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"By This, We Know!"
1 John 5:2-5
Wednesday AM Bible Study
February 1, 2006
The great theme of this letter is the assurance of fellowship with Jesus
Christ; and one of the main supporting themes of that great theme is love
for our brothers and sisters. We cannot enjoy fellowship with Christ, nor
say that we walk in the light as Christ is in the light (1:7), if we don't
also love our brother or sister who is in Christ.
But how do we go about doing it? How do we "love" some particular brother
or sister in Christ that - to be perfectly honest - we don't even "like"?
I. BEGIN WITH LOVE FOR GOD (v. 2).
A. John's apparent "circular" argument (see 5:1) shows that I can't love
God if I don't also love my brother or sister; and that I can't love my
brother or sister if I don't also love God.
1. John says that we can "know" that we "love" the children of God; and
both of the verbs he uses to "know" and to "love" - are in the present tense
in the original Greek. John is saying that we can "know" - in a progressive,
ongoing, continual way - that we ongoingly, progressively, continually "love"
the children of God. The rule that we use to measure our love, and thus
affirm that love to ourselves, is our own love toward God.
2. If we truly love God as I should, we will love others as He does. We
will not see people for what they are on the outside; but as He sees
them - for what they are on the inside.
B. The place to start in loving people, then, is by making our own love
toward God the beginning point. If we truly love Him as we should - that is,
by recognizing the depths of His own unmerited love toward us, shown in the
sacrifice of His precious Son for our sins on the cross - then we will love
each other as He loves us, in spite of how unlovable each one of us may be.
II. HOLD TO GOD'S DEFINITION OF LOVE (v. 3).
A. The love of God is given practical definition through the keeping of His
commandments. Jesus clearly taught this principle to His disciples: that if
someone truly loves Him, they will show it by faithfully keeping His
commandments (John 14:15; 15:10; Luke 6:46). My love for my brother, then,
is inseparable from my love for God; and my love for God is inseparable from
the keeping of His commandments (see Matthew 22:36-40).
B. He adds, "And His commandments are not burdensome." This is not a
mere"understatement". Rather, it's an affirmation of what is now true for
the child of God in Christ.
1. In the strength of our own flesh, the keeping of God's commandments is
not just "burdensome"; it's impossible! This is shown by what it says in
the next verses; " For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And
this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is he who
overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (vv.
2. Apart from God's grace, we have no power in ourselves to keep God's
commandments. But whoever places their faith in Jesus Christ has overcome
the world - made victorious by the indwelling Holy Spirit (4:4; see also Phil.
4:13). God's commandments are no longer a burden to me. They are a joy to
keep, through His power and in His love at work within me.
III. REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD (vv. 4-5).
A. Note the principle: faith in Jesus Christ". In the context of the
passage itself, the faith it is describing is a faith in Jesus Christ as the
saving Son of God. The Bible describes this principle in action in
Revelation 12:13. There, we read of how the devil - "the accuser of our
brethren" - is cast down upon the earth and rages against God's people. But
we're told, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word
of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."
B. Note the practice: whoever overcomes the world does so by an active,
progressive, persistent faith in Jesus Christ. John says, "Who is he who
overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (see
also 1 Cor. 15:56-58).
C. Note the person: that is, to who it is that we're to particularly love.
John said at the beginning of the passage that we're to love the children of
God. Who are the children of God? John writes, "Whoever is born of God
overcomes the world. . . . Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who
believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"