1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith: hoti pan to gegennemenon (RPPNSN) ek tou theou nika (3SPAI) ton kosmon kai aute estin (3SPAI) e nike e nikesasa (AAPFSN) ton kosmon e pistis hemon (Whatever - 1Jn 5:1 3:9)(overcomes: 1Jn 5:5 1Jn 2:13-17 1Jn 4:4 John 16:33 Ro 8:35-37 1Co 15:57 Rev 2:7,11,17,26 Rev 3:5,12,21 12:11 15:2)
Amplified - For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith.
NET - because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith.
Wuest - Because everything born of God is constantly coming off victorious over the world. And this is the victory that has come off victorious over the world, our faith.
OVER THE WORLD
Related Resource - 1 John 5:4 Victory over the World
For (gar) is a term of explanation. Always pause to ponder "What is the writer explaining?" John has just spoken of God's commandments as not burdensome and now explains why they are not burdensome. As Wuest observes that "The reason why God’s commandments are not burdensome is that obedience to them enables the saint to overcome the world." (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)
Corollary thought - Are you overcoming the world as you read these words or does it feel like the world system headed by Satan is overcoming you?! If it is the latter, could it be that you are neglecting some point of obedience you know you should obey? For example, is there someone that you are steadfastly refusing to show (bestow, freely give) forgiveness? If so, than you can rest assured, you are failing to live like an overcomer and it would not be surprising if you felt like the world was overcoming you! To obey is the way of divine blessing. Confess. Repent. Obey. Walk in victory! For example, ask God's Spirit to enable you to forgive supernaturally, because this is not something that comes naturally to our fallen (even "redeemed, fallen" flesh)!
Arthur Pink on for and whatever - 1John 5:4 opens with "For," which intimates the reason why that to the regenerate the commandments of God "are not grievous" (1 John 5:3) Why "whatever" rather than "whoever"? The people spoken of are the regenerate, and "whatever" is used because it takes in whatever may be their station or situation in this life. Whoever is born of God, no matter what his rank or situation, "overcomes the world." Regeneration is wrought equal and alike in all, and it produces the same fruits and effects in all—as it respects the essentials of godliness. It is not drawn forth into exercise and act in all alike, for there are particular duties to be performed and particular graces to be exercised—according to such times and places as are personal—but not universal—as, for example, one called to endure martyrdom. But "whatever [person] is born of God [no matter how distinguished from others by His providence] overcomes the world."
NET Note says "The explicit reason the commandments of God are not burdensome to the believer is given by the (hoti) clause at the beginning of 5:4. It is because “everyone who is begotten by God conquers the world.”" All believers are positionally overcomers but when we obey we are experiential overcomers and this is why His commands are not burdensome. (NET Note)
Rosscup observes that "The for which connects 1Jn 5:4 with 1Jn 5:3 links overcoming in 1Jn 5:4 with obedience through love in the Christian life that follows one's initial act of faith and his new birth." (The Overcomer of the Apocalypse)
Born of God - NET version gives the anthropomorphical rendering "fathered by God" which carries on John's image in the Gospel - "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)
Born (1080)(gennao from genos = offspring, in turn from ginomai = to become) means to beget, to bring forth, to give birth, to procreate a descendant, to produce offspring, to generate. To beget Is spoken of men (Mt 1:2-16), whereas to bear is spoken of women. The passive voice means to be begotten or to be born. Note that born is in the perfect tense signifying the permanent effect of the (new) birth. In other words, everyone God has saved in the past continues to give evidence of that fact in the present and will continue to do so in the future. So even the truth about the tense of the verb undergirds the doctrine of Eternal security! Once saved, always saved! The caveat of course is one must be genuinely saved! Asking Jesus into one's heart and living the rest of your life like the devil is absolutely not evidence of genuine salvation! Do not be deceived, dear reader! Many in America claim they are Christian but have no fruit in their life to validate their claim. For them eternity is far from secure!
