‘Dear friends, let’s love each other’

 

 

[1 John 4:7-21]

 

 

What kind of community should our Victory Presbyterian Church, which the Lord promises to build, become?  The community the Lord wants is a community of love.  What should we devote to building the church, the body of the Lord, as a community of love?  In order for us to participate in the Lord's work of building the community of Victory Presbyterian Church, we must pursue sincere love (Rom. 12:9).  Sincere love is love with hypocrisy.  How can we achieve love without hypocrisy?  It is to hate what is evil and cling to what is good (v. 9).

 

In order for us to participate in the Lord's work of building the community of Victory Presbyterian Church, the body of the Lord, we must devote ourselves to one another in brotherly love that is sincere and without hypocrisy (v. 10).  How should we truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ with God's love in the church?  Five things we learn from Romans 12:9-13: (1) We should devote to one another in brotherly love (v. 10).  What this means is that we should love each other with longing hearts, drawn together by spiritual bonds, like one family.  (2) We should honor one another above ourselves (v. 10).  (3) We should serve the Lord together diligently and zealously (v. 11).  (4) We should be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (v. 12).  (5) We should be hospitable to each other (v. 13).

 

In 1 John 4:7, the Bible tells us: “Dear friends, let us love one another ….”  I would like to take this word as the title and receive the lessons from 1 John 4:7-21, by meditating on the three lessons the Bible tells us to love one another.

 

First, the Bible says, “God is love.”

 

Look at 1 John 4:8, 16 – “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  …  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.”  Have you ever seen a tract called “The Four Spiritual Laws”?  The tract called “The Four Spiritual Laws” was created by a Christian organization called Campus Crusade of Christ (CCC) and was easily accessible long ago.  It can be said that the heart of the tract is the Four Spiritual Principles:

 

(1)   The first of the Four Spiritual Laws is, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

 

John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 10:10 gives us the reason that Jesus came, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  What is blocking us from God’s love? What is preventing us from having an abundant life?

 

(2)   The second of the Four Spiritual Laws is, “Humanity is tainted by sin and is therefore separated from God. As a result, we cannot know God’s wonderful plan for our lives.”

 

Romans 3:23 affirms this information, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 gives us the consequences of sin, "the wages of sin is death." God created us to have fellowship with Him. However, humanity brought sin into the world, and is therefore separated from God. We have ruined the relationship with Him that God intended us to have.  What is the solution?

 

(3)   The third of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. Through Jesus Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and restore a right relationship with God."

 

Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 informs us of what we need to know and believe in order to be saved, "...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." Jesus Himself declares that He is the only way of salvation in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." How can I receive this wonderful gift of salvation?

 

(4)   The Fourth of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "We must place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior in order to receive the gift of salvation and know God’s wonderful plan for our lives."

 

John 1:12 describes this for us, "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." Acts 16:31 says it very clearly, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!" We can be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

The reason I think of these four spiritual laws is precisely because of the first principle: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you.” T he first thing that the Four Spiritual Laws emphasize is that ‘God loves you’.

 

In 1 John 4:8, 16, the Apostle John said: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  …  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.  ….”  In these two Bible verses, the Apostle John said that we love each other if we know and believe that God of love loves us.  In other words, the reason why the Apostle John said 'God is love' twice in verses 8 and 16 explains the ultimate reason why we should love one another (v. 23; 4:7) according to the Lord's command (2:24).  To be more specific, the reason we should love one another as the Lord commanded is that God is love (4:8, 16), and that the God of love loves us (v. 16), and we became the children of God because of the great love of God that has bestowed on us (3:1).  That is, as children of a loving God, we must love one another as God loves us (3:11, 23; 4:7).  After all, the reason we have no choice but to love one another according to Jesus' command is that (1) God is love (4:8, 16), and (2) that the God of love first loved us (v. 19).  That is why the Apostle John said in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”  After all, the reason why we should love each other as the Lord commanded is because God’s being is “love,” and God’s doing is He first loved us.  Therefore, because our being is a child of God, and God first loved us, our doing is that we should love one another as God loves us.

