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Scripture reading – 1 John 5, 2 John
A Note from the Author: Our chronological study of the Scriptures is in the homestretch! Our 2-year reading schedule is coming to an end, and it is my prayer you are making plans to re-enlist. Heart of a Shepherd will return to Genesis on January 1, 2023, and begin a new journey in God’s Word.
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Today’s Scripture reading concludes our study of The First Epistle of John, and introduces The Second Epistle of John. Though only 13 verses long, I believe the second epistle was a personal letter to an individual, whom John addressed as “the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1:1). However, I will wait to a later date to consider John’s second epistle. I invite you to consider with me the 5th and final chapter of The First Epistle of John.
Review of 1 John 1-4
Although brief (only 21 verses in length), 1 John 5 was a powerful finale to John’s letter to believers. We noticed in earlier chapters how John did not mince words in warning believers there were enemies of Christ and the Gospel in the midst of the churches. In 1 John 1, I identified the philosophy of the Gnostics, their carnality, and open rejection of Christ’s person, life, death, and resurrection. In chapter 2, John issued a powerful call to believers, and admonished them, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (2 :15a). Lest anyone minimize his warning, the apostle declared, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15b).
1 John 3 contrasted the lifestyle of sincere believers (3:1-3) with those whom John likened to the children of the devil (3:4, 8, 10). While the “sons of God” reflected the righteousness of Christ in their daily walk (3:2-3), the children of the devil continued in their unrighteousness (3:8, 10). Lastly, in 1 John 4, the apostle warned the “spiritof antichrist” was in the world (4:3). He called on believers to love one another (4:7-8), even as God manifested His love “toward us… [and] sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (4:9).
Spiritual Distinctives of Sincere Believers (5:1-3)
The character of the believer was defined as one that “believeth that Jesus is the Christ” (5:1a). The evidence of genuine salvation was that a believer would love God, and be assured of His love (5:1b). Two other proofs of the sincerity of one’s salvation was a believer will “love the children of God…and keep His commandments’ (5:2). Tragically, some reading today’s devotion may find themselves in a church that reviles God’s law and commandments as legalism. How can this be?
Employing a popular adage in today’s English language, John “doubled down” on the importance of one’s attitude toward the commandments, and wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (5:3). What is the implication of that verse? A believer who loves God not only obeys His commandments, he does not find them heavy or burdensome.
This is a good time to pause, and ponder: What is your attitude toward the commandments, precepts, and principles of God’s Word? If you love the Lord, you will love and keep His commandments. If you despise His commandments and resent those who teach them, you do not love the Lord, and are not a child of God.
Becoming an Overcomer (5:4-5)
Believers are addressed by many names in the Scriptures. We are identified as the “Children of Light” (John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5), the “Children of the Day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and the “Children of God” (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 5:2). Another name for believers is revealed in 1 John 5:4: “Nikao” or “Nike” (yes, the name from which the athletic shoemaker “Nike” derives its name).
1 John 5:4-5 reads: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh [Nikeo] the world: and this is the victory that overcometh [Nikeo] the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh [Nikeo] the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Everyone “born of God” is “Nikao” (an overcomer, 5:4a). Essentially, “Nikao” means victory or one victorious. The implication of 1 John 5:4-5 is that believers are spiritual overcomers. We are victorious and overcome the world with its enslaving lusts and pride (1 John 2:16), when we have faith (5:4), and believe Jesus is the Son of God” (5:5). By faith, believers have the potential to be victorious, and overcome the world (5:5).
Closing thoughts – The Scriptures are filled with saints who by faith became “Nikao,” spiritual overcomers in their day. Noah was “warned of God,” and “prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Abraham left his family and country, and “went out, not knowing whither he went…10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8, 10). Moses, by faith, rejected the privileges of a prince of Egypt, and “forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him [God] who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).
Spiritual overcomers believe Jesus is the Son of God, love and keep God’s commandments, love one another, and live by faith.
Are you a spiritual overcomer?
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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