“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?”
“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God” (NLT).
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Christianity is a warfare! Every follower of Christ is by profession a soldier. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3,4).
“The Christian soldier is commissioned to be a militant, a fighter, an aggressive warrior in the attack on the “gates of hell.” He must also accept the fact that as a Christian soldier my Commander-in-Chief expects me to engage the enemy on my knees with a shout of victory. –Excerpt from The Christian Soldier’s Creed, by John Sparks (Written when I was the national director of prayer with Promise Keepers Men’s Ministry).
The believer is faced threefold enemy: “the world; the flesh; and the devil.”
1 John 2:15,16, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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.”
John here specifically mentions “the world.” Mankind at large are led captive by it.
Verse 4a: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.”
This is a confirmation of the preceding thought, John is appealing to the experience of the readers. He who overcomes has put his faith in the Son of God.
Wuest adds that “the forces of the world-system of evil, the flesh (totally depraved nature), the devil, and the destructive system by which the saint is surrounded, are all engaged in a battle against the Christian, carrying on an incessant warfare, the purpose of which is to ruin his Christian life and testimony.” –Edited and adapted
“Overcomes” in Greek is nikao it means to conquer, to be victorious or to prevail in the face of obstacles. Nikao describes the quality of a true Christian who may stumble and fall but whom God always picks up and he continues onward and upward in the power of the Holy Spirit and motivated by the victory Christ has won for us on the Cross.
Nikao is in the present tense which identifies born again ones as continually overcoming (at least they have that potential for overcoming) the fallen world. Wuest comments that the present tense describes believers as “constantly overcoming the world. It is a habit of life with the saint to gain victory over the world. To go down in defeat is the exception, not the rule.”
Romans 8:37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Verse 4b: “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” “This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith.” (NET Bible)
1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…” Deuteronomy 20:4, “For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” 1 Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.” Proverbs 21:31, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”
“The Greek word translated ‘overcomer’ literally means ‘victor.’ The verb form is nikao, and the noun form is nike. The verb means ‘to conquer,’ ‘to have victory,’ or ‘to have superiority.’ It sometimes means ‘to defeat.’ The Greeks believed that real victory could be achieved only by the gods, and not by men. Only the gods were conquerors and unconquerable. The Greek goddess of victory was named Nike. The United States even used that name for one of its aerial missiles.” –John MacArthur
One of the favorite hymns of the church is “Victory in Jesus.”
I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins; and won the victory.
O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.
I heard about His healing, of His cleansing pow'r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and bro't to me the victory.
I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing, and the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there the song of victory.
–Eugene Monroe Bartlett Sr.–1939
Verse 4c: “the world…”
“World” in Greek is kosmos. It defines the world not as a neutral influence but as an "evil force", the inveterate, incorrigible, intractable, intransigent, irrevocable enemy of God and of every believer. Kosmos includes the ungodly (unsaved) multitude, the whole mass of men alienated from God and hostile to Him and His Son Jesus Christ. This meaning describes the system of values, priorities, and beliefs that unbelievers hold that excludes God.
“Kosmos denotes the order of the world, the ordered universe, the ordered entirety of God's creation, but considered as separated from God. The abode of humanity. That order of things in which humanity moves, or of which man is the center.” –E.W. Bullinger
According to Vincent's Word Studies, kosmos means, “The order of things which is alienated from God, as manifested in and by the human race: humanity as alienated from God, and acting in opposition to Him. The sum-total of human life in the ordered universe, considered apart from, and alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God.”
God tells us that "the world" is a corrupt, hostile thing, that is soon passing away. The Word teaches that the world is “evil” (Galatians 1:4), that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father—but is of the world” (1John 2:16), that “the whole world lies in wickedness” (1John 5:19) and shall yet be “burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). As faith accepts God's verdict of it, the mind is spiritually enlightened; and its possessor views it as a worthless, dangerous, and detestable thing.” –Adapted from Arthur Pink
Bruce Goettsche writes, “We live in a world that does it’s best to prevent us from glorifying God. John has already warned us, ‘For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father, but from the world. (1 John 2:15). The world makes obedience difficult because it is largely counter-Christian.
•The world entices us with power; the Bible calls us to servanthood
•The world calls us to get more stuff and implies that if your stuff is not as good as my stuff, then you are less significant or successful than I am. God tells us to lay up treasures in Heaven.