 

As I meditate on the word 'God is love' written in 1 John 4:8, 16, I wonder what the Apostle John is saying who God is from 1 John 1:1 to 4:21.  So, by re-reading from 1 John 1:1, I looked for who he was saying that God is.  At that time, the first word I came across was 1 John 1:5, “God is Light.”  And in verse 1:9 the Apostle John said, ‘God is faithful and righteous.’  The phrase ‘God is righteous’ also appears in 2:29 and 3:7.  And he said in 2:1, ‘Jesus Christ is the righteous.’  And in 3:3 he said, ‘Jesus Christ is pure.’  And he said in 4:2 that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.  And the Bible says, “God is love” in 1 John 4:8, 16.  In this way, while searching for the words of who God is, that is, the existence of God in 1 John, the Father God is Light, faithful, righteous, and love, the Son Jesus is righteous and pure, and the Holy Spirit acknowledges (or makes us to confess) that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, I came to think of two:

 

(1)   The first thing that comes to mind is that the Son of God Jesus is pure (3:3).

 

This means that Jesus is without sin (v. 5).  If we apply these words to the existence of God spoken of in 1 John, as 1 John 1:5 says, “God is Light, and in him there is no darkness at all.”  Also, as in 1 John 1:9, ‘God is faithful and righteous’ means that God is completely free from unfaithfulness and unrighteousness.  Then, what can we say if we apply the word that the Son of God Jesus is pure to the word ‘God is love’ in 1 John 4:8, 16?  Could it be that God has no hate?  In a slightly different way, based on 1 John 2:5 (Ref.: 1 Jn. 4:12), isn't God's love a perfect love?

 

(2)   The second thing that comes to mind is that the four main themes in 1 John: (a) light, (b) truth, (c) love, and (d) righteousness and what the connection is.

 

Then I came to this conclusion: ‘God is Light, God is truth, God is love, and God is just.’  This also means that with God who is Light there is no darkness at all, that God who is truth has no lies, that God of love has no hatred, and that with a righteous God there is no unrighteousness (evil) at all.  And when I meditated on this conclusion in connection with the words ‘Dear friends, let’s love each other’ in 1 John 4:7, I applied like this: ‘Dear friends, God is love (4:8, 16).  As children of God who is Light (1:5; 3:1, 2), we must love one another according to the command of the Lord who is truth (1:6l 3:23, 24).  That is the righteousness of those who know that God is righteous (2:29).’

 

The first spiritual principle of CCC's Four Spiritual Laws is “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you”.  As I reconsider this principle, I believe that God loves us all and has the wonderful plan of salvation for us.  The reason is because God is love.  God's being is love.  And out of His being, He doing is God loves us.  Through the love of God, we believed in Jesus and are saved and became the children of God.  Therefore, as the children of God, just as God loved us, we should love one another with His love.  ‘Dear friends, let’s love each other.’

 

Second, the Bible says, ‘God manifested his love in us.’

 

Look at 1 John 4:9-10: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  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.”  If we look at the book The Salt Warehouse of Wisdom written by Tae-gwang Kim, there is this saying: ‘It is beautiful to see people serving others without expecting anything in return.  What makes them truly beautiful is not a momentary directing, but a love that is practiced with a sincere heart’ (Internet).  It is a blessing to be able to love our neighbors with a sincere heart.  And I think that it is also a great blessing to be able to enjoy by practicing love with the sincere heart.  However, there is something that prevents us from enjoying this blessing.  That's "expectation".  In other words, when we love our neighbors and expect something from them, then we aren’t fully enjoying the blessing God gives us.  We should love without except anything in return.  In other words, we must love our neighbors unconditionally, so that we can enjoy the great blessing, and that our hearts will be filled with the joy God gives us.  Those who enjoy this great blessing and taste the joy are considered beautiful people in the sight of God.

 

In 1 John 4:9-10, the Apostle John says: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  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.”  These verses tells us that the God of love was manifested his love to us.  How then does the Bible say that God manifested his pure love (3:3) or perfect love (2:5; 4:12) to us?  God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world as the propitiation and the Savior of the world (vv. 9, 10, 14).  Here, the word “propitiation” means “satisfaction” as we have already meditated on in 2:2.  And it refers to the fulfillment of God's holy requirement to punish sin (MacArthur).  Why did God send His only begotten Son, Jesus, as the propitiation and the Savior of the world?  What is the purpose?  The purpose is to atone our sins (save from sin) (v. 10) and so that we may live through Him (v. 9).  The Bible 1 John 3:5 says, “He appeared in order to take away sins.”

