Christian Living

Spiritual Life

An Invitation to God's Garden

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 ESV)

You could have gotten away with it! If you’ve heard that thought, you’ve been smacked in the face by the devil. Satan is suggesting that sin isn’t always a bad idea—because no one will know. But in Revelation 2:7, Jesus told the Ephesians that His rewards are not based on what we get away with; they are based on overcoming wickedness. This is observed in the words “the one who conquers” (tō nikōnti). They stress ongoing action. 1 John 5:4 also mentions this ongoing conquering:

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes [conquers] the world.” (ESV)

It doesn’t mean to conquer once; it means day-to-day conquering for a lifetime, being resolute in the face of Satan’s enticements. 

I learned what resolute means when I watched my friend do the Keto diet while we were in Israel. The days started at the buffet. On day one, I piled pancakes on my plate. He loaded his plate with crisp greens, bacon, and eggs. By 9:30 a.m., I was exhausted. Walking around was more difficult than convincing flat-earth conspirators the planet is round. “It’s those carbs you stuffed your face with this morning,” my friend said. So I decided to go on the Keto diet, too. 

Day two was vegetables and bacon. I was zipping around the holy land like a dog at the beach. Then day three came. I was in the buffet line ... and there was French toast. My Keto diet lasted 23 hours and 32 minutes. I dared my friend to have some, but he had conquered his desire for carbs.

The verb “conquer” (nikaō) comes from Nike, the Greek goddess who personified victory. It means a “crushing victory,” the kind that God wants His people to consistently have over sin. 

In Revelation 2:7, Christ gives those who consistently conquer sin the promise of eating from the tree of life in God’s paradise. The word paradise (paradeisos) referred to the enchanting gardens of Persian monarchs, which contained luscious fruits of all kinds. In this verse, it describes eternal serenity in the presence of God, with every holy delight. 

Eating from the tree of life represents experiencing life how God intended before the fall. It isn’t yanking off a hard apple from grandma’s tree. Imagine approaching a sweet sapling, its fruit so succulent that a shake of the stem sends one sailing into your palm. Its juices seep from the skin and your fingers become sticky from the syrup. It tastes like a better world. It’s joy under the reign of the Messiah, who puts flavor back into living. It’s also the reward for the conquerors who remain resolute in the face of sin.

God has given us an invitation to His garden. Every stand against temptation is an RSVP to be there.

Dear Lord, thank You for victory over sin. A delightful eternity with You outweighs the fleeting pleasures of carnal gratification. I’m not looking to get away with anything. Instead, I’m RSVP’ing to be with You in paradise. 

This devotion is an adaptation from Chris Palmer's book, Letters From Jesus: Studies from the Seven Churches of Revelation, © 2019, used with permission.

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