1 John 5:4
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
I. We notice FAITH AS THE POWER FOR OVERCOMING THE WORLD.
II. FAITH IS ITSELF A VICTORY. Simple as it seems, all will bear witness it is not easy to possess this faith, and so says the direction here given. It is a victory. Our position stands like this. You have hitherto been seeking the conquest of the world directly. You have subdued your lusts by turning away from temptation, and they have smouldered in your hearts. You have kept from sin by shunning the acquaintance and occasion of open violation. Now, says Christ, instead of doing this, you must bring your heart into subjection to Me. You must overcome every feeling and thought which leads you to look away from Me, and you must believe in Me. Again, your course is not to come to open contest with the world. You are not to go into danger so that you may prove your strength. But you are to wage war on a smaller ground. You are to contend with your own hearts, as they would lead you not to trust on that which you cannot see, or on that which you cannot perfectly understand, until you have that childlike confidence, that trust on Christ which shall enable you to make your cause the cause of Jesus. This is the victory of faith. That the possession of this faith is a victory I purpose now to show. It is a victory over self-assertion. Self is to us naturally the wisest, the most important of all beings. Our own opinions are always the best, our own interests always those which we most keenly look after. Hence, on the one hand, we oppose the entrance of Christ into our hearts, because we love self, We form our own opinions and we act upon them; but when Christ takes possession we are no longer self-assertive on this matter. Thus the belief that saves is a victory over what I have called our self-assertion. Another form in which self appears is self-interest. We refuse to hear and to receive because it is against our supposed interests to do so. We shall suffer some trouble, or lose some preferment. Full of self; how, then, can Christ find admittance? Dagon must fall before the ark of God: how much more must self before the Son of God! It is not only so, but self will fight for sole possession. Shall I mortify myself, inflict injury on myself? So we reason, and so we oftentimes drive Christ away. This must all be subdued before faith comes. To obtain an entrance into so well-protected a city, demanding forces of such power and nature may well be called a victory. But it is also a victory over the natural unbelief of the heart. There is a difficulty in receiving spiritual things. The natural man is of the earth, earthy. It is as though the choicest music were played to charm the deaf, or the utmost skill exerted to please the blind by the combination of colour. Thus it is that men oppose reason and faith, as though the man who had reason could not have faith. This unbelief must go before a man can receive Christ. All this pride of intellect, all this self-conceit of wisdom, must give place to the higher and nobler attribute of faith. But you must see that it is a victory not won by man alone. Yes, men may believe; but it is when evidence convinces. The Spirit of God must arouse the dormant soul.
III. THE WORLD IS SUBJECTED, OR OVERCOME, BY THIS VICTORY. It is overcome to us each as we have this faith in our Lord.
1. The strength of the world over us lies in the undue value which we set on sensuous things. Faith overcomes the world by opening up issues and pressing claims which men do not feel without it.
2. This world has power over us because we feel so dependent on it. When a man is called on to leave father and mother, all the attractions, the joys, and the comforts of home are a constraining influence to keep him from the sacrifice. Ah! but faith gives the man something higher to possess. He is provided for. This is the support of faith, and the world is overcome.
3. Other similar reasons could be given for the victory over the world, all of them fixed, centred in the person of Jesus Christ. Take Christ away, and there is no ground for faith; but while Christ lives and is set forth before men, so long faith can keep her hold, and overcome the world. The soul makes Christ's work its own; and as He overcame, so also shall all the faithful.
(H. W. Butcher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.