 

We were dead in our transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1).  The Korean modern Bible Ephesians 2:1 says, ‘You are spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins.’  Because sin entered the world, and death through sin through the disobedience of “one man” Adam, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom. 5:12).  We were spiritually dead.  And we were the people who were destined to die forever.  Thus, when we were in a state of helplessness (v. 6), when we were still sinners (v. 8), and when we were enemies with God (v. 10), God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, died for us sinners (v. 6), so that we have been reconciled to God (v. 10).  Therefore, God demonstrates his own love for us (v. 8).

 

We need to know how great, wide, high and deep God's love for us, which has been manifested in us, is (Eph. 3:18-19).  We need to get to know God’s love in sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 4:10) and the Savior of the world (v. 14) in order to atone our sins (v. 10), to save us, who not only died spiritually but were destined to die forever, and to give us eternal life (v. 9).  As we have already seen in 1 John 3:16, the Apostle John said this: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  How great, wide, high and deep is the love that God's only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, laid down His life on the cross for us?  In 1 John 1:1-2, the Apostle John said that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the Word of life from the beginning and eternal life.  Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, who is the Word of eternal life from the beginning was manifested.  The Bible 1 John 4:9 says, “By this the love of God was manifested in us ...”, while 1 John 1:1-2 says, “eternal life,” which is the “Word of life” from the beginning” “was manifested.  In other words, God's perfect love was manifested by sending God's only-begotten Son, Jesus, as the propitiation for our sins and the Savior of the world.

 

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us (4:16).  We are the ones who confess (acknowledge) that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 15).  In other words, we are believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God (3:23).  The Bible refers to these people as those who abide in his love (4:16).  In other words, we are people who abide in the love of God.  Therefore, God abides in us, and we in God (v. 15).  How do we know this?  Look at 1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”  In the end, God loved us and sent His only begotten Son Jesus into this world as the propitiation for our sins and the Savior of the world to atone our sins.  Let us praise the hymn “My Life Flows Rich in Love and Grace” to God: (v. 1) “My life flows rich in love and grace By Christ in mercy offer'd, Who anguish bore, and took my place, When on the cross He suffer'd.  His precious blood He Shed to free, From sin and all its stinging, Death destin'd sinners such as we!  How can I keep form singing?”

 

Third and last, the Bible says, ‘If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

 

Look at 1 John 4:11, 19 – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  …  We love, because He first loved us.”  There is a book author that I personally fell in love with a little late.  After I first encountered his book, since I liked his book, I bought and read all of his books if possible.  The author's name is Iain M. Duguid, professor of Old Testament at east Westminster Theological Seminary.  I wrote this while reading his commentary on “Zephaniah, Haggai, and Malachi”: ‘Doubting God's love for us is the root of all spiritual problems (Mal. 1:2).  A heart that has not personally experienced the perfect love of God revealed through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is bound to fall into various temptations.’  In the Bible, Malachi 1:2, we see that when God said to the Israelites through the prophet Malachi, “I have loved you,” the Israelites say: “How have you loved us?”  God loved the Israelites, but they didn’t understand God's love.  I think this is the root of all spiritual problems.  In other words, our failure to realize God's love is the root of all spiritual problems.

 

I once wrote this article about “the love of God” based on Isaiah 43:4 and 49:15 and Psalms 46:1 – ‘The Bible says that God loves you.  What does the Bible say about this God's love for you?’

 

(1)     The Bible says that God honors you.

 

In Isaiah 43:4, God says, “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you. ….“  All of you are honorable in the sight of God.  How did sinners like us become noble in the sight of God? The reason is that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus.

 

(2)     The Bible says that God will never forget you.

 

Look at Isaiah 49:15 – “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  Even if a mother forgets her nursing child, God promises not to forget you.

 

(3)      The Bible says that God is our refuge, strength, and very present help in trouble.

 

Look at Psalms 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”  Let us take refuge in God, our refuge and strength, our very present help in trouble.  He will protect us.

