“HOW TO BE AN OVERCOMER” 1 John 5:1-5
INTRO – “Overcomer” video – Mandisa
Parable of an overcomer: The parable is told of an old dog that fell into a farmer’s well. After assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the dog but decided that neither the dog nor the well were worth the trouble of saving. Instead he planned to bury the old dog in the well and put him out of his misery.
When the farmer began shoveling, initially the old dog was hysterical. But as the farmer continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back he should shake it off and step up. This he did blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself.
No matter how painful the blows or how distressing the situation seemed, the old dog fought panic and just kept shaking it off and stepping up! It was not long before the dog, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well. What seemed as though it would bury him actually benefited him—all because of the way he handled his adversity. (http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1999/november/12070.html)
This morning, we are going to talk about what it takes to be an overcomer. All of us will face situations in our lives that will require us to reach down deep inside & find the faith that we need to be an overcomer. Some of us are facing those situations right now. So let’s jump in & look at 5 discoveries of overcomers:
THE TARGET OF OVERCOMERS – “the world” – What is it that you & I must overcome? There may be something that is pressing in on us in a big way right now:
- Medical/health situation
- Family situation/friend situation
- Financial situation
- Work/school situation
- Besetting sin/Addiction situation
All of these things are situations that have come into our lives in some way or another due to the fact that we live in a sinful, broken world. Look over at v. 19. Right now, we are living in a world that “lies in the power of the evil one.” Yes, God is God & He is ultimately sovereign over all creation. But Satan – “the evil one” – is the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). There’s only one King & His name is Jesus. But Satan is called a prince because he is a ruler and possesses power to manifest evil in the world through influencing people and commanding demons. (https://www.gotquestions.org/prince-power-air.html) And you & I live in this world where Satan is influencing people, rulers, governments, corporations, educators, professors, celebrities, our neighbors, even some of our family members. John MacArthur: “…the whole world—its politics, economics, education, entertainment, and, above all, its religion—lies in the power of the evil one. The evil world system is hostile to God and believers… as John noted earlier in this epistle. It takes its cue from its ruler, Satan…the archenemy of God and His people. Because the world is completely under Satan’s influence, believers must avoid being contaminated by it.” (MacArthur NT Commentary) This world is the target of our overcoming. No matter what specific situation, circumstance, or problem we are facing, it has, in some way, been touched, impacted, & influenced by the world.
THE TEST OF OVERCOMERS – Have you been “born of God?” This question will make or break you as an overcomer. Your answer will determine whether or not you will truly be an overcomer. Sure, there are ways that you can make it through some of the difficulties of life, even if you’re not born of God.
- Modern medical advances can help w/ your illnesses
- Savvy financial experts can assist w/ money problems
- Intelligent educators can help answer some questions
- Powerful political maneuvering & posturing can change laws
- Highly trained counselors can assist w/ your problems
All of these can assist folks in overcoming specific problems or difficulties in this life, your earthly life.
But, ultimately, none of them can give you what you need to be an overcomer in that which really matters – your eternal life! Only those who have been “born of God” will overcome death, hell, & an eternity of suffering, misery, & torment. If you’re not born of God, YOU ARE NOT AN OVERCOMER!
What does it mean to be “born of God”? It means to believe that Jesus is the Christ (v. 1). Jesus said in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” When you are one of God’s children who has been born of Him, who truly believes that Jesus is the Only Way to heaven & eternal life, that there is no other Savior other than Jesus, then you immediately become an overcomer in that moment of belief & trust. The Lord Jesus gives you everything you need to overcome in this life, & guarantees that you will overcome death & the grave & live w/ Him for all eternity! Have you been “born of God”???
THE TRUTH OF OVERCOMERS – “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
Where is your faith today? Is your faith in your abilities, your successes, your earthly victories in the business world, in your family relationships, in your educational achievements, in your financial & material wealth, your physical fitness & health? All of those things can be taken away in an instant. One unexpected doctor’s report, one bad financial decision, one moment of moral compromise, & it’s all gone. Just ask Jason Morrow how quickly life can change. He is burying his 4 yr-old daughter this afternoon after she dies suddenly following a seizure this past week.
To be an overcomer, we have to build our lives on the truth of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, & what Jesus is doing & will do in our lives, no matter what happens. It’s the parable of the builders in Matt. 7:24-27.
“Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armor & artillery by which we overcome” (Matthew Henry).
THE TEAM OF OVERCOMERS – “EVERYONE who believes…OUR faith” –
Your trust in the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord & Savior, your belief in Him as the Christ is YOUR faith. No one can do that for you. You don’t get to heaven on anyone else’s faith other than your own faith. Not your parents’ faith, not your spouse’s faith, not your church’s faith or your denomination’s faith. It’s YOUR faith, YOUR trust in Christ alone for your salvation that saves you & makes you an overcomer.
But, your faith places you smack dab in the middle of a whole bunch of other folks who are overcomers – THE CHURCH. You’re w/ “everyone who believes!” YOUR faith is “OUR faith!” Everyone who believes becomes your TEAM, or, as we like to emphasize here at CWBC, your FAMILY! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Friday night, some boys down in Brookhaven at Vicki’s alma mater, BA, took the field to play a football game. Came into the game w/ a 24-game losing streak. Ended the game w/ a 1-point victory. One player couldn’t do that. It took the entire team to overcome the adversity they faced.
My brothers & sisters in Christ, we are a TEAM, a FAMILY! I know that you can’t overcome my struggles for me, & I can’t overcome yours for you. But what great comfort it is to know that there are others around us who are encouraging us, helping us, holding us up, walking w/ us!
THE TRIUMPH OF OVERCOMERS – We WILL overcome! The Greek word for “overcome” means “triumph.” It means that we will prevail, as we’ve already seen in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world!” For the Christ-follower, we can confidently & boldly proclaim, “WE WIN!” Why? B/c Christ has already won for us! The One who has won the victory over Satan is the One who lives in us! WE WIN b/c CHRIST HAS WON!
CONCLUSION: John Henry Yates – born in Batavia, NY in 1847. Had some scary moments as a child:
- Fell down stone steps of a hotel into cellar, fracturing skull. Unconscious for several days.
- Family traveling on a ship. Storm struck. Hurled young John across deck, broke his leg.
- Age 16, accidentally fell on a double-edged knife in a school play & punctured right lung. Hung on for his life for 3 weeks.
Survived childhood. Began writing poetry & hymns. Started working for a newspaper. Got married. Lay preacher. Shared Christ in churches all over western NY state.
Feb. 1878, lost wife & 2 sons in span of one week during an outbreak of diphtheria.
His most famous hymn says this: “Faith is the victory, faith is the victory. Oh, glorious victory that overcomes the world.” Died in 1900 w/ those words carved into his tombstone.
“victory” – Greek word – nike’ – Let’s “Just do it!” Let’s commit our lives to Christ today & be the overcomer that He has called us to be!