Seeing and believing that Jesus is both real and divine give us a way to have joy and fellowship. Until you and I see and believe this truth, our lives will not move. We will have a dormant life that settles for isolation, shallow friendships, and second-hand pleasures.
The book of 1 John is a confrontation with the Church to accept responsibility for the way in which it loves and reacts to the people around it and within it. John charges the individual members of our congregations with many sharp and challenging commands that come from the very lifestyle of Jesus Christ. We have heard him state:
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1:8)
“whoever says he abides in him (Jesus) ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (2:6)
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (2:15)
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (3:15)
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (4:20)
These statements carry weight with them. This weight stacked upon our mind is what makes us look at how we are living our lives. Our minds should be taunted by these verses from God’s Word. Self-evaluation is key in becoming more effective. While bold statements confront us throughout this epistle, the goal of these statements is not to plague us with uncertainty about the power of Jesus. John is not playing with our minds, toying us on whether we really are Christians or not. John, as well as every other writer in the NT, is very explicit that the Spirit is the confirmation of our salvation. (Rom. 8:11, Titus 3:4-7,1Jon 3:24b, & Gal. 5:22-24) We can not earn grace and it is by this grace that we are saved. (Eph. 3:8-9)
John wants to give us something that is in response to the grace that we have received. John desires that we have confidence.
“In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this, we know that we abide 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. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.”
- 1John 4:16-17
Oh the love that we have experienced from God! God is the very Constructor and Definer of the nature of Love that became flesh manifest as Jesus Christ. God being the definition of Love showed us the furthest extent by which Love can go: God becoming a man and being executed by the very people that were suppose to love Him. This is Love. This is God.
The cross is where we receive grace. At the foot of the cross through our repentance, we can receive this divine grace. When we live in response to the grace given to us at the cross, we will no longer look at Johns list of commands to not love the world, not to hate our brother, be pure as Jesus is pure, and actually do what God tells us. These commands that come from the lifestyle of Jesus will never be a shivering sound to those who live in response to the cross. These commands will come as a pleasing aroma before us as we embrace the lifestyle that reflects our God to the world around us.
It is when we as Christians embrace with joy what the real and divine Jesus tells us to do, and do it, that we will build our confidence before our God. John desires that you have something to show your God on the Day of Judgment. What did we do with the gracious blood of Jesus Christ in our lives? Did we use it to further the kingdom of God or hoard it up for ourselves? The natural move after receiving such grace is that we move, not in an effort to earn our standing before the cross, but to highlight its worth. This is the goal of John, to live a life in view of the grace given to us through Jesus Christ. He is the one who shows us the tangible way that this looks like for his readers. All the commands are necessary and required to be confident before our God who abides in us.
So let us be confident Church. Let us be confident after our last breath to stand as a child of God with open arms full of a life lived to glorify His name.
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life."
Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls. Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world. And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pileser.