is the season of giving. It's a time when we take careful stock of what we
have, what we are going to give, and later on what we have received. This
passage is about having and giving and receiving God's love. The Apostle
John's letters to the church are truly love letters. That is not to say they
are not deep or difficult. The battle between love and hate dominates our
world. I have that battle in my life and I will assume that you do too,
beloved. Those who would love will struggle. John knew this well. He is
writing to encourage us.
The old-timers referred to John as the "Apostle of Love." We have studied before how he would cling to Christ and try to absorb every loving word. It is interesting that when the time came for the Great Revelation of the knowledge of Christ's return it was entrusted to this man who had longed so for God's love. A man of love was given all the knowledge. Many of us who are seeking knowledge today would do well to notice this.
No man can fully measure up to God's love. Mark 3:17 reveals that originally Christ had nicknamed John and his brother "The Sons of Thunder." The end of the ninth chapter of Luke shows us a John who still had some growing up to do. Of course it's easy to point fingers at John. The truth is I still have some growing to do, also. Loving as God loves is turning into a life-time lesson for me. Paul spoke of this in his life in I Corinthians 13:11. What about you friend? Where are you in this process? Only you and the Lord know.
Let's begin our study at the end of chapter 4:
I John 4:18- "There
is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath
torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
God's love brings courage. Fear keeps us from loving. An abundance of fear indicates a lack of God's love.
I John 4: 19- "We
love Him because He first loved us."
God has to teach each one of us to love. He begins by loving us.
I John 4: 20-21- "If
a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that
loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath
not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love
his brother also."
Anger, bitterness, and even indifference toward one another are unmistakable indicators of a lack of God's love. We MUST love one another. We can't just slip away alone and experience the love of God. God didn't set it up that way. That's not His will. He doesn't love from a distance. God's love will be clearly defined as we begin Chapter 5.
I John 5, Verse 1-
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one
that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him."
We can't find God's love without Jesus. It sounds OK to say that all the religions lead you to God, but it doesn't work out in reality. Man's effort, his culture and his logic do not dictate God's love. God wrapped all His love up in swaddling clothes and sent Him to us in a stable. Jesus is the key to God's love. How well old John knew that. Have you encountered God's love? Have you met His Son?
Verses 2-3- "By this
we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his
commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous."
This is the great counterpoint to loving our brothers. Loving our brothers will not work out if that is all we do. We have to actively love and obey God. This will make us fit to love one another. I don't know about you, but I want any person who is loving me to be a keeper of God's commandments. And John is right, when we accept God's love the New Covenant Commandments are not grievous. It's so simple: God reaches out to us through His Son to bring us love. Then He teaches us how to love. Then He commands us to love Him with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That's not a great burden, friend. And it's not rocket science. So when is that dam going to break forth and the Love of God engulf you and me and the Church and our dying world? John says this can't happen if we doubt God's love. Through the Holy Spirit, John is trying to show us the way:
Verses 4-5- "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is He that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God."
I had stated above that no man can fully measure up to God's love. That isn't entirely true. There is a Man Who does. God became a Man. God, Who Himself IS love (see I John 4:8), out of love, chose to JOIN us down here on this cursed world to teach us what love is all about. Love is not trivial, friend. It isn't cheap. It isn't impractical. It isn't intangible. It is real. God is Love. And the Testimony of Jesus, which is the New Covenant, builds up our faith in God and His love for us.
John presents it this way in Verses 6-12. He states that the Spirit of God testifies to our spirits that Jesus is real, and also we have access to the facts of Jesus' life on earth. John is indicating that this should build our faith: Jesus was born of a woman, He lived, did miracles, died, was resurrected, and ascended. John presents 5 witnesses who all testify of these things:
#1-2. "The Water and the Blood"- This is the earthly evidence. Mary was a real woman, and she was really pregnant. When the time came for His birth there was water and blood, I think it's that simple. Less simple is the testimony of John (see John 19:34) that there was blood and water shed at Christ's death, also. I think this speaks of the fact that His death brought spiritual birth to us.
#3-4. "The Father and the Word"- If you were in Heaven today, The Father God Himself would testify of His Son and His Love for you. When John says "The Word" he means Jesus (see John 1:1). I believe John always associated God's words with the actions he had seen in Christ. Jesus Christ is in Heaven today, a living testimony to eternal love.
#5. "The Holy Spirit"- Witnesses #1-2 are on the earth, witnesses #3-4 are in Heaven, but notice that His Holy Spirit is found in both places! Just think on that. His Spirit from Heaven is down here with us also! This is the sure gateway to Heaven. If you resist the Holy Spirit forever, you will be lost forever. I think that this is the "sin unto death" John mentions in Verses 16-17. But John's purpose is not to discourage or condemn, it is to teach us to surrender to God's Holy Spirit:
Verse 13- "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
The Devil desperately wants us to remain lost or uncertain. He may pull out all the stops to try and prevent us from receiving the witness of God's Spirit. As I said, the way of love is not easy.
Verses 14-15- "And
this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything
according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us,
whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of
Now John presents the formula for getting all your prayers answered 100% of the time. No, I am not crazy (at least, not about this). It is true. The secret is right here in the Word of God. There is no code to break, you don't have to send in money (but you can if you want to). Here it is: God is love. His will is to love us and for us to love Him and one another. Ask anything that is within His will and He will grant it. Let's look at an example. If you ask God for a new car, you may get it (He's more than able to supply it) but you may not. It may not be in His will. HOWEVER, if you love God, in full confidence you can pray tomorrow morning or right now, "God, let me love someone who really needs love today." That prayer will be answered. It is 100% guaranteed by the Apostle John as found in the Holy Bible. This is what is meant by praying "in Jesus' name." Jesus is in Heaven, but you and I are down here right now, and we can pray that His Spirit fill us and use us to do today what Jesus did when He was on the earth. Now, that's not the whole story. I tend to over-simplify. Struggles will come. Our enemy does not want an army of little Christs released into our needy world. But God does. That is what being in the Church, "His Body," is all about. John says these prayers will have the power of God behind them.
Verse 18-19 "We know
that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God
keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we
are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness"
The enemies, the struggles, the battles, the pain of loss. Love is not easy to find or to hold. Where do you stand today? You must be born again to find God's love.
Verse 20- "And we
know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that
we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his
Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."
I struggle to love. There was a time when I couldn't even love at all. Then Jesus came into my life. Now I love God because I understand the truth about Him through Jesus. This is why I sing songs about Him. To me they are all love songs. I love Jesus. But I still struggle to continue to love. And I know this hurts God. When I stop loving I stop worshipping Him.
Verse 21- "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
That hateful or selfish thought or word or action is no minor infraction. The commandment is to love as He loves. Anything less is idolatry.
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