In Jesus we overcome the world

by Dr. Samuel Lee   02/27/2000     0 reads


1 John 5:1-21

Key Verse: 5:5

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”


1.  Read verse 1. What does it mean to believe that Jesus is the

  Christ? What is God's promise? What does it mean to be born of


2.  Read verses 2-5. How do we show love for God? How can we love God's

  children? (2Co 5:14) Why are God's commands not burdensome? Why

  must we be thankful to God? (Ro 1:21-31)

3.  Who is it that overcomes the world? (5; Jn 16:33; 2Ti 4:7,8a) How?

  (4,5) How does believing that Jesus is the Son of God give us

  victory? Why is faith in Jesus the only way to overcome the world?

  (Jn 14:6)

4.  Read verses 6-12. How is Jesus proved to be perfect God and perfect

  man? Why is it of eternal importance to believe in the Son of God?

  (11,12; 2Co 5:10; Rev 21:8) What does it mean to have life? (Jn


5.  Read verses 13-15. Why can we approach God confidently? (13; Ro

  5:1,2; Mk 11:24) What does it mean to you that he hears us? What

  else can we learn here about prayer?

6.  Read verses 16-21. How must we help our brothers? Why must we not

  continue to sin? What kind of world do we live in? How can we

  escape from the one who is a liar and a murderer? (Jn 8:44) Why

  does John warn about idols?



1 John 5:1-21

Key Verse: 5:5

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

In 1 John 5, St. John teaches us how to overcome the world. Those who

live with a sense of defeatism are most sorrowful, whether they are

noble or ordinary. Surely, in Jesus we must overcome the world. May God

bless us to learn how to overcome the world. In actuality, 1 John 5 is  

the conclusion and summary of the Epistle of 1 John. It is good to

review the contents. May God richly bless you and help you remember all

the life-giving words from this chapter.

First, in the name of Jesus, we overcome the world (1).

Look at verse 1. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is

born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as

well." This verse says that everyone who believes that Jesus is the

Christ is a child of God or born of God. To believe that Jesus is the

Son of God is to believe that God sent his one and only Son Jesus

Christ to this world and made him humble as a servant. While on earth,

the Son preached the good news of salvation and healed the sick.

Finally, he became the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world,

shedding his blood on the cross. Because we believe that Jesus is the

Son of God, we love God more than silver or gold. And we love the

children of God dearly, so dearly. God might have chosen someone else

if he could.  But all human beings are sin-stained. God could not but

choose his one and only Son, who is sinless, as the atoning sacrifice.

Those who realize this love of God are children of God. Here we learn

that true victory does not belong to man's physical body. True victory

belongs to our souls.

As we studied, "born of God," has deep meaning in it. Those born of

God are children of God. Those who are not born of God are children of

the devil. We need Jesus because of the devil. The devil's main work is

to plant the diseases of doubt in the hearts of ordinary people and

make everybody sick with sin, and suffer. The devils were originally

God's right-hand men. But they became proud and the adversaries of God.

Jude verse 6 says, "And the angels who did not keep their positions of

authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness,

bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day." When they

rebelled against God, they became like horrible animals. Revelation

12:3 symbolizes the devil. It says, "Then another sign appeared in

heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven

crowns on his heads." The devil wants to make as many men as possible

brutal animals. Praise and thank God that we are children of God

through our Lord Jesus Christ. He became the atoning sacrifice who shed

his blood to take away our sins and all our iniquities and

transgressions. God is our Father, and we are his beloved children. We

also love God's children.

By believing that Jesus is the Son of God, there are two persons who

said, "I have overcome the world." One is Jesus. In order to become the

atoning sacrifice on the cross, shedding his blood, Jesus had to go

through much suffering and the crucifixion. But Jesus encouraged his

disciples, saying, "I have overcome the world." John 16:33 says, "I

have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this

world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the

world." The other is St. Paul. St. Paul was very old. He poured out his

life as a drink offering. But he did not say, "I am tired and

sorrowful." Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7-8a, "I have fought the good

fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in

store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous

Judge, will award to me on that day...." Here, Paul's testimony is his

confidence that he has won victory over the world; he is about to pass

away, and at the same time, he is standing to be crowned with the crown

of righteousness. This story sounds very common to us. But it is not

common at all. It may be the unique testimony of victory in Jesus. In

Jesus, Paul was the one who overcame the world.

