************ Sermon on 1 John 5:1-5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 19, 2021
1 John 5:1-5
In Christ, Christians are overcomers. Which means we are winners, victors, champions.
Remember the Greek word for "overcomer"? The word is "nike." The Nike shoe company wants you to believe you are an overcomer if you wear their shoes. They tell us if you wear Nikes you can run faster, jump further, jump higher. After my first sermon on overcomers, one dear lady said she wanted to be buried in her Nikes -- signifying that she is an overcomer. I'm not sure if her husband agrees she should be wearing those shoes in the casket. And, I hope it doesn't happen for a long time.
Remember, also, what overcomers overcome? We overcome the devil. We overcome death. We overcome the judgment of the Law. We overcome the sinful world -- its lures and attractions. We overcome false prophets, false teachers, and their lies. Not on our own. Never on our own. But only because we are in Christ. In Christ, we are overcomers.
We continue our study of 1 John 5 by looking at three characteristics of overcomers. How do you know you are an overcomer? Overcomers have faith. Overcomers have love. Overcomers are obedient.
I Overcomers have Faith
A Overcomers are characterized by faith. John says this three times in our short Bible reading:
(1 Jn 5:1) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God ...Overcomers have faith. That's our first point.
(1 Jn 5:4) This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
(1 Jn 5:5) Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Where does that faith come from? Listen to how John answers this in verse 1: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God ..." A literal translation of the Greek: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ out of God has been born." The emphasis here is that overcomers are "out of God." Born of God. Begotten of God. This is true of every overcomer: they are born of God. Overcomers are born of God. That's the reason they are over-comers. They are born of God. They have been given new life by God. They have been begotten of God. They have the life of God. Which means they have faith. So, I want you to see faith starts with God. Faith doesn't start with you. Faith doesn't come from you. Faith starts with God.
What about those who aren't born of God? If you haven't been born of God, if you haven't been given the life of God, you don't have faith, and you are not an overcomer. You are still under the power of Satan, under the power of death, under the judgment of the Law, under the power of the world, under the influence of false teachers.
B Overcomers have faith. Overcomers believe in Jesus. More specifically, John says overcomers believe Jesus is the Christ. Which means overcomers believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One. This, of course, is only a summary statement. We can fill in all sorts of other stuff from this. If you believe Jesus is the Christ, you also believe He is the second person of the triune Godhead, the one and only Son. You also believe He is Lord. You believe He is God in human flesh -- conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. You believe He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. You believe He arose from the dead. You believe He ascended into heaven and sits at God's right hand. You believe He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Do you get it? Overcomers believe in Jesus. And, they keep believing in Jesus. Their life is marked by faith in Jesus.
John tells his audience it is not enough to believe the Old Testament. It is not enough to be a faithful Jew. It is not enough to believe in a higher power. It is not enough to live by the light you have. It is not enough to be a good Hindu or a good Muslim or a good follower of Confucius. Overcomers believe in Jesus. They believe He is the Christ.
C If you believe in Jesus, you -- because of God's grace -- are an overcomer. You have overcome Satan, death, the Law, the world, and false teachers. All because you have been born of God. All because you have been given God's new life.
Our victory starts the moment of salvation, the moment of being born again, when we are given a faith that never runs out. Yes, there are moments of questioning. Yes, there are moments of doubt. Yes, there is temptation. But the Lord is gracious and patient. Thanks to Him we are overcomers. In Christ, we are overcomers. In Christ, we have the faith of overcomers. I invite you to come to Jesus, to believe in Jesus, and be an overcomer.
II Overcomers have Love
A How do you know you are an overcomer? First of all, because you believe. Second, because you love God. Three times in our Bible reading, John speaks of love. He tells us overcomers love the Father; overcomers love God.
Now, I am not talking about feelings here. Loving God is not a matter of feelings. Loving God means honoring and pleasing God. Those who love God are caught up, even consumed, with honoring and pleasing Him. If you love God, you long to be in His presence, to hear Him speak, to praise Him, to worship Him. You want to read and study His Word. You want to commune with Him in prayer.
