Calvary Road Baptist Church


First John 5.4


Let me begin this morning’s message by reviewing a few verses with you and briefly explaining a couple of words.

We begin with Psalm 98.1:


“<<A Psalm.>>

O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.”


Victory in this verse about the Lord Jesus Christ’s future success translates the Hebrew word yasha`, yaw-shah’, a word that is found in 198 Old Testament verses and refers to being liberated, to being saved, to God saving His people from external evils, and to someone being given victory.[1] The only time the word is translated into our English word victory is in this verse. We next turn to Isaiah 25.8:


“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”


Obviously, a verse predicting the Messiah’s ultimate victory, this Hebrew word translated victory, netsach, neh’-tsakh, is used in 42 Old Testament verses, meaning enduring, everlasting, and perpetuity.[2]

Turning now to the New Testament, we find five verses in which the English word victory translates variations of a single Greek word that you might recognize, giving us the brand name Nike:


Matthew 12.20:   “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”


This is the Apostle Matthew’s description of the Lord Jesus Christ’s gentleness when ministering to the humble and the weak, a direct reference to Isaiah 42.3. It ought to be a description, as well, of every Gospel minister’s gentleness when interacting with people when telling them of victory in Jesus Christ.


First Corinthians 15.54-57:   54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55    O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56    The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57    But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


In verse 54 the apostle refers to Isaiah 25.8, using the same word Matthew used. The Greek word nikoV is found three times in this passage that concludes Paul’s great chapter on the resurrection. It is a word that refers to victory as the result of winning, the victory won by conquest.[3] What greater conquest can there be over sin, death, Hell, and the grave than the resurrection from the dead, both Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of those that belong to Christ?


First John 5.4: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”


If Paul’s use of the Greek word for victory addressed Christ’s victory over sin, death, Hell, and the grave, and they that are Christ’s, the Apostle John’s use of the word deals with victory over the world. The same basic Greek word we associate with victory is found three times in this one verse, with each word in this verse being a slightly different form of the word. Again, in Matthew’s Gospel and in Paul’s first Corinthian letter the word used is nikoV, which refers to the concept or the idea of victory being won by conquest. Here the first word, translated overcometh, is nika, a verb referring to ongoing conquest. Then there is the word translated victory, from the word nikh, giving us Nike, and “may include the idea of the means or power that makes the conquest possible.”[4] Then there is the final word translated overcometh, translating nikesasa, a participle form of the word.

Do you get the idea the Apostle John wants to drive home strongly the fact that the person who is born of God is astonishingly, dramatically, and overwhelmingly the beneficiary of a victory that is won by means of conquest? I think so.

What do you say we settle on First John 5.4 as the text for this message, and read it once more? I invite you to stand with me as I read aloud:


“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”


Consider the victory that we who are born of God benefit from and actually experience, first in part and then in fully, in four ways:




I want you to fix your attention on the first phrase of our text while at the same time considering all three of the Greek words for victory, translated overcometh, victory, and then again overcometh. The phrase reads,


“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.”


What does it mean to be born of God? The Bible speaks of birth and rebirth, of being born and of being born again. John 1.12-13 is where we are introduced to this notion of a different kind of birth than most people have experienced, a spiritual birth as opposed to our common physical birth experience. Read that passage with me, if you would:


12    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


The him, the he, and the his referred to in verse 12 are all pronouns referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. The birth mentioned in verse 13 is obviously not a physical type of birth since it is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, all three being involved in the sex act and physically conceiving a child that is born nine months later. But it is in John chapter three that we find by far the most familiar passage dealing with this notion of a spiritual birth. I read from John 3.1:


1      There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2      The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3      Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4      Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5      Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6      That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7      Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8      The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

9      Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10    Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11    Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12    If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13    And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15    That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


Rather than overwhelm you with details, remember only at this time that this passage makes mention of two births, a physical birth, and a spiritual birth. Since you are already physically born, your overriding need is the other birth, the spiritual birth, that fits you in this life for heaven after leaving this life. The spiritual birth, known as the new birth or being born again, is a miracle worked by God and involves a person believing in Jesus Christ.

What our text for this morning tells us is that if you are born of God, if you have been born again, you overcome the world, which is to say you are victorious over this world in which you live. But what is this world in which you live? Why does it need to be overcome? The Apostle John does not here refer to the physical world, but the spiritual world in which you and I live initially mentioned to his readers in First John 2.15-17,


15    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17    And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.


and finally in First John 5.18-19:


18    We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

19    And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.


The world referred to by the Apostle John is the interconnection of all humanity in its sinfulness and tendency to go wrong, to commit sins, and to rebel against God and His institutions. We see from First John 2.15-17 that you cannot love this world and love God at the same time and that this world that will someday come to an end makes use of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. From First John 5.18-19 we learn that the wicked one, Satan himself, is the master manipulator who energizes this world against God and His program. That is why it needs to be overcome. The good news? Those of us who have experienced the new birth have been given and have the ongoing experience of victory over this evil world arrayed against God and His purpose. We are on the Lord’s side, and our side has already won the victory!




