VI. THE SELECTION OF THE OVERCOMERS
Scripture Reading: Judg. 6:1-6, 11-35; 7:1-8, 19-25; 8:1-4
Now we come to the matter of selecting the overcomers, of how to separate the overcomers from the non-overcomers.
Numbers says that every male of the Israelites from twenty years old and upward had to be a soldier to go forth to war for the Lord. At the time of the Judges, the Israelites had failed. In order for God to deliver them all, He had to select three hundred men who would fight the battle which the others should but did not fight. The others had failed and would not fight for Jehovah anymore. Many people know how to keep the faith and finish the course, yet they do not know how to fight the good fight.
How to Be an Overcomer—
1. Realizing Oneself to Be the Least:
Knowing the Self
It is easy to be humble before God, but it is very difficult to be humble before man in comparison with others. Saying, "I am the least" is easy, but saying, "I am the least in my father’s house" is not easy. Saying, "My family is poor" is easy, but saying, "My family is poor in Manasseh" is not easy (Judg. 6:15). The overcomers do not see the shining on their own faces, though others may see it. All those who see the shining on their own faces through a mirror are not overcomers. Though David was anointed, he still considered himself a dog. The overcomers have the reality of an overcomer rather than the name of an overcomer.
2. Seeing the Heavenly Vision: Seeing the Lord
No one can work without seeing a vision. If one has the vision, though he may encounter difficulties, he will still reach his goal. When we have the Lord’s word, we can cross to the other side. When we have the vision, our footsteps will be steadfast in our work.
3. Seeing and Not Disobeying the Vision:
Responding to the Lord’s Call
by Offering the Sacrifices
We need to offer up ourselves, even what we regard to be the least, to the hand of God. It does not matter whether we see ourselves as big or as small. If we do not put ourselves in the hand of God, both are equally futile. All living sacrifices that are according to God’s will are acceptable to God. The overcomers were called by God. Have you heard and answered the call to the overcomers in Revelation 2 and 3?
4. Tearing Down the Idols:
Making an Outward Testimony
After one has consecrated himself in his heart, he still needs to tear down the idols as an outward testimony. We need to be aware of ourselves, our family, and those with whom we have contact. Anything that occupies equal standing with God should be torn down. Only those who have seen God know what an idol is. Only those who have seen the Angel of God, who is the Lord, know that anything besides the Lord is an idol. Only after one has seen the Angel of God will he realize that the wooden image is not God. The sacrifice on the rock (Judg. 6:21) is for the individual, but the sacrifice on the altar (v. 24) is for the multitude.
After having passed through these four steps, the Holy Spirit came upon Gideon. The filling of the Holy Spirit does not come as a result of prayer for power. When a man stands in the proper condition, the Holy Spirit will come upon him.
The blowing of the trumpet (v. 34) is a call for others to join the ranks of the overcomers. Overcomers should not act independently. We should separate ourselves from the defeated ones, but we should not separate ourselves from the other overcomers.
How to Select the Overcomers—
The Three Hundred Men
1. The First Selection
The first selection resulted in twenty-two thousand people leaving. They left because (1) they wanted to glorify themselves. We are willing to give up our life but not to give up our glory. Not only do we have to overcome Satan, we have to overcome ourselves as well. God wants only those who will work for Him without boasting about it. After working for God, we should merely say, "We are unprofitable slaves" (Luke 17:10). We should forget how much we have plowed, how many sheep we have shepherded. God cannot divide His glory between Him and us. If we still expect anything for ourselves, we will be eliminated. These ones also left because (2) they were fearful and afraid (Josh. 7:3). Whoever is fearful and afraid will be asked to leave. One must not love himself but must endure suffering. The greatest suffering is not material but spiritual. Whoever wants to glorify himself and is fearful and afraid will be eliminated. Overcoming does not depend on the number of people but on knowing God.
2. The Second Selection
The selection this time was based on a very small matter, that of drinking. A small matter always exposes what we are. In those days both the Jews and the Arabs carried their luggage on their backs when they traveled. There were two ways to drink water along the way. One was to put down the luggage and kneel, bowing down to the ground to drink with the mouth. The other was to leave the luggage on the back and drink by putting the hand to the mouth. The latter was done for the sake of saving time for the journey and also for guarding oneself from robbers. Among the ten thousand, nine thousand and seven hundred drank with their mouths directly to the water, while three hundred drank by putting water in their hand to the mouth. Those who drank directly with their mouths were eliminated by God. Those who drank by bringing water in their hand to the mouth were selected by God. A person who has the chance to indulge himself but who will not do so is one who has been dealt with by the cross. This kind of person can be used by God. God can only use those who are willing to be unconditionally dealt with by the cross.
The three conditions by which God selects the overcomers are: (1) being absolute for God’s glory, (2) being afraid of nothing, and (3) allowing the cross to deal with the self. One can judge for himself if he is an overcomer. God will test us, and we will be exposed as to whether or not we are overcomers. Only those who know the victory of the cross will be able to maintain the victory of the cross.
The Oneness of the Overcomers
God gave Gideon three hundred men and made them one body. Individual victory is not proper. Gideon and those three hundred men moved together and acted in one accord. All of their flesh was cut off, so they could be one. This is the oneness in the Spirit and a living in the Body. The record in the New Testament is a record of meetings rather than a record of working.
The three hundred men fought the battle, yet the whole congregation chased the enemy. The three hundred labored, yet the whole congregation reaped the harvest. When we overcome, the whole body is revived. To stand at the bottom of the river is not for ourselves, but for the whole body. "I...fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the church" (Col. 1:24). To be an overcomer, we also have to suffer the murmurings of the people, in the same way that Gideon suffered the murmurings of the men from Ephraim. Gideon not only defeated the Midianites from without but also defeated the Midianites from within. Only this kind of person can continue to overcome. They were "faint, yet pursuing them" (Judg. 8:4b).
(Afternoon, January 29)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)