Brighton Church of Christ
Faith Is The Victory
Jesus overcame the world, giving courage to believers so we can overcome too.
The promise of “victory” suggests the desired end to be achieved in battle or contest. Both of these portrayals God uses in Scripture to describe the nature of His kingdom. In Christ, we are engaged in a spiritual warfare. Our adversary is the devil; our fight with him requires soberness and vigilance (1 Peter 5:8). We dare not be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by him regarding the simplicity and purity of the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Our strength and resources for the fight are “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10ff.). The battleground is the hearts of mankind (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
Christians are called upon as soldiers in the Lord’s army to “suffer hardship” and exercise devoted allegiance to please the Captain of our faith, with caution given that we not go AWOL by entangling ourselves “in the affairs of everyday life” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
We can and must overcome the “world” - the rule, domain of Satan, who as the “god of this world” endeavors diligently to blind unbelieving minds to the gospel of the glorious Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). To this world we cannot be friends, nor can we love (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15), for in this realm Satan would draw humanity away from God through the temptations by lust and pride (1 John 2:16; James 1:14-15).
Jesus overcame the world, giving courage to believers so we can overcome too (John 16:33). He is the Example for us to follow, who committed Himself to pleasing the heavenly Father and suffered for the sake of righteousness to the point of death by crucifixion (1 Peter 2:21-24). So how can we overcome the world?
First, our hearts must be “honest and good,” so that when we hear God’s word, we are receptive to it, leading to fruitful obedience (Luke 8:15). Such a heart has a will (determination) to learn what God’s truth is and to do it (John 7:17). In the context of describing false teachers, John calls this attitude the “spirit of truth” which stands in opposition to the “spirit of error” (1 John 4:4-6). The spirit of error is antagonistic to God’s truth, desiring rather to conform to the true object of its love the world: “They are of the world, therefore speak they as of the world, and the world heareth them” (v. 6). It is the heart which loves sin but hates God’s truth (John 3:19-20; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Second, our faith in God must be maintained (1 John 5:4). True, saving faith is trusting in God above all else. It begins in its initial conception in hearing God’s powerful, faith-generating word (Romans 10:17), which obeys the commands of Christ for forgiveness (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-4). Then, it mst continue as the guiding force of one’s life; we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). The present active tense, used in 1 John 5:3-4 emphasizes this truth - we “keep” (continue to keep) his commandments .... those begotten of God “overcometh” (continually overcome) by their faith. That’s patience/steadfastness as taught in Scripture. By his faith, Paul concluded his life with the assurance that he had “fought the good fight .... finished the course .... kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Third, there are no short-cuts in this process of spiritual growth. Overcoming the world isn’t dependent on ideal circumstance, nor man’s approval; to the contrary, it often puts one in adverse circumstances, facing the hatred and opposition of man. Satan often tempts us to take short cuts and avoid persecution for our faith, just as he tempted the Lord to choose the way of the crown before the cross (Matthew 4:8-10). By faith, the Christian takes heart, rejoicing in the process of our spiritual growth (James 1:2-4), knowing that God is not neutral toward our struggles but is for us (Romans 8:31). We commit our lives to Him who is faithful (1 Peter 4:19). With God, we’re always on the winning side.