Christian Living

5 Characteristics of an Overcomer

The apostle John wrote the 5th chapter of 1st John, to give believers confidence that they possessed eternal life. He referred to genuine believers as overcomers. This describes anyone who leads the victorious life in Jesus Christ. The Greek word that’s translated overcomes or overcomer means “to conquer”, or “to have victory”. This word reflects a superiority that leads to overwhelming success. In this case, he’s referring to someone who has overcome Satan’s evil world system.

John spoke of overcoming the world more than anyone else. Of the 24 times this word is used in the New Testament, the Apostle John uses it 21 times. Let’s look now at the 5 characteristics of those who have overcome the world.

1) Saving faith

John clearly defines who the overcomers are. They’re everyone who’s been born again by putting their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1 John 5:4 NKJV

John pointed to faith as the secret of a victorious, obedient life. Saving faith is the kind of faith a person must have in order to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ so completely that they accept it as fact. They would rather face certain death than to deny their faith. Genuine believers demonstrate the characteristic of an overcomer by continuing in a permanent relationship with Jesus that lasts their entire lifetime.

Jesus even used the word overcomer to describe Himself.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NKJV

Just as Jesus overcame the world, we too can overcome it by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

2) Answered prayer

Overcomers pray according to God’s will and not according to their own desires. This is why we study the bible so we can know His will.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15 NKJV

The apostle John taught that answered prayer depends on obedience to God’s commandments and avoidance of sin. God’s children know His word and seek to please Him, so God hears and answers their prayers.

3) Victory over sin and Satan

We can know that we have overcome the world when the Holy Spirit helps us break free of the bondage of habitual sin.

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
1 John 5:18 ESV

God protects the believer from Satan and the dark forces of this world. No evil can touch a genuine believer unless God allows it. Satan can persecute, tempt, test, and accuse us all day long, but God protects us by placing limits on what Satan can do. The book of Job is a perfect example of this.

4) You know you’re a child of God

You are either a child of God or a child of Satan and his evil world system.

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10 ESV

Overcomers know they are a child of God and because of their love for what God has done for them they practice righteousness. Those who are lost usually don’t realize that they’re a child of Satan, but they are. Even if they didn’t blatantly reject God, and even if they just haven’t made up their mind yet, they are a child of Satan in God’s eyes.

5) We have spiritual understanding

The greatest certainty that we are an overcomer is that when we’re born again, we receive the Holy Spirit who is our Helper. The Holy Spirit gives us understanding to discern the things of God.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
1 John 5:20

Beloved, the apostle John wants genuine believers to be confident in their salvation. I also want you to have this confidence, which is why I created the free Assurance of Salvation eBook. I encourage you to download and study it today.

May God bless you as you search the scriptures,

I first professed my belief in Jesus as the Son of God and accepted Him as my Savior more than 40 years ago. Since that day, I’ve never doubted that Jesus is who He claims to be. However, that belief didn’t keep me from living my life on my own terms for several years, which resulted in repeating the same sins over and over. In 2013, I became determined to make Jesus the Lord of my life. It was then that the Holy Spirit gave me an insatiable appetite for God’s word. As I turned more and more of my life over to Jesus and cooperated with the Holy Spirit, He has helped me break free of the sins that once enslaved me. Since then, I’ve been strongly compelled to share God’s word and to warn others that we need to get ready because Jesus is coming soon.

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