This is love for God”

 

[1 John 5:1-5]

 

Last week, I read an Internet article written by Pastor John MacArthur under the title “Remaining Faithful in Ministry: 9 Essential Convictions for Every Pastor”.  The reason I was interested in the title of the article was probably because I had a desire to carry out the ministry for the glory of God without being shaken in my heart, like Pastor John MacArthur, faithfully until the end.  Pastor John MacArthur said that about two years ago, in February 2019, the 50th anniversary of the ministry was held at Grace Community Church.  He said that it is a great grace of God to be able to pastor at the age of 70 from where he started pastoring in his twenties and it is a great honor and blessing to serve, love, teach, feed the word of God and care for the group of saints in one church almost all of his life.  In 2019, as he celebrated his 50th anniversary of ministry, he introduced the 9 principles he followed, how he kept the path of his ministry in a book titled “Remaining Faithful in Ministry: 9 Essential Convictions for Every Pastor.”  For reference, these 9 principles are found in 2 Corinthians 4, written by the Apostle Paul.  I've tried to apply these nine principles to all of us who seek spiritual maturity in this way:

 

1.       Let us see ourselves as stewards of God.

2.       Let us think of stewardship not only as a great privilege, but also as a great mercy received by God's grace.

3.       Let us be determined to keep our hearts pure and honest, and think that faithfulness is the key to our pursuit of true integrity.

4.       Let us fill our own hearts with one passion.  It is the heart of passionate devotion to love the word of God

5.       Let us believe that the word of God never returns in vain (Ps. 55:11), so let us not be swayed by man-made standards of success and failure.

6.       Let us not seek the acclaim or approval of men, but humbly seek the glory of God at any cost.

7.       Let us participate in the fellowship of Christ's suffering, knowing that God uses suffering as a means of sanctification.

8.       Let us get to know the great heroes of faith in the Bible and imitate their courage.

9.       Let us fix our hearts on heaven and above, and believe that our present sufferings are incomparable to such glory.

 

In addition to the application of these 9 principles, there was a saying in connection with 1 John 5:1-5: ‘A pastor serves God first.  He serves the saints to serve God.  The pastor must first love God with all his heart, with all his mind, and with all his strength.  Only then can he use his strength to love the saints as himself.  There are ups and downs in life, successes and failures in ministry are repeated.  And there are times when we get discouraged or stand up, and when we get flat or stumble on the contrary.  However, if the anchor of the pastor's soul is placed on God, he will be able to faithfully keep the path of ministry with faith that is shaken but not swept away’ (Internet).  Here, I want to listen to my heart to the saying, ‘A pastor must first love God with all his heart, with all his mind, and with all his strength.’

 

In 1 John 5:3, the Apostle John says: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”  I would like to receive the lessons given by meditating on 1 John 5:1-5 in three categories under the title “This is love for God”.

 

First, I want to consider who loves God.

 

One of my personal favorite Bible verses is Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  The reason I like this word is because I have hope in God's word that all things work together for good to those who are called according to God's will, and I gain the strength to endure any kind of hardship through faith.  But the reason I came to like this verse more is after meditating on Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  The grace that I received and I am still receiving is the fact that God's will is good, pleasing, and perfect.  Although I don’t know what God's good, pleasing, and perfect will is at many times, I am in that will of God, and as Romans 8:28 says, all these things work together for good.  So in the end, I will finally taste His goodness according to the word of Psalms 34:8, while having hope, patience and enduring in that word of God.  That's why I can confess to you, 'God is good, All the time!'  I want to live by faith holding on to these four principles based on the words of the Bible in the future: (1) God is good (1 Chron. 16:34; Ps. 86:5; 100:5; 107:1; 135:3; 145:9).  (2) God’s will is good (Rom. 8:12:2).  (3) God works for the good of those who love him (v. 28).  (4) We will taste that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8).  However, while I liked Romans 8:28, I lived my life of faith, focusing a lot on the phrase, “n all things God works for the good.”  But I didn’t really focus too much on the word, “And we know that  …  of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose”.  As I meditated on 1 John 5:1-5 this time, I was able to meditate on the words “those who love Him” from the perspective of 1 John.  In particular, as I meditated on the phrase “This is love for God” in 1 John 5:3, I asked the question, “Who really loves God?”

