1 John 5:4-11
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
The victorious life. Many Christians talk about it, that Jesus gives us victory over the world. What does that mean?
For much of the ancient world, victory meant conquering others. The Roman Empire didn’t believe in stable borders with her neighbors. Every chance he had, the emperor sent out his armies to take new land or fight off a rebellion. Victory meant taking what you wanted from others.
Victory can also mean living a successful life. Victory is when our family does well, our career is on track, and our life is under control. The victorious life is “the good life.”
For Christians, however, victory is not conquering others or gaining “the good life” from the world. Christian victory is the battle that Jesus won with the world, a victory he won on the cross. Jesus gives us that victory through faith, through the word and the sacraments.
But the world wants to convince us that we have no victory in Christ. There’s the guilty voice that tells us God could never love us. There are the problems that weigh us down. We think, “I could never have victory when everything is going wrong.” We have temptations that pull us away from living the way we want to. We can even come to believe that we have no victory in Christ.
But we should never believe our own thoughts over what God says to us. God’s word always trumps our conscience. St. John tells us that God has given us witnesses to prove that we have victory in Christ. The Spirit, the water, and the blood. That is, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit through them. We don’t trust ourselves. We trust the promise of God.