saved from sin as quickly as possible, with the least amount of suffering. The day will come when you stand in that field and look around you and there is not a single enemy left. You have faithfully persevered, and the field is yours! Then you will never be tempted in that area again; you have been completely victorious in that battle. Then you will thank and praise God that He has given you the help and power to wage war and that now you are free forever from that sin.
Victory = something new
And not only are you free from sin, but you have also gained divine nature in place of sin. Each time you overcome, where your nature was previously impure, it is replaced with purity. As your human nature – sin in the flesh – is destroyed, divine nature takes its place. The virtues of Christ will replace those ugly sins. You are becoming more and more like Jesus; you are being filled more and more with the fullness of God. Your spirit is becoming more and more connected with God, and you are growing in wisdom, which will make the next field even easier to clear. You are becoming a pro. (2 Peter 1:4-8)
And then the day will come when you are perfected. When it’s all gone. When there are no fields left to clear. What a day that will be. Then you will be ready to meet Jesus, which is what you’re really fighting for. You are fighting for an eternity with Him. Then you will be worthy to be called His brother. (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11)
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:36.