Do you & I feel that we have conquered the world? Each morning as we wake up do we look forward to our day knowing we have the victory over everything that could possibly be thrown at us? Do we as a people, as a church look like we have conquered the world?
Or is the opposite true. Do we wake up each day feeling that the world will conquer us? Does the church look like the world has had its way with us?
Too often the latter is true – we look like a people who have been conquered by the world, both in our personal lives and in the life of the church. And that, according to the writings of the apostle John, means we have lost confidence in the work and power of the Holy Spirit.
Our Epistle reading from 1 John 5 begins right in the middle of a developing argument from John.
In verses one through eight of chapter five he has been talking about talking about faith – that faith in Christ Jesus gives us the incredible status of being children of God. And this status – by having faith in Jesus Christ, means we have conquered the world – v4 says 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.
So – as believers we MUST be conquers of the world because we have ALREADY conquered the word. Verses six to eight begin the explanation of HOW we have conquered the world – the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ – the one who was baptized, who lived and died for us and who has been testified to by God through the Holy Spirit. To believe in Jesus Christ – to accept the testimony of the Gospel means we have conquered the world.
We should be both as individuals and as a people of God radiating the victory of Christ in the world – unafraid of what the world can do to us as Christian’s – living life to the full in the commands of Jesus.
This is where we now begin our reading. V9 of 1 John 5 sees John beginning to explain more about the witness of Jesus Christ.
Of course, the witness of the apostles and others has testified to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for us, – and many have believed. But that is not the only testimony we have as Christians. In fact, it is not the primary testimony we have.
God HIMSELF testified to who Jesus was – and this is the greater testimony.
Many of us may have begun our journey’s to becoming believers because someone witnessed to us. We liked what a person said about Christianity and we became interested. We read some literature, or we went to church. But then we cannot remain believers through just the testimony of others We must move to accepting the GREATER testimony of God himself.
God testified to who Jesus was in scripture; At his baptism God speaks from heaven “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” At the transfiguration God speaks from the cloud “This is my Son; with him I am well pleased – listen to him.” And Jesus himself says in john 15:26 When the advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify on my behalf.
It is when we accept the testimony of God that we are converted and receive the Holy Spirit. This is what John means by He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.
When we believe we no longer believe because of what others have told us – or because of what we see at church – we believe because the Holy Spirit IN us testifies to the truth of God’s own testimony – that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for us.
There is a wonderful illustration of this is John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Having spoken to Jesus she runs to her town telling the people that she may have found the Messiah. The town’s people go to Jesus. Then in v42 of John 4 they say to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
It is that this point that we have conquered the world. At this point, through the Holy Spirit working in us – we should realize that whatever the world is going to do to us – whatever the enemy, satan, may try and do to us cannot succeed because when we are in Christ and we have the victory.
We really should be the happiest, the most peaceful, the most joyous, the most generous, most secure people on the face of the planet.
As believers we should have within us the daily testimony of the Holy Spirit confirming and encouraging in us the truth of Jesus Christ.
It is a spiritual work that we must have as Christians if our lives are going to be lived in the reality and truth of a world conquered by Jesus Christ. Without this spiritual work in our lives we will always feel conquered by the world.
Jesus knew that after his death and resurrection, despite the fact that he had conquered the enemy, the world who remained in rebellion against God – and satan, would turn on and try and destroy the disciples.
That’s why we have this remarkable prayer of Jesus in our Gospel reading. Chapter 17 is one prayer – with three parts. Firstly Jesus prays for himself – that he would glorify the Father and the Father glorify him. Then he prays for his disciples – which is our reading this morning – and then he prays for ALL who will believe in him in the future.
For his disciples – for those who followed, he prays for protection. He prays that they will remain in the world – in order to declare the gospel – and that the Father would PROTECT them from the evil one.
Jesus – the holy one – asks the Father to protect the Disciples from the evil one. He does not pray that the Father protect them from persecution – or bad days – or disease or even death – but he prays that the disciples would not fall back into the ways of the world and be destroyed by the evil one.
Jesus is entrusting his disciples to the Father. Jesus knows his disciples are at risk. The world who hates them will threaten them and abuse them. The disciples are being sent into this world and they need protecting. The disciples, because of Jesus, no longer belong to the world. In other words, this world is no longer the place or sphere that determines who they most truly are. What they need is help from being pulled back into the world.
While this prayer is for the disciples the same is true for all of Jesus’ followers.
When the world comes against you and I – we have as our shield firstly the intercession and prayer of Jesus Christ who has asked the Father to protect us. As believers we are no longer of the world – under it’s destiny or power – but instead we are under Christ. Secondly, we have the inward testimony of God himself through the Holy Spirit that the victory is won and that Christ has conquered the enemy. As Paul says in the book of Romans The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
This is how we are to live daily.
The issue this morning for each one of us is does the Holy Spirit testify to our spirit that Jesus is the Christ – the son of God. Are we allowing the Holy Spirit within us to give us life and the power to conquer the world?
In order for this to happen we must learn to submit to God and his will. And it is a learning process; a daily process – as the Apostle Paul says, we need to take each thought captive for God in every area of our life – in every decision we make – in the very words we chose to speak, or write or email. In how we treat others. We will never be able to experience his victory, or the effects of his conquering of the world in our daily life if we are still holding onto things that we know we should not be doing. We cannot be doing things that are either dishonest, or ungodly in our daily life and expect to feel that the world has been conquered. We cannot receive from him if we know that each day, in one or more areas of our life, we are lying to God.
Jesus’ prayer of protection for the disciples was that they would not be drawn back into the way of the world – that they would not fall. It’s about living our life in honesty, transparency & truth; at home, at work & in our community. Not cheating or hiding or fiddling the figures, or telling white lies, or deceiving people, or putting on false fronts, or the happy face when your sad, or the sad face when your happy.
As believers, if we are feeling that the world is conquering us each day, if we do not have the testimony of God in us that says Jesus Christ is God and He has the victory and I fully believe this to be true; it’s not that we do not have the Holy Spirit – it is almost certainly that we need to let go of something which is preventing the Holy Spirit from doing his wonderful and powerful work in us.
It is when we have nothing to hide – nothing to fear – it’s when we are transparent before God that we can live fully in the victory of God – that we can live having conquered the world in faith instead of the world having conquered us.
So this morning, if there are things that we know should not be in our life – let us let them go – give them to God – ask God to come and release them from us. Say sorry to him for having held onto them. If necessary let’s ask someone from the church to pray with us.
And then, or if there is nothing that we are holding onto, ask God that, through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us, we might know the victory of God through faith – that from today our life will lived no longer as people who have been conquered by the world, but as people who have conquered the world in Jesus Christ.