Wuest adds that "Born is again perfect tense, referring to a past completed act of regeneration with the present result that that regenerated individual has been made a partaker of the divine nature and as such is a child of God (2Peter 1:4-note, John 1:12 “sons,” tekna). (Word Studies)
Overcomes (3528)(nikao) means to conquer, to be victorious or to prevail in the face of obstacles. Overcome describes the quality of a true saint who may stumble and fall but who God always picks up and he continues onward and upward in the power of the Spirit and motivated by victory Christ has won for us on the Cross. Nikao implies there is a battle and in context the enemy is the world system opposed to God and His Son Jesus and all of the disciples of Jesus (that's us beloved)! Wuest adds that "the forces of the world-system of evil, the flesh (totally depraved nature), the devil, and the pernicious age-system (zeitgeist German) with which the saint is surrounded, are all engaged in a battle against the saint, carrying on an incessant warfare, the purpose of which is to ruin his Christian life and testimony."
Nikao is in the present tense which identifies born again ones as continually overcoming (at least they have that potential to overcome) the fallen world. Wuest comments that the present tense describes believers as "constantly overcoming the world. It is a habit of life with the saint to gain victory over the world. To go down in defeat is the exception, not the rule."
Do you feel like you are an overcomer or like the world has "overcome" you? If the latter describes you, then you are not living in God's provision of power and freedom of the new birth. Ask yourself if there some point of disobedience in your life? Is there some sin which you need to confess and repent?
MacArthur notes that the verb nikao was popular "among the Greeks, who believed that ultimate victory could not be achieved by mortals, but only by the gods. They even had a goddess named Nike, the goddess of victory who aided Zeus in his battle against the Titans. Against that pagan backdrop, it was stunning for the New Testament to assign to Christians the invincibility associated only with the gods." (1-3 John- MacArthur New Testament Commentary)
NIDNTT writes that "John sums up the forces opposed to God in the term kosmos (world). Jesus’ coming, suffering and return to the Father signify victory over the world. This victory is expressed in the perfect tense (Jn. 16:33). The evil one, the ruler of this world, has had his power restricted by Jesus Christ, in that Jesus, as the stronger man, has freed his people from the dominion of the evil one. The battle has thus been decided, even if it is not yet over. By faith Christians participate in this victory and are thus placed in a position to overcome the world for themselves. Faith is the victory over the world (1 Jn. 5:4f.; 1Jn 2:13f.; 1Jn 4:4f.).
In the Revelation Jesus promises special blessings on those who overcome (not a special group, but a description of believers). May these priceless precious promises motivate in all of us an intense heart desire to zealously guard God's commandments during the remainder of our short time on earth! Amen! The benefits of so doing are "out of this world." (so to speak!) And notice that every use of nikao in description of the overcomers (and all seven churches have overcomers) is in the present tense signifying that these saints are continually living victoriously in even in the midst of tribulations and hostility toward Christianity.
Rev 2:7-note ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’
Rev 2:11-note ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’
Rev 2:17-note ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give [some] of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
Rev 2:26-note ‘And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;
Rev 3:5-note ‘He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.
Rev 3:12-note "'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
Rev 3:21-note 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Nikao - 28x in 24v and 24 of the uses are by John - Luke 11:22; John 16:33; Ro 3:4; 12:21; 1 John 2:13f; 4:4; 5:4-5; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 5:5; 6:2; 11:7; 12:11; 13:7; 15:2; 17:14; 21:7
As Paul declared "may it never be that I should boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6:14-note) Paul said he was "dead" to the world, and this would be a chorus every believer should "sing!"
Indeed, Paul asks "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Expects a negative reply!) Just as it is written, “FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer (hupernikao ~ believers are "super-conquerors") through Him (Jesus is the key! It is "through Him") Who loved us (How? By giving His life for us on the Cross!). For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing (Including NOTHING in this godless world!), shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro 8:35-39-note)
In Romans 12 Paul exhorted the saints at Rome "Do not be overcome (present imperative with a negative) by evil, but overcome (present imperative = command to continually overcome - only possible as we rely on the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit) evil with good." (Ro 12:21-note)
The victory that has overcome the world - our faith - "This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith." (NET); "And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith." (Common English Bible).
BDAG - victory, then as abstract for concrete - the means for winning a victory (but cp. also the custom of speaking of the emperor’s nike; ‘victoria’ as attribute of the emperor on coinage
Webster - Conquest; the defeat of an enemy in battle, or of an antagonist in contest; a gaining of the superiority in war or combat. Victory supposes the power of an enemy or an antagonist to prove inferior to that of the victor. Victory however depends not always on superior skill or valor; it is often gained by the fault or mistake of the vanquished. The advantage or superiority gained over spiritual enemies, over passions and appetites, or over temptations, or in any struggle or competition.
