By Stan Brown
I John 5:4 and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
Jesus declared, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In his epistle, John has previously affirmed that as vigorous young men and women, we have overcome the evil one (I John 2:13-14). He has stated that we have overcome the world because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). The world is the system controlled by Satan. The theme of the world is one that keeps rising to the surface in this letter. It is our opponent in this life. It is that which entices us into sin and pulls us away from the light of God’s love. But remember, we have overcome the world because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
John says that it is our faith that has overcome the world. Everyone who is born of God has overcome the world and the prince of this world. The word translated victory is from the same root as the word overcome. Little Kittel describes it as a victory that is not always obvious at the time but a victory nevertheless. When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, we have gained victory over the world and its ruler. This individual victory might not be obvious to the world each time someone is born into God’s family it marks a defeat for Satan and he knows it. Ray Vander Laan describes it as taking the world back from Satan one person at a time. Luke quotes the words of Jesus as he states “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder (Luke 11:23). The word translated overpower in Luke is the same as overcome in the current verse. We as believers are the plunder taken back from the evil one. Each time someone enters God’s family, the strength of Satan and of the world has been overpowered.
John’s point in this verse is that when we are born of God a great victory is declared. It is a victory that is eternal and can never be lost. John has written this letter to encourage us to make sure that that initial faith victory results in continual faith victories in this life. Not only is Satan overcome when we are born of God, he is defeated every time we obey God’s commandments, every time we love one another, every time we take seriously our responsibility as God’s message to the world. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Paul was not satisfied with mere victory as he adds the prefix hyper to the word victory. God’s love lived out in our lives results in an overwhelming victory.