So, for the first four weeks of this series, we have spent our time looking at the power to be a witness. In other words, we have looked at the promised Holy Spirit and seen the role He plays in making us effective witnesses for Christ.
We saw how being filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit is the first step to becoming witnesses because in order for us to be lights to the world, we have to have power to do so. And this power is that second work of grace that is available to us when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.
We then started looking at the various ministries that the Holy Spirit is meant to provide in us that make us better witnesses—ministries such as being the Convicter, Counselor, Intercessor, Strengthener, etc. We went through these different workings of the Holy Spirit and learned how there is a lot more that the Holy Spirit is willing to do in and through us that not only helps us in our own personal walks but helps in being a light to others.
Then over the past couple of weeks, we have looked at how the Holy Spirit also produces certain things in us that also contribute to our witness. In fact, these are two groups of nine things—the fruit of the Spirit & the gifts of the Spirit.
First of all, we talked about how the most important way the Holy Spirit helps us be Christ’s witnesses is by the fruit He produces in our lives. Yes, the love, joy, peace, etc. that we have manifested in our lives speak to and validate our faith to the world around us. Jesus taught us that we will know the nature of wolves by their fruit. Well, if that’s the case with those who are not Christians, then it will also be that way with us who are. Yes, the world will know us by our fruit. That’s right—these nine fruit being produced in our lives will cause people to look at these here branches and say, “Yup, that’s a Christian tree! And I want to eat the fruit of what this Christian tree is saying!”
Then last week, we looked at the role the gifts of the Spirit play in our witness. And we saw how the Holy Spirit desires to manifest these gifts in and through us when we are ministering to people, as a help to us and a sign to them.
We saw that the Greek word for “gifts” is where we get our English word “charisma” from. So, the gifts of the Spirit are the “charisma” of God, and we sure know that we could use some charisma to be more attractive to unbelievers, amen? And this charisma of the Spirit are these nine gifts He manifests in our lives.
So, we looked at all nine of them and saw how the vocal gifts (different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, and prophecy), the revelation gifts (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits), and the power gifts (gifts of healings, working of miracles, and special faith) all can be used in our witness to the world.
But like it is with the fruit of the Spirit, these gifts have to be cultivated. These things the Holy Spirit is there to produce in our lives don’t come automatically. No, they must be planted & watered. The ground must be cultivated and tended. And we learned various ways that this occurs.
DYING TO BE A WITNESS
So now that we have spent ample time talking about this power we have to be witnesses, let’s transition to specifically talking about the witnesses that He has made us.
Again, Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This word “witnesses” here comes from the Greek word martys, which is where we get our word “martyr” from.
Now when we think of the term “martyr”, we think of a person who gives their life for the Gospel—meaning, they are put to death because of their faith and/or the sharing of it. But the fact is, in the original sense of the word, a “martyr” was not just one who died for their faith; it is one who lived for their faith! Might we say that a witness—a martys—is one who is “dying to testify of Jesus Christ”?
Well, the fact is, we did die to become a witness because everyone who has called on the name of the Lord and been born again “died” to themselves and had their old man crucified in Him. Therefore, we have been born & created as His witnesses.
In fact, specifically what we have been called to do is be the Lord’s ministers—His ministers of reconciliation. This is the purpose of our witness. But my point is that this is who we have been made; not just what we ought to be. This is why Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will be witnesses.
If you recall, in Luke 24:44-49, we see how Jesus said something similar: These verses read— “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
So, notice in verse 48 that Jesus said that they were witnesses of these things. What things? Of how the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day as well as all of the other things that would come as a result of His death, burial, and resurrection.
But notice that upon experiencing these things, Jesus said that they “are witnesses.” Not “will be witnesses” but that they currently were witnesses. Now this does not mean that those who walked with Him on this earth are the only witnesses of Christ. No, any of us who experience Him, have our lives changed by Him, etc. are His witnesses too.
So being a witness is not something we become. It is something we are once we come to know the truth.
