Love one another! – 1 John 4:7-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 25, 2018
After the horrific shooting in Florida a lot of folks are asking what went wrong. Some blame guns, law enforcement, the public school system, or society itself. At its core I believe it reflects how we view ourselves and God. Interestingly in the midst of all this discussion Pastor Billy Graham died. Perhaps God decided to take one of his children home to heaven this past week in order for us to refocus on what I mean. As believers we are to love one another.
In our society many have elevated their children to a status of child worship while others totally ignore their kids and want others like schools to raise them. We allow children to be exposed to any and everything and no longer protect childhood innocence. We have reduced God to a myth and humanity to animals and wonder why life is not considered sacred. John knew that believers could lose sight of what love of God meant. Let’s learn what John wrote…
If young lives matter then our society would stop the sale of alcohol and end abortion because both are slaughtering thousands of children. The return of our society to honoring human life has to begin with a refocus of believers loving one another. John relates this is how we know for certain if someone is actually a Christian or not.
I. Christians are to love one another! (Vv. 7-12)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1. John begins this section by writing “beloved” or “dear friends” in the NIV using the word agapētos which means a love that sacrifices. This is important because John was continuing his theme of what it meant to believe in Jesus. So John writes “let us love one another” because he knew that this kind of “love comes from God” himself. John knew that “Everyone who loves” in this way “has been born of God and knows God.” John was not talking about feelings here. Rather he knew the proof was in the pudding so-to-speak in that “Whoever does not [sacrificially] love [a fellow believer] does not know God, because God is love.” God is the perfect example of this kind of love! In fact “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” If we say we believe in Jesus we will also love his children. John knew that “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Sinful people don’t love a holy God but as Paul would declare, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 NIV).” John’s notion is the fact that “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” John understood human nature and its skeptical attitude toward anything or anyone that would love them unconditionally. And he knew that those who tended toward atheistic notions that what they could not see they could not believe and writes, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Tada! That’s how we know who true believers are! We see him in the lives of believers as they love one another! Christians are to love one another!
EXAMPLE: What have you done for a fellow believer this past week; without being asked, without being prompted, and without expecting anything in return? It is often easy for Christians to display kindness, good deeds, or compassion to the unsaved – the world expects us to do so, but what about those who love the Lord? Have you been a secret saint in the life of a Christian, and I mean by more than just praying for them. It can be easy to stand far off and pray because we do not have to get our hands “dirty” so-to-speak. I mean going down into the trenches where the rubber meets the road and discipling a new believer, mentoring someone, or helping a fellow Christian in some way. Christians are to love one another!
Love is more than being “hooked on a feeling or high on believing”. It is how we as believers in Jesus Christ show others the love of God in our lives. In fact John teaches us that…
II. Whoever lives for Jesus loves God! (Vv. 13-16)
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1. Now the reason John could write what he did was because he walked with Jesus for 3 and a half years and he had believed in him as his Savior and Lord. John’s entire life was lived for Jesus and so he writes, “We know that we live in him and he in us”. How could John be so certain? Was he deluded or was it simply wishful thinking on his part? The answer is NO “because” John writes that God “has given us of his Spirit”! The Holy Spirit is God living in the believer and is his stamp in us for his presence and power in our lives! Jesus promised his disciples that “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26 NIV).” Paul would tell believers that “you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13 NIV).” John absolutely understood what had happened and continues by stating that “we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” It was a reality and a certainty for John because of the Spirit of God that lived in him testified to the fact! For John placing one’s faith and trust in Jesus was everything. It meant that you had chosen to willfully follow Jesus no matter what. That you willingly said “no” to your distrust and to your own selfishness. Therefore for John the truth was that “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” There was no doubt about it in John’s mind “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Why? John knew that “God is love.” He is the absolute example of sacrificial love for mankind! And “whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him!” Whoever lives for Jesus loves God!
EXAMPLE: The world is unimpressed by Christians because they no longer see the sacrificial love of God displayed in their lives. Hudson Taylor was headed for the mission field in China. Several ladies and his mother were onboard ship to say their “goodbyes” and his mother stayed behind. She smoothed the wrinkles out from the blankets on his bed and told her son, “Hudson, you must take care of your health. Without health you won’t be able to complete the task God has given.” He rolled his eyes and said he would. She went ashore and stood on the dock. As Taylor’s ship left he wrote: “I eyed my mother running along the dock and waving her handkerchief. She stopped at the end and contained herself no longer. The cry of her mother’s heart overpowered all sounds. It was at that moment that I had a better understanding of God so loved the world and his ache when His children walk away from Him.” Whoever lives for Jesus loves God!
Worship is not how we show the world we love God. Building bigger churches, having hymns or choruses, or even good preaching, and simply living good lives will not display it either if the world is not paying attention. John knew it was more than these things. He wrote that…
III. Whoever loves God will show it! (Vv. 17-21)
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1. Having the presence of God in one’s life is a powerful thing. There is not a believer who ever lived that does know what this means. It’s because of the presence of God in the Holy Spirit we have direct access to Jesus. For John one’s actions spoke a lot about one’s faith and so he declared, “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him.” Jesus’ love is made complete among us when we display his love to fellow believers. Judgment has no fear for us! “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Christians have absolutely no fear of eternal punishment. Besides, when the Holy Spirit resides in a person they want to do those things that please God. Those who do not truly know God fear him or they fear he might go after them in some way if they are not “good enough”. Sadly there are those who actually think that they have to “balance the scales” in life to make sure they have the same amount of good deeds or more in order to be loved by God! Nothing could be further from the truth! John reminds us that “The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” John related that if we truly have believed in Jesus then “perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” Wow! What a wonderful truth! John finishes this section on the love of God and our love for others by reminding his readers “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” about what he says he believes because “anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Whoever loves God will show it!
EXAMPLE: What have you done for the lost world this last week? What will you decide to do in the following week? There are many places where you can volunteer to serve in our community. Elementary Schools need volunteers to read to kids, shelters need volunteers to feed, cloth, and counsel the homeless, addicted, and disenfranchised. Food pantries need food and help to distribute meals, food, and clothing. Disaster Relief needs volunteers to be trained and go to continue cleanup efforts in California and down South. Senior adults need friendship, house cleaning, and your time. What will you do this year, this month, this coming week to show your community the love of God? Whoever loves God will show it!
Christians are to love one another! Whoever lives for Jesus loves God! Whoever loves God will show it!
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.