 

I think the Apostle John is talking about who loves God in 3 ways in 1 John 5:1-5:

 

(1)     Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ loves God.

 

Look at 1 John 5:1 – “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.”  Do you believe that Jesus is Christ?  At the time when the Apostle John wrote 1 John, there were those who deny that Jesus is the Christ.  Look at 1 John 2:22 – “Who is the liar?  It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.”  The Apostle John refers to those who deny that Jesus is the Christ as “the liar” and “the antichrist.”  The Apostle John said that these liars, the antichrist, have arisen “even now” and therefore we know that it is the last hour (v. 18).  It is still the last hour.  Even now, there are too many antichrists and liars in this world.  Therefore, as the Apostle John said in 1 John 5:1, we must become the believers that Jesus is the Christ. 

 

So what does it mean to say that Jesus is the Christ?  First of all, what does the name “Jesus” means?  Look at Matthew 1:21 – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  From this verse, we can guess that the meaning of the name “Jesus” is related to the one who will save God's people from their sins.  In fact, the name “Jesus” means “Jehovah is salvation.”  So the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said that Mary would give birth to a son, and he should name him “Jesus”, which means that the son to be born is the Savior.  So what does the word “Christ” mean?  Its meaning is “the Anointed One.”  In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the Anointed One is “Messiah.”  For the Hebrews, anointing was a sign of consecration of the offices of king, priest, and prophet (Exod. 29:7; 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13; 1 Kis. 19:16).  In other words, Christ means King, Priest, and Prophet.  Then the Apostle John said in 1 John 5:1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ” means those who believe that Jesus, the one who will save us from our sins, is the Christ, that is, King, Priest, and Prophet.  So, when I asked you, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?” I meant, “Do you believe that Jesus is the King, the Priest, and the Prophet who saves us from our sins?”  Indeed, the Bible speaks of Jesus Christ as King, Priest, and Prophet:

 

(a)     The Bible not only refers to God as ‘King of king’ (1 Tim. 6:15), but also refers to the Lamb Jesus Christ as ‘King of kings’.

 

Look at Revelation 17:14 – “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings--and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

 

(b)     The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as High Priest.

 

Look at Hebrews 3:1 – “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”  Look at Hebrews 4:15 – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.”  Look at Hebrews 5:5, 10: “So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’  …  and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”  Look at Hebrews 9:11 – “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, ….”  The Bible Hebrews 7:21 speaks of Jesus as “a priest forever”.  The modern Korean Bible says that Jesus’ priesthood endures forever because He lives forever.  The point is that “we have such a high priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Most High in heaven” (8:1).

 

(c)     The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as “a prophet.”

 

Look at Deuteronomy 18:15 – “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.”  That was why, in the Gospel of John written by the Apostle John, the Jews asked John the Baptist, “Are you the Prophet?” (Jn. 1:21), and when Jesus accomplished the miracle of two fish and five breads, the people said, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (6:14).  If we look at these words, we can see that the Jews in Jesus' day were waiting for “a prophet like me” that Moses prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:15.  So, when they saw Jesus who had accomplished the two fish and five breads miracle, they said, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn. 6:14).

 

Then, why did the Apostle John say that those who believe that Jesus is the Christ love God?  The reason is because the God of love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16) loved us first (v. 19) sent his Son, the Righteous One (2:1) as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (4:10) and to be the Savior of the world (v.14) in order to atone our sins (v. 10) and so that we, who were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), might live (1 Jn. 4:9).  So if we know and rely on the love God has for us (v. 16), then we cannot help but love God.

 

(2)     Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God can love God.