 

In 1 John 4:11, 19, the Apostle John says: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  …  We love, because He first loved us.”  d

 

How does the Apostle John say that God loves us?  Look again at 1 John 4:9-10, which we have already meditated on: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  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.”  God loves us and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to be the propitiation of this world to atone our sins and to save us.  Here, the word “propitiation” means “satisfaction,” and Jesus died on the cross as the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, so that God’s holy requirement to punish sin was satisfied (MacArthur).  Therefore, the Apostle John says in verse 11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  That is, we must love one another because God first loved us (v. 19).

 

We are not at all capable of loving God first.  That means, unless God first loved us, we were not able to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, according to the first commandment of Jesus’ twofold commandment (Mt. 22:37).  How can we, who were dead in trespasses and sins (spiritually dead because of disobedience and sins), love God first? (Eph. 2:1)  How can we, who were enemies of God, love God first? (Rom. 5:10)  We were never able to love God first.  We could never have loved God first unless God loved us first.  But the Apostle John said in 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”  Then, what does the Bible really say about loving one another according to God's command?  I would like to receive the lesson from 1 John 4:7-21 in five ways:

 

(1)     The Bible says, “love is from God.”

 

Look at 1 John 4:7a – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; ….”  Here, the Apostle John said, “Beloved,” to the Christians who received his letter of 1 John.  The Greek meaning of this “Beloved,” is “agapatoi,” which is God’s “agape” love.  It means “divinely-loved ones,” that is, “beloved ones, loved by God” (Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament).  And when the Apostle John said, “Let us love one another,” he meant, “Let us continue (permanently or habitually) to love one another.”  Isn't that obvious?  If we are children of God who have already received God's love and are still receiving it, it is natural that we should continue to love each other according to His command just as the Lord continues to love us.  And the Apostle John said, “for love is from God,” which means, “Love is from God.”  That is, as the Apostle John said in 4:8, 16, ‘God is love’, love is from God because God is love.  Therefore, the reason we can love each other is because God is love, and the God of love loves us first, and because we have come to know that love, we can love each other with the love of God.  Simply put, the God of love is the source of love.  We can love each other because God, the source of love, abides in us through the Spirit and produces love, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, so that we can love each other with the love of God.  That is why the Apostle John said, “love is from God” (v. 7).

 

Conversely, if we think about it the other way around, it means that if love is from God, then hate belongs to the devil/Satan.  The Apostle John said in 1 John 1:5, “…  God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all ….”  After saying this, he said in 2:9, “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now,” and in 2:11, “But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”  By saying these words, the Apostle John compared that God is Light and the devil/Satan is darkness, and he who loves his brother abides in the Light (v. 10), but he who hates his brother is still in the darkness (v. 11).  After all, the Bible says love is from God, but hate is from the devil/Satan.  And the hatred that is from the devil/Satan is from the world: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (v. 16).  But we don’t love the world because the love of the Father God is in us (v. 15).  Rather we are the doers of the will of God (v. 17).  The will of God is to love one another according to the Lord's command (3:23).

 

(2)     The Bible says, “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

 

Look at 1 John 4:7b – “…  everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”  Here, the Apostle John says, “everyone who loves is born of God,” which means that those who love one another (with the love of God) according to the command of the Lord are those who are born again (the regenerated ones).  In other words, those who believe in the righteous Jesus Christ (2:1), who laid down his life on the cross (3:23) as the propitiation for our sins (2:2) are born again and have received new life in the Lord and are new creatures.  These new creatures, the new people, and those who are born again obey the command of the Lord and love one another.  The Apostle John had already spoken about being “born again” in 1 John 2:29 – “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”  Here, those who practice righteousness are those who are in Jesus Christ (Lord) who love their brothers according to Jesus’ command.  And to love our neighbor in obedience to Jesus' command is doing what is right or practicing righteousness.  Those who practice righteousness in this way are born of God, and they are the righteous children of God.  This is living in Christ (vv. 27, 28).  The Apostle John said that those who live in Christ truly know God (4:7).

