1 John: Overcoming the world 11/15/2020

Message Title: ‘Overcoming the world’                                Text: 1 John 5:1-10

Introduction: Kathy and I have been doing a lot of work at our Toms River house with partial to full demos of most rooms. Of course the idea is not to leave it that way. So, we’re also in the process of renovating what we’ve been demoing. That means:

  • New plumbing, electrical, and flooring.
  • It means removing old metal siding and replacing it with vinyl.
  • It’s removing and replacing a lot of soft spots in our subfloor before the flooring can be installed.
  • It’s removing a 4×4 feet area of mortar that was stuck to a concrete floor.
  • It’s building a new closet with a door in the kitchen.
  • And so many more things that would take too much of this message to mention.

Here’s my point, and it’s not that I’m in over my head on this house reno…  My point is… I would not be able to do any of that w/o help:

  • 1st, Kathy has construction skills, thanks dear.
  • Youtube has been a great source of ‘how to’s’
  • The advice of friends, like Walt Reed, who’ve been through some of what we’re doing.
  • And of course, the right tools.

I’ve taken a lot of my power and hand tools down to the house to use on the projects. But… I don’t have what I need to get it all done. So, Home Depot has become my new best friend:

  • 7 new Ryobi cordless power tools, making my total 12, I think.
  • New metal saw horses, a laser level, a stud finder, various drill bits, saw blades and many other job specific tools…
  • I even borrowed a powered tile saw from Brian McGowan… and a vinyl plank flooring cutter from Jason Evans. Brian and Jay, thanks they worked great.

Overcoming the mountain of work at the house requires having the right tools. And verses 1-10 of 1st John will tell us the tools we’ll need as followers of Jesus, to have victory over the pressure and enticement of the world around us, to not only doubt our salvation, but to walk away from Jesus.

Background: A little background. John wrote this chapter because the evil systems of the world around him in his day and us in ours, are bent on tearing down, destroying, all that is of God… including His children.

To make things even worse, life, is tough right now.

The COVID pandemic

  • Has brought a lot of fear into our lives: fear of getting sick, getting someone else sick and perhaps even dying.
  • It’s brought a lot of fear because of the restrictions of our state government. Will there be more mandatory closings… of work and schools? Will I lose my job… my apartment or house? How long is this going to go on?

The election and leading up to it:

  • I have never seen hatred, violence and the deep political divisions that have not only hurt our nation, but our relationships with our friends and even family.

This has been going on for some time and we’re just getting beat down by it, depressed, and feeling.. well, defeated. Many feel powerless to do anything about it.

But friends look, God doesn’t want us to feel that way, He doesn’t want us to get out of bed and start each day feeling defeated by the world around us.

1 John 5:1-10 gives us the tools we need to wake up each morning knowing that we can count on them to help us overcome the world around us.

Transition: So, lets open up God’s Word to 1 John 5:1, where we’ll find the first tool in our spiritual toolbox… our new birth.

  1. 1 John 5:1 New Birth

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him.

John starts off telling us that we must be ‘born again.’ Yea, I know that phrase is not very popular today. It’s seen even within some churches, as too ‘narrow,’ too ‘intolerant,’ too ‘old fashioned,’ in other words, not timely or relevant. But.. the

But, the apostle John didn’t feel that way… at all.

  • John mentions being born of God, 7 times in this letter.

Why is it so important? Because John remembered that Jesus said it to Nicodemus. Listen: Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”… Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. (John 3:1ff

Listen to how Pastor Steve Cole explains being born again: You can dress up a corpse in the finest of clothes, but it’s still a corpse. What it needs… is life.

Spiritually, before we’re born again, we’re all dead in our sin. All of the finest religious clothes (rituals) will not help that corpse. What we need is new life that only God can give.

  • We cannot acquire this new life by our own efforts. It’s not a matter of trying harder, of cleaning up your life with going to church more often, or anything else that you can do.

Rather, the initiative and the power lie with God. Jesus said “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” That was true of Jesus’ miracles of raising the physically dead back to life. But it’s also true spiritually, that the Lord Jesus gives life to whom He wishes.

