We shall overcome! – 1 John 5:1-5

We shall overcome!

1 John 5:1-5

  1. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
  2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
  3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
  4. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
  5. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Good morning, church! How are you all this morning? To be honest, even though most of us appear to be ok and say that we are doing good – many of us are going through periods of heaviness, trials, failures, loneliness, uncertainties and sicknesses. But I want to remind you dear brothers and sisters of a Saviour who keeps a watch over you and me when our boat rocks through a storm. Isaiah 43:1-2 reminds us – But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Times like these have the ability to cripple the strongest among us but we hold on and persevere because He has promised – “Behold, I am with you even unto the end of the age. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When we got Covid, we realised our family and our best friends couldn’t help us by coming over and then the verse in Psalm 46:1 makes sense – “God is our refuge and strength – a very present help in time of trouble.” Indeed he is a very present help amidst the situation that we are going through. In times like these, let’s hold onto His faithfulness and His sovereign authority.

For those who have been following us over the last few weeks, we have been going through a sermon series on 1 John called as “Faith filled friendships” and we continue today with 1 John 5:1-5. Let me read that for you once again –

  1. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
  2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
  3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
  4. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
  5. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Shall we take a moment to ask God to enlighten our hearts through His word?

The epistles of John are perfumed with love. The word ‘love’ is continually occurring in almost every passage we read, while the Spirit of love enters into almost every sentence. Each letter is thoroughly soaked with this heavenly honey. When he speaks of God – he exclaims – “God is love”. When he talks about the brethren, his heart brims up with love. And even when he writes about the world – he writes, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” From the opening to the conclusion, love is the manner, love the matter, love the motive, and love the aim. Therefore it is quite astonishing, to find in this passage – such war like words in so peaceful a writing, for in these words we hear a sound of war. It is not the voice of love, surely, that says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” Behold, here there is strife and battle. The word “overcomes” seems to have in it something of guns and warfare, of strife and contention, of agony and wrestling. So unlike the love which is smooth and gentle, which has no harsh words within its lips, and whose words are softer than butter – here we have war—war to the knife, for we read, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world”

Strife until death, battle throughout life, fighting with a certainty of victory. How is it that the same Gospel which always speaks of peace, here proclaims a warfare? How can it be? Simply because there is something in the world which is antagonistic to love. But I love the certainty of victory which John is boldly proclaiming – “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world”. He is certain – A born-again child of God shall overcome! And so I would like to title my sermon today morning – “We shall overcome!”

We shall look at 3 major themes in this text and that is –

  • A great victory – “overcomes the world”
  • A great birth – “Everyone who has been born of God”
  • A great means to victory – “our faith”

A great victory – “Overcomes the world”

Here, the apostle John is boasting about a great victory that a child of God is entitled to. During the last two weeks, the world has been viewing a bloody battle between Palestine and Israel. After the ceasefire – both sides claimed victory and pictures and videos of the victory procession has been doing rounds in the media. Yet this celebration of victory seems very very shallow because this victory involves deaths, sorrow and blood. This celebration of victory makes each side look forward to selfishly fight against each other for conquering the world. The victory which anyone can claim today on any side may end tomorrow in hatred and more deaths. But the victory that John is boasting about is a much much greater victory – a victory that is worth talking about for ages – a victory that has value in this life and also in the age to come! You hear Paul in the last few days of his life talking about this victory in 2 Tim 4:7-8 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” What a great victory that is, Beloved! Heaven celebrates it and others on earth are encouraged to fight this battle on earth!

I do want to remind you, dear brethren that this victory is a great victory because the battle that we fight is great as well. And this battle is not something which occurs occasionally – but this is a battle which we as children of God face daily – whether we acknowledge it or not. The Bible talks about this battle again and again. Paul admonishes Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” In 2 Timothy 2: 3-4, Paul writes – “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the whole armour of God. And Paul disciplines himself as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 – “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Beloved, this victory is a great victory because the battle is a great battle. Do not forget the intensity of the battle, Beloved – till we reach home to the other shore – we have a fight to fight. Do not forget the words of the Lord to the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2:10 – “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

But there is yet another reason why this victory is a great victory – and that is because the enemy mentioned in this passage is a great enemy as well. The common enemies that a child of God fights against is the world, the flesh and the devil but in this passage – the singular enemy that is talked about is the “world”. ‘For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.’ The world! Who is the world? Everyone who is under the sway of the devil is of the world. Everyone who is not a child of God is of the world. And because the children of the devil are the majority all around us – the world entices us to go along with its whims and fancies. When a Christian decides to surrender his/her life to Jesus Christ, he/she puts the world behind and decides to swim against the tide. The world begins to be the Christian’s enemy going ahead. James 4:4 says, “You adulterers and adulteresses – do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God.” And what does the world try to do? It tries to make fun of you, persecute you, entice you and misguide you. I don’t know if you guys have read the book or seen the movie on the Pilgrim’s Progress. It shows the journey of a pilgrim from the city of Destruction to the Celestial City. And you will notice during the journey how the enemy disguises himself in many forms to pull back the pilgrim from his journey. He tries to come in the form of a worldly wise man giving some great advise to get rid of his sin but instead he cleverly tries to misguide the pilgrim from going to the cross. On the other hand, he tries to entice him with worldly riches and prosperity and sometimes tries to mock him along with all the people in the town. When those tricks fail, he tries to persecute him and fellow pilgrims by burning one of them alive. The world tries its best to seduce a Christian away from the love of God. It tries to convince the Christian that the commandments of God are burdensome and probably does not give you complete freedom and joy. It tells you that loving God and loving one another is impossible. It tells you that your broken relationships cannot be repaired. It tells you that your circumstances are pretty screwed up and there is no way of victory for you. It tells you that the pleasures on your phone are more enjoyable than His presence. It numbs you for the things of God and pleads with you to be drunk with netflix and instagram. It tells you that a girlfriend or a marriage is an answer to your problems. The world fights for your hearts’ affections. The world is a subtle enemy and that is pretty depressing but a child of God overcomes the world. Which brings me to my next point – and that is –