 

Look at 1 John 5:5 – “Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  At the time when the Apostle John wrote 1 John, there were not only those who deny that Jesus is the Christ, but also those who deny that He is the Son of God.  Look at 1 John 2:22-23: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; …..”  That is why the Apostle John said that these liars, the antichrists, have come “even now” and ‘therefore we know that it is the last hour” (v. 18).  It is still the last hour.  Even now, there are too many antichrists and liars in this world.  Therefore, as the Apostle John said in 1 John 5:5, we must become those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

So what does it mean to say that Jesus is the Son of God?  It means that Jesus is God.  In other words, when Jesus is said to be the Son of God, it means that Jesus and the Father God are one [(Jn. 10:30) “I and the Father are one”].  If we use that word as the words of Philippians 2:6, it means that Jesus is “being in very nature God.”  So the Apostle John said in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Here, “the Word” refers to the Son Jesus, and the Apostle John said, “the Word was God.”  So the Apostle John said in 1 John 5:10 – “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.”  In this verse, the Apostle John said, “Anyone who believes in the Son of God,” and then “Anyone who does not believe God.”  That is, the Apostle John equated God and the Son of God.  In other words, he said that Jesus, the Son of God, is God.  That was why if we see Mark 14, before Jesus was arrested and nailed to the cross, the chief priests and the whole council were looking for evidence to kill Jesus (verse 55), and the high priest asked Jesus this question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” (v. 61)  Then Jesus replied, “I am.  …  And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (v. 62).  At that time, the high priest tore his clothes and said, “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?  They all condemned him as worthy of death” (v. 64).  In other words, when Jesus said that He was the Christ, the Son of God, from the viewpoint of the Jews, Jesus was condemned to death for blasphemy.  The reason is because from the point of view of the Jews, there was only one God, and a man named Jesus said that he was the Christ, the Son of God, that is, God.

 

As I meditated on these verses, I thought a bit about the connection between the word that says that Jesus is the “Son of God” and the word that says that Jesus is the “Christ”.  The reason is because in Mark 14:61, Jesus answered, “I am” to the high priest’s question, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”, that is ‘the Son of God?’  As we have already meditated on, “Christ” means ‘the anointed one’ (Hebrew, “Messiah”), meaning King, Priest, and Prophet.  In other words, to say that Jesus is the Christ means that Jesus is King, Priest, and Prophet.  And “the Son of God” means that He is one with God, very nature God, and God, that is Jesus is God.  Then, the meaning of ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God’ can be interpreted to mean ‘Jesus is God the King, the Priest, and the Prophet’.  And the saying that Jesus, the God, is the Christ (Messiah) means that Jesus, the God, came in the flesh (2 Jn. 1:7) as pure and without sin (1 Jn. 3:3, 5) as the propitiation for our sins (2:2; 4:10) and laid down his life (3:16) in order to atone our sins (4:10), to take away our sins (3:5), to make us alive (4:9) and give us salvation (eternal life) (5:11-13).  Therefore, when I ask you, 'Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?', it means, 'Do you believe that Jesus, the God, came in the flesh and laid down his life on the cross as the propitiation for our sins in order to atone and take away your sins, to raise you who were spiritual dead in trespasses and sins and to save you (to give you eternal life)?’  The Christians who answer this question with their heart and lips, saying ‘Amen!’ (I believe!), are the ones who love God.

 

(3)     Those who are born of God love God.

 

Look at 1 John 5:1 – “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”  Are you born again?  To ask again, have you been regenerated?  Have you become a new creature (new man)?  The well-known Bible verse 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  If we look at this word, the Bible says that if we are in Christ, we are a new creature, or a new man.  If we relate this verse to 1 John 5:1, it is saying that we have been born again (regenerate) and become new people through faith that Jesus is the Christ.  If we relate this to Ephesians 2:1 and 1 John 4:9, we are dead in trespasses and sins [dead spiritually because of disobedience and sins (Eph. 2: 1) and came to live through Him (1 Jn. 4:9).  In other words, when we say that we are born again, it means that we who were dead are brought back to life.

