************ Sermon on 1 John 5:1-5 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on March 29, 2020

1 John 5:1-5

"We are in a war. That's what we face today. We will overcome the coronavirus. We are the greatest nation on earth and our technology and our know-how and our entrepreneurs will find a way." This is what I am hearing on the TV. I am sure you have heard versions of this.

In the history of our country so much has been overcome. We have overcome the scourge of slavery. We have endured and overcome the evil of Hitler and his Nazis. We have overcome communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. We have made war on poverty. We have made war on racism and discrimination. We have overcome those who hate us, our freedoms, our land. Americans are overcomers.

But now let me tell you about another group of overcomers, a more important group of overcomers. Six times in his first letter, John describes Christians as overcomers -- three times in our Bible reading this morning. What are Christians? Christians are overcomers.

I Christians are Overcomers
A When we think of the titles the New Testament uses to describe us, I suspect "overcomer" is nowhere near the top of the list. Instead, we think of titles like brothers and sisters, sheep, fellow-citizens, elect, believers, saints, soldiers, witnesses, chosen, ambassadors of Christ, dear friends, and so on. But Christians are also called overcomers.

B I would like to ask the girls and boys to join me here on the steps. Let's pretend you are all here with me. I just said Christians are overcomers. What does this mean?

See what I am holding? I am holding a pair of Nike shoes. The Nike company wants us to believe that if wear their shoes we can run faster, jump further, jump higher, and win. If you wear Nike shoes you are going to be a champion!

Guess what is the Greek word for overcomer? Nike (Nikaƍ). Christians are overcomers. They overcome, they win, they are victorious, they are champions -- like Nike.

I don't know how many of you girls and boys wear Nike shoes. But I want you to say something as you put on your running shoes every morning. Repeat after me: "I am an overcomer." Did you say that? Say it again: "I am an overcomer." Girls and boys, in Jesus Christ you are a winner. You are victorious. You are a champion. Girls and boys, in Jesus Christ it is like you all wear Nike shoes.

Now, why am I telling you this? Because there is a lot of scary stuff going on right now. That's why we don't meet in our church building. That's why schools have been closed down. That's why people wear masks over their mouth and nose. That's why the President is on the TV every single day. But we don't have to be scared because we are overcomers. We don't have to be scared because it is like we are all wearing Nike shoes. PRAY FOR THE GIRLS AND BOYS ...

C The Greeks loved the word Nike. They actually had a goddess by the name of Nike -- the goddess of victory, the goddess of triumph. The Greeks wanted to be overcomers, winners, victors, champions -- like Nike their goddess. Christians also want to be overcomers, winners, victors, champions -- like Jesus. Did you know Jesus used the word for Himself? Jesus says,
(Jn 16:33) In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus is an overcomer. He is a winner. He is victorious. He is the champion. And, and, we are champions in and with Christ. Listen to Romans 8:37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Actually, we are not just conquerors. Paul says we are super-conquerors in Christ. We are ultimate conquerors in Christ. We are super-duper conquerors in Christ. We are invincible in Christ. We are overcomers.

Meaning what? How? In what way? We are overcomers, winners, victors, champions so that
(Rom 8:38-39) ... neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Christ there is nothing that can conquer us: not trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword (Rom 8:35).

A returning admiral reported to the navy his great victory over an enemy. "Victory," he said, "is not a large enough word to describe what took place." We can and should say the same thing about our victory in Christ: "Victory is not a large enough word to describe what took place at the cross and the grave." We aren't just overcomers; we are super-overcomers. We aren't just winners; we are super-winners. We aren't just victors; we are super-victors. We aren't just champions; we are super-champions. It is like we all wear Nike on our feet.

D We are overcomers in Christ and through faith. Look at verses 4 & 5. John mention we are overcomers because of our faith. John mentions we are overcomers because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. If you don't have faith, you are overcome. If you don't have faith, then anything and everything can separate you from the love of God. If you don't have faith, you can be conquered by your fears, hardship, trouble, persecution, famine, danger, illness.

My brothers and sisters, in Christ and through faith we are overcomers, winners, victors, champions. In Christ and through faith it is like we wear Nike on our feet.

II What We Overcome
A We are overcomers, winners, victors, champions. What do Christians overcome? Who do Christians overcome? Who or what are the losers? Over who or what are we victorious?