If it is a chore for you to show up in worship, you don't love God. If your family has to drag you here, you don't love God. If you don't want to come to this place when you have the opportunity, you don't love God. Think of when you first fell in love with your husband or your wife. You could hardly wait to see them. You couldn't get enough of them. And, as the years go by, you find you still can't wait to see them and spend time with them. That's the way it is when you love God -- you can't get enough of Him. So overcomers love God.
B Notice what John adds to this: "everyone who loves the father loves his child as well." That is, everyone who loves God also loves the children of God. Those who are caught up in loving God, are also caught up in loving the children of God. Overcomers love God and they love those whom God loves.
This love, too, is not a feeling. It all comes down to how your treat other believers. That's how you can tell a Christian overcomer. They love one another. They nurture each other. They speak kindly to and about each other. They fulfil all those one-another statements we find in the Bible:
-Encourage one another (Heb 3:13; 10:24-25)
-Be devoted to one another (Rom 12:10)
-Build up one another (Rom 14:19; 1 Thess 5:11)
-Be kind to one another (1 Thess 5:15)
-Accept one another (Rom 15:7)
-Serve one another (Gal 5:13)
-Have concern for one another (1 Cor 12:25)
-Forgive one another (Eph 4:32)
-Pray for one another (Jm 5:16)
-Don't judge one another (Rom 14:13)
-Don't slander one another (Jm 4:11)
-Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
Overcomers love the fellowship of worship. They are eager to see each other in worship, to spend time with one another in worship. That's what makes the coronavirus so hard and so difficult. Our hearts ache as we miss one another. Technology can take us only so far. We worship via LiveStream. We pray with each other over Zoom. We have Bible Study online. But it is not the same as being with each other. You know the part I miss the most? The singing. My apologies to those who are here with me every single week, but you just don't measure up to the whole congregation gathering together for worship and together singing praises to God.
When Christians seek friendship only outside the family of God, if they have no compassion toward those in the church, if they don't hunger and thirst for spiritual fellowship with those who belong to God, they aren't overcomers.
III Overcomers have Obedience
A How do you know you are an overcomer? First of all, because you believe. Second, because you love God. Third, because you are obedient. Listen to verses 2 & 3:
(1 Jn 5:2-3) This is how we know ... by loving God and carrying out his commands. (3) This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome ...Or, as Jesus puts it in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." True love always results in obedience. True love always rushes to do the will of God.
Let me put it a bit more strongly: the only way you can really demonstrate that you love God is to obey Him. I have met people who claim to be right with God. They pray, they read the Bible, they attend worship, but their day-to-day life is one of disobedience. If you don't consciously strive for a life of obedience to God, you don't love God and you are not an overcomer.
B Verse 2 identifies overcomers as those "carrying out his commands." This means continual action. The obedience of overcomers is continual obedience. It is a life of obedience. Verse 3 identifies overcomers as those who "obey his commands." The Greek word means to keep His commands, regard them, treasure them, protect them. This refers to our attitude. So, overcomers continually do the will of God and they are eager to do the will of God. Action and attitude. It is not a legalistic kind of obedience. Something forced upon us. Rather, it is an obedience from the heart and the will. It is a glad, cheerful, willing obedience. Not grudgingly. Not under compulsion. It is something you do and want to do.
C It is fair to say our contemporary culture does not love God's commands. Consider the efforts of Planned Parenthood to kill babies in and out of the womb. Planned Parenthood hates the Law of God. Same with the ACLU. They spearhead efforts to take the Ten Commandments out of the nation's courtrooms and classrooms. They hate the Ten Commandments. Liberals of every stripe find the Law offensive and insulting.
But Christian overcomers, they love the Law. They take the attitude of the psalmist: "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long" (Ps 119:97).
Is everyone in worship with us an overcomer? I would like to think so. I pray it is so. Yet, I doubt it is so. Not everyone who attends worship has faith. Some, as John says back in chapter 2, "went out from us, but did not really belong to us" (1 Jn 2:19). There are some who come to church merely out of custom or superstition or to keep family quiet and happy. We can't say they love God. And, there are those in the church who live lives of willful, deliberate disobedience.
Are you an overcomer? Well, look at your life. What do you see? Do you see faith in Jesus? Do you see love for God and His people? Do you see obedience to the Law? If the answer is yes, then you are an overcomer in Christ.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page