 

Who brought us back to life?  It is God who raised us from the dead in our trespasses and sins.  Look at Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”  Before we believed that Jesus was the Christ, our old man followed the evil ways of the world and obeyed the devil, lived according to the desires of the flesh and of the mind (vv. 2-3). 

 

To put this from the perspective of 1 John, before we were born (before we were regenerated), the old man was in the darkness and walked in the darkness (1:6; 2:11), lied (1:6), hated (2:9; 3:15), loved the things of the world (2:15), did evil (3:12), and sinned against God (v. 8).  In this way, God made us, the old people, who were spiritually dead, alive and made us new people.  This is what the Apostle John says in 1 John 5:1, ‘We are born of God.’  Here, the phrase “is born of God” refers to he who is born again and who is regenerated.  The same word Jesus used when he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3:7 – “"Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it.”  Before this word, Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3).  The meaning of the Apostle John's word in 1 John 5:1, he who “is born of God”, that is, he who is born again (is regenerated) is a new birth.  And its meaning implies ongoing faith.  In other words, there is evidence for the one who is born again, who is regenerated and who is new man (MacArthur).  The evidence is twofold, as verse 1 says: (1) to love the Father, and (2) to love our brothers/sisters who are born of God.  This twofold evidence has the same meaning as Jesus’ twofold command: (1) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and (2) “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37, 39).  That is, the evidence that those who are born of God (1 Jn. 5:1), those who are born again, those regenerated Christians who have been born of God, live as new people, as in the twofold command of Jesus and the word of 1 John 5:1, by (1) loving God and (2) loving brothers and sisters in Christ (neighbors).

 

Second, we want to think about what it means to love God.

 

Look at 1 John 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  The Bible Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  If we look at this verse, the Bible says that they are “those who love God.”  Who are those who love God here?  They are those who are called according to His purpose.  Then who are those who are called according to His purpose?  As Romans 8:29-30 says, it refers to “those whom He foreknew” (v. 29) and “these whom He predestined” (v. 30).  In other words, those who are called according to God's purpose are those whom God loves and cares for in advance [Ref.: Ps. 1:6, Hos 13:5, Am 3:2, Mt. 7:23 (Park)].  Those who were chosen by God before the foundation of the world, whom God allowed them to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ (common calling) and to believe in Jesus Christ are saved (special calling) and became “saints” (Rom. 1:7) are called according to His purpose and are those who love God.  And those who love God love God because God first loved them (1 Jn. 4:19).

 

Who are those who love God?  We have already meditated on three types of people who love God, focusing on 1 John 5:1-5: (1) Those who believe that Jesus is Christ (v. 1), (2) Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 5), (3) Those who are born of God (v. 1).  In 1 John 5:2-3, the Apostle John says: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  Here the Apostle John is teaching us what it means to love God.  It is keeping God’s commandments (v. 3).  In other words, the Apostle John says that those who love God are those who are born again (regenerated) by faith that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, and are new people (new creatures) who keep His commandments.  Here, as I meditated on the saying that those who love God keep His commandments, I was reminded of John 14:21, written by the same author, the Apostle John: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”  The Apostle John consistently speaks in John 14:21 and in 1 John 5:3.  The consistent word is that those who love God keep God's commandment.

 

We need to prove biblically that we truly love God.  Based on 1 John 4:7, I wrote this short contemplation: ‘Those who love one another in obedience to God’s commandment are truly born again (regenerated ones) and truly know God.  Conversely, he who disobeys God’s commandment of the Lord and hates one another is not truly born again and doesn’t truly know God.’  What I have learned as I write this short reflection is that if I am truly born again, a regenerated person, a new person, I will obey the Lord’s commandment.  The Apostle John is telling us again in 1 John 5:3 that if we truly love God, we must prove it.  And the way to prove it is to keep God’s commandment consistent with the word of 1 John 4:7 (5:3).  If we apply this to us, it means that we don’t end up praising and confessing, “God, I love you” only in words.  But we must live according to that confession and praise.  Living according to that confession and praise is keeping God's commandment.  Then, what is God’s commandment that the Apostle John is talking about?  Look at 1 John 3:23 – “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”  The commandment of God is to love one another as God has given us through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  If we meditate on this word again, if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ, and if that faith is truly a living faith, we must prove it by our works.  And the way to prove that is to love one another according to God's commandment.

