Question 1. “In what way did Christ overcome the world?”
Question 2. “What is it to be an overcomer? John writes in his first epistle of the young men as having overcome the wicked one, and in Revelation 2:3, we have several references to overcomers. The world is a system antagonistic to God, of which Satan is the god and prince.”
Granted, that the world is such a system, it is clear that no more wonderful words could be uttered than those in which our blessed Lord said: “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). They were spoken at the close of His testimony and had reference to it as a whole. Who that knows himself and his natural susceptibility to respond, more or less, to the subtle overtures of that ensnaring system but truly owns how often he has been ensnared? Not so with the Lord. That He overcame, in every particular, that terrible world which knows not the Father and cannot receive the Spirit, is traced throughout the Gospels. There we may read of a path absolutely unsullied by every surrounding snare, for “He knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” The prince of this world found nothing in Him.
It was by His essential holiness that He overcame. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.”
He was ever subject to the word of God, as the temptation in the wilderness illustrates. He came to do the will of God. That was His meat.
There has passed through this world One, and only one, who proved Himself scatheless and victorious. He was weary in body; He slept; He was hungered and athirst; He wept and sighed deeply in spirit, but He never once yielded to the world. He prayed, and that in agony; He allowed Himself to be bound, blind-folded, spat upon, smitten, and crucified, but there never was a single moral surrender to “the system that is antagonistic to God.”
And so, having reached the other side, and while viewing His saints exposed to the world in its varied forms of temptation (see Rev. 2, 3), He said, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (chap. 3:21). He can relate His own victory and thereby encourage His still contending people, confronted as they are by the world.
2. We overcome just in proportion to our refusal of the world. This means conflict, and for it we may find abundant grace.
Lastly, the “young men” (in 1 John 2) had overcome the wicked one in his special anti-Christian doctrines. This is one of the lines of the epistle. Nonetheless, they were charged to “love not the world.”
So long as our conflict lasts we cannot have overcome; but we should always be overcoming because we, as children of God, have the power of His Spirit to do so. We should on that ground wage a successful battle against every foe, whether it be the world externally or the flesh internally, or that enemy who would dispute our footing in the heavenly places (see Eph. 6).
“Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”