Summary: Those born of God overcome the world
PROPOSITION: Whoever is born of God overcomes the world.
OBJECTIVE: To live in faith.
The Gospel of John and the 3 epistles of John remind the reader that from the beginning, the word of God has become flesh in Jesus Christ. And as in life, this revelation, God’s word, does not take the form of a neat outline. Often as the believer reads the Word of God as written by John, there appears a bouncing around, a jumping forward and then backward, a skipping of subjects. It is like life itself – and as John writes, first the life of Jesus and then (now) the life of the church.
To the natural man, the man of the world, the will of God is strange; the requirements of the right are foreign and hard. To the natural man, the man of the world, even the law of love is a burden.
To the believer, the one born of God, there is written within a desire and yearning for the Father. To the believer, the one born of God, there is a seeking and hungering after righteousness which becomes to that child of God, joy. Living the life of love becomes a delight.
The world therefore it might seem, must be characterized by an impression or feeling of the opposite effect as the one born of God – that the commandments of God are grievous. This gives the believer to pause at v4, that whoever is born of God overcomes the world.
Being born or begotten of God implies the overcoming of the world. Apparently there is no other way to overcome the world except by being born or begotten of God.
Jesus, born of the virgin, the only begotten son of God, overcame the world through His life, death, burial, resurrection. John wrote that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him might be saved.
Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus moves to a richer understanding to the believer, born of God. Jesus must have known what a burden the commandments of God had become for Nicodemus when Jesus told him that he must be born again.
Jesus was telling Nicodemus the only way for him to overcome the world was to be born again. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that the commandments were not a burden to the one born of God. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that there is no other way to overcome the world except to be born of God.
In my adulthood, the commandments of God appear to have become quite a burden in many claiming to be born of God. Last week we read where God’s word called a liar the one who claimed to love God yet hated his brother (4:20). I cannot understand ‘religious person’ after ‘religious person’ coming into a pulpit to proclaim their hate of this political individual or another. How can one claim to be born of God, to love God, all the while hating, spreading character venom, deriding another brother under the guise of some religious/political umbrella? The Word of God calls this person a liar. And to them, the commandments of God are a burden.
To overcome this burden of the world, the individual who will claim to love God yet hate the brother must be born of God. Whosoever is born of God overcomes the world, and the commandments of God are not a burden.
For some time now, it has been quite fashionable to proclaim oneself as being “born again.” I have heard the link made that one is a “born again Christian.”
For some who have made the claim to be “born again” or “born anew,” it is soon realized that they are not so much born again as they are “made over.” Expensive suit, manicured hair, clean teeth and gums - scratch the surface of the made over and the worldly complexion of love of money, adultery, love of self - the burden of the commandments of God shines forth quite brightly. To the made over, the commandments of God are a burden; but, to those born of God, they overcome the world.
Being born or begotten of God is not being made anew or being made over. This new birth is indeed a new creation in God. While visiting in the home of Cornelius, Peter witnessed the family of Cornelius being born or begotten of God. Upon their faith, they were born again. Infiltrated by the Holy Ghost, there was before Peter, a new creature, a new person, born of God.
When the Holy Ghost makes you a new creature, you are “begotten of God” – his seed is in you. You are a recipient of the diving germ of a new nature, a new life. In virtue of being born of God, you will overcome the world, ever insinuating that the commandments of God are grievous, burdensome, heavy, cruel.