I just have run into a lot of Christians who believe that they are not good witnesses of Christ because they don’t always represent Him well and because they associate what they do with who they are. No, the fact is, you are a witness regardless of your behavior or actions.
And this is important to understand because when we see the importance of how we live our lives, this ought to change the way we live them.
You see, people watch us. When they know you are a professing Christian, they are watching to see if we are practicing what we profess. This is why so many Christians are accused of being hypocrites – because people are looking for any sign of hypocrisy.
This might not always be entirely fair, but it is what it is. Therefore, we ought to be very careful how we conduct ourselves before the world because we are witnessing to something whether we know it or not.
But my point is that a martys (mar-tose) is someone who is so committed to the cause of Christ that they are not only willing to die for what they believe but they will live their lives committed to bearing witness of what they believe.
You see, I think this is something that we all need to look at in ourselves and determine—Do we really see ourselves as a witness? Are we so committed to the cause of Christ that we are living our lives with this purpose—to show Him to the world around us. This would range from our families, coworkers, etc., to even the strangers we run into in the marketplace.
So, are you a “martyr”? Am I a “martyr”? Are we someone who is willing to both live & die for our faith and are living our lives to testify of Him and make Him known? This is what I believe the mentality of the early church was and ought to be the same mind that is in us. Amen?
WHAT IS A WITNESS?
This leads me into my following point: When we hear this term “witness,” what do we think of? In today’s society, we generally use it to describe a person who is a “witness” in a court of law—meaning, they are someone who has been summoned to court to testify of something or provide evidence in a trial. These “witnesses” usually possess knowledge or proof that is relevant to the facts of a suit, and they convey their relevant knowledge as lay testimony or as expert testimony—depending on their experience and expertise.
So, a witness is, first of all, “called or summoned” to testify: Isn’t that the way we should see ourselves as witnesses of Christ? It’s not something that you & I should see as an option. No, it is required of us, and is not optional. As the apostle Paul told us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ …” (Second Corinthians 5:10). And I know that this is more referring to us being the ones on trial at the end of this age, but I bring this up because our witness is going to be a major part of what we will be judged by on the judgment seat of Christ.
So, we need to first of all know that we have been “summoned to court” and are called to be witnesses for Him. Secondly, we need to understand that it is our job to testify of something specific—something that we know, have seen, have experienced, etc.
So, when it comes to us, our job is to share what we know kind of like an expert witness where they come in with expertise in an area to help prove a case like a doctor, scientist, or something like that. What is it that you know? Well, I know God is good. I know His love is real. I know He has been faithful to me. Well, if that’s what I know, then that’s what I need to bear witness to.
You know, a witness does not come to court to just share anything they want. They are asked specific questions and are expected to just state the facts. Likewise, we need to understand that when it comes to our witness, we need to share simply what a witness is called to share.
I’ve seen far too many Christians get over into trying to argue with unbelievers and try and prove their case. That is, in my opinion, leaving the witness stand and trying to be the Advocate. Church, this goes with everything, but specifically when it comes to witnessing, we need to let God do His job and just do ours.
Do you remember when I made the point that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit has come to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? Therefore, He is the Convicter, not us. We are the witnesses that need to stick to the witness stand and let the Holy Spirit do His job of the convicting. This is oftentimes us having a Messiah complex and being Holy Ghost Jr. That’s not how we get God results.
Church, we have to realize that we are not the Savior and let God be God. Most don’t realize they are doing this, but so many of us like to be so much in control of things that we try and make things happen. That’s where we get in trouble.
The Bible teaches us that it’s the humble that get more grace (James 4:6)—and if we want to get grace for leading people to Christ, we have to learn to take our hands off the wheel sometimes and learn to take a back seat, letting the Holy Spirit do His job.
So no, this trying to outwit the atheists and pushing the gospel on the agnostics doesn’t usually have the best results, and that’s because we are doing it in our own power & might. But what does the Bible say again? It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6). This is how people are going to come to Him—not through our programs, methods, arguments, etc.
