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Rooted in Christ

Overcoming the World

Who does belong to the kingdom of God?

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4, NKJV). 

Who doesn’t like to be on the winning side? That is one of the themes of the book of Revelation. Though they suffer in this age, those who overcome by the blood of the Lamb will be relieved of all suffering in the age to come. 

The kingdom of this world, under the scourge of sin and schemes of the devil, will perish along with its ruler and his demonic minions and his subjects who are part of this world. They will be cast into the lake of fire. Conversely, the kingdom of our Lord Jesus will be everlasting and those who have bowed the knee before Him will rule with Him for all eternity. 

Who does belong to the kingdom of God? The answer is all those bought by Christ’s blood and sealed by His Spirit. These are ones who have been born again and, by the resurrection life of Jesus, become part of the new creation. 

In his epistle, John uses the language of overcoming to describe those who are on the winning side. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). 

John has spoken a great deal about love recently but here he highlights faith. How can faith overcome the world? We want to remember that faith always has an object. It rests in something, trusts it. For example, when I depress the brakes on my car I have faith that they will slow or stop its motion. But brakes can fail and faith be unfounded. 

What does the Christian’s faith rest in? John tells us: “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5). John is tying in to the purpose statement for his writing. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). 

We overcome the world with its bondage to sin and destiny for destruction by faith in the saving, victorious work of Jesus Christ. The commandments of which John has just spoken (5:2-4) have to do with love for Jesus and allegiance to Him. The world seeks autonomy; the Christian seeks allegiance. 

John is once again asking us to take stock of ourselves. Where is our faith placed? In whom do we trust? Has God supernaturally worked in our hearts to deliver us from the dominion of death and darkness and to establish us in the Kingdom of the Son He loves? 

What does it mean to overcome and to live as an overcomer?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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