“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)
The Apostle John’s reference to his readers as “little children” should not be taken as he saying his readers are physically immature or little kids. Rather, the phrase refers to a special relationship or endearment or association with people of any age. I can relate in that I just completed a conversation with a young man, a husband and father who is also a successful attorney who was in our children’s department in church some 40 years ago. I still view him as one of my “kids.”
With this special and heartfelt relationship John has with these believers, he says that they belong to God. They also have overcome the many antichrists that have sought to undermine their faith. They are victors and ones who have prevailed over the evil one.
How is this victory possible? It is possible only because within each believer in Christ is the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). This is what John means when he writes, “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Up to now, the writer assured his dear children (teknia;), the readers, that they had overcome these antichrists. The readers had successfully resisted the antichrists (false prophets) by means of the One who is in them (no doubt another reference to the Spirit; cf. 3:24; 4:2). Reliance on God is the secret of all victory whether over heresy or any other snare. The indwelling One—the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer (3:24; 4:13; Rom. 8:9) and is thus “the One who is in you”—is mightier than the one who is in the world, namely, Satan (cf. 1 John 5:19). He is called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); “the god of this Age” (2 Cor. 4:4); and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2).”
Dr. Don Carson explains that, “There is no need for Christians to be fearful. The word “you” is emphatic; believers are set in strong contrast to the antichrists. Believers are from God, and they have overcome. This short letter has the verb ‘to overcome’ six times, which is more than any other NT book other than Revelation (seventeen times); the note of victory is unusually prominent. Here the verb is in the perfect tense, which shows that the victory is more than a passing phase; it is decisive and continuing. It comes about because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. The first one could be any member of the Godhead; all that we can say is that it is a divine person. The second cannot be any other than the devil. John is saying that God is more powerful by far than the devil and that those in whom God dwells accordingly overcome evil.”
How has the indwelling Holy Spirit been helping you to overcome the evil one recently? How has He helped you regarding your thought life, your words and speech along with your behavior? Take time today to thank the Lord for the Comforter (John 14:26) who dwells within you and who is greater.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!