As you have already gathered from my description of the New Testament word whose various forms are translated victory, you are in a war zone. War was declared against God by His angel Lucifer, and that war spread to the human race when Adam and Eve were turned and became traitors against God and His cause. Since Adam and Eve’s day every person born to a mother, with the sole exception of the Virgin-born Son of God, has been born God’s enemy. Not that God is your enemy from your birth, but you are most certainly God’s enemy from your birth.[5]

The reason Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, left heaven’s glory to be born of the Virgin Mary was to redeem sinful mankind. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13.8, and His doing and dying for our sins on the cross of Calvary was where the climactic battle against sin was fought and won, the Just dying for the unjust and rising from the dead that He might bring us to God, First Peter 3.18.

Important for us to note at this time are the three varieties of the Greek word for victory used in this single verse. The first word, translated overcometh, is a present active indicative verb, referring to a continuous victory because of a continuous struggle.[6] This reflects the fact that although the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, the born again Christian does continually engage in the continuous and ongoing conflict known as the Christian life. Do we have victory? Yes. However, the fight is ongoing. The second word, translated victory, is the noun form of the word, nikh. John writes,


“and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”


Setting aside for just a moment what our victory entails, consider only what our victory is. It is the victory [which is] our faith. Did you know the word faith, the Greek word pistoV, is found only here in John’s writings except for Revelation?[7] He uses the verb form of believe, but only here the noun faith. What can this mean? It means that your faith in Jesus Christ, Christian, is your spiritual victory over the world and the Devil. Will you go wobbly and succumb to temptation from time to time? Sadly, yes. But your faith in Jesus Christ is your victory. The third word, which is the second place in the verse where we find the English word overcometh, is the participle form of the word, nikesasa. Does this refer to the Lord Jesus Christ gaining victory over the world, as He declared in John 16.33? Does this refer to the victory we have


“because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” First John 4.4?


Or does this refer to the victory the Lord Jesus Christ won with His death and resurrection?

Whatever John refers to in his various uses of the word, one thing is abundantly and undeniably clear; the child of God is victorious in Christ, has victory in Christ, and will someday experience the totality of our victory in Christ. There is victory in Jesus Christ!




Who is the enemy against which battle was engaged to secure victory? May I assure you that the enemy is not you? In Romans 5.10 the Apostle Paul penned an admission that is startling in its implications:


“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”


The greatest Christian who ever lived admitted that before his sins were forgiven he, and we, were God’s enemies. Not that God is enemy to sinners, but that sinners are enemies of God.

If God is no enemy of the nonchristian, who is God’s enemy? And who is Jesus Christ’s enemy? After all, the New Testament word for victory is a word that signifies victory as a result of conquest, and we know there is spiritual warfare because it is often referred to in the New Testament. Paul makes specific mention of it in Ephesians 6.12:


“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.


Clearly, then, God does not, and Christians do not engage in spiritual warfare against other people.

Who then is God’s enemy? His personal enemy is Satan, originally known as Lucifer, the first of His creatures, who was the first to rebel against Him and seek to overthrow Him.[8] The Triune Godhead is also arrayed against those fallen angels who serve Satan, known to us as demons. Finally, God opposes the world, that evil system that is under the domination and influence of Satan and his demons as they tempt, indoctrinate, and influence by various means the unsaved of this world.

What is the end of Satan? What is the end of the demons, those foul spirits that serve Satan in opposition to God? What is the end of the world system that is arrayed against God, God’s purposes, and God’s people? Revelation 20.10 declares to us that the Devil will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, a certainty that is borne out by many other passages of Scripture. Matthew 25.41 informs us that the lake of fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels, meaning that those foul spirits, the demons, will also be consigned to Hellfire forever. We have already seen that the world will pass away. We read that in First John 2.17. How so? Why so? Because those individuals who comprise the world, though the unsaved are not God’s enemies, will suffer a terrible fate by their continued sinful alignment with the Devil’s plan and purpose by their unwillingness to repent of their sins and obey the Gospel. Revelation 21.8 tells of your terrible fates that do not turn from your sins to believe in Jesus Christ to the saving of your eternal and undying soul:


“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”


Would to God you would obey His command found in Matthew 11.28, where he said,


“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”


Thus, the great foe of God is that one who originally sinned against Him, and whose malevolence energized him to first draw one-third of heaven’s holy angels to join in his rebellion, and to tempt Eve then to sin in the Garden of Eden.[9] Since then he has always opposed the plan and purpose of God. But he is doomed. More than that, he is defeated. He was defeated when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, won the victory by dying on the cross of Calvary and then rising from the dead in complete and total victory.