Second, the secret of overcoming the world (2-5).

First of all, in order to be the children of God, we must know how

to thank God (Ro 1:21). That's the evidence that we are born of God. In

the world, the most difficult thing is to thank God or to thank one's

wife or parents. Many people want God's blessing. They live according

to God's promises. God blesses them. Then they forget God's grace

completely. They become their own man. But the most important thing is

that we should not forget to thank God in all circumstances. One time,

St. Paul went to Philippi and preached the gospel of salvation. Many

were converted. Among them, a fortune-teller was also converted. The

owner felt he could not make money through the fortune-teller anymore.

He put Paul and Silas in prison. After being beaten much and put in

prison, humanly speaking, Paul and Silas could not thank God. But Acts

16:25 says, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing

hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." This

verse tells us that Paul and Silas were full of thanks, suffering for

the sake of Jesus' name. But since Adam's fall, sin came into mankind.

Sin makes man unthankful. When we study Romans chapter 1, the root

cause of all human problems is people's unthankful mind and not

recognizing God as God. If we do not thank God, we become unthankful

people. Unthankful people become all kinds of evil people (Ro


The love of God overflows in the hearts of the children of God. With

the love of God, we care for the children of God, for the love of

Christ compels us (2Co 5:14), not because we have leisure time, but

because we are compelled by the love of God to take care of God's flock

of sheep. There is a woman who married a very handsome young man, who

is a cellist. She began to study the Bible from her high school days.

She lived a life of giving thanks.  Her motto was, "Thank you, thank

you, hee, hee." Out of her thanks for God's saving grace, she began to

study the Bible diligently and regularly. She has also fed many sheep

sacrificially. So she is now fruitful and blessed with two mothers of

prayer and an only son. There is a woman who majored in accounting.

Because of her accounting background, she calculated and measured time

and money. She looked like a typical worldly person. She was so pretty

and she was a cutie-size and her nose was waving in the air. But since

she realized the love of God through Jesus, she became a completely

different person. In the past, she studied only for herself. But after

Jesus came into her heart, she thanked God always (1Th 5:16-18). She

was also mindful of her classmates, especially Missionary Joseph Ahn's

accounting study.  Moreover, she married a man of God, so she could

have forgotten about God.  But never! She didn't forget the love of

God. She is full of thanks. She cares for her sheep like her children.

There is a high school teacher in Milwaukee.  He quit his high school

teacher's job and is living a poor life and dedicates himself, together

with his wife, for Milwaukee campus evangelism. In this insecure

American situation, to give up his high school teacher's job and to

trust in God's help and guidance for the future is remarkable. We can

say that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

We are living in a capitalistic structure or an imperialistic

society.  Therefore, to love others through one-to-one Bible teaching

seems to be impossible. But St. John says it is not burdensome when we

have the love of God in our hearts. Look at verse 3. "This is love for

God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome...."

These days people are indifferent and selfish and clever in pragmatic

intrigues for selfish benefit.  How can we give our time, which is life

itself? We can give our time for others because we are born of God and

we are children of God. And we keep his command because we love God.

Third, losers, to be condemned.

We know that even in the 100 meter track race there is a victor and

a loser. We also know there is an ultimate final victor and loser of

life. It is a solemn fact that God has given each person one life. In

retrospect, history tells us that all the conquerors and worldly heroes

won the battles or wars of the world, but they all died in the deep

realization of their defeats in their lives in the world. When we think

about world famous conquerors, we naturally remember Julius Caesar. He

thought he conquered his part of the world. But he was stabbed in the

back by Brutus. Then Caesar said, "You, too, Brutus!" It meant, "You

defeated me, my most loyal subject." Joseph Stalin, even though he is

named after New Testament Joseph, did not believe that Jesus is the Son

of God. He colonized 16 neighbor countries and made them speak only

Russian. Only five million Jews were forbidden to learn Russian to

isolate them. In spite of his achievements and power, they say that he

suffered from "Hitler phobia," thinking that Hitler was the

contemporary Napoleon Bonaparte.  Stalin and lived in an underground

tunnel for 30 years and died soon after World War II. Mark Twain was a

writer so popular that elementary school kids wanted to be writers like

Mark Twain, not president. But he died after saying the most sorrowful

words, "It might have been." It means, "If I live one more time, I

would live a better life." Many tried to find one who said, "I have

overcome the world," or "The crown of righteousness is before me." But

they all died in defeat or defeatism.

