Faith is the victory, so declares 1 John 5:4b-5, saying, “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?”
The chapter starts off with this: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Notice it reads, “Jesus, the Christ,” not just Jesus Christ. Why is “the” important? “Christ” is not just a last name for Him; it is His identity, the Messiah, the Son of God, who was promised as the Savior for the world lost in sin. It also appears in multiple places in the Scriptures in reverse form—“Christ Jesus”—thus indicating a particularly sovereign authority and presence.
This Jesus is the One who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the human body of a virgin named Mary, as Matthew and Luke both wrote of the account.
It is my speculation, but not without merit, I think, that Jesus was conceived on or about December 25 and was born after about 280 days of gestation, and that would bring his birth date to the date of the Feast of Tabernacles, as John 1:14a indicates: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us….” In the year 2018, the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated on September 23-30. The average gestation period for humans is 280 days, we are told. Counting from December 25, 2017, to September 30, 2018, there are 280 days. So, the spiritual connection and the timing connection fit that event, thus making sense. Or, have you noted how the conception of Jesus and His birth are so closely entwined in the Scriptures that we hardly think there is a nine-month period before birth?
This Jesus, the Christ, is the One who told the Jewish leaders, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), and they picked up stones to stone Him for blasphemy! He said it “most assuredly,” that is, with certainty and authority.
This Jesus, the Christ, fed five thousand, plus women and children, with a small boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fishes, and twelve baskets of food were leftover. He later calmed a storm and walked on the water to calm their fears.
This Jesus, the Christ, gave His physical body to die on a cruel cross that He might carry the sins of mankind to the grave where they are paid for by death only. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Overcoming has to do with this present life, of course, and the greatest verse that identifies the foundation of our overcoming the assaults of the enemy of our souls is Revelation 12:11, which says, “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.” The blessing is that if it so worked in that context, it will work in any other situation. The same basic principles are what Satan cannot prevail against, anywhere, any time.
Let’s review each of those three principles of overcoming.
“The blood of the Lamb” refers to our forgiveness of sins made sure by having accepted the gift of salvation made possible by Jesus having died on the cross for us. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” As long as one remains unwilling that Jesus comes into his life, there will be no overcoming of Satan, for the latter has control of him.
“The word of their testimony” refers to the life a person is living. It is one of obedience and of fellowship with the Lord, revealing a relationship described by 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us of all sin.” In other words, he is not living a sinful, ungodly life that dishonors the Lord.
Finally, “they loved not their lives unto death” reveals a depth of commitment that does not draw back from the prospect of death for faithfully following the Lord without turning back. This means affirming our commitment to Christ, no matter what results from it. It actually starts with being willing to say “no” to opposing demands to compromise on one’s beliefs.
This level of overcoming demands such strength from God that only He can provide. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me.” It begins, however, with overcoming even simple temptations by practicing saying “no” to whatever challenges our commitment to Christ. James writes that a “crown of life” is offered to the one who overcomes: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). Remember—Jesus rebuked Satan by quoting relevant Scriptures to answer that adversary’s temptations (Matthew 4:4 ff).
This same Jesus, the Christ, says just as assuredly that He is coming again to claim those who have believed that He is the Christ, the One from God, and will take them to be with Him forever (John 14:1-3). In that passage He says, “If this were not so, I would have told you.”
Paul enlarged upon that happening with greater detail in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, saying, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
John wrote in 1 John 3:1-3, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Just like Stephen, looking up as he was dying, exclaimed, “I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56), we shall see Him in human body form, just as we are! (Was God looking ahead to this when He said, “Let us make man in our image” in that time of creation so long ago?)
In summary, then, because He, Jesus the Christ, is the overcomer, so it is that those who belong to Him also are overcomers!
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