“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”– John 5:4.
The Scripture ascribed certain features to those that are children of God. Literarily the children of God are those that have been given the power to be one by believing in Christ. Thus the new birth actually brings the mind into a new state and brings Christ into the soul, which then means, of course, Christ will reign in that soul; the supreme affections will be yielded most delightfully to him, and the power of the world over that mind will be broken. Christ cannot dwell in any soul without absorbing the supreme interest of that soul. And this is of course equivalent to giving victory over the world.
He who does not habitually overcome the world is not born of God. In saying this, I do not intend to affirm that a true Christian may not sometimes be overcome by sin; but I do affirm that overcoming the world is the general rule, and falling into sin is only the exception. This is the least that can be meant by the language of our text, and by similar declarations that often occur in the Bible. Just as in the passage: “He that is born of God doth not commit sin, and he cannot sin because he is born of God,”, nothing less can be meant than this, that he cannot sin knowingly and will not have an excuse for sinning. If he may sin at all, only by mistake and aside from the general current of his life. In the same manner, we should say of a man who is in general truthful, that he is not a liar.
The newborn souls here spoken of do in general overcome the world. The general fact respecting them is that they do not sin and are not in bondage to Satan. The affirmations of Scripture respecting them must at least embrace their general character. What is a religion good for that does not overcome the world? What is the benefit of being born into such a religion, if it leaves the world still swaying its dominion over our hearts? What avails a new birth which after all fails to bring us into a likeness to God, into the sympathies of his family and of his kingdom, which leaves us still in bondage to the world and to Satan? What can there be of such a religion more than the name? With what reason can any man suppose that such a religion fits his heart for heaven, supposing it leaves him earthly-minded, sensual, and selfish?
The current Christianity found in most churches does not answer the descriptions of true piety as found in the Word of God. And moreover, if this current type of Christianity were all that the gospel and the divine Spirit can do for lost man, then we might as well give up the point in controversy with the unbeliever; for such a religion could not give us much evidence of coming from God, and would be of very little value to man; and so little as scarcely to be worth contending for.
Truly if we must take the professedly Christian world as Bible Christians, who would not be ashamed and confounded in attempting to confront the unbelievers? We know but too well that the great mass of professed Christians does not overcome the world, and we should be confounded quickly if we were to maintain that they do. Those professed Christians themselves know that they do not overcome the world. Of course, they could not testify concerning themselves that in their own case, the power of the gospel is exemplified.