Overcoming the World

If we want to receive healing and learn to live in His fullness we will have to learn to recognize and overcome the world. What we’re talking about here is not the planet we live on, but actually a world system. We can say the world system encompasses everything outside of us that is a part of the natural realm that we don’t (yet) have control over. Because the present world system is a result of the separation of mankind from God, yielding to and living according to the world system will in one way or another result in sin and death, for believers and non-believers alike.

If we don’t recognize and overcome its power over us, we can spend an unnecessary amount of time and attention attempting to overcome something that we already have authority over. Our goal is to overcome not by changing the world system (which God will do in His way, according to His time and plan), but by responding to it through dependence on God to the point where, though we plan and prepare for living in this world, we don’t live according to its demands. As the saying goes, the boat in the sea is fine, but when the sea is in the boat—watch out!

Examples of the World System

System of Success In our society perhaps the most prevalent example of the world system is by allowing it to define “success.” Goal setting and achievement are most closely linked to productivity—“Try harder!” You need to measure up. Are you getting everything done? “Be Number One.” “Just Do It!” But winning the Rat Race simply makes you the fastest Rat. Now, we do get to enjoy some great prizes: The unrelenting pressure of competition, the endless demand for busy-ness, learning to live with vindictive peer pressure, and knowing that our success is so often in the hands of those who can ruin our reputation with a casual remark or decision. There is a wisdom of this world, and it is the children—the offspring, or product—of this world who are wiser than the children of the Kingdom.

Circumstances A lot of times we want to blame the bad things that happen in our lives on others, on the enemy, on God, or on ourselves, that we made a mistake. But a lot of the time, since we are in this world, stuff happens that is just beyond our control. No circumstance is beyond God’s control, but they are beyond our control. The rain falls regardless of whether your house is built on sand or rock. Sometimes the rain just falls, bringing both good and bad circumstances.

Level of Life Skills To some extent we are all at the mercy of our childhood circumstances as to whether we will succeed in this world system or not. Those who were born into a family situation which provided training in life skills (getting along with people, discipline, self-control, manners) usually find it easier to overcome the challenges of this world. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn these skills later in life, it just means there is a greater effort required. It is also clearly not a reflection of a person’s spiritual condition.

Confused Identity If we are not sure of our identity—who and what we truly are—we will allow others to define our identity for us. The world system is fleeting and self-gratifying, and will promote those who conform to its standards. For instance, those that rise to its cultural expectations of beauty are honored, while those who don’t are shamed. Also, if we don’t understand our soulical temperament, we will relate to the world according to its rules and join it in condemning those parts of our soul that keep us from fitting in or being successful.

Physical & Financial Needs Just by virtue of being alive we all have physical needs for food, air, water and shelter. Most of these are obtained through money, making our financial needs a strong motivator for the decisions we make, how we treat others and how we view God. The more we understand our true identity the more we will be able to keep these needs under our control, ultimately submitted to the sovereignty of God, rather than being at their mercy.

Time Each of us is given the same amount of time each day and pretty much the same options as to what to do with it. Time can neither be “saved” nor “caught up”; once it’s passed, it’s passed. With this realization comes the certainty of death; each of us, at least to some degree, acknowledges and lives with the understanding of our own mortality. We all realize we have a certain number of years allotted to us, and we are either at time’s mercy or are its master on a daily basis. We are all under pressure of knowing that whatever it is we want to get accomplished, we’ve got 24 hours in a day and only so many days in our lifetime.

Jesus Overcame the World

In each of these areas Jesus learned to overcome the world on its terms. It is important to remember that, being fully man, He didn’t have any special abilities with which to overcome the world, other than His dependent relationship on His Father.

Jesus Overcame the World’s System of Success Jesus kept His focus on His Father, relying on Him to encourage and motivate Him. So when He was tempted by what the world had to offer, He had already experienced the life and satisfaction that His Father could provide. He understood that just because He was successful in the eyes of His Father did not mean He would be a success in the eyes of others (this world). He knew He would rule and reign, just not necessarily here…

Jesus Overcame Circumstances Jesus was able to maintain His perspective on both the good and the bad things that happened around Him, not by making assumptions or trying to understand their source or results, but by being in constant contact with His Father, aware of His direction and possible intervention.

Jesus Overcame Lack of Life Skills Somewhere along the line, whether as a child or later in life, Jesus learned the life skills that would be necessary in fulfilling the purpose and plan of His Father. For instance, He learned obedience through the things that He suffered. As in all things, He learned this from His Father, and didn’t look to His earthly parents to teach Him everything He’d need to know.

Jesus Overcame the World’s Confused Identity Because of His questionable parentage, the world assigned a humiliating identity to Jesus from His childhood. Even so, it seems clear that Jesus understood His true identity from a very early age, though it was only over time that He learned its implications. Because He knew Who He was, Who His Father was, He could resist the efforts of others to make their claims on Him. Because He made little effort to fit into the world system, He was—not surprisingly—labeled an outcast and even dangerous. This did not keep Him from living His life in dependence on His Father.

