February 28, 2014
I John 4:15-21
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The next of John’s Nose – John’s Knows – is found in I John 4:16. Here is the context of verses 15 though 21:
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and
he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.
God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in
the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no
fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because
He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he
is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can
he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from
Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
It is not just every word that is important in scripture, but how they are placed in relation to one another. In the case of this know, it comes first and then comes the word believe. John writes, “…we have known and believed the love that God has for us.” Of course believing involves faith. And in order for you to put your faith in something, you have to know some things about it first. We have to have some experience with God’s love before we can believe it! This is what John says in verse 19: “We love Him because He first loved us.” God loved us first! “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10). This is how we know God’s love – Jesus showed us that love on the cross! Paul put it this way in Romans 5:8: “….God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Sin is ugly to God! Sin is totally against His holy character! When Jesus took upon Himself our sins on the cross, He was made ugly unto God! And God turned away from His own Son and poured out His judgement upon Him! Feeling that separation from the Father that we deserved as sinners, the Son cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Sin is that ugly to God!
But God chose to love us even in our ugly, sinful condition! What He loved was not the condition we had gotten ourselves into as sinners, but He loved us – and what we could be in Jesus Christ – clean, pure and in harmony with our Lord! This is agape love – loving us before we were lovely! This is the love wherewith God loved us first! This is why we put our faith in Him – why we believed in Him!
What we could be in Jesus Christ: God’s plan for every Christian is for that one to grow up into Christ – to become more and more like Him (see Romans 8:29). And, as Peter writes in II Peter 1:3 and 4:
…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which
have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through
these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust.
God’s love not only provided initial salvation for us, but that love also made the way to fulfill everything He desires for us as Christians, “…all things that pertain to life and godliness…” – both for now and forever! His love – as it is more and more developed in us – takes away our fear of judgment (verse 18). We stand before Him confident that we are “…accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6).
The Great Commandment in Luke 10:27 is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” It is one commandment drawn from two in the Old Testament – Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. But it is one, and cannot be separated. If we have “…known and believed the love that God has for us…,” then we must also be loving our neighbor – our brothers and sisters. If we are not loving them, we are liars when we claim that we love God! It just cannot be one without the other! John states that plainly and simply in verses 20 and 21!
So know the love of God. Then totally receive that love by believing – putting your faith in Him. Then love your neighbor – your brothers and sisters in Christ. It is all tied up together.