Many people try to achieve something, looking for a shortcut for

their success and wealth. Some people try hard to maintain their world

boxing titles. Usually world-class boxing champions get up at 3:00

a.m., jog 10 miles, take a one-hour rest, and then go to a boxing

training camp. There was a boxing champion named Julio Caesar Chavez.

He had 85 knockouts out of 99 victories. But he was knocked out by a

man ten years younger than himself, who had worshiped Julio Chavez as

his own hero. Chavez got a left hook and his eye was cut and heavily

bleeding. His nose was broken. Finally, the referee stopped the fight.

He lost his championship and all his fame as a hero of the Mexicans. I

heard that one senior shepherd cried at his defeat. In this world,

there is no permanent victory. One man, without studying in grade

school, became the number two man in a Korean bank. He was very

arrogant and proud of himself that he was a man of achievement and a

victor in the world. But he retired from the bank at age 52. After

using all the money he earned during one year, he died of a stroke

caused by his anxiety. He thought he defeated the world. But he was

nothing but a loser. It is because he did not believe that Jesus is the

Son of God.

We know Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), who wrote "War and Peace," "Anna

Karenina," and "Resurrection." He is indeed the outstanding genius in

literature. Ordinary men don't even understand their wife's character.

A brilliant young man who is handsome does not know the beauty of a

woman. He evaluated Maria in "The Sound of Music," a woman of charm and

beauty, as a selfish woman.  But in his novel, "War and Peace," Tolstoy

described 383 different people's characters so precisely. We can say he

is 383 times more a man of insight than ordinary people. Many a person

does not even know what kind of person he himself is. Tolstoy became a

Christian of his own kind.  He wrote many beautiful novels. He had a

sense of God's majesty in his religiosity and enhanced the moral

standard of chaotic Russian people based on the Sermon on the Mount.

But he felt superior. Then he became proud.  Finally, he did not

believe that Jesus is the Son of God. As a result, he could not accept

God's gift, Jesus Christ, and eternal life through his Son and the

kingdom of God as his inheritance. So he could not thank God at his

death.  Contrary to his writing, he is known as the one who died with

the most tragic hallucination.

Look at verse 5. "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who

believes that Jesus is the Son of God." A true victor is only he who

believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Why is it so? In history, there

were many people who perceived that there is a spiritual world and God

Almighty. But because they did not know Jesus, they made all kinds of

idols and worshiped them.  In history, the number of idols made by men

is in the multi-billions. As we know well, there are two world

currents. One is Hellenism, which is humanism.  The other is Hebraism,

which claims theism. Since Hellenistic people do not believe in God,

but are only humanistic and mainly interested in sports or Olympic

Games, they should not have idols. But all the stories of myth

(mythology) and terrible names of idols came from Greece, the origin of

Hellenism.  Greek myths are too eerie to read. When Paul went to

Athens, he found the city of Athens was filled with idols, all kinds of

idols. Each had its own kind of name. There were innumerable nameless

idols, too (Ac 17:23). Since the world was made, mankind lived on earth

seeking God the Almighty as if they were looking for a mom to help


True victors are those who overcome the world by believing that

Jesus is the Son of God, not idols. It is because God sent his one and

only Son to this world and made him an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

As a result, he rescued us from the power of darkness and Satan and

brought us into the marvelous light of Jesus who teaches us the way and

the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). Jesus is God. Jesus is the Almighty

Creator God. But he came to this world and humbled himself to the state

of being a servant and served us sinners by becoming the atoning

sacrifice. Jesus is the God whom many ancient people were looking for.

The three Magi from the east are representatives of all those who did

not know the name of Jesus (Mt 2:1,2).  Those who believe in Jesus have

true victories in their lives and they are those who overcome the

world. They are those who are prepared to be crowned, because they

believed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Fourth, Jesus gives eternal life (6-12).

Look at verse 6. "This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus

Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it

is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth." This is

the point St. John argues with Gnostics. As we studied, Gnostics, by

the influence of Plato, claimed that matter is evil and spirit is good.