Jesus Overcame His Physical & Financial Needs I believe it was important that one of the first things Jesus learned was that His Father would provide for both His natural and financial needs. This kept them from ever being a driving force in His life, and kept Him from the temptation to try to get those needs met Himself. His Father knew He needed these things, and provided them as He saw fit.

Jesus Overcame Time Jesus clearly saw that each day was an opportunity to receive life from His Father and extend it to those around Him as directed. Though He valued His time here on earth, He never let its limits bind Him, either. He knew that He had authority over all things, but subjected Himself to the course His Father had set out for Him, including the number of His days here on earth.

How Do We Overcome the World?

Hopefully you’ve begun to see a pattern here. Jesus overcame the world through dependence on His father, and all that goes with it. So when He was wounded by the world, through rejection, not getting His needs met, or through time pressures, He knew how to go to His Father to get those wounds healed. Likewise, we accept that while in this world we will have tribulation, we will be subjected to the constraints of this world system, but we can learn how to go to the Father to get healed. It’s not that we avoid the world, or fight against it, but we overcome the world so that its effects do not distract us from depending on our Father.

Here are some suggestions for overcoming the world:

We Overcome the World’s System of Success As we are healed, we are freed from the tyranny of the demands and expectations that the world system, our peers, parents, the media, place on all people today. We measure our success not by what the world says, but by what our Father says: that we are already successful, and loved, accepted and honored by Him permanently and irrevocably. Freed from having to constantly try to measure up, then have to keep ourselves on top once we get there, we can enter into His rest, joining Him in the work He has for us to do today. In Him we already rule, reign and overcome.

We Overcome Circumstances Part of our healing will be to be released from the need to judge, understand and attribute meaning to everything that happens in our life, and then try to control it. Many times God does want to communicate with us about our circumstances, but if we have our eyes on what is going on around us we will be distracted from His face. So though we want to be partakers of what is going on around us (socially, politically, financially), we don’t want to necessarily derive meaning from circumstances unless specifically directed to by our Father.

We Overcome Any Lack of Life Skills As we are healed, we are energized to remedy many of the shortcomings left by our imperfect preparation for life. We learn to accept challenges, give up control, respect others, even make mistakes. Even as we learn to rest, we learn to set and achieve goals, dream dreams, and help others. We take on the responsibility to get the information necessary to grow in dependence, looking to our Father, not to our loved ones or those in social, educational or religious authority.

We Overcome the World’s Confused Identity The more healing we undergo, the clearer we are about who we are as spiritual beings. We become free to grow up into mature sons, knowing both the privileges and responsibilities this entails. We are not freed and healed just to enjoy our freedom and healing, but to participate with God in His purposes for this age and world, and to let His life flow through us fully. Since His nature is to give, we too will find ourselves giving; not only of our natural resources, but of our new selves, His Life, in whatever way He chooses at any given moment or situation. As we begin to truly know our selves, we will also truly accept, love and honor our selves as well. So we overcome the world through confidence in our true identity.

With the confidence of knowing who and what we are will also come a separation from those who would try to control us. Therefore we must also count the cost of our identity, and understand that with our new name will come rejection.

We Overcome Our Physical & Financial Needs As we are healed and begin to accept and live according to our true identity, our confidence in our Father’s desire and ability to take care of our basic needs grows. We learn that these are areas in which He can teach us great lessons, as He wishes, in order to bring us into the full stature of His Son. His confidence in us also grows, and as we grow in good stewardship, of His resources, people and time, we are given greater opportunity to be givers on all levels. Dependence on Him in these areas keeps us from being vulnerable to manipulation by others, especially in religious circles.

We Overcome Time As we become a whole being, we learn to live as the eternal spirit beings we are now, even as we are inhabiting these earthen vessels. This gives us a very different perspective on this life than unbelievers have (and many believers, as well). Since time was created by God, it is under His control. It is therefore under our control as well, and He provides us with opportunities to master it. He often begins by challenging our preconceived ideas of what happens after death, and what this life is all about, though His response is less likely to be a measurable answer than the impartation of a new hunger for more of Him. Though we value and enjoy our time here on earth, we acknowledge that our days are numbered and insignificant in the overall scheme for our existence. What He has for us will continue on into the next realm or age, just as it was preceded in the previous realm by challenges we don’t recall or have been blinded to.

As we recognize that the battle to overcome the world is His, and He’s already won it, we can enter into His rest; our labor now is to agree and believe. Even this ability is given by the Spirit, Who is now joined to and resides within us. As with all aspects of healing, overcoming the world is done according to His timetable, so we will also be learning patience.