 

But those who don’t love don’t know God.  Look at 1 John 4:8 – “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  If we say we know God who is love and don’t love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we don’t truly know God.  So the modern Korean Bible translates it this way: ‘He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God’ (v. 8).  And the Apostle John said in 3:6 that “no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”  Rather, the Apostle John said that those who sin are of the devil (v. 8).  In other words, those who don’t love aren’t of God (v. 10).  Look at 1 John 3:10 – “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”  But we are the children of God (vv. 1, 2).  Our Heavenly Father shows us so much love that we become His children (v. 1).  Therefore, as children of God, we practice righteousness and love our brothers (v. 10).  I hope and pray that all of us, as children of God, love each other, so that we may live like born-again (regenerated) people, and that we will prove that we truly know God through a life of love.

 

(3)     The Bible says, “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

 

Look at 1 John 4:20 – “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  The Bible Proverbs 26:24-25 says this: “A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit.

Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart.”  We can hate others with our hearts, yet we can speak kindly on the outside.  This is hypocrisy.  A hypocrite has an evil heart toward others, yet he speaks smooth words with his lips and pleases others, but disguises his evil heart with words of very warm (ardent) love (v. 23).  What kind of love is hypocritical love?  To say “I love you” with our lips but hate with our hearts, this is hypocritical love.  The Israelites did that.  They say they honor the Lord with their lips, but in their hearts they turn away from the Lord, committing idolatry over and over again.  So Jesus said in Mark 7:6 – “He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” 

 

In 1 John 4:20, the Apostle John said: “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  When I meditate on this word in connection with Jesus’ word of Mark 7:6, I say that our hypocrisy is to love God whom we cannot see with our lips and not loving the brother whom we can see.  This seems to be the same as confessing our sins to the invisible God and asking for forgiveness, but not confessing our sins to our visible brothers and sisters and asking for forgiveness.  Why are we committing this sin of hypocrisy?

I only recently came to realize a little bit that there is such a hypocrisy in me, and I wrote this (September 2, 2020): ‘My hypocrisy is quick to see the speck in the eye of the other person with my own eye than to see the log in my eye as I first reflect myself in the spiritual mirror, the word of God.’  The reason I am writing this is because the Holy Spirit made me look back at that word while reading Luke 6:41-42 and meditating on it: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”  In a bible commentary, it is written like this: ‘It is a serious sin to deceive God and one's conscience to act with pretentiousness conscious of people's eyes’ (Bible Commentary).  What is pretending to be?  When I look at the Naver dictionary, it says that ‘pretense’ means ‘falsely adorning words or actions’.  For example, if the Lord has commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, it is pretentious to pretend to love our neighbors in words and deeds while hating them in our hearts.  The Apostle John says in 1 John 4:20, “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar ….”  I've come to think of this word in two ways:

 

(a)      First, I meditate “Whoever says I love God . . . ” in connection with verse 15: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

Seeing that both verses 15 and 20 begin with “Whoever” (v. 15), I thought there was a connection between the two Bible verses.  The connection is that “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God” (v. 15) loves God (v. 20).  The reason is because those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God know and believe in the love that God has for them (v. 16).  And those who know and believe in the love of God abide in that love (v. 16), so they cannot but love God (v. 20).

 

(b)      The second thing that came to my mind is the word “the liar.”

 

The Apostle John already said this about “the liar” in 1 John 2:22 – “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”  Considering this word, we can see that the Apostle John is speaking of who the “liar” is in two ways: (1) The liar is one who denies that Jesus is the Christ, (2) The liar is one who says he loves God and hates his brother.  As I meditated on these two truths in connection, I thought that to say I love God and hate his brother would be to deny that Jesus is the Christ.  The reason I think so is because believing and acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ is that Jesus came into this world and faithfully fulfilled the roles of priest, king, and prophet as the Christ, and ultimately bore all our sins and died on the cross to save us is acknowledging that we are saved.  We, who have been saved through the love of the Savior, ought to love Him, but what is it to say that we love the Lord and hate our brothers, but to deny that Jesus is the Christ?  In 1 John 4:20, the Apostle John said, “…for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  In other words, the liar is the one who says he loves God and hates his brother, and he who lies like that cannot actually love God.  Of course, he says he loves God with his own lips, but it is only the lie to say that he loves the invisible God without loving his brother whom he sees.  The true Christian truly loves the invisible God and also loves the visible brother.  Look at verse 21: “And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”  But he who doesn’t love his brother doesn’t love God.  This reminds me the verse 2 lyric of the hymn “I Want to be a Christian”: “Lord, I want to be more loving In-a my heart, in-a my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving In-a my heart. In-a my heart, In-a my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving In-a my heart.”  As I sang this hymn to God, I made it my prayer subject, and prayed that I would love the Lord and also my neighbor with perfect love (pure love without hate).  I hope and pray that we will become loving our neighbors with the Lord's love because we truly love God with perfect love.  Since we truly love our neighbors, I pray that we will all become lovers of God.

