Faith is how we overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5)—but what did John mean when he wrote these words?
He didn’t mean we overcome by virtue of anything that we have done—even if we have done some good things and been used by God in some important and significant ways. God has no problem praising people for their faith (Hebrews 11 and other places) and as long as we keep it in context, we shouldn’t either. And the truth is, it’s humbling and special to recognize that we’ve been used by God or that He has helped us to accomplish something. Still, we’re not to confuse victory in one area of life or in one particular matter with overcoming the world. An honest assessment will remind us that we’re all unfinished projects and will be that way until we’re called home. So whatever is meant by overcoming the world, it’s not something that we have accomplished.
But it is something that Jesus has accomplished.
He’s the one person whose life was and is incomparable. He’s the one person who joyfully lived for God in all things and never gave in, gave up or backed down.
He is the one person who died like no one else. He was obedient to death—even death on a cross.
He is the one person for whom it was impossible for death to hold because as He told His disciples, “the prince of this world . . . has no hold on Me” (John 14:30).
John refashioned our text in 1 John 5 from something he earlier recorded in his gospel. Specifically, it is where Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
It is Jesus who has overcome the world, not us. It is Jesus whom we can put our full weight upon.
The spindly, frail, great-grandmother had flown from New York to LA to take part in a family reunion. Her two sons met her at the airport and wanted to know how her flight was. It was exhausting, she told them. We had some turbulence following takeoff and I couldn’t put my weight down the whole flight.
There are too many disciples who haven’t learned how to put their weight down on Jesus. They’re trying to put it down on their church, their family, their spouse—on something other than Jesus. And like trying to sit in a rickety chair, the results are predictable. It’s only when we put on full weight down on Him that we experience His peace. He is how we overcome the world.