NIDNTT on nikao and nike in the OT - nikaō is used in the LXX almost exclusively to denote victory over hostile powers. The real victor is God, who has power over his own enemies and those of his people and of the righteous (1 Chr. 29:11; cf. Ps. 51:6). The people’s victory does not primarily depend upon the strength of their soldiers but upon whether God has delivered the enemy into the hands of the Israelite armies (Jdg. 7; 1 Macc. 3:19). For this reason the rallying cry for the “Holy War” in Maccabaean times was “Victory with God!” (2 Macc. 13:15). Finally, the faith of Israel waits and prays for the time when God will defeat all the enemies of the people. In the wisdom literature the word victory acquired a spiritualized metaphorical meaning. The wise man does not allow himself to be conquered by the beauty of an adulteress (Prov. 6:25), but rather reason overcomes instinct (4 Macc. 3:17; 6:33).
Nike is found only twice in the the Lxx - 1Chr 29:11 and Pr 22:9. The majority of uses are in the Apocrypha - 1 Esd 4:59; 1 Macc 3:19; 2 Macc 10:28; 13:15; 15:8, 21; 3 Macc 3:20; 4 Macc 7:3
Matthew Henry - Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hindrances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armor by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.
World (2889)(kosmos related to the verb kosmeo = to order or adorn) means essentially something that is well-arranged, that which has order or something arranged harmoniously. Kosmos refers to an ordered system or a system where order prevails. In the NT kosmos can have a variety of meanings, but in the present context kosmos defines the world not as a neutral influence but as an "evil force", the inveterate, incorrigible, intractable, intransigent, irrevocable enemy of God and of every believer. Kosmos includes the ungodly (unsaved) multitude, the whole mass of men alienated from God and hostile to Him and His Son Jesus Christ (See also Earth Dwellers, the synonymous term used by John in The Revelation of Jesus Christ). This meaning describes the system of values, priorities, and beliefs that unbelievers hold that excludes God. (E.g., Just mention the name "Jesus" in a positive sense in a secular setting! You can "feel" the hackles rising up on the back of their necks!
Marvin Vincent writes that kosmos is "The sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God (Jn 7:7; 15:18; 17:9, 14; 1Co 1:20, 21; 2Co 7:10; Jas 4:4)." (Word Studies in the New Testament)
Arthur Pink - The "world" is in direct antagonism to God and His people, and we may detect its presence and identify it with certainty by perceiving the effect it produces on our hearts in this way: The world is that which ministers to the carnal nature—be it people or things—and which tends to render obedience to God irksome and unpleasant. Any one or any thing which draws your heart away from God and His authority, is for you "the world." Whatever lessens your estimate of Christ and heavenly things, and hinders practical piety is, for you, "the world"—be it the cares of this life, riches, receiving honor from men, social prestige and pomp, the fear of man lest you be dubbed "peculiar" or "fanatical" is, for you, "the world"—and either you overcome it, or it will fatally overcome you.
David Smith says kosmos is "the sum of all the forces antagonistic to the spiritual life." (Expositor's Greek Testament)
Trench summarizes the definition of the anti-God world system as "All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale."
