59. Overcomers

Meditations in 1 John : 59 : Overcomers

1 John  5:3-5    This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 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.

In the start of these verses John repeats what he’s said before and what we’ve considered before: “This is love for God: to obey his commands.”  In fact we’ve said it so many times in these studies that it almost becomes repetitious but, as we’ve said, it is vitally important. Truth is important and it is important that we face the truth about ourselves. If we say we love God, are we doing all that we find are His commands throughout the New Testament?  If there are things that we come across in the New Testament that we balk at, we must question our love for God.

Look, says John, “his commands are not burdensome”. Let’s take a random selection of verses. Are these ‘burdensome’?  Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually.” (1 Thess 5:13-17)  What is burdensome, heavy or hard about these ‘commands’?  Yes, of course we need the grace of God to live out these things but actually when we do we find it is a good life, an enjoyable life we’re living. When we find ourselves living in harmony with the instructions we find in the New Testament (or the Ten Commandments for that matter) we find we are living in peace and security and it is good.

Consider for a moment what is found so often in ‘the world’, the community of people living outside the kingdom of God, living under the dominion of Satan, see it through some of the things we’re warned against in the New Testament, for example, “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry…. anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.” (Col 3:5,8)  Which sort of community is it best to be living in, that one or one that is described as with, “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive … put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col 3:12-14) It’s pretty obvious really, isn’t it!

Now the truth is that in the background of life there is Satan and there is Sin and there are temptations to disregard all that God does, and do you own self-destructive thing. That is how ‘the world’ lives, but when we were born again, we turned our backs on all of that. I recently came across a description of what often happened in the early church in respect of baptism. It is worth recording: “Perhaps the most crucial feature of the rite, however occurred before descent into the font: at the bishop’s direction, he or she would turn to face the west (the land of evening, and so symbolically the realm of all darkness, cosmic and spiritual), submit to a rather forcibly phrased exor­cism, and then clearly renounce—indeed, revile and, quite literally, spit at—the devil and the devil’s ministers. Then he or she would turn to face the east (the land of morning and of light) to confess total faith in, and promise complete allegiance to, Christ.” That was a really vivid renouncing of the world, Satan, Sin and temptations of the world, and giving over to Christ. However we may have done it, in this way we thus ‘overcome the world’.

How have we done this? “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”  We have done this as an act of faith, and faith, we know, is built on what we have heard. Thus John goes on to say, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”   This ‘overcoming’ took place when we believed in Jesus as the Son of God who came and died for ME. When I turned my back on my old life and surrendered to God, I rejected the ways of the world that we saw earlier and opted to live under Christ’s lordship, so that the other way of life would now be my way under the guidance, direction and empowering of the Holy Spirit, and as I continue to let Him do that in and through me, so I continue to ‘overcome the world’ so that no longer the ways of the world and the direction of Satan will have a place in my life. Now, I am filled with God’s presence and filled with His love and I live out His ‘commands’ – and it’s great! Hallelujah!

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