Perhaps the most wonderful promise in John’s first epistle is that everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world (5:4). Two thousand years ago, the audience of John’s first epistle proved God to be true to His word by successfully resisting the pressure of false teaching (2:19). However, the struggle had not left the audience without any doubts. The trouble they faced caused many to doubt whether or not they were truly born of God.
In order that John might help this audience realize they were in fact born of God, he took the time to give them three tests by which they could measure the authenticity of their faith. The first of these is holiness of life. Because God is light, all who are born of Him must walk in the light (1:5–7). This means we endeavor to keep His commandments and cease from sinning (2:15–17, 29; 3:4–10; 5:16–18). While this does not entail being sinless (1:8–2:6), it does mean all Christians will live lives of repentance and not be dominated by the power of sin.
Love for other Christians is the second evidence of true faith (1:3). If a person hates his brother, he does not walk in the light but is lost in the darkness (2:7–14). If we do not love one another, we reveal ourselves as murderers who falsely claim to love God (3:11–24; 4:7–21).
The final way by which we can be assured we have saving faith is that we confess the incarnation (1:1–3). Only those who affirm the divine Son of God is indeed the Lord Jesus Christ have the Father (2:18–27). True teachers are defined in that they confess Jesus is the Christ (4:1–6), affirming He is the God-man who lived and died for our salvation (5:6–12).
Just as in John’s day, we too can be assured of salvation when we measure our lives by these tests. As we look at our lives and see these evidences, the internal witness of the Spirit will grow stronger, convincing us we have indeed been born of God (3:24). And being born of God, we too can be confident we will overcome anything the evil world may throw at us.
When we are sure we are born of God we can be more sure we will overcome the world. This will lead us to live the Christian life more confidently and see many answers to prayer as we pray more and more according to God’s will (1 John 5:13–15). Take some time today to review the teaching of 1 John and thank Him for the lessons we have learned. Ask the Lord to increase your assurance so you may overcome the world for the sake of the kingdom.