You see, I believe the best way to get through to an unbeliever is by our testimony, because people cannot argue with a testimony. They might be able to argue Scripture. They might be able to argue science. They can argue a lot of things but one thing they cannot nullify is our testimony of how the Lord changed our lives. They either have to call us liars or acknowledge that there is some power that gave us a new life!
THE WITNESS THAT OVERCOMES
What does Revelation 12:11 say? “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.”
So, first of all, the apostle John said that we overcome the devil …
Did you know that overcoming is a big part of the faith? We have Scripture after Scripture in the New Testament that talks about us overcoming satan, the world, etc. And we need to see ourselves this way, saints! We are not “under-goers”; we are “over-comers.” In other words, we are not going under, we are coming over!
I’ll tell you, church, there is something to be said for having a heart, an attitude, and a mentality that sees ourselves as overcomers! That pervasive loser’s mentality of how bad it is, how bad I am, etc. is what I would call “stinkin’ thinkin’.” We need to have the mentality that we are victors, more than conquerors, and always triumphant! Amen?
Well, guess what else this overcoming satan includes? It includes the impact we can have on the lost—that is, the devil’s deception, the blinding of this world’s eyes, etc.
You know, the Bible teaches us that this world lies under the power of the devil.
Second Corinthians 4:4 talks about how the devil has blinded unbelievers. It says, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
But it wasn’t just them; this was our condition as well!
Ephesians 2:1-4 teaches us how we all once were under the sway of satan, being dead in our trespasses and sins, just living our lives according to the course of this world and being driven by the prince of the power of the air. This spirit that is leading & driving the lost is working in & through our flesh.
So, my point is that when it comes to us being a witness to the unbeliever, there is a certain sense of needing to overcome the power of the devil in them that needs to occur.
And church, here me on this … One of the reasons it is important to understand this is because some live under the delusion that if we can just have a good enough argument, build a strong enough case, or have the best programs in place that we can convince unbelievers of the truth.
And while I certainly believe it’s important that we have all these I’s dotted and all these T’s crossed, it’s more important that we don’t just wage this warfare carnally—for as the apostle Paul said in Second Corinthians 10:3-5, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and bringing into captivity every high thing to the obedience of Christ.
You see, all of those things are the strongholds, imaginations, high things that satan as erected in people’s hearts & minds. So, they are not going to come down by us just doing the natural/carnal things right; it will require spiritual weapons of warfare—these things that are mighty through God! Amen?
And I believe that the weapons of our warfare for pulling down the strongholds and opening the eyes of others are found in the rest of Revelation 12:11. John goes on to say the devil was overcome by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and that we do not love our lives to the death.
So, the first thing we see that overcomes that blindness in unbelievers is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
I see the blood of the Lamb as the evidence that we point to as witnesses! So, from the witness stand, we are saying this thing right here is the power of God unto salvation! This is how everything was made possible! If it wasn’t for the blood of Jesus, none of us would be able to be free from the power of sin. And this is why we will for all eternity celebrate the Lamb and His shed blood, throwing our crowns at His feet, saying, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise! For it is by Your blood that everything good has been made possible!” Amen!
But what seems to be happening in most of the church? We are turning away from what God gave us as evidence and are trying to win people to Christ through the other “seeker sensitive” formulas.
Church, there are some things that we must never move on from, and one of those things is the blood of Jesus. You see, this world is trying to get us to erase things that they deem offensive, such as terms like the blood of Jesus, repentance from sin, etc. But these cornerstones to our faith are the power of the gospel. We don’t need to talk less about the blood of Jesus; we need to talk more about the power of His blood! We don’t need to skirt the subject of sin; we need to call evil, “evil” and good, “good.” There are some things that the spirit of this world is trying to take away from us to disarm the gospel, but I am not ashamed of the true gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes! Glory to God!
So, we need to always celebrate the blood and we need to continue pleading the blood! For His blood speaks better things than that of Abel’s—wherein it cried out for justice, Jesus’ blood cries out justification! Amen!
But notice what comes next—it’s the word of our testimony! So now that the evidence & “power” of the case has been provided, the word of our testimony comes into play—and this is one of the big things that “overcomes” the devil’s sway and power over someone’s life—because as we’ve seen, this is what provides the opportunity for a conviction.
