- Sermon Notes
Faith is Our Victory
1 John 5:4-14
We now come to the last section in 1 John. In many ways, these verses are some of the most practical in this letter. He began this letter with an invitation to experience God, “What we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled – the Word of life – that life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we now proclaim to you also, so that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
The verses we’re studying today are like a bookend because he takes those words of foundational faith and shows us what it looks like in living victoriously. In other words, these verses are very practical because they take faith and apply it to life.
The theme is becoming overcomers by faith. Not only are we called to be victorious, rather than defeated by the world, we have confidence to live boldly and to believe that whatever we ask we receive from Him, when we ask according to His will.
We are in a spiritual battle and need to understand how to overcome so we do more than merely survive on our way to heaven, but actually live victoriously and confidently. We need these practical words from John.
I. Faith Overcomes the World
- Verse 4 - Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.
- The basis of faith, John writes, is believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
- Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” People had various opinions, as they do today. If you were to take a poll and ask people that question, many would answer, “He was a good teacher,” or “He was a good example of a moral life,” or something similar.
- Jesus then said, “But who do you say that I am?” That is the most important question you will ever answer. It was Peter who said…
Matthew 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
- Peter was highly commended for that answer. God’s entire plan of the ages is centered on His Son.
John 14:6-7, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you have known Me, you have known My Father also.”
- John writes that this is the foundation of faith that overcomes the world in our lives.
A. Faith strengthens the soul
- The root of the word ‘overcomes’ in Greek is Nike – to be victorious. In other words, it’s not just surviving, or barely making it to the end, it carries the idea of finishing strong, victoriously.
- Paul even wrote that we can be overwhelming conquerors through Him who loved us… It’s actually the word hyper-Nike.
Romans 8:37, 39, In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced… that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- We are in spiritual warfare; there is much against us. To overcome the world means there is a battle for your soul and it’s a battle waged between the world’s influence and your faith in the Son of God.
- We have both flesh and spirit. The world is appealing to the flesh, but when we let the flesh have its way, it only results in pain and destruction and shame, and our spirit becomes weaker.
- But we overcome the world and its influence on the flesh when our faith is strengthened and our soul is alive.
1 John 4:4, You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
- It’s our faith that recognizes that what our flesh desires isn’t worth it, the price is too high. The flesh can’t see it, it’s blind, it doesn’t consider the consequences or think about the pain or sorrow this will cause.
- By faith, our spirit within us would rather have the joy, the peace, and the life that comes in the soul.
Illus - It’s like the contrast between the fruit of the Spirit and Froot Loops cereal. Though it’s magically delicious, the number one ingredient is sugar, and there is no fruit in them at all. In fact, they are literally all the same flavor.
- Verse 8 – There are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
- There are different thoughts as to what John means. Surely, the readers completely understood, but we can make some good assumptions.
- God bears witness to His Son in many ways. In other words, faith is not blind, there is great substance to our faith.
- Verse 6 – This is the one who came by water… When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, God bore witness…
Matthew 3:16-17, After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- As Jesus ministered on the earth, God bore witness through the miracles Jesus did…
John 5:36, “The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do – testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.”
- This is the one who came by blood… When Jesus was crucified, God was also bearing witness of His Son.
Matthew 27:50-54, Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that are happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!
- The resurrection of Jesus also bears witness…
Acts 17:30-31, “Having overlooked times of ignorance, God is now declaring that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
- And the Spirit Himself bears witness… Verse 10 – The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…
Romans 8:15-16, You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.
II. Have Bold Faith
- Verse 14 – And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
- There is a faith that simply believes, and then there is a faith that changes how you live.
- One of the best examples of that kind of faith in the Bible has to be David. It was faith that gave him the confidence to face the giant, Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:45, 47, Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands… that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
Psalm 71:5, For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence since my youth.
- What does that confidence look like spiritually?
A. Know that you have eternal life
- Verse 13 - These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
- That assurance of salvation is key to bold faith. Your assurance comes from knowing that your salvation is based on what He has done rather than on what you have done. Your confidence is in Him.
Romans 8:32-34, He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
- God is the One who has adopted you as His son or daughter; that’s a legal matter that is settled in heaven.
Illus - We adopted our two boys in Russia. After the judge heard our statements that we were inviting them into our family as sons and heard from them that they wanted to be adopted, the judge made the declaration. And unless someone has more authority than that judge, that decision is final.
There were times when one of the boys might even struggle against our rules or be difficult, but nothing would stop our love and no one could take them away from us.
B. Ask anything according to His will
- Such confidence we have, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
- First, it’s perfectly clear that God wants us to ask. Jesus told us to ask…
Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him!”
James 4:2, You do not have because you do not ask.
- John adds that we should ask according to His will.
James 4:3, You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
C. Be confident that He gives what is good
- Verse 15 – If we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
- We know that He hears us; He takes our prayers seriously. However, if you have confidence that He hears you, then also have the confidence to know that He does what is good and right.
- There is a principle that has helped me tremendously in my prayers; I only want what He gives permission to have. Without His blessing, I don’t want it.
Illus - In the trial last week, I asked the judge for permission to speak directly to the killer. I wouldn’t speak to him directly without permission because I respected that authority.
- There are times when we persist in prayer; knowing that God hears us, but trusting and believing that there is a purpose in the waiting.
Luke 18:1, 8, Now He was telling them the parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart… “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?”
Psalm 127:2, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labor; for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
Illus - I read a book by Alexander Solzhenitsyn about the years he spent in the Soviet gulags. The suffering was so great it reduced him to a state of despair. Finally, he decided to give up, he saw no reason to continue the struggle, to keep on living.
He lowered his shovel and sat down, waiting for a guard to beat him to death. As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw an old frail prisoner sit down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, using a stick, he traced in the dirt the sign of the cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
Solzhenitsyn stared at the cross drawn in the dirt and began to sob. His entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple cross. Through the power of the cross, anything was possible.
Solzhenitsyn slowly rose to his feet, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Outwardly, nothing had changed. Inside, faith and hope had been restored.
1 John 5:4-14 NASB
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.