Today, we’re taking a look at 1 John 5:1-5 and what John has to say about what loving the Father has to do with overcoming the world.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. (Verse 1-2, NIV)
I’m a mother of 3, and for me, pregnancy was a time of great anticipation. I loved the child within my womb and those who loved me and my husband also loved our child who hadn’t even been born yet. Their love for our child was solidified by their love for us. Similarly, I have dear friends who live far away from me and though we don’t see each other often, we remain close. Two of these friends have recently had children, and even though I’ve never laid eyes or hands on these babies, I know I love them. I love their parents. It goes without question that I love their children as well.
In the same way, but on a much grander scale, we put our faith in Jesus into practice because of the love we have for the Father (a love we have only because He first loved us, as we read about previously in 1 John 4:19.) The Father loves us, so we love His Son. Because we love the Son, we also love those whom belong to the Son. We show our love to the Father, the Son, and all the children of God by our obedient love in action, by doing that which He asks of us because He knows it is best for us.
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…(Verse 3, NIV)
Commands are not burdensome, and yet, anyone who has ever perused the commandments can tell you they aren’t as easy to keep as we’d like them to be. How, then, is this not burdensome? The answer is that the Lord never asks us to perform in our own strength or to obey dry and brittle rules apart from our living, thriving faith. He has given us the Holy Spirit to lift the burden and allow us to put our faith in action through obedience to His word. It is not easy, but obedience is never burdensome, so long as we act under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (Verse 4-5, NIV)
These verses tell us “everyone born of God overcomes the world.” How? How do we overcome the world when its shiny distractions are gravitational for our attention, our money, our time, our love, our affection, our devotion, and our very soul? To overcome the world is to redefine everything in light of the cross. It means to live wholly set apart from what the world says we should need and want.
What we have to remember is that a faithful life doesn’t look like a successful life according to the standards of the world but according to the standards of the Word. Overcoming the world means living backward in many ways – radically different financial, relational, and motivational priorities than those of our worldly neighbors, serving God and all His children in love while basking in the victory and freedom that can only be found through faithful obedience.
It means taking a hard look at our lives and considering what aspects of it have conformed to worldly standards, then obliterating our dependence on anything but God. The Word says “everyone born of God overcomes,” but in the very next verse that “only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” can overcome the world. It is all-inclusive and vitally exclusive at the same time, because being born of God is a birth of obedient faith, and we cannot have victory from the world until we are freed from its grip, a freedom only found through active faith in Christ. It is a faith available to everyone, but only those who accept it and allow for their own rebirth can experience the power necessary to overcome the world.
Are you born of God? Do your actions and priorities show it? Have you harnessed the power of dependence on the Holy Spirit to redefine your life and have victory over the world, or are the attractions of this fleeting society holding you back from the freedom of true rebirth?