But notice that it’s not just our testimony itself that enables us to overcome; it’s the “word” of our testimony: This word is logos which describes that it’s not just us having a testimony but us sharing that testimony. In other words, our words hold power and by us putting a voice to what God has done for us in our lives, we break the power of satan.
I mean, if we will be held accountable for every idle word we speak as Jesus taught us, that means that all of our words are being recorded and are significant. Therefore, when we share the things that God has done in our lives, there is something powerful that takes place! Yes, the simple utterance of what God has done for us can break the strongest of strongholds, penetrate the hardest of hearts, and shed light on the darkest darkness. That’s the power of putting a voice to our testimony!
Finally, the part of Revelation 12:11 that most people tend to leave off is the last part— “and they did not love their lives to the death.”
You see, it’s not just the power of the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony that overcomes the devil; no, it is also us not loving our own lives so much. Specifically, what these were celebrated for was that they did love their lives “to the death”—meaning, they were willing to die for their faith (and many of them did).
So, the key we are seeing here is that the power to overcome is found in not loving ourselves and not fearing others. Did you know that these are probably two of the top things that keep people from sharing their faith with others?
Yes, loving our own lives will keep one from being the kind of witness the Lord expects us to be because we don’t want to be rejected, we want people to like us, we don’t like conflict, we care about how we look, etc., etc., etc. These are all things that are symptomatic of loving our own lives in an unhealthy way.
The fearing others & death is similar to loving our lives: Many believers don’t share their testimony because they are afraid of messing up, embarrassing themselves, losing friends, people talking about them, etc.
So, I believe a big part of us being effective witnesses for Christ and overcoming the devil is found in us loving others souls more than we do our own life and not allowing the fear of man to have place in us. Amen?
This is really one of the reasons why some people are terrified of public speaking and things like that. It’s because we care too much about what other people think about us. What if we had more love for the one we were sharing with than we did for ourselves? What if our concern was genuinely for their soul more than it was for what they are thinking about us?
Church, I believe if Christ’s love is shed abroad in our hearts and we allow that love for the lost to spring forth, our effectiveness for the kingdom of God will reach the ceiling! And then, if we remove any & all the fear of man, death, etc. from our hearts, then it will go through the roof!
So, a great way to pray would be something like— “Lord, help me to love the lost like you do. Take the love of my own life out of me and put in me a love for others.” Also, “Father, help me to have zero fear of man in my heart. I desire only the fear of You in my heart so that nothing keeps me from sharing your love with others. I want to have a heart that’s willing to die for you.”
Which bring us full circle back to the basic meaning of the word “witnesses” …
We saw how this word “witnesses” comes from the word where we get our English term “martyr” from. So, in essence, a witness is someone who does not love their lives to the death. In other words, they are willing to do anything to testify of Christ, whether that means they are rejected or even might be put to death for their faith.
Church, I believe this is a mentality that we must adopt if we are going to be His witnesses: We cannot fear man, rejection, or persecution. We cannot love our own lives so much. No, we must love the Lord and our neighbor so much that we are not worried about what they might think or how they might reject us.
So, I think a good lesson to take from this today is that the Lord would have us to die to be His witnesses—that is, that He wants us to die to ourselves, our passions, wants, dreams. And He desires for us to let people know what we know, what we’ve seen, and what we’ve heard. We share with them the truth of the gospel and our testimony of how it has changed us, and let the Holy Spirit do the work in them.
This is how we overcome the devil’s deception in people, church. It’s not through a bunch of smoke & mirrors, formulas & programs, or arguments & debates; the way we see people come to Christ is the simple sharing of the truth of gospel—things like the blood of Jesus, the necessity of repentance, the love of God, etc. It includes the sharing of our testimony—which is what God has done in us, what we’ve experienced, etc. Finally, it is enveloped in the genuine love of others more than our own life while having no fear of man. These three things work together for the Holy Spirit to do what He does best—drawing sinners to repentance. Amen.