In 1 John 5:1-5 it says that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God has overcome the world. In the context of the issue John was addressing, belief is understood to refer to more than simple intellectual assent. It includes acceptance of the forgiveness of our sin and a relationship with Jesus that his death on our behalf made possible. So what does it mean to have overcome the world? From last week we know what it is to overcome, but how does a person overcome the world?
Usually when the Bible speaks of “the world” it is indicating the system by which the world operates. More specifically here the system(s) it uses to know God, to please God, or to be like God. In Numbers 16 is the account of a group of Israelites who thought that they could come to God on their own terms instead of on God’s terms as given through to Moses. Moses said that in doing so they treated the Lord with contempt. All the Old Testament regulations are fulfilled in Jesus and now it is through him that we know God. Any other system to reach or please God shows contempt for God. Therefore, if you believe Jesus is the Son of God you have overcome these systems and have eternal life and confidence to approach God himself!
As a result we can ask for anything God pleasing from God, knowing that he’s listening and, in listening, will give whatever it is we have asked for (verses 14-15). Now before you yell “Woo hoo! Jackpot!” have a look at the context immediately before and after this passage. It’s all about loving and serving each other, not ourselves. The promise to give us whatever we ask for is as much or more our mission as it is a promise. In fact this is the real work of ministry to which each Christ follower has been assigned. It is to bring others before God and pray on their behalf for God’s plan in their lives.
And don’t use the cop-out phrase “Lord do such and such for this person, if it is your will.” The work here is to wrestle against our own ideas of what is best so that we can hear from God and know what is pleasing to God and then with confidence pray for that to be done. This is called intercession and it is the primary work of ministry for all Christ followers.