 

(4)     The Bible says that if we love one another, God lives in us.

 

Look at 1 John 4:12 – “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  If we look at the lyrics of the gospel song “Abide in me,” it goes like this: “For I am the Lord your God, so abide in Me/ Your Deliverer and Protector, a Shelter from the storm/ Don’t tremble with fear. Surely I will help you/ I am holding your hand, so do not be afraid/ I have called you by name; you are Mine/ You are Mine and I am the Lord your God/ You are precious in My sight and you are highly honored/ I, the Lord your God love you/ I the Lord your God love you.”  This gospel song is based on several scriptures: (a) “abide in me”: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”  (b) “Your Deliverer and Protector, a Shelter from the storm”: (Ps. 121:7) “The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life.”  (c) “Don’t tremble with fear. Surely I will help you I am holding your hand, so do not be afraid”: (Isa. 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  (d) “I have called you by name; you are Mine You are Mine and I am the Lord your God”: (Isa. 43:1) “But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  (e) “You are precious in My sight and you are highly honored”: (Isa. 43:4) “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.”  Among these Bible verses, in John 15:9, Jesus said, “remain in my love” and in verse 10, he tells how to remain in the love of the Lord: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.”  Then what is the Jesus' command?  Look at verse 12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  Also, look at verse 17: “This is my command: Love each other.”  The Apostle John also spoke of this Lord's command in 1 John 3:23-24: “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.  Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”  When we love one another according to the Lord's command, we abide (live) in God, and God abides (lives) in us.  And we know that God is in us through the Holy Spirit whom God has given us.  This is what 1 John 4:13 says: “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”  

 

In 1 John 4:12, the Apostle John says: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  The similarity between this verse and 1 John 3:23-24 is the Lord's command, 'Love one another'.  Another similarity is that God abides (lives) in us when we love one another according to the Lord's command.  The difference is that when we love one another according to the Lord’s command, 1 John 3:24 says that we abide (live) in God, whereas in 4:12 says that, 'God's love is made complete is us.’  The Apostle John already said in 1 John 2:5, “But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:” In other words, when we love one another according to the Lord's command, God's love has truly been perfected in us.  In this way, when we love one another according to His command, God's love has been perfected in us (2:5; 4:12), and God abides in us (3:24).   The Apostle John has already said that ‘the word of God abides in us’ (2:14), and that eternal life abides in us (3:14, 15), as well as the 'Holy Spirit' in us (4:4, 13).  As I meditate on these words, I believe that when we love one another, God who is love (4:8, 16) not only abides in us (3:24), but also Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the Word of life from the beginning and eternal life abides in us (1:1-3), the Holy Spirit abides in us (4:4, 13).  In other words, when we love one another according to the Lord's command, the Holy Triune God abides (lives) in us.  We are believers who confess that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 15).  And the Bible says, “If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (v. 15).  The Bible also says that if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us (v. 12).  May God dwell in us and God's love be perfected in us as we love one another in obedience to the Lord's command.

 

(5)     The Bible says that when God’s love is perfected in us, we will have confidence in the day of judgment.

