“…everyone born of God overcomes (nike/victory) the world. This is the victory that has overcome (nike/victory) the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes (nike/victory) the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

In life there are winners and there are losers. Which are you?

“…for everyone born of God overcomes (nike/victory!) the world.” Everyone born of God is a winner. On-going winner. Because “overcomes” is a present tense verb. On-going winner, each day a winner. Everyone born of God is a winner. But if you are not born of God, then you are a loser. Then this sinful world and your own sinful flesh is going to chew you up and land you in hell.

In life there are winners and losers. Which are you?

“…for everyone born of God overcomes (nike/victory!) the world.”

Are you? Born of God? Your physical birth likely took place in a hospital. But when God gives birth, it happens at a baptismal font. If you are not baptized, I strongly urge you to speak with Pastor Seeger or myself about it. Because it is at your baptism that God gives birth to you, spiritual birth, making you part of his family, forgiving all your sins, making heaven your home, and works faith in you to receive these gifts. And that makes you a winner.

In life there are winners and losers. Which are you?

“…for everyone born of God overcomes (nike/victory!) the world.”

Now, we need to understand what the word “world” means, “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” “World” does NOT mean trees, birds, video games, pizza, liquor, movies, sports, cell phones, the internet. That’s NOT what “world” means in this passage. What “world” means in this passage is—a particular attitude that this world is drenched in. The attitude that this world is drenched in can be summed up this way–“I belong to me.” That’s what the one born of God overcomes. The attitude that “I belong to me. It’s MY life, MY time, MY money, MY weekend, MY sex drive, MY children, MY computer, MY happiness. I can choose what I want for MY morals or MY truth or MY reality. I belong to ME.” This is what the Christian is a winner over. A winner over the attitude that says, “I belong to me,”—that attitude is what makes a person a loser.

Because if all your stuff is yours, then so is your sin. And you have some, right? Well, sin sticks to you like stench sticks to outhouses and fat sticks to your arteries. And it is even more deadly. And the smell is even more offensive to the God to whom you will have to explain yourself. The God who will say, “I didn’t ask crazy impossiblilities, like to swim across the Atlantic Ocean or run a thousand marathons. All I asked you to do is drive 35 when the sign says 35, to be unreservedly loving, to have a passion for worship and my Word. And you couldn’t even do that?” That’s the moment that losers will find out just exactly how big of losers they actually are, no matter how successful they may have looked in life. And that’s when baptized Christians who used the gospel as an excuse for sinning (“It doesn’t matter if I skip church/smoke pot/cheat on my taxes, I’m forgiven anyway”), that’s when they find out that they had crossed back over to the loser side a long time ago. Because without repentance, there is no forgiveness.

In life there are winners and losers. Which are you?

“…for everyone born of God overcomes (nike/victory!) the world.”

Those born of God by baptism and faith are winners over this worldly attitude of “I belong me.” They are winners over that attitude every single day because Christ won that victory for them. And now one of our daily struggles is to live like we have won because of Christ. The power for this daily, on-going struggle comes from the next sentence in our text, “This is the victory that HAS OVERCOME (past tense, already done) the world, even our faith.” Faith. Not just any “faith”, but rather a faith that has a very specific content, as John says next, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” And in verse 1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ…”

This victorious faith has the content that Jesus is the Son of God. For while very few deny that there was a man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago, there are many who deny that he was the Son of God. But if he is not the Son of God, then he cannot be our Savior. For he had to be true God so that he could obey the law perfectly for us and so his death could pay for our sin. This is the content of this victorious faith.

As is the fact that Jesus is the “Christ”, Anointed One. Scripture teaches us that Christ was anointed to three specific offices—prophet, priest, king. Hymn #82 v.2 Which means what? As our Prophet, he speaks God’s Word to us in the Bible. Winners look in the Bible when you want to hear the voice of Jesus. As our Priest, he sacrificed himself —not a lamb or goat–and did that as a horrible and complete payment for all sin. Winners look to Christ’s cross as the payment for our sin—especially for all the times we give in to the worldly attitudes around us. And they look to Christ’s empty tomb as proof positive that our way to heaven has been secured. As our King, he rules in our hearts by faith and in the universe for the good of his bride, the Church. Winners look to Christ’s Word to guide you in how to lead your life in this mixed up world, and for comfort and courage in a world that seems to be less and less safe.

In life there are winners and losers. Which are you?

“…for everyone born of God overcomes (nike/victory!) the world.”

You don’t want to end up on the wrong side. You want to be on Christ’s side. Every day. For he is the greatest winner of all, isn’t he, defeating sin, death, and the devil by his resurrection from the dead.
But that’s just where things get a little confusing. Jesus is the greatest winner of all, there’s no doubt of that. But he didn’t look like a winner. He looked like a big loser.

He ended up on a cross, not the Jewish leaders. He ended up being the one who looked like the 95 pound weakling, being bullied and knocked around by the tough Roman soldiers. He ended up dying a horrible death, not Pilate—he went home and had supper.

And then when he finally did look like the winner, when he rose from the dead, victorious and glorious, Jesus did not show himself off to the world. The Jewish leaders did not get to see Jesus looking like the winner. The Roman soldiers did not get to see Jesus looking like the winner. Pilate did not get to see Jesus looking like the winner after his resurrection. To the world, the last image they had of Jesus was that of a loser.

And that’s how Jesus wants it. He hides his glory, hides his “winningness.” Why? So that people have to listen to his Word if they are ever going to get it, ever going to understand, ever going to come to faith. Because, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” And isn’t that exactly the point Jesus made when he appeared to doubting Thomas, as we heard in our gospel lesson? Remember what Jesus said, “Blessed are they who have NOT seen and yet have believed”—blessed are those who listen to his Word as the source of all truth, instead of relying on their eyes and feelings as the source of all truth.

That’s why our “winningness” by faith in Christ is hidden, too. Why we can still look like losers. Sometimes act like losers. Sometimes feel like losers. Because our “winningness” is hidden. Why does it have to be hidden? So that we have to listen to our Lord’s Word. So that when you look into the mirror in the morning and you see yet another wrinkle or pimple or depressed set of eyes as you remember yesterday’s F on that test or argument with your spouse or one too many beers when you promised you’d never do that again, you have to say to yourself, “But Jesus Christ says in his Word that by faith in him I am a winner, now and forever.” Say that to yourself, so you remember to act like you are a winner all day long, in the tedium, the temptations, the tense conversations, the failures–to act with the grace and generosity of a winner.

Because in life there are winners and there are losers. And “… everyone born of God” by faith and baptism is a winner. Guarenteed by Christ. Now and forever. Amen.