You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.1 John 4:4
What is important in this verse is to note the ground of the overcomers' victory. How was it that they overcame? If there is any way that you and I can escape the extreme pressures of theological error today, it will be by this same way. We understand this way of overcoming not so much by observing what John says as what he does not say. These
dear children who are
from God did not overcome the false teachers with all their subtle, pernicious error so beautifully and attractively presented because they had a superior intelligence. There is none of this. John says,
You overcame them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. In other words, it was not anything these Christians had that delivered them; it was the one who dwelt within them. It was the greatness of God that kept them straight. This is what will keep us straight today.
When you look around at the success of evil in history, and especially in our day, you can see that the enemy has great power. Think of our world and all that it is going through in terms of agony, struggle, evil, violence, and heartache, with confusion abounding on every side. When we think of the violence, the passion, the tears, and the death with which our world is characterized, we can see something of the greatness of the power of the enemy. No wonder someone has said:
Our race had a hopeful beginning,
But man spoiled his chances by sinning,
We hope that the story will end in God's glory,
But at present the other side's winning.
It does look that way, doesn't it? But it isn't—despite all the appearances. God is greater than the power of the enemy. In fact, it is almost ludicrous to put it that way. God is so incomparably greater that there is no contest whatsoever. This is where the eye of faith must always turn in hours of darkness, discomfort, or despair; turn to what the Scriptures reveal as the truth about God and how incomparably greater He is than anything that is present among or behind humans.
In writing his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul considered Corinth, that beautiful city of culture and refinement with its love of wisdom and the great thinkers of the golden age of Greece, and he forswore every approach on the basis of human wisdom and said,
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). The reason he gave was that the weakness of God is stronger than humans, and the foolishness of God is wiser than humans. That is the greatness of God.
Father, how grateful I am that You have given Your Word to me. May I value it, read it search it, and seek its wisdom in every relationship of life.
Theological debates can be enlightening sources of learning, yet also wellsprings of pride. Have we first drunk deeply of the life of Christ in us?