Monday, 1 June 2020
Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5
Look at how John weaves thoughts together to ensure all ends are secure –
“…whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” (5:4)
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” (5:1)
“He who believes the Jesus is the Son of God” overcomes the world. (5:5)
“Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” (4:2)
“…every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. (4:3).
In this, John is obviously equating “Christ” with “Son of God.” The Christ is God incarnate (come in the flesh) – where the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). John is once again revealing that which is true and that which is false. This calls out for proper understanding because to believe otherwise is the spirit of the Antichrist.
There are those who claim that Jesus is the Christ, but they do not believe He is God incarnate. Thus, verse 5:1 does not apply to them. There are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but they do not accept that He is then fully God. Thus, verse 5:5 does not apply to them. In other words, there are sons of God recorded in both testaments – such as in Genesis 6 and Job 1. These are referring to human beings, not the divine Son of God.
There are also sons of God in the New Testament, such as in Romans 8:14 and elsewhere. These are adopted sons of God, not the Son begotten of God – meaning Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God.
One must take the words of John on a much more global scale to fully understand what he is referring to. Without doing so, a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness might appear to pass the test of one who overcomes the world. But such is not the case. Through evaluating the entire scope of what John is referring to, we find that such heretics do not pass muster, and have not overcome the world. As John asks, “Who is he who overcomes the world…?”
It is the person who will meet the qualifications he will now state, but that person must meet the other qualifications which are directly tied to his next words as well. John then says that it is “he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” This is the person who overcomes. But he only does so if he believes that the Son of God (Jesus) is the Christ. And further, he only does so if he confesses that Jesus Christ has also come in the flesh.
If he does so, he is of God and has both been born of God and has overcome the world. If he does not confess the deity of Christ (having come in the flesh), he “is not of God.” In proper theology, one plus one will always equal two. However, sometimes the equation is built upon other such simple equations. When each is properly realized, the truth of the situation is confirmed. This is why it is so important to have a larger understanding of what John is conveying when talking with people from aberrant cults.
Also, in his words, John uses present participles, each prefixed with an article when speaking of the one who overcomes. More literally, he says, “Who now is the one overcoming.” The response is, “…the one believing.” As noted, one can believe in a “Christ” who is not the Christ (see 2 Corinthians 11:4, for example). It is the one believing in the proper Christ, who is the Son of God. In his belief, he is overcoming the world. For those who believe in the wrong “Christ,” they are not overcoming anything. They are still in their sins, and they belong to this world.
Life application: John uses the term “overcome” six times in this letter alone, he uses it 11 times in the book of Revelation, and once in the Gospel of John, totaling 18 times – more than the rest of the Bible combined. This is the last time he uses the term in this letter, and he applies it directly to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
As He does so consistently in all of his writings, he brings in the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. To him, and therefore as a necessity to us, the idea of the God/Man is an area which is not debatable, and it is the defining line of the Christian faith. Either a person believes that Jesus is fully God, and also fully Man, or that person stands condemned and will be eternally separated from God. In other words, he has failed to “overcome the world.”
Because Jesus has overcome the world, we too can overcome the world. This is not something we can actively do, except in regard to faith. Rather, only Jesus was able to fulfill the law and to take upon Himself the sins of the world. And not only was He able to do so, but He accomplished His mission – defeating death and the ruler of this world, who is the devil. Because He did, our faith in Him is what allows us to overcome also. But our faith must be properly directed.
When we “call on Jesus as Lord” it must properly acknowledge who He is. Jesus is Lord because Jesus is fully God. Stand firm on this truth and you also will overcome the world.
Yes Jesus! You are our God and we bow our knees in submission to You. It is You who prevailed on our behalf and we wholeheartedly confess You as Lord – the Incarnate Word of God – to the glory of God the Father. Instruct us in the truths of Your word and guide us all our days so that we will be acceptable and faithful followers of You! Amen.