That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again.

Look…I am born again. All those who place their faith in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of sin, are born again.

This is the foundation for Johns book and for my title for this sermon series… A NEW kind of life.

We are born again, born of God, sons and daughters of God.

And it’s the first tool to gain victory over the world around, us because it makes us God’s child.

  • And with God as our Father,
  • with His Spirit living inside us,
  • we have the presence and power of Almighty God fighting for us.

John takes a moment here to remind us that because we are God’s children, we will not only love God, our Father, but also love the rest of God’s children.

I believe at least one of John’s points here is that

  • By God grace, through faith in Jesus, we’re not only born again, but born of God into a new family, the family of God where love for each other is the chief characteristic and act.

Transition: The tool that powers all the other tools in our spiritual toolbox, is that we are born again by faith in Jesus. The next tool in our toolbox is obedience.

  1. 1 John 5:2-3 Obedience

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

Previously in 1 John, we found that when John uses the phrase God’s commandments, he’s referring to what Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40:

  • Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

John is saying that we have another tool in our spiritual toolbox, it’s our obedience to God’s Word.

  • Specifically to love God and to love others.

That’s the commands John mentions here. Then John says look, obeying God’s command is not a burden. The Psalmist and Moses have already told us that:

  • I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)
  • For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11, 14)

John’s telling those who are born again by faith in Jesus, we overcome the world by loving God (whom the world doesn’t love) and by loving other Believers (whom the world also doesn’t love.)

We defeat the power of the sinful world around us which wants

  • to break us apart, to make us fight amongst ourselves, to live for ourselves rather than to serve others.
  • And to love the world and what it offers, rather than to love God for Who He is.

John encourages us by saying look, our obedience to love others, to love God, becomes a blessing rather than a chore,

  • When we believe that God the Father loves us,
  • When we’re assured of all that God the Son, Jesus, has done for us,
  • And when we depend fully upon God the Spirit for His presence and power in our lives.

It’s a high view of the Godhead that compels us to not only love, but also, to obey.

Transition: Friends, we have the tool of obeying God’s Word, that we can use to overcome the world around us that seeks to exalt itself over God… and cause us to do the same.

  • The next tool in our spiritual toolbox, is faith.
  1. 1 John 5: 4-5 Faith

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

ILL: Charles Spurgeon, describing 1 John writes that it is ‘perfumed with love’. Yet, Spurgeon concedes, that when we reach chapter 5, we ‘hear a sound of war’. (Bryn Macphail)

  • Spurgeon was, of course, referencing the idea of overcoming the world.

What does it mean that we have overcome the world? Well, let me tell you what Pastor John Piper wrote. I just couldn’t put it any better than he did:

We are able to love God and love others because in the new birth we have overcome the world. This must mean that there are forces in the world that work to make us not love God and not love each other. And in the new birth these forces have been overcome.

What would those forces be? John has already addressed them in chapter 2:15-17:

  • the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride in possessions.

Simply put, we love stuff.

  • When we don’t have it, we crave it.
  • And when we do have it, we love to talk about it incessantly.

When John writes: Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. It means that new life in God through faith in Jesus severs the root of those cravings for the world.

Overcoming the world means that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions don’t rule us anymore. Their power is broken. (adapted from John Piper)

Isn’t that great? Isn’t that a blessing? Our new birth, is the tool that helps us overcome the enticements of the sinful world system around us.

Faith in Jesus,

  • who not only is God in the flesh,
  • but who has overcome the world though His sinless life and voluntary death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.

Then John adds And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.

Bryn Macphail explains it this way: Being born of God, gives us the capacity to overcome the world and all of its temptations. But, our daily victory, on a practical level, is not automatic. It requires using the tool of faith;

  • Faith, trust in God’s love for us.
  • Faith, trust in Jesus’ victory over the world.
  • Faith, trust in the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in our lives.
  • And faith, trust in God’s Word. (adapted from Bryn Macphail)

When we use our tool of faith as we face the world around us:

  • We’re saying: ‘I cannot… but You God, can’
  • We’re saying: I can do all things through Christ who give me the strength.’

