I was reviewing Revelation over the weekend, and noticed similarities in the letters to the seven churches. These letters serve to cover the general struggles all churches were going through at that time, and serve as an excellent tool for us today when we examine the health of our own local congregations.

In particular was at the end of each letter, an opportunity to overcome their particular issue was addressed (see Ephesus: Revelation 2:7; Smyrna: Revelation 2:11; Pergamum: Revelation 2:17; Thyatira: Revelation 2:26; Sardis: Revelation 3:5; Philadelphia: Revelation 3:12; Laodicea: Revelation 3:21). The Greek word used, nikaō, generally means to conquer, master, or subdue.

I could not help but reflect on how important this word is for our own spiritual journey, for in our own successes will our local churches experience success as well.

While most of the trials we will face are the result of our own sinful desires, we still must overcome. I began to think of the various verses that call us out to do battle as we mature in our faith (c.f. Romans 7:23; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Peter 2:11; James 4:1), and realized our journey is paved with such moments to subdue the enemy.

Looking in the Old Testament, can you also not see the many challenges Israel had to overcome? Yes, many were brought on by their own disobedience to God, but just as He tested Israel by allowing the wicked nations to remain (Judges 3:1-2), He tests us today with the evil of this world and the ease of which sin can befall us.

Those today who are prone to a particular type of sinful behavior need not look very far for an outlet to debase themselves. Staying captive in sin is a very easy thing to do if one chooses to remain carnal. God seeks to deliver you, but without an obedient heart and a surrender to His will, you will have no more luck than the generation of Israelites that perished in the Wilderness so long ago.

Yes, we must conquer our carnal urgings. God allows them in our lives to grow us. We must overcome the desires of the flesh and concentrate more on the separation it is causing between us and our Father. He wants you to hate the sin as much as He does.

God can indeed set us free. But it is in the long, excruciating battles where we can begin to see evil for what it actually is—and only then can we see the sin as God sees it. There’s a reason that for most of us it is not a quick fix, even though our Creator could certainly do that for us.

He wants us to learn from these trials. And when you have obtained mastery over a previous sin, God then receives the due glory deserved.