Do you love God?
We live in a nation of religious people, people who claim to know and love God. Perhaps you consider yourself religious? Often the hearts of religious people are in love with the world. They are influenced by the priorities and values of the world around them (1 John 2:15-16).
The key verse in the Book of First John is found in chapter 5 verse 13. Lets begin in verse 11:
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
John is writing from Ephesus to a church that has been infiltrated by Gnosticism. Many people were claiming to know God and to love Him yet they were living in a way that revealed their claims were not true.
The leading religious philosophy of that day was something known as Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that the world was created by lesser deities and that Christ came to reveal the secret knowledge from God that would give them oneness with God and ultimately bring about redemption.
- Knowledge is superior to virtue. Pursue education to be successful, it is not who you are but what you know that really matters.
- The Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. Scripture can be understood only by a few. Secret societies proportion mystic or hidden knowledge of the afterlife.
- Human reasoning to solve the difficult questions about life. Taught that evil in the world means it is impossible for God to be the only Creator, for He cannot create evil.
- The incarnation cannot be accepted because deity cannot unite itself with anything material (body). Let’s create a God in our own image, one we can understand.
- There is no resurrection. Live only for today, there is no tomorrow. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die and that is the end.
John writes First John to combat this false teaching. He lays carefully points to the reality that if a person is in fellowship with God there are several tests that will reveal the truth of the claim:
- Doctrinal test – Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (4:2,15)
- Moral test – Do you obey the commands of God? (2:3-5)
- Love test – Do you love the people of God? (4:7-8,12)
So the question this morning is for everyone of us here: Do you pass or fail these tests?
Have you embraced a true understanding of God as He reveals Himself in Scripture? Do you love God? If we don’t love God it is impossible for us to love others the way we should! Let’s look then at 1 John 4:17-19.
THE PERSON OF LOVE (19)
Love originates with the Father
The very character and nature of God is love (8,16, Jn. 3:16). Our love is a response to the love that He first manifested to us!
The world’s philosophy is: “Love Yourself”. Someone has said, “Love is a powerful force. The answer to most problems is to Love your self more…”
What rubbish! The problem is not that we don’t love ourselves too little, it is that we love ourselves too much!
A Divine love given freely, with no merit on the part of the recipient, nor anything lovely that should attract the attention of the love giver. (Eph 1:3-6).
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Culture in Ephesus and ancient world was an “eros” culture from which we get the word “erotic”. Even their gods were immoral and erotic. The ‘agapeo’ that John was speaking of was unheard of!
This word translated “love” in our text comes from Greek word meaning, “the desire for and delight in the well being of the one loved that leads to self-sacrificing efforts on their behalf.”
He loved us when we were yet dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1). In eternity past God purposed that He would show forth the unspeakable riches of His love and grace through His Son Jesus Christ!
Love became manifest through the Son (9-10; 2:16)
For love to be more than just “knowledge” it must be demonstrated!
On December 4, 2006, while on a mission in Iraq, an enemy insurgent lobbed a hand grenade through the open gun turret on the Humvee. Nineteen year old Private First-Class Ross McGuiness was manning the 50 calibre machine gun on the Humvee that day. When the hand grenade sailed past him into the vehicle, PFC McGuiness yelled a warning and jumped on top of the hand grenade. The explosion killed McGuiness, but his action saved the lives of his four comrades in the vehicle. McGuiness was awarded the highest award for bravery issued by the United States, the Medal of Honor.
God demonstrated His love for you and me. He sent His Son so that we might live (9)! Jesus Christ came jumped on the hand grenade of our sins resulting in His death!
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
God sent His Son as the propitiation for our sins (10). Propitiation is the act of Christ to make atonement for sin through his own blood thereby appeasing fully the wrath of God against our sin. Christ shows us the kind of love that God has for us – it is a selfless, sacrificial love!
Love now characterizes the life of His children (Mt 5:43-44)
Love is personal – it always has an object! We love because He first loved (19). My love for the brethren is the normal and natural response to the love of God that has been shed abroad in my heart! (1 John 3:18).
- Love one another – this is how all men will know we are His disciples (Jn. 13:35, I Pt. 1:22)
- Husbands love your wives – just like Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25)
THE PURPOSE OF LOVE (17)
The purpose of love is that we can know we abide in Him
“Perfected love” means to bring love to the full expression, maturity. Perfect(ed) love is referred to three times in I John: 2:5, 4:12, 4:17-18.
“Perfect love” is a love that finds full expression in obedience to the Word (2:5). By this obedient love we know He abides in us and us in Him.
“Perfect love” is love finds full expression in our love for one another. He abides in us through His Spirit who perfects in us the love of God (12-13). This perfect love is revealed by our love for one another (12).
The purpose of love is that we can know that we have believed in Him (14-16)
We believe and confess that God sent His Son as the Savior of the world (14). Those who make this confession God abides in him. We believe the love God has for us.
The purpose of love is that we can have confidence on the day of judgment (17)
The full expression of God’s love results in confidence – especially on the day of judgment, but also boldness for each day leading up to it. Day of judgment – final day of reckoning before God.
- Judgment seat of Christ (II Co. 5:10)
- Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11)
Love is established as the basis for judgment! To not love God is to disobey Jesus Christ and reject God’s love in sending Jesus Christ. To live in love is to live in God which results in complete confidence in the coming judgment.
We are like Christ in this world. God treats us just like He treats His own Son – we are clothed in the righteousness of God! (3:2)
We reflect the nature and character of God:
- We love as He loves!
- Compassion (3:17)
- Sacrifice (4:9-11)
THE POWER OF LOVE (18)
Frees us from phobias
Love and fear cannot coexist – because fear and faith cannot live in the same heart!
Love that has matured to full expression is based upon an accurate knowledge of God and an intimacy with Him. Results in faith! To know Him is to love Him.
Frees us from torment
How many times are God’s true Christians are filled with fear: Fear of the dark, fear of storms, fear of curses, fear of man – rejection by family and friends, fear of death.
Frees us from the torment of punishment through torture, pain.
Frees us from doubts – provides an accurate test
Those who profess to know God but do not desire Him to return, do not love His appearing raise questions about their profession.
I Thes 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Do you doubt your salvation? Are you filled with fear at the thought of dying?
When love finds full expression in us, our life is characterized by joyful confidence regarding our relationship with God.
Is your life characterized by the love of God? We love Him because He first loved us!