 

The God who gave us this commandment first loved us (4:19).  How did God first love 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.” 

 

(1)   The love of the Father God is the love that He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into this world to save us who were spiritually dead.

 

The love of the Father God is the love that He sacrificed His only begotten Son Jesus Christ on the cross as the propitiation for our sins.  Because of the great love of the Father God, who sent and forsook His begotten Son, we have become children of God (3:1).

 

(2)   The love of the Son Jesus is stated in 1 John 3:16 – “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us ….”

 

Jesus Christ, who is the Word of life from the beginning and eternal life (1:1-2), came to this world in obedience to God the Father (3:5) and was the propitiation for our sins (2:2), even though he had no sin at all, in order to take away our sins (1:1-2).  Jesus Christ came as the Savior of the world (4:14) and in the flesh (v. 2; 2 Jn. 1:7) (Incarnation love).  And by laying down His life on the cross as a propitiation sacrifice, He satisfied God's holy wrath (2:2) (love that laid down His life).  Therefore, we are freed from death (3:14) and received eternal life (salvation) that Jesus Christ directly promised us (2:25; 5:11-13).

 

(3)   The love of the Holy Spirit is that He made us to confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (4:2), that Jesus is the Christ (2:22), and that Jesus is the Son of God (4:2, 15), and made us alive (v. 9) [the love that made us to confess Jesus and the love that made us alive from spiritually dead].

 

And the Holy Spirit not only makes us know that God is in us (3:24), but also makes us abide (live) in God (4:13).  Also, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (4:6), teaching us all things so that we may always live (abide, live) in Christ (2:27).  Also, the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of love, enables us to abide in love (live in love) (4:16).  That is, the Holy Spirit causes us to obey the Lord's command so that we can love God and love our brothers and sisters in Christ (neighbors) (v. 21; cf. Rom. 5:5).  And the Holy Spirit will give us confidence in the Day of Judgment because love has perfected us (1 Jn. 4:17).  The Holy Spirit makes us not to fear in love (v. 18).

 

In this way, the Holy Triune God first loved us (v. 19).  Therefore, we love God (5:2).  And our love for God means that we keep His commandment (v. 3).

 

Today, on the last Sunday in February, I was grateful to God while worshiping, as I remember, at this time in 2020, our church started offering online worship services due to the corona virus and God has shown His love to all our church families.  God has protected and kept us, and has helped us, guided us, and provided us even in difficult situations in many ways.  As I remember, last year, I exhorted you to use it as an opportunity to pursue closer fellowship with God through God's word and prayer while relying more and more on God in this difficult corona virus era.  Looking back on the past year, I can't help but thank God for allowing us to enjoy more intimate fellowship with God through God's word and prayer.  In the midst of this, in the New Year 2021, we set our church motto “The Year of Spiritual Maturity” and challenged us to do our best, praying that it would be a year for all of us to promote spiritual growth and maturity for each of us in this difficult time.  In particular, during the New Year's worship service, we received three lessons, focusing on Colossians 1:9-12: (1) We must gradually grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10).  (2) We must be filled with the knowledge of the will of God (v. 9).  (3) We must live like saints who believe in the Lord (v. 10).  Here, the life of a saint who believes in the Lord is (a) bearing good fruit (v. 10), (b) enduring all things with joy (v. 11), and (c) giving thanks to the Father God (v. 12).  These three lessons can be applied from the perspective of the words of 1 John: (1) We must come to know the God of love more and more (1 Jn. 4:8, 16).  (2) We must grow in faith in Jesus Christ, the will (commandment) of God, and love one another more and more (3:23).  (3) We are to live a life of saint - (a) Bearing the fruit of love, (b) Enduring everything with joy, and (c) Giving thanks to our Heavenly Father.

