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1 John 5:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Whatsoever is born of God - Παν το γεγεννημενον· Whatsoever (the neuter for the masculine) is begotten of God: overcometh the world. "I understand by this," says Schoettgen, "the Jewish Church, or Judaism, which is often termed הזה עולם olam hazzeh, this world. The reasons which induce me to think so are,

  1. Because this κοσμος, world, denied that the Messiah was come; but the Gentiles did not oppose this principle.
  • Because he proves the truth of the Christian religion against the Jews, reasoning according to the Jewish manner; whence it is evident that he contends, not against the Gentiles, but against the Jews. The sense therefore is, he who possesses the true Christian faith can easily convict the Jewish religion of falsity."
  • That is, He can show the vanity of their expectations, and the falsity of their glosses and prejudices. Suppose we understand by the world the evil principles and practices which are among men, and in the human heart; then the influence of God in the soul may be properly said to overcome this; and by faith in the Son of God a man is able to overcome all that is in the world, viz., the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world - The world, in its maxims, and precepts, and customs, does not rule him, but he is a freeman. The idea is, that there is a conflict between religion and the world, and that in the heart of every true Christian religion secures the victory, or triumphs. In John 16:33, the Saviour says, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” See the notes at that verse. He obtained a complete triumph over him “who rules the darkness of the world,” and laid the foundation for a victory by his people over all vice, error, and sin. John makes this affirmation of all who are born of God. “Whatsoever,” or, as the Greek is, “Everything which is begotten of God,” ( πᾶν τὸ γεγενημένον pan to gegenēmenonmeaning to affirm, undoubtedly, that “in every instance” where one is truly regenerated, there is this victory over the world. See the James 4:4 note; 1 John 2:15-16 note. It is one of the settled maxims of religion, that every man who is a true Christian gains a victory over the world; and consequently a maxim as settled, that where the spirit of the world reigns supremely in the heart, there is no true religion. But, if this be a true principle, how many professed Christians are there who are strangers to all claims of piety - for how many are there who are wholly governed by the spirit of this world!

    And this is the victory - This is the source or means of the victory which is thus achieved.

    Even our faith - Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 John 5:5. He overcame the world, John 16:33, and it is by that faith which makes us one with him, and that imbues us with his Spirit, that we are able to do it also.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also; and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly. Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.
    Ellen G. White
    Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 182

    Help them also to appreciate its wonderful beauty. Many books of no value, books that are exciting and unhealthful, are recommended, or at least permitted to be used, because of their supposed literary value. Why should we direct our children to drink of these polluted streams, when they may have free access to the pure fountains of the word of God? The Bible has a fullness, a strength, a depth of meaning, that is inexhaustible. Encourage the children and youth to seek out its treasures, both of thought and of expression. CT 182.1

    As the beauty of these precious things attracts their minds, a softening, subduing power will touch their hearts. They will be drawn to Him who has thus revealed Himself to them. And there are few who will not desire to know more of His works and ways. CT 182.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 259

    The greatest victories gained for the cause of God are not the result of labored argument, ample facilities, wide influence, or abundance of means; they are gained in the audience chamber with God, when with earnest, agonizing faith men lay hold upon the mighty arm of power. GW 259.1

    True faith and true prayer—how strong they are! They are as two arms by which the human suppliant lays hold upon the power of Infinite Love. Faith is trusting in God,—believing that He loves us, and knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership, and accepts its blessings. Truth, uprightness, purity, are pointed out as secrets of life's success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these. Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency. GW 259.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 140

    *****

    In the case of Sister Hannah More, I was shown that the neglect of her was the neglect of Jesus in her person. Had the Son of God come in the humble, unpretending manner in which He journeyed from place to place when He was upon earth, He would have met with no better reception. It is the deep principle of love that dwelt in the bosom of the humble Man of Calvary that is needed. Had the church lived in the light, they would have appreciated this humble missionary whose whole being was aglow to be engaged in her Master's service. Her very earnest interest was misconstrued. Her externals were not just such as would meet the approval of the eye of taste and fashion, for familiarity with strict economy and poverty had left its impress upon her apparel. Her hard-earned means had been exhausted as fast as obtained to benefit others, to get light to those whom she hoped to lead to the cross of truth. 2T 140.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 346

    When a man is earnestly engaged day by day in overcoming the defects in his character, he is cherishing Christ in his soul-temple; the light of Christ is in him. Under the bright beams of the light of Christ's countenance his entire being becomes elevated and ennobled. He has the peace of heaven in his soul. Many give loose rein to passion, avarice, selfishness, and deception, and all the time excuse themselves and lay the blame on the circumstances which brought around the trial to themselves. This has been your case. God permitted your surroundings to exist to develop character. But you could have made your surroundings; for by resisting or enduring temptation, circumstances are controlled by the might of the will in the name of Jesus. This is overcoming as Christ overcame. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 4T 346.1

    Brother F, God is merciful to you. Your life has been a mistake, nothing like what it might and should have been. There has not been in you genuine manliness, true elevation and purity of feeling. You have not had proper self-respect, and therefore have not had proper respect for others. You have not magnified Christ and the power of His grace. You have needed guardians all the way along through life. The same frivolity and fickleness, the same inconsideration and lack of self-control, the same selfishness and impatience, which were seen in your conduct at an early period of your life, are developed in a marked manner now that you are past the meridian. This need not have been, had you put away childish feelings and childish temper, and put on the firmness of the man. You have favored yourself altogether to your injury. Your pains and infirmities have been magnified. You look at them and talk complainingly of them, but do not look away to Jesus. Think how little you suffer, how little you endure, in comparison with the sufferings of Christ; and He was sinless—the Just suffering for the unjust. 4T 346.2

    A good tree will not produce corrupt fruit. Good conversation will accompany a good conscience, as surely as good fruit will be produced by a good tree. If a man is unkind and churlish in his family and to others connected with him, no one need to inquire how he will manage in the church. He will exhibit the same petulant, overbearing disposition which he shows at home. No man can have the spirit and the mind of Christ without being rendered better by it in all the relations and duties of life. Murmuring, complaining, and fretful passion are not the fruit of good principles. You will need to be instant in prayer, because you have not strengthened the high, noble, moral traits of character. This is to be done now by you. The work will be difficult, but it is positively essential. 4T 347.1

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