1 John 5:1-5: Five Ways Love Becomes Practical
November 18, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John is again interweaving reflections on the necessary connection between doctrinal orthodoxy and moral obedience. He does so in five ways:
First, If you are part of the family of God, you will love others in that family too. John talks about those who believe in Jesus are born of God, and therefore such people will love others who have been born of God too. It is contradictory in terms, and a spiritual impossibility, for someone to be a child of God and not love other children of God. All of us sometimes struggle to like certain individuals who are Christians; but part of the sign of being a Christian is a love for God’s people. You cannot love Christ and hate the church, be born of God and not love others who are also born of God.
Second, To love other Christians is to love God and keep his commandments. John is going back up the ladder again – from love of Christians to love of Christ, from love of God’s people to love of God – and saying that just as there is a connection between loving God and loving God’s people, so the same works the other way around too. If you love God’s people, then you must love God. There are certain kinds of people who seem to enjoy church or Christian community more than they enjoy God himself! But if we truly love God’s people, we will love God.
Third, To love God means to obey his commands. If you love God, you will want to obey God. It is really impossible to actually love God and not want to and aim to keep his commandments. The love of God leads to a desire to obey God, a will to please God, and a practice of obedience to God.
Fourth, Obeying God’s commandments is not burdensome. We can sometimes think of laws and obedience to laws as a burden. But the law of God for the Christian is not a burden. Why? Because when you become a Christian, you receive the Spirit who gives you the power to do what God commands of you. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world.” As a Christian, you now have the Spirit of God, you are born of God, and you now have the power to obey God. And his commandments are sweet: they teach you the right path to walk in and the way to follow.
Fifth, The way towards obedience is faith. Strangely to us – because we think of faith in notional not devotional terms – John teaches that the way to obedience is faith. “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” We are saved by faith, without works, but that faith (if real) inevitably leads to works. We are saved by faith alone but not by the faith that remains alone. Through faith we are connected to Christ who saves us and transforms us. “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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