 

In order for us to love one another according to God's commandment, we must first know the God of love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16).  In particular, we need to know more about the saving love of the Holy Triune God who loves us.  So, last week we briefly meditated on the saving love of the Holy Triune God: (1) The love of the Father God is the love that He sent His only begotten Son into the world as the propitiation for our sins (vv. 9, 10) to save us, who were (spiritually) dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).  The Father God’s love is a love that forsook His own Son on the cross.  (2) Because of the love of the Father God sending His Son and the great love of forsaking His Son, we who were enemies with God (Rom. 5:10) became His children (1 Jn. 3:1).  (2) The love of the Son Jesus is the love that came to this world in the flesh in obedience to the will of the Father God (2:2; 2 Jn. 1:7), or the love in the flesh, and was sacrificed to satisfy God's wrath as the propitiation for our sins (2:2).  It is a love that laid down His own life (3:16).  As a result, we have received eternal life (salvation) (2:25; 5:11-13).  (3) The love of the Holy Spirit is the love that gave us life (4:9), the love that regenerated us, or the love that made us a new creature (new man), and also makes us realize that Jesus is the Christ (2:22) and the Son of God (4:2, 15) or the love that converted us.  The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (v. 6), teaches us to understand this love of the Holy Triune God, so that we can love one another according to God's commandment.

 

The Apostle John says that this commandment of God is “not burdensome” (v. 3).  What does it mean?  As I meditated on this verse, I was reminded of Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  I found it on my blog and re-read what I wrote on July 19, 2009, ‘The spirituality I want to pursue.’  And I wanted to share the part of it because it may help us to understand the Apostle John’s saying that “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn. 5:3): ‘The Lord calls those who are weary and burdened and promises to give them rest.  And He says that the way to find the rest for our souls is to take His yoke upon us and to learn from Him.  True spirituality is achieved only when we go up to the level where we can enjoy rest even with His yoke upon us.  But if we are overwhelmed by the weight of His yoke and losing consciousness, then we can’t say that we have true spirituality.  The Lord's yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt. 11:30).  Although the weight of the cross is not light at all, it is the spiritual power that spirituality is based on if we can feel the weight of the cross light since we are taking His yoke upon us out of love for the Lord.  I want to pursue this spirituality.  It is spirituality that I can feel easy and light because I am taking His yoke out of my love for Him.  I want to pursue the spirituality that gives me rest from the Lord, rather than wandering back and forth in the anxiety of my heart because of His yoke that I took upon (Mt. 11:28, 29).  It is truly attractive that even if there is pain and suffering, the spirituality that can find rest in the Lord, and the spirituality that imitates Jesus' meekness and humility (Mt. 11:29) more and more in the midst of pain and suffering.  I think that the spiritual power that flows from this spirituality is the true spiritual power.  I hope and pray that I will become a pastor who spreads Christ and His gospel more boldly with such spiritual power.’  God's commandments are by no means heavy.  The reason is because we want to keep the commandments of God with a heart of love for God because of the great saving love and grace that God gave us first.  How could the Son, Jesus Christ, be obedient to the Father God, even to the point of dying on the cross as the propitiation sacrifice, bearing the burden of all our sins (Phil. 2:8)?  How could Jesus, who bore the burden of all our sins, including the original sin and our past, present, future sins, and be able to obey the Father Good until he died on the cross?  The reason is because Jesus Christ loves God and also loves us (1 Jn. 3:16).  It reminds me of Hebrews 12:2 – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, ….”  Jesus was obedient to the Father God until he died on the cross, bearing the burden of all our sins for the joy we will enjoy in the future.  Therefore, we too must follow Jesus' example and obey God's commandments.  We must love each other. 

