Summary: This is about having faith that overcomes.
There is that guy in Greek mythology, I think, that pushes the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down. He does this continuously. He pushes the boulder up the hill, and then it rolls back down, over and over and over without end. Doesn’t it feel that sometimes you are pushing a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down? Sometimes, it even seems that the boulder rolls right over us on the way down the hill. It just seems that sometimes life is brutal to us. Even, as Christians, we sometimes face this mess. The good news for Christians is that the world will never destroy us.
The world has tried to destroy Christians and Christianity, but it has failed every single time. The history of the Christian Church shows that the world has tried to silence Christians and stamp them out, but they were not successful. We read in the book of Acts that when the persecution of the Christians began in Jerusalem the flame of Christianity spread like a fire in a parched forest. The world has tried to overcome us, but it cannot.
The world is opposed to God and everything he stands for. The world denies that Jesus is the Son of God. The world denies that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. The world denies that Jesus rose from the dead. The world denies that Jesus can take away our sins. The world takes Jesus and puts him the same category as Mohammed, Ghandi, Buddha, the Dali Lama, Confucius and other so-called great teachers. Remember what C. S. Lewis said, “Jesus is either who he says he is, or he is a lunatic.”
Turn with me to 1 John 5.
Read 1 John 5:1-5.
Did you ever notice that in school when the teacher said something three times it was pretty important? It seems to be a trait of humanity. In Isaiah 6, we read that the seraphim said to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” They said the word “holy” three times. Baseball fans will remember the call in the 1951 playoffs when the announcer proclaimed, “The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant.” When we want to emphasize something we tend to say it three times. We do it unconsciously. We say to ourselves, “Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy.”
When John uses the phrase “overcomes the world” three times in two verses, it must be important. I guess in the strictest sense of grammatical construction these three are not identical. The second one refers to something that happened at a definite point in time, while the first and last refer to an ongoing process. Nonetheless, the usage of the phrase show us this is something to pay attention to.
Faith that overcomes
The question is “How can we overcome the world?” The answer is “faith.” That raises the question, “Faith in what?”
We put our faith in a lot of things. We put faith in the stock market, at least three or four years ago we did. Everyone was trying to get rich in dot-com stock frenzy. Then the bottom fell out, and the shares of this-or-that.com were worth less than the paper they were printed on.
We have faith in our careers or jobs. But, just ask the employees that used to work at Enron how much faith they have in their jobs.
Sometimes we put our faith in government. Government is no better than the people who run it. Governments fail and fall. Power comes and goes for governments and political parties. Whoever is in power today may not be in power tomorrow.
The answer to the question, “Faith in what?” is quite simply, “Faith that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.”
Jesus, as the Son of God, has overcome the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, sin and death entered the world. Neither sin nor death was part of God’s plan for the world when he created it. God’s plan was that we would live in a close relationship with him. When Adam and Eve sinned it broke that plan. Sins are those actions we take that defy God’s will for us. Sin is also when we shake our fist at God and tell him we are the boss. Death is the result of sin. Our bodies were corrupted by sin and as a consequence of sin they break down and we die. Disease and physical ailments are the result of the sin of the human race.
Jesus came and conquered both of these menaces. The world humiliated Jesus. They spit on him. They beat him. They mocked him. They cursed him. They hated him. They killed him. They buried him. Three days after they buried him, he rose again. He conquered death. He also paid the penalty for our sin. If we accept for ourselves what he has done for us, sin has no power in our life. Jesus had victory over death and sin.