I was once asked if I believed in the power of prayer. “No,” I answered. “I do not. But I believe unswervingly in the power of the one to whom I pray.”

Similarly, I do not believe in “the Bible’s promises,” but I believe unswervingly in the one who made those promises that are recorded in the Bible. One of the most comforting of the promises of God recorded in scripture is found in 1 John.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
– 1 John 4:4, ESV

This promise contains a propound reassurance, and a reason underlying that reassurance. The promise is not that we will overcome the world. No. The promise is that we have already overcome the world. And the reason we have overcome is because we are from God, and God is in us. And God, the creator of all that is, is greater than he who is in world!

While I know what John said is true, there are far too many times I feel defeated. I do not feel like an overcomer. And who exactly is this “he that is in the world” that I have already overcome?

What each of us needs to keep in the forefront of our minds is that our overcoming has nothing whatsoever to do with how we “feel” at any given moment. You have already overcome, regardless of feelings. I have already overcome.

“Overcome,” (νενικήκατε) is from the Greek root “nikáō,” a term used to describe those who are victorious in battle. It is a term of overpowering. It is the same term Jesus used in John 16 when he said he had already overcome the world.

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
– John 16:32-33, ESV

In context, the disciples had made some rather grandiose declarations regarding their understanding of the complex statements Jesus just made. They were feeling strong and confident. Jesus told them that they are not strong and they have no reason, in and of themselves, to be confident.

Jesus had just told them, “Look, you are going to go out and make some huge blunders here real soon. You are going to blow it and abandon me.” Then He told them why He said this to them. Was it to make them feel horrible? To feel guilty? No. Quite the opposite.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33, ESV

Why did Jesus want the disciples to know that they were going to fail? It was so that they might have peace. That formula works by teaching us that we cannot rely on ourselves, our strength, our power, or our ability to stand.

So, when John tells us in 1 John that we have already overcome, he is saying we have overcome because Jesus has overcome that which stands against us. We overcome by being in the one who has already overcome and who sits on the throne at the end of the age, the triumphant one, the overcomer who is worthy to open the seven seals.1 Our legacy as humans is to bring sin and death and destruction. Jesus’ legacy is to bring an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness and life.2

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
– 1 John 5:5, ESV

And in that belief, we overcome the world. We overcome evil. And we don’t do this with strength, training, and fine arguments. We overcome by being in Christ and by doing what is good and right.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
– Romans 12:21, ESV

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
– 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ESV

You are an overcomer because Jesus already overcame. Be confident in that truth.

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

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1. Revelation 5:5
2. Romans 5:17

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Damon J. Gray

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