The disciples of Christ are in the world, but they are not of the world. They have been chosen out of the world, but sent into the world as witnesses for Christ.
Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:16, 18).
The world is hostile to the cause of Christ and hate Christ’s disciples even as it has hated Christ. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18).
No one can therefore follow and serve the Lord faithfully without overcoming the world. It is therefore very crucial for anyone who wants to follow and serve Christ on the His terms to know how to overcome the world and its lusts, evil influences, pollutions and oppositions.
First of all, it is very crucial to understand what it means to overcome the world. The word ‘overcome’ in the New Testament is from the Greek word ‘nikao’. This word is a verb which denotes an action, occurrence, or a state of existence.
The word ‘nikao’ literally means to subdue, to conquer, to overcome, to prevail or get victory. It implies to carry off the victory, to come off victorious, or to maintain one’s cause. It is used of Christ as victorious over all His foes.
It is also used of Christians that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, tribulations and temptations.
From the understanding of the Greek word, ‘nikao’ translated ‘overcome’ in the New Testament, it is clear that overcoming the world is not a passive thing, but an active, dynamic or on-going experience or exercise. Overcoming the world implies not seeking after or pursuing the earthly things like the children of this world (the unbelievers) do.
Jesus commands: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33 NKJV).
It also speaks of not loving or living for the things of this world as the ungodly do: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV).
The believer who is overcoming the world is the one who though living in the world is not conforming to the world, or living according to the mode, standard, maxim, precept, custom, principle, or fashion of this world (Rom. 12:2, Col. 2:20-22).
The believer who is overcoming the world is the one who in spite of the abounding distractions, temptations, tribulations or persecutions he faces or encounters in the world still maintain his focus, allegiance, loyalty, dedication or commitment to Christ and His cause, vision or purpose (Heb. 6:10-12).
Overcoming the world connotes not allowing the pressures and cares of this world to dampen, suppress or quench your first love for Christ, but rather holding fast your first love and confidence firm to the end (Heb. 3:14).
In a nutshell, as Apostle Paul puts it, it is to be dead or crucified to the world and the world to you. Paul said, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14 RSV).
However, no man can overcome the world and its negative influences without first confronting and defeating Satan, the god or ruler of this world (2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2, John 12:31, 14:30).
For the Scripture says, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. “But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.” (Luke 11:21-22 NKJV).
Unfortunately, there is no natural man who is stronger or wiser than Satan, the Devil, the great dragon and the serpent of old, and who can defeat him, thereby overcoming the world which is under the sway, influence, dominion and power of the devil.
How then can a mortal man overcome the world which is under the authority of Satan? Jesus Christ has done it for mankind on the Cross! Praise God!
Is there anything else for man to do? Certainly there is!
First, victory over the world is yours when you put your faith in the person of Christ and His finished redemptive work on the Cross.
The Scripture declares, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5 NKJV).
Christ’s victory over Satan – the god of this world is for all mankind (1 John 2:2). How do you make it yours?
It becomes a reality in your life or your personal experience through the new or spiritual birth!
When you believe in Jesus Christ and His atonement for your sins on the Cross and confess Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, you are born again as a new creation and you also become spiritually joined to the Lord Jesus, thereby becoming one with Him.
The Scripture says, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17 NKJV).
Beloved, through the new birth experience you have become one with Christ. What then are the implications or benefits of your spiritual union with Christ?
First, by reason of your spiritual union with Christ, you died with Christ and also rose up with Him (Rom. 6:3-5, Gal. 2:20). “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3 NKJV).
You are now dead to the world and all its lusts and enticements, but alive to God. And because the world has no power, control or influence over he who is dead, you have overcome the world (Gal. 6:14, Rom. 6:7).
Second, because you are now one with Christ, all that Christ has done, achieved or accomplished is now imputed to you. His victory over the god of this word through the Cross is now your own victory.
That is why Jesus said, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV).
Third, by virtue of your union with Christ all that Christ has is now credited to your account; you are now heir of God and joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). As a joint heir with Christ, you now share His authority, power or dominion over the god of this world.
Jesus said, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19 NKJV).
Fourth, though the world is under the dominion and influence of Satan, but you are not even though you are living in the world! How can that be?
It is simply because by the reason of your spiritual union with Christ you have been raised up together with Him and made to sit together with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6), “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” (Eph. 1:21 NKJV).
So, though you are physically living and walking about in the world, you are spiritually operating from the heavenly places, far above the god of this world.
Lastly, because of your spiritual union with Christ, you are now all that Christ is. The Scripture testifies that: “as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 NKJV).
Like Christ, you are now the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness of this world cannot comprehend, apprehend, defeat, dominate or prevail against you (John 1:5). Hallelujah!
That is why Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14, 16) NKJV.
Though the world is full of darkness, Christ’s disciples are the sons of light and as light always overcomes darkness, they have overcome this world (John 12:36).
Paul writes, “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” (1 Thess. 5:5 NKJV). Praise God!
While it is absolutely true that all the believers or followers of Christ have overcome the world through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:37, 1 Cor. 15:57, 2 Cor. 2:14); yet many believers today are not experiencing or walking in the victory in their day to day interaction with the world.
What could be responsible for that?
Your daily victory over the world and its lusts, cares, and trials depend primarily on your spiritual understanding or revelation knowledge of the victory that Christ has already won and given to you through His death on the Cross.
It is the revelation knowledge of Christ and what He did for you on the Cross that produces the faith that overcomes the world. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV).
Ignorance only generates or produces fear, doubt or unbelief!
The only way or means to total and lasting victory over the world and all its temptations, distractions, pollutions, tribulations or persecutions is the Cross of Christ.
That is why Paul said, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14 NKJV).
Paul was able to overcome all the trials, tribulations and persecutions he encountered in the world and finished his race and kept the faith because the world was dead to Paul and he also was dead to the world through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4:7).
It is only by dying that you also can overcome the world, for it is only the dead that the world cannot tempt, hurt, wound, disturb, or distract!
Unfortunately, many believers today are too alive or sensitive to the world. This is why the world and its lusts, trials, cares or pressures are overcoming, overwhelming and dominating them on a daily basis.
Since the believers’ victory over the world came through the Cross of Christ, it can only be sustained or experienced daily through the Cross. It is absolutely impossible to follow Jesus closely, wholeheartedly or faithfully in this world without bearing your cross daily.
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
Beloved, any day you fail to bear or apply the Cross in your dealing with the world, the cares and trials of this world will rule, dominate and overwhelm your heart and thus distract or hinder you from focusing on the Lord, listening to the Lord, obeying, serving and following the Lord.