Sunday, 31 May 2020
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
In the previous verse, John wrote concerning the commandments of God. He now turns to the simple fact that those who have faith have kept the commandments of God. In this, he begins with, “For whatever is born of God.” It is a perfect participle – “having been born.” Whatever has been born is now in that state, and the state is that of completion. One is not born of God more than once, just as one is not born of a woman and then born a second or a third time.
Further, John uses a neuter adjective, whatever (literally, “all”), to indicate a full view of the matter he is conveying. As Cambridge notes of this, “…whereas the masculine would make the victorious person prominent, the neuter emphasizes rather the victorious power.” That power is defined at the end of the verse as “faith.” Before getting there, he continues the thought. That which is born of God “overcomes the world.” It is all-encompassing. Every single instance where one is born of God, the world is overcome.
The word translated as “overcomes” is an aorist participle. It should say, “having overcome,” or “overcame.” It is a once for all act at a specific point in time. One does not overcome the world in order to have to overcome it again and again. It is overcome and it is done. Any who are born of God have overcome the world. The reciprocal must also be true, if you have the overcome world, it is because you are born of God. John next describes how that comes about saying, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
The word translated as “victory” is found only here in the Bible, it is niké. It is the means of success. It is “a particular expression of victory, resulting from receiving (obeying) the faith Christ imparts (i.e. His inworked persuasion)” (HELPS Word Studies).
John says that “our faith” is what brings about the victory, and that victory is what has made us overcome the world. Thus, our faith is what allows us to be begotten of God. It is exactly the same process that Paul conveys in his epistles.
In John 16, we read –
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Jesus obtained complete victory over the world. For those who have faith in Christ – meaning any and all – they join Him in His victory. The faith in Christ allows them to be born of God, and in their being born of God, they overcome.
Seven times in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus shows what overcoming the world because of faith in Him means –
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7
“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.” Revelation 2:11
“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—
as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.” Revelation 2:26-28
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on 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 I will write on him My new name.” Revelation 3:12
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21
Only in one instance does Christ add anything to overcoming, when he said, “and keeps my works to the end.” That implies that not everyone who is saved (which is eternal) will be given this particular power and position. Thus, there is a special blessing to those who not only are saved by Jesus, but who also keep his works. However, the overcoming itself is something which is eternal.
A study on the word “overcome” as it is laid out in the New Testament, gives a rich and full view of the marvel of life in Christ. However, Jesus sums up the thought with these words from Revelation 21:7 –
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”
It is faith in the finished work of Christ that allows this to occur.
Life application: NEWS FLASH: Deeds are not and cannot be a part of our salvation – either the declaration of salvation (being declared righteous and thus justified) or a continued necessity for our salvation.
For those who have been told they cannot ever truly know if they are saved, or for those who have been told they must “participate” in their salvation by doing things, or for those who have been told that their faith isn’t real unless they demonstrate the fruit of their salvation, then they have been misled.
Jesus Christ asks us to believe, and the apostles ask us to believe. The written testimony, which is the Word of God, asks us to believe. If we have faith in Jesus’ work, then we “overcome the world.” The term “whatever” indicates the victory of being reborn, not the strength of the person.
The engine of Jesus’ work is sufficient for anyone to overcome the world, but it won’t do so unless it has the fuel of our faith. No person is saved unless he has faith in what Jesus did, but glory to God in the highest, our faith in His work moves the mountains!
Lord God, we are so very glad that our salvation isn’t up to a denomination, a church, or our own effort. Instead, our salvation is entirely up to the work of Jesus Christ and our individual willingness to believe it is so. And we have that faith! We believe Jesus died for each of us, that He rose for us, and that faith in His work is all that we will ever need. Glory to God, it is sufficient, and it is finished!!! Amen.