Plato did not say matter is evil and spirit is good. He said, "Matter

is evil and idea is good." He thought "Idea" is "Logos," which is

unknown Supreme Being. When Plato said "Idea" it did not mean that it

was the idea about a Big Mac. He speculated about Logos or "invincible,

supreme good." Anyway, he realized that the world was composed of the

terrestrial and the celestial. These Gnostics claimed that Jesus could

not be a man, and that Jesus could not be the atoning sacrifice. For if

Jesus took a human form and died on the cross as the atoning sacrifice,

he could not be God; rather, he must be evil, and a phantom figure.

Look at verses 8-9. "...the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the

three are in agreement. We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony

is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about

his Son." Here St. John claims that Jesus is the Son of God, and that

he is the perfect God and the perfect man. God gave his one and only

Son as the atoning sacrifice for all men's sins. Nobody gives his one

and only Son as the atoning sacrifice.  I heard that one senior

shepherd cried when his grandson was going back to his daddy's house.

In short, the fact that God gave his one and only Son as an atoning

sacrifice is not a philosophical argument, it is the love of God. God

himself is the one who testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. Here

"testimony" means words, and it was the word of God which promised,

prophesied and was fulfilled through his Son Jesus Christ when he sent

his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Those

Gnostics did not believe God's word, the testimony of God. They were

like Jean Jacques Rousseau, who wrote  mile (Education) and became

world famous, but abandoned his five illegitimate children and sent

them to orphanages one by one (10b).

Why is it so important that we believe Jesus is the Son of God? Look

at verses 11-12. "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal

life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who

does not have the Son of God does not have life." It is important to

believe that Jesus is the Son of God, because only through the Son we

have eternal life. Men are like grass and all their glory is like the

flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the

word of the Lord stands forever (1Pe 1:24,25).

Many think that death is the end of everything. So they say, "Let us

eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1Cor 15:32b). Some people think

that eternal life is only the matter after death. But this is not true.

Eternal life starts at present. John 5:24 says, "I tell you the truth,

whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and

will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." This

verse explains that when we received eternal life through his Son Jesus

Christ, we crossed over from death to life and it is the past event. We

have eternal life at the present. Eternal life starts the moment we

accept Jesus as our personal Savior. The Spirit of Jesus gives us new

life every day. The Spirit of Jesus gives us a new day and a new wife,

even though she is the same wife. For those who have eternal life,

everything is new every day. Those who have eternal life can see the

kingdom of God and can enter the kingdom of God. Ordinary people's

agony is what will be the reward of their lifetime work. Those who do

not believe in Jesus have no reward. They must stand at the judgment

seat of God to be condemned. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "'For we must all

appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive

what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or

bad." After judgment, they are put into eternal punishment (Rev 21:8).

In this world, the most foolish thing is being unthankful to God in

spite of the fact that God gave his Son as the atoning sacrifice so

that those who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Fifth, we can talk to Jesus about everything in our hearts (13-21).

In the past, we were all like Cain, who was greatly distressed to be

around God, even if he had to bear the sense of punishment and guilt

and wander around the world without any meaning of life. But through

Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice, we have access to God (Ro 5:2). We

can freely approach God. We can ask anything in Jesus' name (Mk 11:24).

Then he hears us. And we can have great confidence that he will guide

us and lead us and be with us as long as we are in this world as

pilgrims. Look at verses 14-15. "This is the confidence we have in

approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he

hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know

that we have what we asked of him." How wonderful it is that our

Shepherd Jesus is our best friend to whom we can tell everything.

Otherwise, it is impossible for us to tell everything in our hearts and

we would die sorrowfully.

There are two kinds of sins (16). One is unforgivable. The other is

forgivable. All other sins are forgivable, but those who deny that

Jesus is the Son of God are unforgivable, because they are born of the

devil. In other words, those who believe Jesus in their minds only, and

do not practice anything, are all unforgivable sinners. Those who are

born of God do not continue to sin, and they also keep themselves safe

from evil and harm because God gives them understanding (18-20).

Look at verse 21. As his final words, St. John says, "Dear children,

keep yourselves from idols." Here, those who do not believe that Jesus

is the Son of God are all idol-worshipers. There is no "my own man" in

the kingdom of God. They are all precious children of God. Here we

learn that Gnostics are liars, and contemporary intellectual hedonists.

John 8:44 tells us that the devil is a liar from the beginning, and

liars are murderers.

Let's believe that Jesus is the perfect God and perfect man and that

he is the Son of God. In him we have eternal life and the crown of

righteousness.  May God bless you to stand before the Son of God to be

crowned gloriously as victors.