In the previous two posts we explored how the world in which we live is in its entirety set against us. The world system is intended to destroy our faith and separate us from our God. The controller of this deceptive world system is Satan, and His purposes are dishonest and destructive.
John the Apostle wrote in 1 John 5:19, “We know that we are God’s children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.” The term, “the whole world,” is surprisingly inclusive. John means to include everything as part of the system of Satan. Culture, education, industry, commerce, entertainment, medicine, and human services.
When we touch any of these areas of life, we are touching a system which is designed to steal from our God that which is His. It is meant to deceive us away from faith and reconnect us to our fallen nature, our lusts and selfish drives. It is no less than the spirit and work of the antichrist. We have all fallen victim to the deceptions to at least some degree. Yet our God is on the move. He intends to set us free from deception so that we might walk in the light and in a deep love for Himself.
We were created and redeemed to experience a deep love for our God, and it is this love relationship that the enemy is seeking to destroy. He is doing this both by direct action and through the agency of the world. If we try to fight this on our own, we are powerless against our enemy and against the world. What has our God done to deliver us from our enemy and his deceptions, and to empower us to find the life He intends for us?
We find a key part of the answer to that question in 1 John 5:1-5 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Our God has changed our very identity and purpose for being. Our identity as followers of Christ Jesus is now found in a wholehearted, life-changing belief in Him. John wrote, “Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” So comprehensive is this identity change the Bible describes it as a rebirth into a new life. More than simply believing the facts about Jesus, this belief of which John speaks must be so deep and profound that it changes our entire purpose for living.
The Greek word for “believes” as John uses it in this passage conveys the meaning of “believing in such a way that both leads to and proceeds from God.” It means giving oneself up to, putting confidence fully in Christ Jesus. This is so much deeper than simply believing the facts. James tells us that the demons believe the facts wholeheartedly. James 2:19: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.”
Our belief in God must be so deep as to be profoundly transformational. It must take us to a new identity as one whose life and purpose is found only in Christ. We are born out of our God, begotten out of Him. He is our source of life and our living daily. We have been placed into Christ Jesus Himself, and our existence and identity are found only in Him.
There are many who believe the facts about Christ Jesus, yet do not see themselves as being “in Him.” They still see themselves as their own navigator in the world, which they see as a neutral place with both good and bad influences in it. It is up to them to figure out the right path through it, with a little help from the Bible and the church. These have fallen for the deception of the world system. They will never be on the path to overcoming the world.
Our new identity in Christ Jesus is now expressed primarily in a consuming love for our God. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” This is the love for which we were created. This is the love for which our God saved us. Our union with our God can only flourish if He is our first and foremost priority every day.
The goal of our faith is a love so consuming that it leads to our self-abandonment. Such a deep love is not possible without the work of God in us. As we repent of all other loves and interests beside Him, He begins to pour out His love within us (see Romans 5:5). And even though we are forsaking other loves to love our God above all, the fact that He is pouring His love into us gives us a capacity to love others more deeply than ever.
If we are truly born of our God, we are His children who love Him more than life itself. We believe in Him in a way that brings us out of this world and focuses our living upon Him above all. And by this love and this fixation on Christ we overcome the world. John wrote, “For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.
In the next post in this series will appear after Thanksgiving: Power By Way of the Cross