“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
Revelation 2:7 NLT
Jesus continued to remind us, through John, that we are in a battle, through which we must emerge “victorious“. If we don’t then we are going to miss out on something. Access to the “fruit from the tree of life” has a prerequisite, which is that we must first overcome the obstacles that otherwise mask it from our view. Imagine that in front of us is a gate, through which we must enter to access a wonderful place on the other side. Or perhaps we have to gain entry to find particularly valuable treasure. But like a modern computer game, there are hazards, and assailants, that have to be dealt with, before we can reach the gate and open it to pass through. Psalm 24:3-4 reads, “Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies“. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the revelation of the Word of God, we have all the resources necessary to be “victorious”. We are fighting against unseen foes, and, mostly, the battleground is located in our minds. In 2 Corinthians 2:4-5 we read, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ”.
So, what does being “victorious” look like? And how do we know that our victory has been achieved? Jesus has already overcome the enemy. He did that at Calvary and the devil is a defeated foe. We read in Colossians 2:3-5, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross”. We are victorious because our sins have been forgiven. So we ensure our place in Jesus’ victory parade by staying close to the Cross, and to our wonderful Saviour. And we do so by living a life of faith. A faith we can read about in Hebrews 11. A faith that underpins our lives day by day. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we have all the spiritual resources we need to “knock down the strongholds” that occupy our minds and block our ways to the “tree of life”. The Apostle Paul provided a helpful picture of the spiritual armour we can access, in Ephesians 6.
As Christian pilgrims we are on a journey passing through the world around us. But our victory can be assured by keeping apart from the ways and customs of the world, those that are incompatible with our lives of faith. We are in the world but not of it. So we avoid temptation. We turn our back on anything that will detract from our life of faith. And we set our minds on the things of Heaven, looking forward to the day when we will pass the Great Divide to join God there. We are counter-cultural soldiers for Christ, avoiding the road to hell.
What is the significance of this fruit from the tree of life? It sustained Adam and Eve before the fall in the Garden of Eden, and one day it will sustain us. In a sense we are living between the two occasions when the tree of life was mentioned in the Bible. It first appeared in Genesis and lastly appears in Revelations. The first manifestation of this tree is no longer available to us, but one day we will have access to it because it has been transplanted to our new home, in Paradise. A fruit put there by God, accessible for our future life with Him in Heaven. A fruit for the eating, part of our new life one day in God’s presence.
Dear Lord God. There are so many things to consider in our life-journey. But I thank You today that we don’t journey alone, for You are always with us. Amen.