Overcoming the World
October 16, 2022

Overcoming the World

1 John 5:4-5

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iY0xWf7KuQ

In the desert we’re not accustomed to creeping vines, but over the years we’ve seen our share. I remember living in Las Vegas that had a shaded part in the front yard next to the house, that had not only bushes, but the previous owner also planted some Ivy. Well, it wasn’t long before the Ivy literally took over the whole front planter section, choking out the bushes, and attaching itself to the front walls of the house.

After a couple of years and with most of the front planter and house covered in Ivy, I pulled as much of it as I could out from the roots, and I cut the main stems that were growing up the sides of the house. Now, it looked as if I didn’t really do anything, but the Ivy was either dead or dying, which became evident in the weeks following as the “creepers,” began to fall away from the house and from what was left of the bushes.

Seeing this, what I was reminded of is how sin grows and gets a strangle hold on our lives. Yet, it doesn’t need to remain that way. What we see in our passage is that at Jesus’s death, the power of sin had been cut. Yes, the “creepers” of sin still cling to us, and have some effect, but sin’s power has been severed by Jesus Christ, and its grip dries up and falls away like that Ivy on the side of the house.

In other words, the conflict between the spirit of the world and the Spirit of God is not yet over, but the outcome has already been settled at the cross and the empty tomb.

And so, I’d like to look at these two verses, and the topic of how we overcome 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 he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5 NKJV)

Now, there’s a whole lot that is present leading up to and after these verses, but I’d like to keep on point, and what we see in these two verses is the theme of our study today, and that is overcoming the world, and what is it that overcomes the world.

And if we want to be overcomers, and overcome the world, we need to determine just what is the world. The world that John is talking about isn’t the physical world, rather it is the attitude, or better yet, it is the spirit of the world, and thus who it is that is in control of the world that must be overcome.

The ruler of this world, the personage who is over this present world system in which we live, is none other than Satan, whom the Apostle Paul refers to as the “god of this age.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

This fact Jesus never disputed even as Satan tempted Him in the wilderness showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world saying, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” (Luke 4:6-7 NKJV)

But how did this happen? Well, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, dominion of the earth was passed to Satan, and so, the world that we can and must overcome is ruled and controlled by Satan.

Earlier, John talks about this world and the things thereof. He said, “For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16 NKJV)

As for the “lust of the flesh, the Apostle Paul identifies it as sexual immorality and anger in all of their various forms, along with idolatry, sorcery, and that which deals with self. Then John talks about the “lust of the eyes,” he’s talking about that those things that we see and desire, like possessions, power and the like. And then “the pride of life,” is anything that leads to arrogance, boasting, or selfishness.

Roughly, what John is describing is that the world is nothing less than all those things that allure or trap the human heart. They are those things and concerns we get caught up in.

Today, these would entail the world of entertainment and amusement, the world of finance and possessions, or the world of politics or what exerts power over others. And while we can touch and feel them, there is an invisible system that is behind them, one that we cannot see, but it is there. It is what Paul describes as the powers of darkness and the spiritual forces of evil.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)

We see this as our world today influences every area of life, including music, sports, films, and fashion. And we even see it within the church as we see fewer and fewer bible studies and prayer meetings, not to mention fewer and fewer people in church.

Yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, while we live in this world, we’re not to live like it. Because when we do, we come under the power that is behind it, Satan, the spirit and ruler of this world. So, what John is saying is that only a life of faith, and belief in Jesus Christ can overcome. That is, “whatever is born of God overcomes the world.”

Now, what I’d like to do in the rest of our time together is to look at what prevents us from being overcomers, what we need in order to be become overcomers, and who actually overcame and helps us overcome.

What Prevents Our Overcoming: Fear

The first thing we need to overcome is fear. We need to overcome the fear of this world.

What’s sad is how so many are fearful of what “the man,” that is, those in authority, can do us if we espouse our beliefs in Jesus. And such fear needs to be overcome. We saw this in operation during the COVID pandemic as believers and churches backed down to the pressure to conform to political correctness.

Today, our government and or courts have so polluted the intent of the separation of church and state that believers’ jobs and businesses have been threatened, and churches have been taken to court under threat of closure because they espouse a belief system that is not popular amongst the general populace, not to mention that we hold to a set of morals that are completely opposite of the moral depravity of our day.

Churches cannot talk about specific political parties or their platforms because of this separation of church and state, and if they do, they will lose their tax exemption. Now, for me this is not a factor because God has called me to preach the gospel and to teach biblical truths, and not some political position, no matter how much I agree or disagree with it.

Yet, what gets me is how other non-profit organizations espouse their worldly beliefs, morals, standards, and political preferences without fear of being punished.

This is seen in what is now called the “spirit of tolerance,” which is just a smoke screen to shut up those that disagree with the current positions of our culture and society, which today we know it as “the cancel culture.”  This is a new belief system where we must accept everyone else’s system of belief or lifestyle and accept their truths as truth.

But this is not the real meaning of tolerance. Tolerance is accepting that others have differing views, but it doesn’t mean that those views have to be accepted as true. But our government and courts have changed the meaning and have re-written its definition. Now, tolerance is for everyone else but not for Christians, as the world continues to refuse our truths, and thus refuse us the same rights they give to others.