Jesus prayed to His Father "But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep (tereo) them from the evil [one.]… 18 As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world… 21 that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, [art] in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me." (Jn 17:13-15, 18, 21)
W Hall Harris has this note on kosmos - The central passage in the Johannine Epistles that deals with the believer’s relationship to the world… is undoubtedly 1John 2:15-16. Here it seems clear from the context that the negative aspect of the term kosmos is in view, since the readers are being warned not to “love the world” (this is in stark contrast to the author’s opponents, who apparently do “love the world”). In 1Jn 2:15-16 the author presents his readers with only two alternatives: Either one loves “the Father” or one loves “the world,” in which case “the love of the Father is not in him.” (Read the full article An Out-of-this-World Experience- A Look at kosmos in the Johannine Literature)
Kosmos in John's writings (>50% of all NT uses) - John 1:9-10, 29; 3:16-17, 19; 4:42; 6:14, 33, 51; 7:4, 7; 8:12, 23, 26; 9:5, 39; 10:36; 11:9, 27; 12:19, 25, 31, 46-47; 13:1; 14:17, 19, 22, 27, 30-31; 15:18-19; 16:8, 11, 20-21, 28, 33; 17:5-6, 9, 11, 13-15, 18, 21, 23-25; 18:20, 36-37; 21:25, 1 Jn 2:2, 15-17; 3:1, 13, 17; 4:1, 3-5, 9, 14, 17; 5:4-5, 19; 2Jn 1:7; Rev 11:15; 13:8; 17:8
Has overcome (nikao) is in the aorist tense, whereas the first use is present tense. Overcomes (present tense ) signifies the fight is in progress, continual and ongoing whereas has overcome (aorist tense) signifies that the triumph is assured (cp similar pattern in Rev 3:21-note - first "overcomes" = present tense, second of Jesus = aorist tense). At the end of His time with the disciples as He prepared them for the crisis of the Cross and His departure, He ended the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-16) with this assurance - “These things I have spoken to you (What things? John 13-16), that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage (present imperative = keep on doing this - only possible as we learn to lean on the Spirit of Jesus); I have overcome (nikao in the perfect tense signifying permanence of His triumph over) the world.” (Jn 16:33) Beloved, it may look like the evil world system is winning, but Jesus wants His disciples to know that victory is assured in the end. We have not yet seen the end of this story!
Smith says "Our faith conquers the world by clinging to the eternal realities… His (John's) doctrine therefore is that faith in the Incarnation, believing apprehension of the wonder and glory of it, makes easy the commandments of God, i.e., love to God and love to one another. The remembrance and contemplation of that amazing manifestation drive out the affection of the world and inflame the heart with heavenly love." (Expositor's Greek Testament)
Vincent says, “Our faith is embraced in the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (Word Studies in the New Testament)
Wuest commenting on Vincent's remark notes that "This (i.e., "the confession… ") is brought out in 1Jn 5:5, in the question, “Who is he who is constantly conquering the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” A heart belief in the incarnation with all that that implies results in an individual who gains the victory over the world. (Word Studies)
I think God wants the totality of this book to have its impact on us. It is dominated by the concern to give “tests of life” or effects and evidences of the new birth. He gives at least eleven evidences that we are born again. We could probably boil them all down to faith and love. But for now let’s let them stand the way he says them. Here they are:
1. Those who are born of God keep his commandments.
1 John 2:3-4-note: “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
1 John 3:24-note: “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.”
2. Those who are born of God walk as Christ walked.
1 John 2:5-6-note: “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
3. Those who are born of God don’t hate others but love them.
1 John 2:9-note: “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”
1 John 3:14-note: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
1 John 4:7-8-note: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:20-note: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”
4. Those who are born of God don’t love the world.
1 John 2:15-note: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
5. Those who are born of God confess the Son and receive (have) him.
1 John 2:23-note: “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
1 John 4:15-note: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
1 John 5:12-note: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
6. Those who are born of God practice righteousness.
1 John 2:29-note: “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
7. Those who are born of God don’t make a practice of sinning.
1 John 3:6-note: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”
1 John 3:9-10-note: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
1 John 5:18-note: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
8. Those who are born of God possess the Spirit of God.
1 John 3:24-note: “By this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
1 John 4:13-note: “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”
9. Those who are born of God listen submissively to the apostolic Word.
1 John 4:6-note: “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
10. Those who are born of God believe that Jesus is the Christ.
1 John 5:1-note: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”
11. Those who are born of God overcome the world.
1 John 5:4-note: “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
Two Wrong Conclusions - One of the effects of all those “tests of life” is to overwhelm us with the sense that John may be saying: “If you’re born again, you’re perfect. If you’re born again you don’t sin at all. There is no defeat in the Christian life. There is only victory.”
Another effect that these tests might have in our minds is to make us think we can loose our salvation. That is, we can be born again for a while and then begin to fail in these tests and die and lose the spiritual life that we were given in the new birth.
Two Key Clarifications - John is very aware that his words could be taken in these two wrong ways. So he is explicit as any writer in the New Testament that this is not the case: Christians are not sinless, and born-again people cannot lose their spiritual life and be lost.
