Read the Scripture: 1 John 5:1-5
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).
Consider what is involved in this phrase the world. Think of the moral pressures that we face in the world today, the outlook and standards of the godless society that is surrounding us, constantly intruding upon our consciousness with tremendous pressure to make us conform to these attitudes and standards of life. Think of the temptation to cheat and lie; to get ahead at all costs; to be dishonest, not only in filling out our income tax but in every aspect of business. Another common pressure that comes upon us from the world is to be sexually immoral, which is especially evident among the young and the unmarried. We are encouraged to feed the fire and satisfy the urge, though it may be wrong and deadly. The pressures around us are tremendous these days, seemingly overpowering at times. There is the pressure to harbor wrong ideas, to react against others the way the world reacts, to strike back and give as good as you get, to be resentful and jealous, to be ambitious and cruel. Don’t you feel all this? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—all this is of the world.
How do you overcome the world? How can you go on, moment by moment, day after day, year after year, living a life that is absolutely contrary to that, based on totally different standards, totally different objectives, totally different evaluations? And to endure not only for ten years, but for decades, against that kind of moral pressure? How do you keep unmoved in the midst of this and not only remain unmoved yourself, but reach out and win others to your side? John says it is by faith; that is all. Not by the faith that you once exercised twenty years ago when you first became a Christian, but by faith in the life of Jesus present in you now. By faith in Him at work in you, in the midst of the pressure, countering it with the pressure of His own life.
I once heard of a captain of a ship who was describing what it was like to go through a storm. He described the ship in the midst of the waves mounting on every side, with the wind blowing hard and the pitiless rain coming down. The ship seemed a helpless victim of the storm, caught up in the power of these mighty elements that were raging on every side. Its doom seemed sure. But he said, I stood there on the bridge of the ship and I grasped the railing. I felt the throbbing of the engines deep down inside the hull. The storm, the wind, and the waves seemed to be saying to the ship, ‘You cannot come, you cannot come.’ But I heard the answering throb of the engines saying, ‘Yes, we shall; yes, we shall; yes, we shall.’ And so we do. That is the way we overcome the world.
If we give in, if we reflect the same attitudes and actions as the world, we have succumbed to the world and to the wiles of the devil. We have lost our testimony and all power to witness. But if our dependence is on the life of the Son of God, His life is in us, and then, This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Father, I sense the call to battle against the subtle and devious forces of a worldly age. Grant that I might have renewed faith in Your power and move out to meet the world in a venture of faith that makes every day a thrilling adventure.
Life Application: How are we handling the pressures of life? Are we white-knuckling it, trying to overcome our difficulties, or are we with growing faith resting in Christ at work in us?
(c) Ray Stedman