Therefore, this whole idea of tolerance is one-sided, and it’s on the side of Satan, the spirit of the world, which is diametrically opposed to the Spirit of God.

Also, what we are told in the Bible that we overcome by fearing God more than man. King David said, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11 NKJV)

Those that overcome the world are no longer careful in trying to secure the favor of the world or its system, nor are they careful to avoid its displeasure. Frankly, being spoken well of by the world is a small matter to them, but instead it makes them more evangelistic and less politically correct.

Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26 NKJV)

So, for every believer in Jesus Christ, our chief concern is not to commend ourselves to man or to the world, but rather to God. And no one will ever be an overcomer until that issue is firmly settled in their minds and in their hearts.

Now we get to what makes us overcomers.

What Makes us Overcomers: Faith

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5 NKJV)

In our verse, the Apostle John is saying that it is our faith in Jesus Christ, that He is truly the Son of God, and it’s this that overcomes the world. We become overcomers by trusting in Jesus and not ourselves or the philosophies of the world.

Now, belief or faith in itself doesn’t win this victory, rather it is who our faith is in. It is only in Jesus Christ and the work He did upon the cross for our salvation that our faith needs to be in. And so, the victory that overcomes this world comes from having our faith and trust in Jesus.

Yet, if we do not believe and obey, that is, to do what God has told us in His word, then we will never be overcomers, and we will never enjoy the victory God says is ours. Therefore, faith and obedience are key to overcoming, as the Apostle James point out that faith without works is dead (James 2:17-19).

Hebrews 11:30 says, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.” (Hebrews 11:30 NKJV)

Here we see that the people believed and followed some pretty weird instructions, but by doing so, by faith following God’s word, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

Faith trusts in God and His promises, and in the process, faith obeys God’s commands, exactly, immediately and with great delight.

To Joshua, the Lord said, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7 NKJV)

Faith then is the key. But I’m not talking about an irrational faith, but a faith that acts upon what is true. And what is true is that God keeps and fulfills His promises and when we believe His word, and act upon it despite what it may look like, then the world cannot trap or deceive us.

And so, to secure this victory in our lives, to be those overcomers, we need to move forward believing God. We need to pray and to study God’s word, and then by faith believe and obey.

Now, there’s something else about faith, and that is faith gives us an attitude of victory; an attitude based upon the belief that God has already won the battle against Satan and evil. This is seen in that John wrote this passage in the past tense.

“And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (1 John 5:4b NKJV)

You see, overcoming the world is not so much a matter of activity as it is an attitude. It is possible for those who call themselves Christians to stay away from questionable behaviors, but it doesn’t mean that the love of the world is not a part of their life, and that is because worldliness is a matter of the heart.

And the last thing that I’d like to look at from our passage is just who it was that overcame.

Who Overcame: Jesus

Our text is very clear. The one who overcomes is the one who is born of God, or those that Jesus describes as “Born Again.” In other words, without a spiritual rebirth, no one will be able to overcome the spirit of this world, and the sin nature that resides within the heart of every human being.

But, how does this overcome the world? Well, the one thing, I can say is that it’s not in or through our efforts. We overcome because Jesus overcame.

To His disciples Jesus said, “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:3 NKJV)

Let me just quickly break this down. When Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation,” He was saying that this will be a consistent in our lives, that we will always have trials and tribulations. But He goes on to say, “but be of good cheer.” In other words, we’re not to let these difficulties and hardships overwhelm us, but rather we can find joy, and that’s because Jesus ends up saying, “I have overcome the world.”

You see, we overcome because Jesus first overcame, and He overcame Satan, sin and death when He died upon the cross and rose from the dead on that third day.

We overcome through faith in Jesus, and it is by our faith that Jesus comes inside and dwells within us. And as the Scripture says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

And in Romans 8:37, it says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NKJV)

And this is all made possible through our faith in Jesus, and through this faith the Lord has given to us the greatest of all gifts so that we can be these overcomers, and that is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NKJV)

And then Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you … when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:7, 13 NKJV)

Look at the overcoming qualities the Holy Spirit imparts. Here are a bunch of disciples, fearful of the world, fearful of both the religious and political powers of that day, and that they were more afraid of them that they were of the Lord. This caused them to not only deny knowing Jesus, but to hide in fear as well.

But Jesus said to them, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NKJV)

And again, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)

Conclusion

How do we overcome the world? By faith in Jesus Christ, and it is by that faith that we can defeat the enemy of our soul, Satan. And again, it isn’t anything that we do, but rather it is what Jesus has already done upon the cross, as He died to set us free from the power of sin and death.

And so, it is our faith in Jesus that overcomes the world, and because of it, Jesus resides within us, and as we have seen, greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world. And it is in Jesus that we become more than conquerors because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

And in this promise is Jesus’s promise of the Holy Spirit to all those who will by faith believe. And then, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit the disciples became unafraid of this world and beat back the gates of hell, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world within a single generation.

And so, to overcome the world, we need to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord. And then, have faith and obey His word and the promises He gives. And finally, we need to avail ourselves of one the greatest promises of them all, and that is the power of the Holy Spirit to come alive within us. This begins with being baptized with and in the Holy Spirit, just as the first church was baptized in the Holy Spirit there in the upper room.

And the rest, as they say, is history.









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