Yesterday I had the privilege to preach the passage found in 1 John 5:1-5 in our ongoing series titled “KNOW.” John is passionate about leading people to find assurance of their faith in Christ. However, in doing so, he is likewise committed to pointing out the insufficient paths of false Christianity along the way.
Many people struggle with the assurance of their salvation. Some professing believers struggle based on doubts they have about the past while others focus on the struggles of the present. According to the New Testament—those who believe the gospel have been freed by Christ in order that they will obey Christ (John 8:36).
All people are born in bondage to sin. We are all born in the shackles of sin and the only thing that we can freely do is choose to sin. By nature, we are the children of wrath and we love to do the will of our father—the prince of this world (Ephesians 2:1-3). It’s only the gospel that breaks the chains of sin and sets us free to live a life of obedience to Christ that leads to victory over the world.
According to 1 John 5:1-5, everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. Not some of the believers or most of the believers—John builds the case that all believers overcome the world. This is the necessary line in the sand for John and he provides it as a means of testing and assurance.
The word “overcome” comes from the Greek word νικάω (nikaō) which means “Conquer, Overcome, Prevail.” The word literally has in mind the idea of winning in the face of obstacles, to be victor. From this word, we have the word NIKE. Originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), NIKE, was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. The first pair of shoes were crafted with the use of a waffle iron. Just think—a $28 billion dollar corporation with over 45,000 employees was started in a kitchen on a waffle iron – with hand made shoes.
The Greek speaking world understood the word NIKE as the name of the Greek goddess of victory. The sports apparel company seeks to connect their customers with the image of victory as they market their products with the idea that if you wear NIKE products you will become victorious. That, however, was not the intent of John in his letter. He had something far different than an athletic competition in mind. He was focused on the Christian life. John was writing his letter so that people could have assurance of their salvation in Christ (1 John 5:13). In order for believers to have assurance—they must be able to live victoriously.
The world, as mentioned by John, is a reference to the system of the world—the depraved system ruled by Satan and the demonic beings. It is impossible to live the Christian life apart from true saving faith. It would be like climbing Mt. Everest in a pair of Nike shoes and a light windbreaker. In my preaching yesterday, I made a statement that I hope lingers in the minds of people. I stated that I don’t want to present a view of Christianity that is weak, superficial, and so shallow that an unbeliever would believe they could do it in their flesh. I want Christianity to appear impossible. From being born again to living the victorious Christian life—it should seem impossible apart from true saving faith.
With that in mind, whoever lives in obedience to Christ will have a life that brings true glory to God. No person can do it on their own.