Summary: The struggles and hardships of life, and our sinful failures, can bring us to a point where we don't feel like overcomers. John calls us not to trust our feelings, but to trust Jesus who truly calls us overcomers.

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1 John 5:1-12

“Being Overcomers”

Read 1 John 5:1-12

When we read this section of 1 John there is no doubt about it … we are blessed. We are so blessed to know Jesus and to be included in the family of God.

We are blessed to serve a God who doesn’t put burdensome commands upon us … the yoke is easy and the burden is light.

We are blessed to hear the testimony which reminds us of our cleansing from sin … a cleansing that come through water and the blood. Cleansing sealed by the sacrifice of Jesus.

We are blessed to know that we have eternal life – when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord we have the Son. Whoever has the Son has life. Life now. Life beyond physical death.

So many blessings.

And here is another blessing – the blessing which will be the focus of our attention this morning.

1 John 5:4-5

4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is the blessing of being overcomers. With all that is going on around us today in these COVID-19 times isn’t that a blessing we could use.

Because my sense …

Certainly what I have felt at times … and what it seems that many faithful believers have also felt …

Is NOT like an overcomer.

Tired … always tired.

On edge and a little uncertain.

Frustrated and even a little annoyed.

Defeated and wondering how our faith is going to keep up.

Weary because of the constant changes and uncertainty and mixed messages.

… …

You put your feelings and thoughts into this space.

And I suspect that very few of us would say, “I’m feeling like an overcomer.”

We don’t feel like overcomers. But know this:- we are not the first to have those thoughts. Indeed, when John wrote the book of Revelation …

… remember, it is the same John who wrote these letters …

When John wrote to the seven churches the Holy Spirit inspired John to reveal the spiritual temperature of the churches.

To the Church in Ephesus - Revelation 2:4-5

4 I hold this against you: you have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

To the church in Pergamum - Revelation 2:14-15

14 I have a few things against you: there are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

To the church in Thyatira - Revelation 2:20

I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

To the church in Sardis - Revelation 3:1-2

1 I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die

To the church in Laodicea - Revelation 3:15-16

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

That doesn’t sound like overcomer language does it.

Among the churches there is a cold mechanical faith, which has lost the initial love of Jesus. There is a mixing of different religions. People where tolerating and making peace with error. Others are spiritually lazy, or fence-sitters, or spiritually dead.

The world has distracted them, or caused them to lose focus, or lulled them into a false sense of security. The hardships of faith were just too much, and some are finding it difficult to count the cost. The Christians were struggling.

It doesn’t sound like “overcomer” language.

When we hear these descriptions … do you resonate with them?

Those people back there in the first century are so much like us.

They are people going from day to day living in response to Jesus. And their testimony is – I don’t feel like an overcomer.

But here is the reality about feelings.

What we feel … and what is true … can often be quite opposite.

Let’s go back to 1 John 5:4-5

4 Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Being born of God is what brings the victory.

Being born of God is what overrules even our faith.

Believing that Jesus is the Son of God is what enables us to overcome.

John doesn’t say anything about how we feel, or the circumstances we find ourselves in, or our spiritual fervency. The ones who are overcomers are the ones who testify that the journey we are on is not a journey we do in our own strength – rather it is a journey that is done in Christ.

So on those days when we don’t feel like we are getting anywhere

… or when we feel like failures

… or when we feel like we are spiritually flat

… we need to make sure that we don’t allow our feelings to control us.

Instead we look to the facts. And this is the fact. Believing in Jesus as the Son of God brings about a radical transformation in our lives.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says:- If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!

• Paul doesn’t say, “The new may come”.

• Paul doesn’t say, “He might become a new creation”.

• Paul doesn’t say, “The old will destroy you”.

• Paul doesn’t say, “The old can still defeat your intentions”.

In Christ are a new creation.

John tells us in these verses “You are cleanse by the blood and washed by the water.” You have been given the Son so you have been given eternal life. Nothing this world throws at you is going to prevent that outcome.

Neither death nor life … angels nor demons … the present nor the future, nor any powers, either height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing … not even your feelings … can get in the way of you being an overcomer.

Another verse, this time from the Gospel of John.

John 16:33

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

When Jesus went to the cross to be punished for our sin, what happened? He secure victory. When Jesus was laid in the tomb suffering death as the punishment for sin what happened? He walked out! He secured victory. When Jesus ascended to the Father to be at His right hand, why was He allowed to sit at the right hand? Because He secured the victory.

We have the troubles.

We allow ourselves to be tempted, dragged down, and carried away.

Our minds do get polluted and we know we have guilt and shame.

Our faith wanes and we allow our convictions to be stifled.

Our lives are punctured with immorality and we compromise our integrity.

Our spiritual life has lost its shine.

That’s the way I feel. How can we be overcomers?

Because Jesus always has the victory.

In Christ we are a new creation.

In Christ we are given eternal life.

In Christ nothing can separate us from the love of God.

In Christ his victory is our victory.

Do you want to be an overcomer? Listen to what Jesus is saying.

Don’t listen to the feelings, because they don’t always tell the truth.

Listen to Jesus who is

The Way …

The Truth …

The Life …

Listen! Listen to what Jesus says to those Christians in the Revelation churches. The ones with a cold mechanical faith, and who were tolerating error, and who were spiritually lazy.

To the Church in Ephesus - Revelation 2:7

To the one who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

To the church in Pergamum - Revelation 2:17

To the one who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

To the church in Thyatira - Revelation 2:26

To the one who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.

To the church in Sardis - Revelation 3:5

The one who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

To the church in Laodicea - Revelation 3:21

To the one who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Today we may not feel like an overcomer. But that doesn’t change the truth of who we are when we are in Christ.

We will see victory.

Growth will happen.

Hope will come.

Transformation will happen.

We don’t feel like overcomers and yet Jesus still comes to us and holds us in victory. Jesus picks us up in grace and gives us a taste of what it is to overcome.

And this gives us so much comfort.

Because we may feel defeated – yet it is not our feelings that determine the ultimate outcome.

And there are times when our achievements are far from satisfactory – yet it is not our performance that determines the blessing.

We are so aware of our short-comings and failings – yet they do not disqualify us from taking our place around the wedding supper of the Lamb.

That is our comfort because we are overcomers.

So don’t accept defeat. Whatever it is for each one of us

… whatever is dragging us down

… or carrying us away

… or setting us on fire

… or polluting our minds

… or making us fill up with guilt

… or drowning us in our faith

… or stifling our convictions

… or compromising our integrity

… or dulling our spirituality

… whatever it is we can overcome.

Whatever it is …

Ponder how you are being dragged down and carried away.

Pinpoint that which is polluting your mind and making you feel full of guilt.

Focus on how you are drowning in your faith and allowing your convictions to be stifled.

Isolate how your life is punctured with immorality and how you have been compromising your integrity.

Name your struggle … name the problem ... name the temptation … name the defeat.

Then say on the basis of God’s grace, “In Christ I will overcome” because I have been born of God and those born of God will always overcome everything the world throws at them.