… for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:4-5 (NIV)
Read: 1 John 5
Consider: We are coming to the end of our time reading and considering the Apostle John’s first letter. In this section we come across the concept of the believer as an overcomer. The Greek word used here by John is νικάω, which could be translated as ‘overcomes’, ‘conquers’ or ‘is victorious’. This word and its derivatives are used 24 times in the New Testament; once in Luke’s Gospel (11:28), twice in Paul’s letter to the Romans (3:4 and 12:21), with the remainder (21) appearing in John’s writings (once in John’s Gospel (16:33), five times in 1 John and fifteen times in Revelation). Look again at the Greek word νικάω, meaning victorious. I can think of at least two well-known brands that use this as the basis of their advertising: Nike (sports) and Nikon (cameras).
We must keep in mind that our victory is in regards to the spiritual battle in which we are engaged as followers of Christ. When speaking of the ‘armour of God’, Paul makes it clear that the spiritual battle is real. In Ephesians 6:12 he says: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
1 John 5:4-5 (quoted above) make it clear that our victory starts when we commit our lives to Christ and we become ‘… one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God’. However, we need to be careful that we do not think that we cannot sin just because we have overcome the world by believing in Jesus. If it was impossible for believers to sin, then John’s words in 1 John 5:16 would be meaningless. When he says: If you see any brother or sister commit a sin …, it must mean that Christians can sin, and in that case it is important for their fellow believers to pray for them to be freed from its effects. Also when John says: We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (1 John 5:18), he can’t be saying that Christians cannot sin as he has already made it clear that they can (1 John 5:16). The emphasis in 5:18 is on continuing to sin, and as such the true believer cannot blatantly disregard any sin that bound them before they were given new life in Christ. Of course, many believers struggle with aspects of their former lives, but their desire is to please God and to live in a manner worthy of him.
Do you see yourself as an overcomer; someone who lives in the full knowledge of what Christ has achieved for you on the cross? Are you mindful of sin in your own life and do you repent daily of anything that could draw you away from Christ? Are you watchful for the spiritual welfare of your fellow believers, upholding in prayer any who struggle with sin?
Pray: Father, may our lives be fully grounded on the knowledge of the victory we have through your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us a heart that faces our own weaknesses and does not seek to condemn those Christians who struggle with sin. May we uphold our fellow believers in prayer, asking that they may live lives worthy of you. Amen