We know Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the Creator of all things, according to Colossians 1.16:


“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible . . . all things were created by him, and for him.”


We also know that Satan and the host of angels were created before the heaven, and the earth was created because they seem to have been witnesses to the creation of our physical universe.[10]

I am of the opinion that after Adam and Eve’s creation Lucifer was given the assignment of serving God here on earth, that he objected to his assignment, and that he resentfully vowed in his heart,


“I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High,”


Isaiah 14.13-14.

Cast down to Earth by God; he tempted Eve and since the Fall has campaigned against God by tempting and inciting the human race to foster rebellion and wickedness at every turn, by encouraging sins, false religion, and even the denial of God’s existence. His success against Adam resulted in him seizing control of this world, which is not rightfully his, which is why he is referred to as the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air.[11] To counter Satan’s efforts, to defeat him in spiritual conflict, and to redeem sinful men who turn from their sins to trust Him for the forgiveness of sins, the Lord Jesus Christ left heaven’s glory to be born of a virgin, died a substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary, and rose from the dead in great victory on the third day. By doing that He won the victory, enabling Him to grant His victory to those of us who trust Him for salvation full and free.

Though he is a defeated foe, Satan has not stopped fighting against the plan and purpose of God. That explains part of our struggle in the Christian life. Thankfully, by means of the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit of God given to believers by Jesus Christ, we experience victory in the daily struggles to resist temptation and to glorify God, and we have victory by means of our faith in Christ. That is not all, however. Someday the Lord Jesus Christ will return in power and great glory and will take by force what is rightfully His, bind Satan for a thousand years, and establish His millennial kingdom here on earth.[12] At the end of that time, Satan will mount a final, futile battle against the Lord Jesus Christ before being cast into the lake of fire for ever and ever.[13]

Who won the victory on the cross of Calvary and by rising from the dead? Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who sustains us by His advocacy on our behalf throughout our Christian life? The Lord Jesus Christ. Who will come to reclaim this whole world to His ends and for His great glory? The Lord Jesus Christ, our soon coming and conquering king. And who will finally deal with Satan once and for all before casting him forever into the lake of fire, where his host of fallen angels will already abide, and where the host of unsaved mankind will spend eternity for rejecting Him? The Lord Jesus Christ.


So, you see, my friends. We have victory as believers in Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is victorious and because He grants His great victory to those of us who trust Him. Our faith in Jesus Christ makes His victory our victory. The great battle that He fought to secure His victory and ours was on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection from the dead three days later. The battle that He will fight when He comes again as the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords is a battle already decided but waiting to be fought. The same is true of His final conflict with Satan at the end of the millennium. It was on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection from the dead that the war was won, and victory was secured.

Has the victory ever been in doubt? Consider a few things and then decide for yourself: Did God not cast Satan out of heaven when he rebelled? Yes. Did God not cast out the rebellious angels who followed in Lucifer’s rebellion? Yes. Did not the Lord Jesus Christ thwart the Devil’s efforts to tempt Him during His forty days of fasting in the wilderness when He was at His physical weakest? Yes. Did the Devil’s efforts to defeat the Lord Jesus Christ by seducing Judas Iscariot to betray Him succeed? No. Did the Lord Jesus Christ not defeat sin, death, Hell, and the grave by dying and then rising from the dead after three days? Yes. Has not the world also been defeated? Yes.

Sadly, however, there are those who for one reason or another (and no reason is, after all, good enough to justify going to Hell for) are not victorious, will experience no victory, and will suffer only tragic and tormenting defeat for all eternity. They are those who do not trust Jesus Christ. But since the Lord Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan in head to head conflict on a number of occasions, the future is not in doubt concerning our victory, beloved. The Lord Jesus Christ will prevail. After all, He is God. Thus, you and I who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ have victory, are victorious, and by God’s grace when we stand before Him in glory the victory will be fully and finally ours.


[1] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), pages 446-447.

[2] Ibid., page 664.

[3] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 673-674.

[4] John Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John - WBC Volume 51, (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1984), pages 270-271.

[5] Psalm 58.3; Romans 3.10-18, 23; 5.8, 12

[6] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1933), page 238.

[7] Ibid., pages 238-239.

[8] Isaiah 14.12-15; Ezekiel 28.12-15

[9] Revelation 12.4; Genesis 3.1-6; Romans 5.12

[10] Job 38.7

[11] 2 Corinthians 4.4; Ephesians 2.2

[12] Revelation 19.11-20.6

[13] Revelation 20.7-10

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