Obedience by Faith
20 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? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 4:20 – 5:5)
Ideas to Consider
- When we say we love God but don’t show love to our brothers and sisters, we are _____. (v 20)
- What commandment do we have from God? (v 21) What does this mean?
- How do we become children of God? (v1)
- What is the evidence that we are God’s children? (v 1)
(This is just a little bit of what I took away from the passage. Remember, I’m human and severely flawed. Don’t just take my words as God’s truth. Be sure to be led by the Spirit, not me.)
John is pretty blunt in his letter to the beloved, isn’t he? He puts the truth out there in plain and simple terms: If you don’t love your brothers and sisters in Christ then you can’t claim to love God… and if you do then you are lying. Period.
Why can’t we love God if we don’t love fellow believers? Because loving God’s children is how we love Him. Loving God’s children is obedience to His commandment (v 2). And obeying God’s commandments is loving Him (v 3).
When Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law, He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
The “second is like it,” meaning it is just as great. It is just as important. It is just as necessary as the first.
Loving God and loving others go hand-in-hand. They cannot be separated. In fact, if you look at the ten commandments closely, you’ll see that each one falls into one of two categories: 1) loving God or 2) loving others. The first four give us instruction on how to love God and the last six tell us how to love others.
John says, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3, NLT). They are not burdensome? Really? No, they really aren’t if we are God’s children and we are abiding in Christ.
If we believe, put the full weight of our trust, in Jesus as the Messiah, the only one who can save us from our sin and the wrath of God, then we are God’s children. The believing is what makes us His. The believing comes first. The believe leads to the loving.
God children are welcomed into His presence. They are invited to abide in Christ, to have fellowship and close communication with His Spirit. And it is in this dwelling with God that we are given the resource we need to love others they way God commands us to.
As long as we are trusting in Jesus for the ability to love, then the loving will not be too heavy. It won’t be burdensome. We won’t grieve or ever regret the love that we get to show others. Loving this way may be uncomfortable, awkward, or require sacrifice at times, but we will gladly do it because it how we have experienced God’s love for us.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
It may seem impossible at times to love others to the extent that God has command us, but by faith we can do it. By faith we overcome the world and the selfish desires that keep us from loving God and others. It is by faith that we will have the victory of love.
Lord, I confess that I do not obey your command to love the way I ought to. I have failed to love you and failed to love others more than I care to admit. Please forgive me. Please cleanse me of this unrighteousness. I trust that you will. Call me into your presence and help me to rely on the ultimate resource, your Spirit, to love others they way I want to want to. In your name I pray. Amen.
- Why is abiding in Christ necessary for believers? How do you personally abide?
- Love is more than a verbal expression. How have you expressed your love for God’s children in the past week?
- Is this passage prompting you to change or begin a new behavior that will lead to love?
- What are a few ways that you can love someone this week? Write them down and make a plan to do one or two of them.
FURTHER STUDY IDEAS
Here are a few study ideas to do between now and next Tuesday. I suggest doing one or two a day in order to keep you thinking about the passage all week long.
- Start or continue a double entry journal.
- Hand write the passage.
- Did this passage make you think of other passages in the Bible? Share those passages with the rest of us in the comments.
- Read Matthew 25:31-46 and James 2:14-19. How does this give practical instruct for loving God and loving others?
- Write a summary of what you’ve learned from this passage. If you are a blogger, write a post and share it in the next #QuietlyThroughThursday LINK UP.
- Read all of 1 John, straight through.
Click the image below to catchup on any of the posts you’ve missed in this series.