 

Look at 1 John 4:17 – “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”  Personally, when I think of 1 John, the unforgettable Bible verse is 1 John 4:18 first half: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, ….”  The reason I can't forget this word is because I often remembered this word when I had counseling with my brothers and sisters in Christ before.  There were those who were afraid in relationships with their loved ones.  For example, a certain member had fears in her heart before getting married, and that fear seems to have been the fear of failing to marry herself due to the divorce of her parents.  Clearly, in 1 John 4:18, the Bible says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”  But why is there fear in us?  The reason is because our love is not “perfect love” or “mature love” (MacArthur).  And the reason our love is not perfect is because we are disobeying the Lord's command, 'Love one another' (v. 12; 2:5).  More specifically, our love is not perfect because there are times when we hate our brothers and sisters in Christ more than we love each other as the Lord commanded (2:11).  So those who have not yet perfected love will be afraid.  The reason is because they think about what they will be punished for (4:18).  However, the believers who have perfected their love by loving one another according to the Lord's command aren’t afraid.  They have no fear because they love each other according to the Lord's command, just as God first loved them.  Rather, the perfect love casts out fear (v. 18).

 

In 1 John 4:17, the Apostle John says: “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”  How can we have confidence in the day of judgment?  As I meditated while asking this question, I was reminded of 1 John 2:10 – “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”  What does the word “there is no cause for stumbling in him” mean here?  There are 3 Bible verses in the Gospel of John to help you understand what this mean: (1) (Jn. 6:61) “But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?,” (2) (Jn. 11:9) “Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world,” (3) (Jn. 16:1) “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.”  If we look at these verses from the Gospel of John written by the same author, the Apostle John, the meaning of the word “there is no cause for stumbling” in 1 John 2:10 means, I think, 'there is no stumbling block' or 'there is no slipping down'.  In other words, he who loves his brother abides in the Light, and does not stumble in himself.  How is it?  Do we have anything that causes for stumbling in us now?  Is there no cause for stumbling in us because we live in Jesus who is the true Light, and love our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Or is there something that causes stumbling in us because we hate our brother or sister in Christ even though we say we are in the Light?  If so, we cannot have confidence on the day of judgment (4:17).  To have confidence on the day of judgment, we must have no cause of stumbling in us.  In other words, if we are to have confidence, we must love one another as the Lord commands.  As those who know and believe in the love that God has for us (v. 16) and that God first loved us (v. 19), we must love each other with His love.  If we say we love God and hate our brother, the Bible says we are “liar” (v. 20).  In other words, if we say we know God and don’t keep His command, then we are lying and the truth is not in us (2:4).  We must be true Christians.  We must love one another in obedience to the Lord’s command.  Then there will be no cause for stumbling in us (2:10), and our conscience will not reproach us, so that we will have confidence before God and whatever we ask, we will receive from Him (3:21-22).  The reason is because we keep the commandments of God and do what pleases Him (v. 22).  Then we will not be put to shame when Christ comes again, but rather will have confidence to stand before the Lord (2:28).

 

Let us love one another as the Lord has commanded us.  The Bible says, “God is love” (4:8, 16).  If we know this God of love and believe in the love that this God loves us, then we should love each other.  God's being is love.  Out of His being, He loves us, which is God's doing.  Through the love of God, we believed in Jesus and are saved and became the children of God.  Therefore, as children of God, we should love one another with the love of God as God loved us.  The Bible says that God’s love was manifested to us (vv. 9-10).  God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to the world as the propitiation and the Savior of the world to atone for our sins (save us from our sins) and make us alive.  In the end, by the grace of God, we believed in Jesus and received salvation and new and eternal life.  Having received this saving grace and love, we must love one another according to the Lord’s command.  The Bible says, “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (vv. 11, 19).  The Bible says five things in 1 John 4:7-21 about our love for one another according to the Lord's command: (1) The Bible says that love is from God (4:7a), (2) The Bible says that everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (v. 7b), (3) The Bible says that he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (v. 20), (4) The Bible says that if we love one another, God lives in us (v. 12), (5) The Bible says that when God’s love is perfected in us, we will have confidence in the day of judgment (v. 17).  May all of us love one another as the command of the Lord

 

 

 

 

Desiring to live a life of love for one another according to the Lord’s command,

 

 

 

James Kim

[December 28, 2020, “We may have unfading splendor, When love shines in, And a friendship true and tender, When love shines in.  When earth vic-t'ries shall be won, And our life in heaven begun, There will be no need of sun, When love shines in.  When love shines in, When love shines in, How the heart is tuned to singing, When love shines in, When love shines in, When love shines in, Joy and peace to others bringing When love shines in” (Lyric 4 and the chorus of the hymn “Jesus Comes With Pow’r to Gladden”)]