Summary: This message dealing with what the Apostle John had to say about overcomers is a topical introduction to the subject of our victory in Christ anchored on I John 5:4-5.
OVERCOMERS (Part 1): WHO ARE THEY?
Text: I John 5:4-5, Rev. 2-3
A recent article in the San Antonio Express News spoke about the amazing phenomenon of designer tennis shoes which has taken the younger generation by storm. The new status symbol is the special name-brand high-top athletic shoe which often costs about $150 and has certain designs and colors incorporated into it which makes it more desirable for those who might pay such a highprice for it. One of these popular brands has chosen the name "Nike" to represent its shoe and sports clothing lines. This word has an interesting history. "Nike" comes from the Greek word "Nike" which means literally, "Victory", or "He Conquers", or "He overcomes". This is a strong word of victory which implies that the victor wiped out his opponent. The company which selected this word knew of the strength of its meaning. This same word or derivatives of it appear often in the pages of the Bible. Especially in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. The words "he that overcomes" have their origin in the Greek word "Nike". Since the Bible speaks often about Overcomers we ought to pay attention to who these overcomers are and how we can recognize them.
1. Who are the Overcomers?"
The apostle John spoke about overcomers in his gospel, his letters, and his apocalyptic writings. In these he identifies who the overcomers are.
A. They are led by the overcomer of the world:
Jesus referred to himself as an overcomer in John 16:33 when he spoke to his disciples, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." We discover, then, that Jesus is the chief overcomer and that the other overcomers follow his example and receive their power from him.
In I John 4:4 John tells us, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. Christ gives the power to overcome to anyone in whom he dwells. This means that any Christian has the power to overcome. John confirms this in I John 5:5 when he writes, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the son of God?"
We know that Jesus Christ has overcome the world and has given that same ability to everyone who belongs to him. We are like our master. He has overcome, and we have the power to overcome because of Him.
B. They are Born of God and have a victorious faith:
John reveals another aspect of the overcomers in I John 5:4 when he writes, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Those who are born again are overcomers. God plants his seed in them which is His Holy Spirit. The result is that they are given the resident power of God’s presence and nature. He gives everything they need to live godly lives and overcome Satan (II Peter 1:3-4).
If that is the case, and all "born again" Christians have the power to overcome, why are so many Christian’s failures when it comes to overcoming sin in their lives? There are several possible reasons:
1. Some simply don’t know the power which is available to them.
2. Others mistake self effort and will-power for Christ’s power. (The result of that is temporary victory and eventual defeat.)
3. Others have fallen into a sin trap which will keep then in continual defeat until they are released.
We are warned in Romans 12:21 to not allow ourselves to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with Good. The problem here is worse than just committing sins. The person described here is in bondage. He is a slave to sin. In II Peter 2:19-20 the subject at hand is false teachers who deceive Christians. Peter warns, " They promise them freedom, while they themselves are the slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and again are entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were in the beginning."
This teaches us that the overcoming is more than just a nice option for the Christian. This is how we share in Christ’s nature. We are overcomers because Jesus is the overcomer. Those who are born of God overcome because it is their nature to do so. Naturally, we are not perfect at it, and we do not start outproficient as overcomers. In fact, one of the aspects of our growth as Christians is the development of the ability to overcome sin.