By John Phillips
Friday, September 01, 2006
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. 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?
First, victory is expected: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world"(5:4a). The unsaved person feels at home in the world. Unbelievers were born into it, and it's all that they know. It appeals to their fallen natures, offering them the kinds of things they like. The world can mask its satanic nature behind a smiling face, offering pleasure, prosperity, and power. Too, it is a total system, offering culture, religion, philosophy, art, science, organization, variety. And it can threaten, punish, persecute, oppress, and kill. It can be noble, inspiring, and attractive; or it can be base, disgusting, and cruel. But it is the world, and it is all the unsaved person has.
Those "born of God" belong to another world, for their citizenship is in heaven. They are children of God, in this world but not of this world, here as ambassadors for Christ. This world is not their home. Like the patriarch Abraham, they have caught the vision of "a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10) and have become "pilgrims and strangers" on the earth (1 Peter 2:11). God will not allow us the luxury of dual citizenship. This world murdered His Son, and God calls upon us to overcome the world regard‑less of whether it turns toward us a smiling face or a scowling face. We are to recognize the world for what it is an enemy, a system energized by Satan and gratifying to the flesh.
Victory over the world is not only expected of us, it is explained to us: "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God" (5:46‑5). Faith. That is the key, faith focused on none other than the Son of God, who so gloriously overcame the world.
Hebrews 11 is the great New Testament chapter on faith that overcomes. It begins with Abel, who overcame the pride of this world. His altar stands in sharp contrast with Cain's, on which was lavished all that hard work and love of beautycould devise. Abel's altar, by contrast, reeked with the blood of the slain Iamb. Abel poured contempt on all his pride and looked away to Calvary.
Enoch overcame the progress of this world. Stricken Cain, far from daunted by the brand on his brow, founded a glamorous civilization with a strong emphasis on science, art, and commerce. Enoch, by contrast, walked with God, resolutely turning his back on the advancements of a glittering society and a dynamic civilization. Thus, Enoch's daily quiet times with the Son of God made him one who overcomes and a candidate for rapture.