Because of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, overcomers are victorious over the devil, over Satan, over the evil one. Listen to how John puts this back in chapter 2:
(1 Jn 2:13-14) ... I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one ... the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

John gives us a couple of pictures of what our victory over Satan looks like in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 12 we see that the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray, was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Listen to what is said about Christians:
(Rev 12:11) They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
A couple of chapters later they are described this way:
(Rev 15:2-3) And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God (3) and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages."
In Christ, Christians are overcomers. Christian are victorious over the devil.

B Because of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, overcomers are victorious over death. No passage declares this victory as powerfully as Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:
(1 Cor 15:54-55) "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (55) "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

Do you want to see what this victory looks like? Look at Lazarus. Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" (Jn 11:43). The dead man came out of the tomb, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. "Lazarus, come out!" Jesus had to say his name. Jesus had to say it because if He didn't, every single body in that graveyard would have come to life. Then Jesus said, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." He didn't need burial clothes anymore because he wasn't dead; he didn't need burial clothes anymore because he was alive.

Do you remember what happened the moment Jesus died and gave up His spirit? Tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. Holy people. Believers. Saints. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people (Mt 27:52-53).

In Christ, overcomers are victorious over death and the grave.

C Because of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, overcomers are victorious over the law. This might sound strange to you but think about this. Think about it. What does the law demand? Punishment. Eternal punishment. Punishment in the fires of hell for everyone who disobeys, for everyone who breaks even the smallest law, for everyone who fails to keep even a jot or tittle of the law. The law sentences us to damnation for our sins because we break it. But in Christ we are triumphant over the law and its punishment (cf 1 Cor 15:56).

D In our Bible reading, did you notice what John says we have overcome? He says we have "overcome the world." He says it three times (1 Jn 5:4-5).

Because of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, overcomers are triumphant over the world. World does not mean planet earth, the globe hanging in space. World does not mean human politics, education, culture, civilization, society. By world, John means the spiritual system of evil that is opposed to God, hates God, and is ruled by Satan as the prince of the power of the air. This system makes use of man's ambition, pride, greed, selfishness, lust, and evil desires.

Let me remind you of the warning John gives us about the world back in chapter 2.
(1 Jn 2:15) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
If you love the world, if you are attracted to the world, if you have not overcome the world, the love of the Father is not in you.
(1 Jn 2:16-17) For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. (17) The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
In Christ we have overcome the world. It no longer overwhelms us. It no longer attracts us. Instead, what draws us and attracts us is the Holy Spirit. What draws us and attracts us is the love of Christ. What draws us and attracts us is the kingdom and its righteousness. The result? "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you" (1 Jn 3:13). You are so different from the world, so much not a part of the world, that you have become an enemy of the world. It is clear you do not love the world, that you are an alien and stranger, so the world hates you.

E Because of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, overcomers are triumphant over false prophets, false teachers, and their lies. Remember the warning of 1 John 4:1:
(1 Jn 4:1) Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
And, then, these words of hope and comfort in 1 John 4:4:
(1 Jn 4:4) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Do you hear that? Because of Christ and His Spirit we have overcome the false prophets and lying spirits. Meaning what? Meaning we don't listen to their lies. Meaning we aren't deceived by their lies. Meaning we know JWs and Mormons are wrong. Meaning we don't fall for the false gospel of Joel Osteen. Meaning we don't believe the "name it and claim it" gospel of prosperity preachers. Meaning we realize something is seriously wrong with Sarah Young's book "Jesus Calling."

Dear overcomers -- can I call you that? -- dear overcomers, in Christ we have overcome so much. We have overcome the devil. We have overcome death. We have overcome the law. We have overcome the world. We have overcome false prophets. We have overcome. We wear Nike on our feet.

This doesn't mean we don't fall along the way. We may fall into the entrapments of the devil. We may not put to death our earthly nature. We may languish under the guilt and punishment of the law. We may fall for the enticements of the world. We may listen for a while to false teachers and false prophets.

We may stumble and fall and fail but we are still overcomers. Do you know why? "Because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 Jn 4:4). This is one of the great statements of the Bible. "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." He picks us up and forgives us and sends us into the battle line again.

We are overcomers. We wear Nike. Not barely. Not a fragile victory. Not a come-from-behind victory. Not a one point victory in overtime at the buzzer. We are overcomers. We are super-conquerors. We are the reigning champions.

And, let me add, we are permanently triumphant, permanently conquerors, permanently victorious, permanently overcomers. Our victory in Christ can never be taken away from us. The victory is ours and we are the champions.
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