Hindrances to Overcoming the World

In all the above instances, we generally get bogged down battling the hindrances ourselves. God will not let us overcome these in our own strength. But unless we know this, it is here we usually spend most of our time.

We can be hindered from overcoming the world system because we don’t recognize it and instead find ourselves blaming the devil or our flesh. The world system can be just as damaging to our healing as either our flesh or the devil, but because it is so prevalent and less obvious it is easily excused. For instance, ministries often measure their success by the worldly standard of the number of people in their congregations, not by resting in the success already achieved by the Lord.

We can be hindered from overcoming the world system by our flesh. This can happen in many ways depending on the individual, including:

  • Flesh hinders our overcoming of the world through the generation of false expectations of what we are owed by the world, or what we deserve, either good or bad; our flesh will lend credibility to the claims the world places on us, so to counter we will often rely on our flesh to meet or defeat those expectations.
  • Flesh hinders our overcoming of the world through our current beliefs, which are most often formed around what makes us feel good and what others tell us is truth. But if you want to get healed, your beliefs will have to change.
  • Flesh hinders our overcoming of the world by refusing to change. Healing requires change in our mind, will and emotions. If we are not willing to change in any of those areas we are blocking God’s healing there.
  • Flesh hinders our overcoming of the world by wanting to maintain control and independence, usually in order to achieve success or control rejection by the world’s standards.
  • Flesh hinders our overcoming of the world through not wanting to give up our rights to gain acceptance, love and honor through our achievements.
  • Flesh hinders our overcoming of the world through avoiding rejection at all costs. One of the tenets of the world system, even in organized Christianity, is the notion that if you are obeying God and in His will everything will go well for you. But this is a wish of the flesh, and a distorting effect of the world system. As believers, we understand that, like our Big Brother, we will be rejected by the world system and those who derive recognition from it. As we are healed, we also become willing to be willing to be rejected by the world.

We can be hindered from overcoming the world system by the devil. We will go into greater depth later regarding the tactics used by the devil and his soldiers, but for now we need to recognize that one of his greatest weapons is to keep us distracted from where the real battlefronts are. He will attempt to keep us from recognizing the world as a battlefield, or may use our involvement in these battles as a camouflage for what he is doing in our lives. Either way, the more we learn dependence on the Lord Himself, the more quickly we will be able to distinguish the battlefield and how to overcome it.

Results of Overcoming the World

We are freed from the burdens, expectations and standards of the world system. As we rest and learn to receive our life directly from God, the values and evaluations of this world begin to have no effect on how we perceive ourselves. Though we participate in the things of this world—economics, politics, family—we do not look to these things to meet any of our needs. On a daily basis our confidence in our identity is strengthened. If we don’t overcome the world’s standards, they control, motivate and drive us. Don’t let the world system set your standards! Remember that you are already fully accepted and approved. Victory is tied to your identity, not your behavior or accomplishments!

We are free to enjoy our time here on earth. Rather than withdrawing from this world, because it no longer holds power over us, we can enjoy and utilize every resource as the opportunity it is. We learn to recognize manipulation, deception, pressure on many levels, and can even enjoy the encounter as an opportunity to see what the Lord is going to do in each circumstance. True enjoyment and satisfaction come when we see the effect His nature, our true nature, can have on such a messed up world.

We have power over the world system, instead of being its victim. While alive on this earth, Jesus ruled and reigned as the King He was. Likewise, we, too, rule and reign over the world system and the power it wields. This will of course upset those who take advantage of that power to manipulate others, but learning how to let the Lord respond through us—in whatever way He chooses—is all part of each day’s training process.

We have authority to set others free from the control of the world system. Living beyond the reach of the world system will be an affront to many, but many also will be drawn to the freedom and peace that is expressed in our lives. Instead of having to take on every battle, we wait for the moving of the life within us, perhaps even without our knowledge. Just knowing that there is a better way to live will give many hope, and because we are now of God’s nature and therefore are givers, according to His purposes we share and give out of a full storehouse.

This doesn’t mean we will never experience negative consequences. Jesus said in this world we WILL have tribulation. But as we come to Him with these tribulations, He turns them into opportunities for healing and intimacy with Him. Before we understood the battlefield of the world system, we spent most of our energy trying to make life easier for ourselves. Now that we understand our identity and His love for and commitment to us, we depend on Him, and despite our FEELINGS of being out of control, and being at the mercy of the world system, we agree with what Christ says about the situation: that He is in control, He is working all things together for us, and that He is committed to taking care of us and accomplishing His purposes in us. We are loved, accepted and highly valued. Though our circumstances may not change, and we may feel out of control, by agreeing with truth we give no place to the world. Victory is ours on a daily basis, in every situation, even though to the world it may look like a disaster.

Adapted from Getting Healed by Dianne Thomas