Last week, I had the privilege of leading a retreat at Lee Abbey in north Devon, which is home to an incredible international Christian community.

With acres of grounds to explore, and its own private beach, it’s always a place where people can connect with God, each other and the beauty of creation. Being a guest speaker there was an absolute joy!

In the lead up to the retreat, as I was preparing my talks, I found myself digging deep into a powerful little Bible verse, which contains two simple secrets that can make the difference between  being an overcomer – or being defeated.


A prowling lion

Whenever we have an encounter with God, one thing can be guaranteed: the Enemy will probably try to snatch it away.

He loves nothing better than undermining what God has said and done. He particularly enjoys sowing seeds of doubt into our minds, and feelings of discouragement and disappointment into our hearts. His desire is for us to become disillusioned and turn our backs on God.  

It’s why 1 Peter 5:8 tells us: “Be alert! Be on watch! Your Enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

The metaphor of a prowling lion, roaring and eager to devour, is a striking image. Yet it is one of many metaphors that the Bible uses to describe the spiritual battle, in which all Christians are involved. (See Ephesians 6:10-20 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.)

But there is a powerful verse of Scripture which contains two simple secrets, available to all of us, which can make all the difference between being defeated, or being overcomers; between being alert and on watch, or being caught off guard; between being devoured by the prowling lion, or being kept free from harm.

It’s the verse in Revelation 12:11, which says: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Or to put it another way: As Christians, we can overcome the Enemy, the Devil, in two ways – “by the blood of the Lamb” and “by the word of our testimony”.

But what do these two phrases mean? Let’s unpack them …


The blood of the Lamb

The blood of the Lamb” is referring to Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection on the cross, which defeated the Enemy, once and for all, 2000 years ago.

It’s referring to the fact that Jesus’ death and resurrection put an end to the need for sacrificing unblemished lambs, in order to come into right relationship with God. It’s referring to the fact that, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can now find forgiveness for our sins.

It means that, as Christians, we don’t fight to achieve the victory; we fight because Jesus has already achieved the victory. 

It means that every time we remind ourselves of Jesus’ death and resurrection, for example, when we take Holy Communion, then we are also reminding the Enemy that Jesus overcame him at the cross.

We are reminding the Enemy that Jesus overcame sin and sickness and suffering, disease and demons and death. We are reminding the Enemy that Jesus’ blood, shed for us, sets us free from every devise of the Enemy to harm us. We are reminding the Enemy that, because of what Jesus did for us, the Enemy has no hold over us.

The blood of the Lamb enables us to overcome the Enemy.


The word of our testimony

The word of our testimony” is referring to our stories of how God has been at work in our lives. They could be about the journey we took to become a Christian, or they could be about the ways we have encountered God since, perhaps through things he has said or done in our lives. Each one will be unique.

But the key here is that it’s “the word” of our testimony that overcomes the Enemy.

This means that it’s when we testify – to what God has done for us, what God has said to us, how God has been at work in our lives – that’s when our stories have power to overcome the Enemy.

If we keep our testimony to ourselves, that’s fine – but it won’t have power to overcome the Enemy.

Our testimony will only overcome the Enemy when it is spoken, shared, declared, proclaimed, pronounced. It’s only when we articulate God’s goodness, that the Enemy flees. It’s only when our testimony becomes a “word” that it has the power to overcome.

There’s a great example of this in the life of David.

It’s in 1 Samuel 17, when David is still a young shepherd boy. He has just arrived at the battle field, where he is preparing to fight Goliath, a giant from the Enemy camp, who is terrifying God’s people.

Saul is trying to persuade David to wear his armour, but it doesn’t fit him properly – and David knows that all he needs is a sling and a stone, so he is trying to explain this to Saul.

It’s in this context that he uses the word of his testimony to overcome the enemy, when he declares to Saul, in verse 37: “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!

David declares “the word of his testimony”. He simply says: God has done it before, so God will do it again. God has rescued me from danger in the past, so God will rescue me from danger now. God has helped me overcome enemies in the past, so God will help me overcome this enemy now.

The word of David’s testimony speaks truth into the spiritual atmosphere. It tells Goliath that he has been beaten, defeated and overcome – even before the victory has happened.

The same is true for us. Every time we declare the word of our testimony, we are reminding the Enemy of God’s track record. We are reminding the Enemy that God has done it before, so God will do it again. We are reminding the Enemy that he has been overcome. We are declaring that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

All of us can be overcomers, once we know what to do!


What about you? How aware are you of the spiritual battle that you are in? How alert are you to the Enemy, as a roaring, prowling lion, looking for someone to devour? What do you do to keep watch?

How often do you remember “the blood of the Lamb” when you take Holy Communion? What difference does it make, to know that you can overcome the Enemy, by reminding him of Jesus’ death and resurrection?  

When was the last time you shared “the word of your testimony” with anyone? How could you declare what God has done for you in ways that will overcome the Enemy? What would you need to articulate to remind the Enemy that God has got a good track record in your life?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below!

(Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for May. You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)

Photo from Francesco via Unsplash.



  1. Elizabeth Gyfford Reply

    Thanks Joanna. I’ve had the 1 Peter 5:8 verse circulating in my head for a while, but not the verse from Revelation. I find the roaring lion can also purr and become very subtle in his approach, causing almost a stupor of inaction. Rather than terrifying me to run away, lulling me into nothingness…

    I have, however, also been thinking about how much God has done for me in my life. Not only the obvious interventions, but also the things He’s saved me from before I’ve really paid attention. His grace is amazing, and I’ve had his hand on me from the beginning. Incredible! My intention is to write it all down.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thanks for this insightful comment, Elizabeth. You’re quite right about the roaring lion also being one who purrs and uses subtle approaches to lull us into inaction. I wish you all the best as you write down your testimony stories. May God give you the grace (and time) that’s needed to do it!

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