Saturday, 29 November 2014

Overcoming the World


Read: 1 John 5:1-21 Text: v5

 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 


It was Winston Churchill's first speech as PM on the 13th May, 1940 when he uttered his famous words: "You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs — Victory in spite of all terror — Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival." The sentiment behind these great words that helped inspire our forefathers to victory ought to be the constant thought for every professing child of God.
On no circumstances, ever comtemplate defeat.


If we might go back further into British history (and I suggest to you where Chuchill himself drew much of his inspiration) the brave men in the Seige of Derry in 1689 made it a capital offence, even in the darkest days of her great hunger, to even breathe the word "Surrender"! Surrender in the matter at hand is a taboo subject to the people of God.

For someone designated as the "Apostle/Love" - John used fighting talk quite a bit.
War and Love are not totally incompatible subjects as some would have us believe.
Certainly warmongering is hardly compatible with love - but the idea of having to contend earnestly is totally compatible with all that is peaceful and true.

Let's look at our text (3 things)

1) THE WORLD IS TO BE OVERCOME:

A/  Let us state the obvious here if only to dismiss it and so get to the main meaning/text:
This is not a reference to all the good things in (hymn writer) "Our Father's world" which He has provided for us to enjoy:
Doctrine of Common Grace:Where God gives even wicked people good and perfect gifts to use for His own glory:
Example: Paul used his Roman citizenship to escape the lash (Acts 22:25) and appealed unto Caesar (Acts 25:11)
Example: The barbarians showed no small kindness to the shipwrecked prisoners (Acts 28:1-2)
This common grace is to be enjoyed and made use of.

B/  The world we are to overcome is the wicked system of the world.
This system is humanistic - atheistic - materialistic.
The system is at war w/ God: 2;15/James 4:4
Ever since Cain and then Lamech in the early part of the OT.

C/ It must be overcome in victory (v4) before it overcomes and conquers us
Classic example: Demas (2 Tim 4:10)
There was a time when Demas overcame the world, but then he ceased fighting and fell in love w/ it.
That probably didin't happen overnight - but it happened nevertheless.
The world conquered Demas, just as it conquered Ananias/Sapphira in an earlier day.

D/ We are in a battle!
Our introductory remarks to earlier military struggles were not inappropriate.
Exhorted to fight the good fight of faith - put on the whole armour/God.
The Lord Jesus us our Commander (Isaiah 50:4) - the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10)
Imagery of Revelation is that of the war horse and the two edged sword etc. 

We are in this battle whether you like it or not.
If you lived in south coast/England in 1940, you could not ignore the reality that Hitler personally stood on the coast of France and saw Whitecliffes/Dover through binoculars.
German airplanes were flying overhead day and daily.
All your little dreams and fancies of a quiet, sheltered life meant nothing.


E/ If this virtual command to overcome/world is grievous to you (v3) - then something is horribly wrong.
Of course, the world appeals to our fleshly, lower base part.
Our sanctification has still a long way to go and much work remains to be done.
But at the very least, we need to be aspiring to be free from this world and overcoming those base desires.

2) THE WORLD CAN ONLY BE OVERCOME BY THE BELIEVER:
 
A/ John links together certain statements in this chapter that expands upon this basic truth:

[i] Believer is someone who is born of God (v1) We believe that faith/Christ flows from the new birth.
[ii] Born/God believer overcomes the world (v4)
[iii] These previous statements are followed up w/ a rhetorical question (text)

B/ The word believe in the Bible means much more than mere head knowledge.
Certainly, the brain is not bypassed.
Bible uses words like teach/know/learn/instruct etc.Blind faith is no faith at all.
If all you have are cosy little spine tingling feelings when you hear soft soothing music that leans heavily on the low notes - you haven't got overcoming faith.
What happens when the music stops?

Faith/Bible means to trust in - to put the full weight of your soul upon.
Action word - it just doesn't sigh and talk - it trusts and commits.

C/ Someone w/o true Bible faith might be able to live outwardly non worldly lives
RC monks - Buddist monks - pantheists - New Agers etc., can all live in vegetarian communes in spartan existence.
But they are still of this world nevertheless - they have been overcome.
Anyman who is not a possessor of eternal life/Christ possesses a worldly heart:
Part of John 1:10
Might not be greedy people or power hungry folk - but they are still in bondage to the spirit/world.
World is a very broad church.

D/ Only the truly Christian believer, born again/God, knows the victory of the overcomer over the world.
None one else can truly lay hold to that claim.

3) THE BELIEVER ONLY OVERCOMES BECAUSE JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD:

A/ Let us attribute too much to our faith!
Does that sound strange to you?
You think of many verses/Bible like:
[i] If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matt 17:20)
[ii]Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. (Mark 9:23)
[iii] The whole of Hebrews 11
Yes! Faith is a mighty channel.
But faith in itself is just like a rope i.e. it needs to link to something to be of any use.
Therefore the issue is not faith, but faith in what?/Whom? that matters.

The individual Romanist or the Muslim might have stronger faith than you.
You and I might dither in our faith - blowing hot and cold and living as if God were powerless and dead.
The
individual Romanist and the Muslim OTOH perhaps do not.
But what is their faith in?
The Romanist has a strong faith in a mere creature whom he has exalted to practical deity i.e. the BVM.
The Muslim practically places Mahommet as the head of all things.
But (text) even our weakest, faltering faith is better and stronger than of the unwavering Romanist or Muslim.
Why? Because our faith even w/ its imperfection is in the Mighty name of Jesus - the Son of the Living God.

B/ We believe (saving sense) that Jesus is the Christ.
Jesus did something - He overcame the world:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)Satan is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) - the prince of the world (John 14:30)
At the Cross - the captain/salvation defeated Satan: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:14-15)
This is a reference to the military parades where the victorious conquerors paraded their captives in chains.
Satan is a deafeated foe! The worldly system has been defeated.
Oh the shame of being overcome by a defeated foe!

C/ How do we overcome the world then by faith in the Son of God?
Passage itself tells us:
Cultivate a love for God making use of each/every means/grace:
Word/God - Prayer - Fellowship w/ other overcoming Christians.
Actively seek to keep the commandments/God which are not grievous - nothing inherently legalistic in seeking to do God's will.

D/ Operate on the Biblical principle that we can overcome - we must overcome and we will overcome.
If you do - then the promises to the overcomers (Rev 2-3) wil be given to you.


THE END 
 
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