For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this its the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. – 1 John 5: 4 ESV
1 John 5:1-5
As he has done so many times before in his letter, John uses a comparison or contrast to make a point. He has used light and darkness, truth and falsehood, sin and righteousness, as well as love and hate. Now he brings up a slightly more subtle comparison. And yet, it is the key to understanding who we are, what it is we are up against, and how we are to come out victorious in the end. It is not exactly a new topic, because he covered it before. But this time he ties it to something highly significant: our victory. On one side of the comparison or contrast is John’s term: “born of God.” This term is a differentiator for John. He is not referring to creation. All men and all things were made by God. But not all are “born of God.” That distinction is made possible only by belief in Jesus as the Christ. So for John, all mankind falls into one of two categories. They are either born of God or of this world. Or as he put it in even starker terms earlier in his letter: “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil” ( 1 John 3:10 ESV). There is a clear line of demarcation that separates one group from the other. It is the new birth. We often refer to it as being “born again.” It is interesting to note that when Jesus was secretly pursued by Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, that Jesus said to him, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NET). The Greek word Jesus used was anōthen and it has a double meaning. The one we traditionally see rendered in this verse is “anew or again.” But the other meaning is “from above, from a higher place; of things which come from heaven or God.” It seems likely the Jesus was referring to being born of God or from above, and that Nicodemus, based on his response, heard Jesus to say he had to be born again. It would seems that Jesus is teaching us that our new birth is a work of heaven. It is not of this world. It is a supernatural, divine undertaking that is based solely on faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
Belief in Jesus as Savior and as the only means by which men can be made right with God results in a divine act of procreation. When one places his faith in Jesus, he is born from above. This is an incredible transaction that takes place at the very throne of God in heaven. Which is why Jesus said to a very confused Nicodemus, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12 ESV). Jesus had tried to explain to Nicodemus what this heavenly birth meant. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 ESV). Faith in Jesus as our sin substitute and Savior results in a new birth and a new identity. We become children of God who have been born from above by God. And then John gives us the encouraging news, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4 ESV). But what does that mean? We have been born from above, but we have been left below. We remain in this world, suffering with the same temptations, the same results of the fall, including sickness, disease and eventually death. So how have we overcome? What has our faith in Jesus given us victory over? The apostle Paul gives us the answer in words that are far to eloquent to attempt to paraphrase them.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39 NLT
Our faith in Jesus results in our new birth. Our new birth makes us children of God. Our new status as His children makes us victorious. We win in the end. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Our own sins can’t condemn us or remove us from our rightful place as His sons and daughters, because Christ has paid for our sins once and for all time. We are overcomers. We are victors. We are more than conquerors. We have been born from above.