When we use our tool of faith as we face the world around us, we’re saying

  • ‘God I’m trusting in Your ability to do what You have promised.’

And when we do that, we can say with the hymn writer, Faith, is, the Victory.

Transition: John leaves the strongest tool in our spiritual toolbox till the end… Jesus.

  1. 1 John 5:6-10 Jesus

This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that He has borne concerning His Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning His Son.

OK, this is confusing, am I right? Scholars see this as one of the most difficult passages in Scripture to interpret. So… I will not be looking at the trees here but the forest. And this is it:

  • What’s the big idea that John wants us to know about Jesus and how He helps us overcome the world?

I recently bought a new tool that I haven’t used yet. It’s a cordless 18-gauge brad nailer. I know I’ll be using it for putting up trim, but I’m not sure how it works. I guess I’ll have to look at the owner’s manual.

Remember John’s writing to Christians who’ve listened to false teachers say a lot of things about Jesus that weren’t true. John in verses 6-10 is telling the Christians the truth about Jesus with our owner’s manual, God’s Word.

  • He explains why Jesus can be trusted, why we can place our faith in Him.
  • He tells us that when we’re born again, born of God, we have the ‘owners manual’ inside us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. That’s the testimony part.
  • And finally he tells us that since we trust what the world says about things that are not spiritually oriented, how much more can we trust what God has said regarding His Son, Jesus.

That’s the big idea. Allow me a few moments to break that down a bit.

  • Again all of this is to confirm in our hearts that we can trust that Jesus is the one who has not only overcome the world, but who helps us to overcome it as well.

When John writes This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood.

He’s talking about two events in Jesus’ life that testified, proves He is God and that He is our Savior. That He has overcome the world.

By water: refers to Jesus’ baptism by John in the river Jordan. It’s what began Jesus’ public ministry as the Messiah.

It’s highlighted when God spoke of Jesus and said

  • This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)

By blood: refers to Jesus’ death on the cross where He ended His earthy ministry by shedding His blood to bring forgiveness for our sin. Jesus Himself said… It is finished!

John wants Christians to be assured that no matter what lies the false teachers say about Jesus,

  • He is not only God’s Son,
  • Jesus, is, God in the flesh.

And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. This is the internal evidence that Christians have by the indwelling Holy Spirit. John repeats that in verse 10 when he writes:

  • Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.

John says that those who are born again, who are born of God through faith in Jesus, already know this, they’ve already been taught this truth about Jesus.

For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. In other words, the Spirit, Jesus’s baptism and His death on the cross, all say the same thing about Jesus…

  • He is God.. incarnate, in the flesh.
  • And as God, He is more powerful than anything in the world.
  • As God, Jesus has defeated the world.

Put it all together and Jesus is the very source of any and all victories we have over the world.

  • Place your faith in the truth of who He is, and don’t be deceived by what the world says about Him.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater

  • Earlier in 1 John, we read that God is greater than our heart.
  • Then we read that God is greater than he who is in the world.
  • Here we find that God is greater than the testimony of the world.

John admits that we rightfully take some of that the world says as truth… testimony of men

  • We obey the doctor when we are sick. We listen to them and accept what they say and do whatever they tell us.

But John says the testimony of God is greater. So,

  • Since God has laid out this testimony of who Jesus is and what He came to do,
  • and since it comes from God Himself,
  • we can certainly trust God even more deeply than we do what the doctor says… after all doctors can be wrong (sorry Stan) But God is never wrong.

We overcome the world, because Jesus is God.

Conclusion: I know that without the right tools, Kathy and I will never be able to finish the work we started at our Toms River house.

John has told us this morning, that we’ll never be able to overcome the world, to have victory over the sinful enticements the world throws our way, if we fail to use the tools God has provided.

And …. It all begins with the new birth. So let me close by asking…

  • Are you a child of God through faith in Jesus?
  • Have you been born again?

How you answer will not only determine whether you’ll have victory over the sinful enticements of the world, but will determine where you spend eternity. Let’s pray.