“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” – I John 5:4, 5
As young people, life presents to you many excitements, thrills and at the same time challenges. Right now many of you are still schooling and you have great hopes of doing well in your studies, and getting yourself an exciting career with great prospects of career advancements. But, at the same time, this world is a dangerous place spiritually. There are temptations to sin, evil companions and worldly philosophies that lead us away from God. And we experience that this evil world with its lusts is so strong that we might just be swept along like the Tsunamis that swept many away. What spiritual help is there for us?
We thank God that He knows our spiritual struggles and He has a comforting Word for us. The text begins with the word, “for”. Here the apostle John gives the reason that having the love of God we will obey His commandments and at the same time we do not consider keeping His commandments grievous. This is because we have been born again and at the same time we have been given faith by God. This faith causes us to overcome the world. This is the faith of the work of the Son of God on the cross which He accomplished for us on the cross.
The world to be overcome
What is the world? In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and when it was all created, God declared that it was very good (Genesis 1.31). And everything was created according to the will of God and Adam and Eve knew God and God’s will so that they understood the will of God perfectly. This can be seen in that Adam could name the animals in creation because he understood God’s will for that animal as it stands before God and God’s will of that animal in relation to the animal world. Man and animal experienced this peace and harmony between themselves without devouring one another.
God also created the angels, of whom Lucifer was one of the most beautiful angels. And because Lucifer was lifted with pride who wanted to usurp God’s unique place in creation, God drove Him and those angels who fell with him out of heaven, the abode of God. And the fall of Lucifer has a direct impact upon the first man, Adam. And by the temptation of the devil, our first parents, Adam and Eve fell into sin when they took the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which was forbidden for them to eat, according to the command of God.
Before the fall of the angels and of the first parents, the whole world knew God as the only power and the creatures lived according to God’s will. But now with the fall, this world has another power that rivals God, that is the power of the devil. And thus the “world” of this text refers to the world that is utterly opposed to God. And this is the sinful world where
the Scripture says that the devil is the god of this world. And the devil together with the principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places controls this world and seeks the ruin of the child of God. And as such this is the world that prevents the child of God from glorifying the Father, which is the goal of the Christian (the Shorter Westminster Confession of Faith, question and answer 1, what is the chief end of man? Answer: man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever). And in the words of the apostle John, the evil world, of which he commands the Christian, not to love, consists of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
And let me apply this word to you, young people. This evil world often is represented in two ways: firstly, you are bombarded by the philosophies of this world. One of the important evil philosophies of the world is that life if short, so enjoy while you can. Anyway, everybody is doing it, so there are no such things as right or wrong. This explains why sexual sins like pre-marital sex, adultery, HIV are on the rise. And another area which touches you is the world of music, whether it is pop, rock, or hiphop and drama. And at this stage of your development, these are so appealing to you because it appeals to the old man of sin and so sometimes you give yourself to it. And you sometimes feel guilty when you indulge yourself in all these and how you wish you could somehow overcome it.
And we thank God that the child of God is not left without any help in overcoming this evil world.
Overcoming the world
It is clear from the words of the text that it is only the child of God who overcomes this evil world. He is one who is born of God that is a new heavenly life has been implanted in his heart so that he has a new spiritual nature to love God, to worship Him and lay down his life for his service. He is also one who has faith which is given to him by God at the moment of regeneration, and as such he embraces Christ as the Son of God with all his heart.
What is it that overcomes the world? The apostle John says, it is our faith that gives us the victory over this evil world. First, this refers to what God has accomplished for us on the cross through our Lord Jesus Christ. This evil world is under the power of the devil because of sin for he who commits sin is the servant of sin. And so, Christ, the fulfillment of the Seed of the woman came in the fullness of time, born of a woman and made under the law, was slain on the cross for our sins. So that by his death on the cross, He inflicted a fatal wound upon the devil and all principalities and powers and thus sin and death has lost its sting on the believer. And so the apostle Paul exclaims, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law”.
Secondly, this victory becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And this is why the apostle Paul could say, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”. And thus through our Lord Jesus Christ who have the victory over the devil, sin and all temptations.
Practically, when we (I include myself here) face the temptations to sin and tempted to be drawn away from God unto the world, what must be our response? That we must encourage ourselves of the truth that we are already dead to sin in Christ and we are victorious over sin through our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore we should not yield ourselves to commit sin, whether in entertaining evil thoughts or by carrying out that sin. Instead, we must use the members of our own body to serve God and the body of Christ. With our mouths, we can speak forth the grace and glory of God. With our voices, we can sing forth praises of God and with our conduct we can be a example of the believers.
Thanks be to God for our God-given faith that overcomes this evil world. Amen.
Written by: Paul Goh | Issue 1