A great birth – “Everyone who has been born of God”

Here is a great hope which John tries to drive through this passage. You have a great battle against a great enemy but the victory is certain for those who are born of God. “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” The great victory isn’t possible without a great birth. And that is a work of God. No man can conquer the world without God having to work on a man’s heart and operating it and replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh. And that is a miracle. According to Leonard Ravenhill’s words – “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” That is indeed a wondrous miracle of God.

What is it to be born again? Very briefly, to be born again is to undergo a change so mysterious that human words cannot speak of it. As we cannot describe our first birth, so it is impossible for us to describe the second just as John 3: 8 describes it – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” But while it is so mysterious, it is a change which is known and felt. At the time of the new birth, the soul is in great pain—often drowned in seas of tears. I remember the days during which God was working on my heart to regenerate me – when I did think that there was no hope for me and my heart was sinking in despair. But praise God – He did call my name and I did look unto Him and was saved.

Let me tell you, also, that this change is a supernatural one. It is not one that a man performs upon himself just as John says in John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. None of us were born again because of our decisions. Imagine dead Lazarus dead and disintegrating in the tomb – for 4 days! If you ask Lazarus to say the Lord’s prayer. He cannot. You ask him to atleast try – he cannot. He needed the Saviour coming along and calling out his name – “Lazarus, come forth”. Similarly – we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We had a physical body but our spirit was dead. We were under the sway of the wicked one. We were the ones who were “of” the world! But thank God – thank God – He called our name! He made us His own – He transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son! He gave us a new heart – He gave us new desires – He led us to repentance and gave us faith to believe – He helped us to see the beauty of Jesus – heavens came down and glory filled my soul! Rebirth is supernatural and is a gift of God – so that no man can boast!

And so now we know that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world! But there are definitely other signs as well which is seen in a born again child’s life (and they are there in this passage) –

  1. They believe Jesus is the Christ
  2. They love God
  3. They love others who are born again (since through this new birth with God as Father – we become brothers and sisters of one an another)
  4. They obey his commandments (they begin to see the commandments of God as joyful and enjoyable. They don’t see it as a burden anymore. They see that through the new-birth, the Holy Spirit has been poured out in their heart to give them the power to do.)
  5. And finally – they overcome the world

Beloved brothers and sisters – Do you really know of the experience of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God working on your heart – leading you to repentance and faith? If yes – you are a child of God! And if you are a child of God – here is a certainty of victory in this text – “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world”

If you are hearing me today and you say – Brother – I do not know what you are talking about. I am alien to the concept of rebirth. I do not experientially see the work of God in my heart and in my life. My relationship with God is only when I come to church and then I forget all about it. I have never experienced Him as my Father. I have never experienced Jesus as my Saviour. But I do want this in my life. I don’t know what you are talking about but I want to know Him. I want to experience the joy which comes through Jesus Christ. Then let me help you today morning. Though I am sure that I can do nothing and only the Holy Spirit can. But I am sure He is working on your heart this morning. You didn’t venture out here into this zoom meeting as an accident. He is drawing you to Him but your heart says – you are a sinner – you cannot go now. That is a lie. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to Me, I will in no-wise cast out.” Jesus said – Come to Me – you who are weary and heavy laden – I will give you rest! He calls you this morning to turn away from the world and look unto the cross! Just one look at the Saviour – who died for you – who died for your sins. He died so that you and I can have new life! So, that you and I can be a conqueror!

And if you are a child of God this morning – with joy in your hearts and great hope – let us cry the song of victory! Why? Because “Whoever is born of God overcomes the world”. We have a sure shot assurance that we shall overcome! We shall overcome! We shall overcome! We shall overcome the despairs and the despondencies of life. We shall overcome over sin and its desires. We shall overcome over the world! Oh yes – we are walking upon broken glasses and we do not have the world snaring and pulling us back – but we shall overcome! “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. “I am no longer a slave to fear because I am a child of God!” What a day that will be when our fight shall end and when we see the Saviour giving us a crown of life. Until then – my dear brothers and sisters – fight on – Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. “Be faithful until death and God will give you the crown of life.”

But let me quickly end my discourse reminding you of a great means of Grace which God has given you and me in this battle and that is – our faith!

A great means to victory – Our faith

He that is born of God – believes that Jesus is the Christ. It is not a belief which says – yeah I know Jesus. I do pray to him once in a while. No no no. This belief is a complete reliance on the person and work of Jesus Christ daily. This belief is knowing deep within that I am a great sinner and Jesus Christ is a great Saviour. This faith is knowing that I can overcome the world because He who is in me is greater than He who is in the world! Do you have this faith in your hearts, Beloved. It is a gift of God. Would you turn your eyes upon Jesus this morning and say – “Lord I trust in you. The battle that I fight daily is beyond my strength – but I trust in you. The enemy is great but I trust in You. Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. Lord, we have no strength. Lord, we do not know what to do. Lord, but our eyes are on you. Because the battle is yours. And since you have overcome – I shall overcome through you. I shall overcome the world because I am a child of God.” Use this means of Grace daily Beloved! – Faith!

Can we bow our heads and pray this morning!


Martin-Lloyd Jones Sermon on John 1:12-13

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