1 John 5:4-5
4 For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
4 For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world;
John emphasizes God’s power, not our character. He does not emphasize ‘the victorious person’ but ‘the victorious power’. It is not the man, but his birth from God, which conquers. The new birth is a supernatural event which takes us out of the sphere of the world, where Satan rules, into the family of God. We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s dear Son as it says in (Col. 1:13). The power of the old life has been broken. The fascination of the world has lost its appeal. The freedom brought by grace does not provide an opportunity to continue in sin. On the contrary, grace places the believer under the obligation to holiness and growth in righteousness. Our faith in Jesus as the Son of God enables us to get through things that we shouldn’t be able to get through, to have strength in the battle to overcome in victory.
John starts out saying that we can bear the burden because we have been born of God. Since God is the source of our birth, our life, then we have victory. It is our spiritual birth, and therefore access to the power of God through the Holy Spirit that gives us this victory.
Back in 1st John 2:13-14, he commended the young men for their victory saying I am writing to you young men, because you have overcome the evil one. This Greek word, for young men, Neaniskos (Nay-an-is’-kos) describes a man who as matured into young adulthood, building a spiritual house on the one Solid foundation—Jesus. It means that you’re no longer a spiritual spectator, but are getting about the business that God has for you. Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Those good works are part of what the life in Christ is about, and those who are workers, are laboring for Christ not to earn salvation, it is a free gift, but out of Love for Him. They have gained some spiritual maturity, have rearranged their priorities, their calendar, their desires, passions and everything else to make Jesus the center of our lives. And with this, John points to another great evidence of gaining some spiritual maturity—VICTORY! Overcoming. Not paying back evil for evil, not responding with hatred toward people who hate us: these are the marks of a more mature Christian, one who is surrendering their fleshly desires for the desires of the Spirit, one who walks according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. You are putting on the full armor of God, and standing firm, resisting the devil and his fiery darts with the shield of faith. John should be able to write to us 1 John 2:14 I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Jesus is the Source of Victory Over the World
When John talks about the world, he means the corrupt system set up by the enemy that dominates most people’s life in the world. It is this same world from which the disciples have been separated by God. God gave us to Jesus as an inheritance out of the world (John 17:6 6 “I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have followed Your word. John 17:14 lets us know that we will always be separate from the World as followers of Jesus 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (17:14, 16). It hated Jesus and hates His followers. John 15:18–19 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. The world hates us because we belong to Jesus, and we no longer belong to it’s corrupt system. This evil system as well as the sphere of their activity is against God, and therefore against us as His followers. It is this evil system that Christ has overcome, and we as His followers MUST overcome John 16:33 33 These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” It is Jesus that has the victory over the World, and like soldiers in a battle looking to their general to give them the victory, we look to Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, to give us victory by faith in Him.
and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.
It is faith that overcomes the world, and leads to eternal life—faith in Jesus the Christ, as revealed in the scriptures. It is faith in Jesus as the Son of God which enables us to overcome the world. It is persisting in our faith in the Jesus of the Bible, despite what the world says, and what the world wants us to believe. Our overcoming victory is as complete as our commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior will allow it to be. Jesus has gained victory over the world, death, and the devil.
“What leads to victory over the world?” Our faith in our victorious Lord. It is faith in Jesus, our understanding of Him, and what He has done for us that gives us victory. It’s understanding the truth about Him. It’s putting our trust in who He is that saves us.
We overcome by our faith, and it’s the faith in Jesus that allows us to overcome temptations of our flesh, and the schemes of the devil. It’s our faith that allows us to see this sinful world for what it is, and discern the evil spirits behind it’s lies.
And who is the one who overcomes the world? In the previous verse, we learned that it is the one born of God who overcomes, the one filled with His Holy Spirit. John says who overcomes, if not the one believing that Jesus is the Son of God? Our conquering faith rests on our understanding and our confession that Jesus is the Son of God. John is emphasizing that it is our faith in Jesus at the very center of our existence, putting Him at the center of our lives that enables us to overcome. It’s not that we have victory while we are believing in Jesus, but that a person who puts Jesus first in all things cannot help but overcome the world, just as Jesus did!
So Christian believers are God’s children, born from above. God’s children are loved by all who love God. Those who love God also keep his commands. We keep his commands because we overcome the world, and we overcome the world because we are Christian believers, born from above. God is the source, but our obedience is what enables this ever-increasing love, ever-greater Glory to God cycle to keep running. We don’t want to do anything to stifle the Holy Spirit, or interrupt God’s means for gaining glory for Himself on the earth. And so we must keep obedience the center of how we express our love and respect for Jesus. So this conquering “faith” is not belief directed toward Jesus, but has as its content the truth about Jesus. And this is our experience. As we come to understand more and more the Person and work of Jesus, we are able to stand on Him as our foundation, to stand on our faith in His victory to achieve victory ourselves over sin. This is what gives us the power to overcome the evil forces and messages in the world that would try to draw us away from Jesus. We have the complete victory, and it’s Jesus’ victory, Victory in Jesus As 1st Cor 15L54-57 tells us “Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.