•The world tells us to evaluate relationships on the basis of what you can get from that relationship; God calls us to look at what we can give.
•The world encourages us to indulge our appetites (for sex, food, power, prestige and other indulgences) God tells us to control our appetites and be good stewards of what we have received.
•The world tells us we can make the world better on our own; God says, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’” –unionchurch.com
Listen to God’s word:
John 14:17, “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 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 17:14, “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.” Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” 1 Corinthians 3:19, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Verse 4d: “…our faith.”
Matthew 17:20, “I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Encamped along the hills of light, ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know, that overcomes the world.
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.
–John H. Yates and Ira D. Sankey–
Victory is well within our reach, since God provides the resources…He provides Himself! The Christian combats and overcomes it through faith. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Just our faith. Not great intellectual prowess, not degrees in theology, not membership of the deaconate or of the eldership–but simply faith, empty hands stretched out embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“The enemy is behind us. The enemy is in front of us.
The enemy is to the right and the left of us. They can't get away this time.”
–General Douglas MacArthur
“One of the fruits of the new birth, is a faith which not only enables its possessor to overcome the sensual and sinful customs, and the carnal maxims and policies by which the profane world is regulated—but also the lying delusions and errors by which the professing world is fatally deceived… Now, the only thing which will or can "overcome the world" is a God-given—but self-exercised faith.”–Pink
Dr. Sewall, an old Methodist, when dying, shouted aloud the praises of God. His friends said, “Dr. Sewall, do not exert yourself; whisper, doctor, whisper.” “Let angels whisper,” he said, “but the soul cleansed from sin by the Blood of Christ, a soul redeemed from death and hell, just on the threshold of eternal glory—oh, if I had a voice that would reach from pole to pole, I would proclaim it to all the world: Victory! Victory! through the Blood of the Lamb!”
Verse 5a: “Who is he who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” “The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God” (MSG).
Jesus is God’s Son in that He is God born of a virgin in human form: John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is God's Son in that He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 declares, “The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
According to the Bible, “Son of God” means that He is fully God, and He is one of three persons who together make up the One God, Trinity. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time understood this: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18 ESV).
At Jesus’ baptism: Matthew 3:27, “A voice out of the heavens said, " This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
At Jesus’ transfiguration: Matthew 17:5, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
Acts 13:33, “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Romans 1:3,4, “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” 1 John 5:20, “ And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
“Christians are victorious overcomers from the moment of salvation, when they are granted a faith that will never fail to embrace the gospel. They may experience times of doubt; they may cry out with David, ‘How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?’ (Psalm 13:1). But true saving faith will never fail, because those who possess it have in Christ triumphed over every foe. the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11:1-40—testify that true faith endures every trial and emerges victorious over them all. Job expressed the triumph of faith when he cried out in the midst of his trials, ‘Though He slay me, I will hope in Him’ (Job 13:15).” –John MacArthur
“A man must either overcome the world—or be overcome by it. To overcome the world is to be saved—to be overcome by it is to be lost. He, then, who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God does not and cannot overcome the world—for he has not the faith of God's elect—he is not born of God—there is no divine life in his soul—and he has therefore no power to resist the allurements, endure the scorn, or rise superior to the frowns and smiles of the world—but is entangled, carried captive, and destroyed by it!
Where the world is loved, the heart is necessarily overcome by it—for in the love of the world, as in the love of sin, is all the strength of the world. Now unless the love of Christ in the soul be stronger than the love of the world, the weaker must give way to the stronger. Those who do not love Christ cannot overcome the world, for such are utter strangers to the faith which purifies the heart from the lust of it, to the hope which rises above it, and to the love which lifts up the soul beyond it.” -J. C. Philpot, Riches
Matthew 16:13-17, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven…’”
A soldier in the army of Alexander the Great was not acting bravely in battle. When he should have been pressing ahead, he was lingering behind. The great general approached him and asked, "What is your name, soldier?" The man replied, "My name, sir, is Alexander." The general looked him straight in the eye and said firmly: "Soldier, get in there and fight—or change your name!"
What is your name? Christian, Child of God—the born-again ones of God.
Alexander the Great wanted his name to be a symbol of courage; our name carries with it assurance of victory. To be born of God means to live a victorious life!
**NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).**