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Summary: John gives three characteristics of an overcomer in 1 John 5:1–5: 1) Faith in the truth (1 John 5: 1a, 4–5), 2) Love for God and others (1 John 5:1b), and 3) Obedience to the Word (1 John 5:2–3).

Nike is one of the world's largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel as a major manufacturer of sports equipment, with revenue in excess of US$24.1 billion (in its fiscal year 2012 ending May 31, 2012). It employs more than 44,000 people worldwide. In 2014 the brand alone is valued at $19 billion, making it the most valuable brand among sports businesses. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.)

The company takes its name from Nike, the mythical Greek goddess. In ancient Greek mythology, Nike was the goddess of victory who aided Zeus in his battle against the Titans. One of the Apostle John’s favorite description of believers is one that “overcomes” where he employs a verb form of the word Nike. (nikaō). Earlier in this epistle, John wrote that spiritual young men overcome the Devil through the power of the Word (1 John 2:13–14). Not only have believers overcome Satan, but also his servants (1 John 4:1–4).

Believers, then, are invincible overcomers—not in themselves or by their own power, but in Jesus Christ and by His power. Although their ultimate victory is assured, Christians still lose some of the battles. They succumb to Satan’s temptations, the world’s allurements, and the corruption of their own hearts, and fall into sin. But if believers are not always victorious in the skirmishes of this life, how can they be sure that they are truly overcomers? Reiterating, recycling, and enriching familiar themes from earlier in this epistle, John gives three characteristics of an overcomer in 1 John 5:1–5: 1) Faith in the truth (1 John 5: 1a, 4–5), 2) Love for God and others (1 John 5:1b), and 3) Obedience to the Word (1 John 5:2–3).

1) Faith in the Truth (1 John 5: 1a, 4–5)

1 John 5: 1a, 4–5 5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, (and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.) 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (ESV)

The foundational mark of an overcomer is one who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). To “believe” means to put one’s trust and confidence in, to be convinced of, the truth. To believe in Jesus as “the Christ” means to trust him as God’s Messiah, his unique Anointed One, and have faith in him. It means believing that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s one and only Son and that he was anointed by God’s Spirit to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, die on the cross for sin, and rise from the dead to become the Savior. The tenses of the Greek verbs indicate that belief is the result, not the cause, of the new birth. The continuing activity of believing proves that a person has been born of God. (Barton, B. B., & Osborne, G. R. (1998). 1, 2 & 3 John (pp. 104–105). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.)

Please turn to Matthew 13 (p.818)

Continual faith is the result of the new birth, not its cause. Christians do not keep themselves born again by believing, and lose their salvation if they stop believing. On the contrary, it is their perseverance in the faith that gives evidence that they have been born of God. The faith that God grants in regeneration (Eph. 2:8) is permanent, and cannot be lost. Nor, as some teach, can it die, for dead faith does not save (James 2:14–26). There is no such thing as an “unbelieving believer.” This is a PERFECT PASSIVE INDICATIVE which emphasizes a culmination of an action, produced by an outside agent (God) into a permanent state of being. (Utley, R. J. (1999). The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John (Vol. Volume 4, p. 236). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.)

The question sometimes arises concerning those who profess faith in Christ, but then admit not believing in Him. Our Lord described such people in the parable of the soils:

Matthew 13:1–7, 20–22 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.(ESV)

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