He says in 1 John 1:8-10-note, “If we say we have no sin [present tense], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [present tense], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” So John is at pains to say that “walking in the light” (1Jn 1:7-note) does not mean walking flawlessly. It means that, when you stumble, the light of Christ causes you to see it and hate it and confess it and move forward with Christ.
And John is just as jealous to make sure we don’t infer from these “tests of life” that we can be born again and then later lose our life and be lost. 1John 2:19-note is one of the clearest statements in the Bible that there is another way to understand what happens when a person abandons the church. It says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
Notice three things John says to protect us from misunderstanding. 1) Those who seemed to be born again and forsook the faith never were born again—they never were of us. “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” In other words, the explanation is not that they lost their new birth. They never had it. 2) Those who are truly born again (“of us”) will persevere to the end in faith. 1Jn 5:19b-note: “For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” Endurance is not the cause of the new birth. The new birth is the cause of endurance, and endurance is the evidence of new birth. 3) God often makes plain who the false Christians are in the church by their eventual rejection of the truth and the people of God. Verse 19c: “But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” It became plain. And it often becomes plain today. (Everyone Who Has Been Born of God Overcomes the World)
Arthur Pink - Overcoming the world - "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4
One of the fruits of the new birth, is a faith which not only enables its possessor to overcome the sensual and sinful customs, and the carnal maxims and policies by which the profane world is regulated—but also the lying delusions and errors by which the professing world is fatally deceived.
Now, the only thing which will or can "overcome the world" is a God-given—but self-exercised faith.
And faith does so, first, by receiving into the heart God's infallible testimony of the same. He declares that "the world" is a corrupt, evanescent, hostile thing, which shall yet be destroyed by Him. His Holy Word teaches that the world is "evil" (Galatians 1:4-note), that "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father—but is of the world" (1John 2:16-note), that "the whole world lies in wickedness" (1John 5:19-note) and shall yet be "burned up" (2Peter 3:10-note). As faith accepts God's verdict of it, the mind is spiritually enlightened; and its possessor views it as a worthless, dangerous, and detestable thing.
Faith overcomes the world secondly, by obeying the Divine commands concerning it, God has bidden us, "Do not be conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2-note), "Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1John 2:15-note), and warns us that "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4-note). By heeding the Divine precepts, its spell over the heart is broken.
Faith overcomes the world thirdly, by occupying the soul with more glorious, soul-delighting and satisfying objects. We often hear and see 2Corinthians 4:16-17-note quoted—but rarely the explanatory words which follow. The daily renewing of the inner man and our afflictions working for us an eternal weight of glory are qualified by: "While we look not at the things which are seen—but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2Corinthians 4:18-note). The more the substance of the heavenly world engages the heart, the less hold will the shadows of this earthly world have upon it. Thus, faith wrought in the saints of old: "You accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions" (Hebrews 10:34-note). "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:9-10-note).
Fourth, by drawing out the heart unto Christ. As it was by fleeing to Him for refuge, that the soul was first delivered from the power and thraldom of this world, so it is throughout the Christian life. The more we cultivate real communion with Christ, the less attraction will the baubles of this world have for us! The strength of temptation lies entirely in the bent of our affections, "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21-note). While Christ is beheld as "the chief among ten thousand" (Song 5:10) as "altogether lovely" (Song 5:16-note), the things which charm the poor worldling—will repel us.
Moreover, as faith beholds in the mirror of the Word, the "glory of the Lord," the soul itself is "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2Corinthians 3:18-note). The world gains the victory over the unregenerate by captivating their affections and capturing their wills; but the Christian overcomes the world, because his affections are set upon Christ and his will yielded to Him.
What is the extent of the Christian's victory? Through temporary weakness of faith, he may neglect the means of grace and fall into sin—yet his soul will be so wretched that he will return to Christ for cleansing and fresh supplies of grace.
"Though the conflict of grace with corrupt nature, and the attractions and terrors of the world, is often very sharp, and though regenerate men may be baffled, cast down, and appear slain in the battle; yet the Divine life within him, being invigorated by the Holy Spirit, will again excite him to arise and renew the conflict with redoubled fortitude and resolution; so that at length, the victory will be his decidedly" (Thomas Scott, 1747-1821). The life of faith is a "fight" (1Timothy 6:12-note), a warfare in which there are no furloughs or "vacations," and our success therein depends upon renouncing our own strength, and counting solely on the sufficiency of Christ's grace.