 

Last week, my friend pastor said that he shared an English gospel song “The Afters - Well Done” with the wife of a 53-year-old colleague who passed away due to the coronavirus.  And he said that she and her two sons were comforted a lot and they were very grateful.  This is because the second son said during his eulogy that the Lord would say to his father, “Well done, My faithful servant.”  This reminded me the funeral service of Pastor Hendricks that I and my wife attended not long ago.  During the funeral service, one of the sons of Pastor Hendricks did the eulogy through his brother-in-law and he said through her that when his father stood before the Lord, the Lord will say "Well done, My faithful servant."  After the eulogy, I heard the gospel song “The Afters – Well Done” for the first time in my life.  As I listened to that song, my heart was moved and the lyrics became my earnest prayer to God:

 

“What will it be like when my pain is gone And all the worries of this world just fade away?

What will it be like when You call my name And that moment when I see You face to face?

I'm waiting my whole life to hear You say Well done, well done My good and faithful one

Welcome to the place where you belong Well done, well done My beloved child

You have run the race and now you're home Welcome to the place where you belong

What will it be like when tears are washed away And every broken thing will finally be made whole?

What will it be like when I come into Your glory Standing in the presence of a love so beautiful?

I'm waiting my whole life for that day I will live my life to hear You say Well done, well done

My good and faithful one Welcome to the place where you belong Well done, well done

My beloved child You have run the race and now you're home Welcome to the place where you belong

What will it be like when I hear that sound?  All of heaven's angels crying out

Singing holy, holy, holy are You, Lord(3x) Waiting my whole life for that day

Until then I'll live to hear You say Well done, well done My good and faithful one

Welcome to the place where you belong Well done, well done My beloved child

You have run the race and now you're home Welcome to the place where you belong

Well done.”

 

I sincerely hope and pray that when we all obey God's commandments, which are not heavy at all, and love each other, we can receive praise from the Lord, saying, “Well done, well done, my good and faithful servant” when we stand before Him. 

 

A week or two ago, on a Christian newspaper website, there was an article about a book ‘1 John’ written by a pastor, so I read it with interest.  The reason I got a little interested is because I meditate on 1 John and preach every Sunday.  What caught my attention among the contents of the introduction to the book was that the author of the book was looking at the book of 1 John with three themes: ‘Love,’ ‘Truth’ and ‘Fellowship.’  However, I think the Apostle John contrasts four themes in 1 John.  They are ‘light vs. darkness (1 Jn. 1:5), ‘truth vs. lie’ (v. 6), ‘love vs. hate’ (2:9), and ‘righteousness vs. evil or unrighteousness (3:12).  So I was little bit struggling about how to view the pastor's three themes and my four themes.  In the meantime, I've been able to sort things out to this extent.  First, when I re-considered the pastor's three themes, I came up with the following: (1) The Father God is “love.”  Look at 1 John 4:8, 16: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  …  We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  (2) The Son Jesus is the “truth.”  Look at John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  (3) The Holy Spirit brings us into “fellowship” with a loving Father God and with Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is the truth.  Look at 1 John 1:3 – “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  I drew three truths like this:

 

                                                                                Father God

clip_image001.png                                                                                   (Love)

 

 

 

                                                                Son Jesus               Holy Spirit

                                                   (Truth)             (Fellowship)

 

I think it is necessary to look at the entire book of 1 John (1:1-5:21) with these three themes: “love”, “truth” and “fellowship”.  More theologically, I think we should look at the book (letter) of 1 John from the point of view of the Triune God (I think this is true not only of "1 John", but especially of "Romans").  As an example, as we meditate on the words of 1 John, it is necessary to meditate on the book of 1 John from (1) The perspective of how the Father God, who is love, first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19), (2) The perspective of believing in the Son Jesus Christ (5:1, 5) and keeping His commandment (3:23-24), and (3) The perspective of how the Holy Spirit regenerates us, causes us to love God and love our neighbor (5:1), and enables us to win the battle against the world (v. 5).

