‘Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
This is one of the most reassuring promises in the Bible for the believer. Because “we are of God” and because He is in us (as the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:16) and is “greater . . . than he that is in the world,” we have already overcome!
I firmly believe that there are no empty promises in the Bible, and I know that this passage is true. But there are times when I do not feel like I am over anything. Just what does this promise promise? And who are “them” that I have to overcome?
To begin with, the Greek word means to conquer, overcome, prevail, or get the victory. It is translated similarly in speaking of the Lord’s ultimate victory as He assumes the throne in heaven to bring about the end of the age (Revelation 5:5). And in the same way, we are to conquer as we “reign in life” (Romans 5:17) because we are “born of God” (1 John 5:4). The Lord Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and since we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we too will get the victory over the world (1 John 5:5; Romans 12:2).
The “them” are those who are driven to embrace ungodly antichrist doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1) and worldly philosophies (James 4:4). They are those who “love the world” (1 John 2:15-17) and seek to spoil (plunder and/or take captive) the people of God (Colossians 2:8). We, on the other hand, are to prevail over evil with good (Romans 12:21) and take them captive with the mighty “weapons of our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), which are the Word of God and prayer (Ephesians 6:13-18). HMM III