Here—then, we have a sure criterion by which we may determine our Christian progress or spiritual growth. If the things of this world have a decreasing power over me—then my faith is becoming stronger. If I am holding more lightly the things most prized by the ungodly—then I must be increasing in an experimental and soul-satisfying knowledge of Christ. If I am less cast down when some of the riches and comforts of this world are taken from me—then that is evidence they have less hold upon me. If I find the company of the most cultured and charming worldlings have a dampening effect upon my spirit, and I am happy when relieved of their presence—then my faith is overcoming the world.
O may my heart be occupied,
So wholly, Lord, with Thee,
That with Your beauty satisfied,
I elsewhere none may see.
D L Moody - He that “is born of God overcometh the world”; rising above the storms, and disturbing elements of flesh and nature, and all out of which Christ has risen, it seeks its own native element springing up into everlasting life, like the frigate bird which, when the storms agitate the surface of the ocean, when winds and waves rage in contempt of life on every side, rises aloft into the calm above the storms, and floats securely and tranquilly in that peaceful atmosphere, where it finds itself at home and at rest!
Victim Or Victor - Our Daily Bread - The scar on my knee reminds me of a nasty fall from my first bicycle. While Mother bandaged my wound and Dad straightened my bike’s twisted handlebars, they reassured me that I could be a victor over this mishap rather than a victim. They were right! I’m much older now, but during adversity I still need to remember that I can be an overcomer.
Jesus gave us grounds for good cheer and confidence by declaring, “I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). He accomplished this by His death and resurrection, and secured the victory for all generations. Preacher and author Watchman Nee (1903-1972) wrote, “Oh, that we might learn the undefeatedness of God!”
According to Jesus, it’s possible to experience His “undefeatedness” in every adversity. Paul testified, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). And the apostle John wrote, “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4).
How are you facing life’s trials these days? As a defeated victim? Or as an overcoming victor? Hear Jesus lovingly say, “Be of good cheer!” (Jn. 16:33). He has overcome all these things, and so can you—through Him!
We need never be defeated
By the trials that come our way;
Since the Lord has overcome them,
Victory is ours today. —Sper
We can go through anything because Jesus goes with us.
Julie had been married only a year when she suffered a massive stroke that left her unable to walk or talk. Her parents offered to take the responsibility for her care so that her husband Mark could be free, but he refused. For 25 years now, he has continued to love and care for Julie.
Many people might feel sorry for Mark, saying that he has foolishly deprived himself of the only good that life can offer—present happiness. But Mark doesn’t need their pity, because he has strong faith in Christ.
As Christians, we love God because He first loved us, and we have made obedience to God our highest delight. Our love relationship with Him makes this obedience a source of joy instead of an oppressive burden. Nonbelievers ask, “How can you be happy when you have to forfeit so much?” The answer is simple: We can look at life from the perspective of eternity because we have been “born of God.” John wrote, “This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4). God gives those who trust and obey Him the confidence that what He has for us is better than anything the world can give us. He makes us victors.
Because we know His love and walk by faith, we can live victoriously in all our circumstances.
Although this life may bring us pain,
Our faith in Christ can help us see
That if we will obey His Word
He'll give us joy and victory. —Sper
Surrender is victory when we surrender
Most celebrations of national independence mark the day of final victory in the struggle for freedom. Perhaps it’s a mark of our American brashness that we celebrate the adoption of our Declaration of Independence, which occurred 7 years before the final treaty ending the Revolutionary War (September 3, 1783). The Declaration’s adoption on July 4, 1776, burned the final bridges of Britain’s authority over America. It was a bold and risky start. We still celebrate the beginning.
Christians often ask each other, “When did you accept Christ as your Savior?” That bold beginning of faith, which may have seemed at the time like the greatest risk in the world, is worth noting and celebrating. With spiritual battles looming ahead, we still salute the birth.
The apostle John said that eveyone “born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4).
“Born of God.” Commencement, debut, unveiling. A step of faith. A new beginning. A break with the past. A humble confidence in the grace and power of a forgiving God. The start of true freedom.
That’s a beginning worth celebrating!
THINKING IT OVER
Have you been born again? See John 3:1-18.
What did Jesus do to free you from sin's penalty?
Do you sense an increasing freedom from sin's power?
Our greatest freedom is freedom from sin.