Overcoming the World

1 John 5:4-5

Gotta love language and how we use words. If you think dealing with words and definitions is pretty much simple 1:1 relationships, check out instructions in English translated by machine! “If the products is wets or there is moistness after usage it should be air the wind or sundry before keep.” We do lots of decoding automatically – assign particular meaning to word based on context. Not a new problem, probably been around as long as language.

Take “world”, for example. she’s in her own little world; announced it to world; world’s coming to an end; they’re worlds apart. Then there’s 8 year-old Julie, prayed: “God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family, and I can never do it.” Just a few of 16 ways Webster’s dictionary says we use the word.

John used Greek word for world κόσμος – 21 times in 1 John (over 100x in all his writings). Yeah, we stole that one from the Greeks! Like English word, κόσμος used in different ways depending on context and purpose. Has range of meaning but primary emphasis often on sphere of human life, order or system under which it operates. In this context – it’s everything that is in opposition to Christ, everything that makes “the world” in need of a Savior: Satan, prince of this world, plus his principalities and powers; lusts and sins of world with their governing power; men of world who rage against God and his people.

Second word John uses here familiar to most: Nike, famous brand. Means to have victory over, overwhelming success, overcome, conquer. Obscured in many versions, how John hammers point home that he’s talking about ultimate victory, unquestioned unmistakable overcoming every enemy without exception and without casualties. No soldiers have been or will be lost in this conflict.

“everyone who has been fathered by [born of] God conquers the world. This is the conqueringpower that has conquered the world: our faith. Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” NET

Once again, John gives mark of one who has true faith: have overcome the world through their faith, in contrast with those who claim a relationship with God but really belong to the world. So,… out there in the trenches, where the rubber meets the road, what does it mean to overcome or conquer the world? How is one with true faith supposed to accomplish it? And how can you make it last?

A. what it means

different thinking

viewing world and circumstances from biblical perspective

Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says, “The future of America doesn’t depend on what lost people do, but what saved people do.”

A worldview is a set of answers to the ultimate questions. Noebel defined worldview as “a set of ideas, beliefs, convictions, or values that provides a framework or map to help us understand God, the world, and our relationship to God and the world.”

foundation of worldview must be God’s truth found in Bible; same truths must permeate all branches of worldview, all elements of “framework”

overcoming requires unswerving loyalty and fidelity to biblical principles, soundly rejecting anything contrary

different allegiance

serving Christ above self

John firmly links victory / conquering power and faith

not just any faith, not just faith with any object; faith that has as its sole object Lord Jesus – faith that looks to Jesus as sole source of power and direction

pick any kind of team you like – sports, management, military – only way team can be sure of victory: right leader, all following

believers without doubt have right leader – Lord Jesus; can be assured of victory when follow his leading

remember: our soul anchored steadfast and sure behind the veil where our forerunner, Jesus, has already gone (Heb. 6:19-20)

requires unswerving loyalty and fidelity to Jesus and his commands, soundly rejecting any who claim a better deal

different values

pursuing what has eternal value

Abraham “looked forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God” NET (Heb. 11:10)

in fact, saints as far back as Abel “desired a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Heb. 11:16)

Paul declared foundation laid – Jesus; he had built some on top, expected others to continue building God’s dwelling (1 Cor. 3:10-14; Eph. 2:20-22)

charged Corinthian saints to be careful what they used for materials – gold, silver, precious stones

expecting what believers accomplish of substance in this life to survive the judgment, survive into eternity

requires unswerving loyalty and fidelity to God’s value system laid out in Bible

B. how to do it

how to acquire right thinking, right allegiance, right values?

saturate thinking with the truth

fill minds with “good” stuff

David made it plain what he thought about: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” (Psa. 119:11)

Paul doesn’t mince words: “think the same way that Christ Jesus thought” CEV (Phil. 2:5)

must know him, know about him to know how he thought

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

avoid junk food whenever possible

“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks.” (Isa. 33:15-16)

keep Jesus in constant view

he has overcome the world – John 16:33

Luther aptly remarks: “He does not say: Be comforted, you have overcome the world, but this is your consolation, that I, I have overcome the world; my victory is your salvation.” And upon this victor rests the imperishability of the church.

surround yourself with reminders

you’re being watched

by the world (1 Pet. 2:15), by the saints (Matt. 5:16), by those who have gone on before (Heb. 12:1)

you need constant help

David learned: “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psa. 16:8)

spend time with him and his people

“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25)

do the right thing

actively resist disobedience / actively pursue obedience

Paul’s exhortation to Timothy applies to all believers: flee, follow, fight (1 Tim. 6:9-12)

flee temptation and foolish desires

follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness

fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life

keep up the fight

don’t relax – Satan and allies are always vigilant, on duty; Christian must be as well

don’t compromise – not just in politics that you’ll find slippery slopes; things lead to things, first one area then another, drifting away from God’s standard

C. make it last

check your vital signs

“If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than praying, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of God, any table better than the Lord’s table, any person better than Christ, any indulgence better than the hope of heaven – take alarm!” Thomas Guthrie

examine your wardrobe

put off the old man (world’s clothes), put on the new man (robe of righteousness)

what’s in your closet? – things that belong to old man? clean house, make sure only what belongs is there

take your vitamins

be inspired by heroes of faith – Bible heroes, those of the past, present-day saints putting it on the line for Christ

put on whole armor of God (Eph. 6:14-18) – belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, sword, glued together with prayer and alertness

Don’t lose sight of the cross. That’s where battle over sin & Satan was won. Lose sight of the cross, lose sight of the goal, lose sight of real winner – Jesus. It’s faith in him that brings you victory, confidence what he accomplished on cross was for you that enables you to conquer the world. Don’t be like Peter – took eyes off Jesus, started to sink. Keep focus on Christ and his Cross and crown he has waiting for those who persevere.


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