Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
Overcoming the World
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”(1 John 5:4-5). I believe the Bible is crystal clear that those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ—truly born again—will overcome the world. By world, I mean that organized system headed by Satan. It is an invisible spiritual system of evil which manifests as “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:15). One thing most people fail to realize about this satanic world system is that it is only temporary. In other words, it is passing away along with the passing pleasures of sin. All true believers—those who have been born again by grace through faith in Christ alone—will overcome the world. This is the witness of the New Testament and one way—perhaps the primary way—one can know for sure whether or not they have been born again and are on their way to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
John wrote, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 Jn. 5:4). The word, overcomes, is the Greek word nikao, from which we get the English word, Nike. In the New Testament, it is used of God, Christ, and His followers. It is used to describe true saving faith and means to conquer, prevail, and get the victory. More often than not, it always appears in the present tense and active voice, meaning it is happening right now and it is continuous. Therefore, true saving faith is a continuous abiding faith that endures, and those who possess it overcome the world. For Christians, it means we hold fast our faith even unto death. It also means we renounce and forsake sin, no matter how difficult such may be. I can remember counseling and praying with a young man, years ago, who was struggling with a particular sin. This young man had supposedly become a Christian a year earlier. I can remember him asking, “Why does this have to be so hard?” The reason following Christ is oftentimes “so hard” is because life simply is not easy, nor is it fair. Paul wrote, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim. 6:12). Clearly, overcoming the world is war! This is why Peter wrote, “Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). I was saddened to learn, nearly twenty years later, that this young man has fully embraced that sin which he previously fought to renounce and forsake. It appears Satan is winning—perhaps has won—the war against my friend’s soul. But I continue to pray for him and others of like persuasion that God would open their blind eyes that they might “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ [so as to be saved]” (2 Cor. 4:4). After all, the Bible warns us, “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). It is crucial that we overcome the world. It is crucial because any moment now Jesus will return for His Church. If you are left behind, the chances of you coming to saving faith in Christ are slim and none. Therefore, you must overcome the world!
How does one overcome the world? How do we gain victory over a world that continually makes it so difficult? Notice what John says: “This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” First of all, we must understand who Jesus Christ is and who we are in Him. In other words, we must understand our position in Christ. The Bible says that everyone born of God overcomes the world and is therefore (and will be) victorious over sin. It may be a struggle. There may be times of failure. But in the end, we will always be victorious. And this victory comes by way of our faith. Faith is the vehicle by which we overcome the world. Faith is standing on the truth and promises of God’s Word and learning to think like God thinks. In other words, I must believe God, no matter what. “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). We must refuse to allow our struggles and particular inclinations to certain sins to defeat us. If God’s Word says some decision or lifestyle is a sin, we must believe God. I came to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord when I was eleven years old. I didn’t understand it all then (and barely do now). But as a young adult, I made a decision that I was going to believe and obey God no matter what. I think this is the attitude one must adopt in order to overcome the world. But it’s not the attitude that ensures victory. It is faith—believing God. It is a faith that looks forward to that which is not yet. In other words, this life is not all there is. Like Paul, we must “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). The key to overcoming the world is believing God. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4).
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