This week in our Wednesday Bible studies we saw in John’s 1st epistle the phrase “overcoming the world” repeated 3 times in 2 short verses. We read “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (5:4-5, NKJV). John hammers this truth home that Christians are to be overcomers. That faith empowered by the Holy Spirit is given so that we can have victory in our Christian walk. What is the object of our faith? It is the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work.
When John talks about overcoming the world he is talking about the world system apart from and opposed to God that tries to lead a person away from God. If we are to overcome the fascination and glamour of this transient world that we live in then we must have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Faith is the instrument and weapon by which we overcome the world. Faith in Jesus Christ is infinitely precious and opens to us an eternity of possibilities. Faith is a soul revolutionary grace that should be progressively developed as we follow Jesus Christ. Faith shall be triumphant as it is fed and inspired. Remember what Paul wrote in the 2nd chapter of his letter to the Ephesians when he says “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (v. 8-9, NKJV). That doesn’t mean that because we have faith we won’t have struggles and problems in overcoming this world. Someone has said,“there are very few certainties that touch us all in the mortal existence, but one of the absolutes is that we will experience hardship and stress at some point”.
I think the key to victory is found in 4 F words. 1st of all that which is victorious over the world has its foundation in God. In verses 1 and 4 of chapter 5 John refers to Christian as those who are “born of God”. That is a profoundly significant description of Christians. To be born of God means God through divine birth imparts His life and His nature into our lives through the Holy Spirit. This means that we share in God’s victory and in Jesus’ inheritance. When we are born again (born of God) into God’s family faith imparts the empowering agent of love. So the 1st aspect of our victory is our foundation in God.
The 2nd key to victory is found in faith itself. That faith that we have discussed earlier that is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ. We need to have faith (believing and trusting) that just as Jesus has promised so He will give us the victory. The 3rd F word is faithfulness. This is the part we play as we seek to faithfully fulfill and honor God by our commitments and service to Him. Obedience should not be grievous to those who have been “born of God”. Think about the faithful service of John over many long years and many great struggles as he was writing this letter to his friends. By this time all the other apostles had been martyred but John goes on faithfully serving the Lord, knowing that ultimately the victory is His.
Finally we need in our spiritual lives to develop a deep friendship with Jesus Christ. How do we become friends with someone? By taking time to be together, experiencing new and different things and by enjoying each other’s company. I’m reminded of the hymn writer who said, “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer?” Let us cultivate this deep friendship with Jesus to help us overcome the allurements and temptations of this worldly system.
Pastor Rich Sivo