“ For whoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” I John 5:4
Faith is the victory that overcomes: what an astounding tautology put forth by the Apostle John! Certainly a lofty concept, but let us consider how our faith in Christ makes overcoming the world a practical and actual possibility.
First, believing that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God gives us the capacity to rest upon the power and ability of Christ, the One who conquered death and is alive forevermore.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” 1 Just as men of old ran to the tower to seek safety from their enemies, in the simplicity of our faith, we run to Christ, use His powerful name, hide in Him in a literal sense for protection, defense, and deliverance. We rely utterly upon Him. This is what is called “the great strategy of faith”, the assurance of the possibility that is open to us, that we can go to Christ directly, immediately, and simply look to Him and rest in Him. And when the battle rages on and we feel that we are at the point of falling, we simply cry “Jesus”, and believe and know that He is at hand to deliver and protect us. As little children, we do not look at the enemy, but simply rely upon Him. Victory is in Him, in His power, and not in ourselves.
Second, we use faith in an active sense. We deliberate upon the Christian gospel and ponder what faith in Christ really means in terms of this fight we face against the world, the flesh and the devil. We consider Jesus Christ in relation to this battle: that He took upon the likeness of sinful flesh because of the power of Satan, of sin and of evil, that He came because He is the only way by which we could be delivered from these overpowering forces. And in His life, death and resurrection, Christ overcame these powers.
As we see ourselves belonging to Christ, we realize that we share in His victory and everything that belongs to Him. Our whole perspective towards this fight changes: because Christ has overcome the world, and because we are in Him, then we have overcome. In a practical sense, being in Christ enables us to see that we can literally draw strength and power from Him and from His fullness; we have inexhaustible resources behind us, we have a source of supply that can never fail. There is absolutely no limit to the power of Christ.
And in our human frailty, when we sin and fall back, there is forgiveness in Christ. There is nothing that so enables us to overcome as this deliverance from our sins and failures, the freedom from that overwhelming sense of despair, so we can arise again and continue our journey through life.
Lastly, faith enables us to behold the ultimate glory and perfection that await us. Our hearts are encouraged though the fight may seem arduous and endless. Faith makes us realize that Christ, who died for us and sustains us in this world, will one day present us faultless before the presence of God with exceeding joy.
And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
*** 1 Proverbs 18:10
***Reference: Martyn Lloyd Jones, Life In Christ, Crossway Books, Wheaton Illinois, 2002, pp. 604-613.
*** Photo: Elie Tower by Dimitri