 

Then what should I think of the contrast between the four themes by the Apostle John that I have been meditating and preaching on 1 John?  If we compare the 3 themes of the pastor who wrote the book “1 John” above and the 4 themes I suggested, the 2 themes of “love” and “truth” are the same.  But the pastor said the third theme was “fellowship,” and I said “light” and “righteousness.”  And while the pastor said “love”, “truth”, and “fellowship” were the three themes in the book of 1 John, I said that the Apostle John was contrasting the four themes in 1 John.  That is, the Apostle John spoke on the subject of “love” and at the same time he spoke of 'hate', the opposite of love, and not only spoke of the subject of "truth" but also of 'lie', and also of "light" and 'darkness', and 'righteousness' and 'evil' or 'unrighteousness'.  I think it is very helpful to understand the contrast of these four themes, especially when we meditate in connection with 1 John 5:4-5: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  Here, the Apostle John uses the words “overcomes,” “overcome,” and “overcomes,” three times, and also uses the word “world” three times.  And he uses the words “faith” and “believers” to express in two words who overcomes the world by faith: “everyone born of God” (v. 4) and “he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (v. 5).  Taking this fact into account, the Apostle John is saying that we are now war with the “world” because the God of love (4:8, 16) who first loved us (v. 19) and showed us His great love (3:1), sent His begotten Son Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, as the propitiation for our sins (2:2; 4:9, 10) and He laid down his life for us (3:16), so that the Holy Spirit regenerated us (5:1, 4), enables us to believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. (vv. 1, 5), and made us children of God (3:1, 2).  Therefore, the Apostle John also said to us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (2:15).  The reason is because “everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world” (v. 16).  “The world and its desires pass away” (v. 17).  Therefore, we who are born again, who are regenerated, and who have become new creatures (new people) must fight against this world.  Also, considering the four themes of the entire book of 1 John that I have proposed, this “world” in which we must fight is (1) the dark world (1:5, 6; 2:8, 9, 11), (2) the lying world. (1:6, 8, 10; 2:4, 21, 22; 4:1, 6, 20), (3) the world of hate (2:9, 11; 3:12-15; 4:20) and (4) the evil and the unrighteous world (1:9; 2:2, 13, 14, 16; 3:12; 5:17, 18, 19, 21).  We must fight this world.  The secret to victory in this spiritual battle is “faith”.  Look again at the words of the Apostle John: “…  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (5:4).  In other words, those who are born of God (vv. 1, 4), those who are regenerated, the children of God who became new creatures (3:1, 2) who believe that Jesus is Christ and the Son of God (5:1, 5) overcome the world (vv. 4, 5).

 

The church is both a militant church and a triumph church.  The Lord, who is the head of the church, has already triumphed over death and Satan on the cross.  Therefore, the church must fight with self, sin, the world, and Satan with the assurance of victory in Jesus Christ.  As soldiers of the cross of Jesus Christ, we must engage in spiritual warfare with the assurance of victory.  As we engage in spiritual warfare, I hope and pray that we will receive and obey a few lessons today:

 

(1)     We must have fellowship with the Father God of love and Jesus Christ who is the Truth according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit faithfully and intimatelyTherefore, we must know the saving love of the Holy Triune God more and more deeply, more broadly, and higher. 

(2)     As regenerated ones, as children of God, we must walk in the light and practice the truth by loving one another according to the Lord's command.

(3)     We must not love this world, nor should we fellowship with it.  We must know that everything in this world, such as the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does will pass away.  So we must fight this dark world, a world of lies, a world full of hatred, evil, and unrighteousness.  We must fight only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  By believing that Jesus Christ has already triumphed, we must lead a militant life of faith and with the assurance of His victoryWe must win through faith alone.

 

Third and last, we want to think about the truth that those who love God overcome the world and have victory through faith.

 

Look at 1 John 5:4-5: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  The church is both the militant church and the triumph church.  The Lord, who is the head of the church, has already triumphed over death and Satan on the cross.  Therefore, we the church must fight ourselves, sin, the world, and Satan with the assurance of victory in Jesus Christ.  As soldiers of the cross of Jesus Christ, we must engage in spiritual warfare with the assurance of victory. We must learn not only the assurance of victory, but also the secret of victory through the word of God.  There are 4 secrets of victory that we meditated on based on the words of Joshua 1:1-9:

 

(1)   The secret of victory is to remember God's promises.

 

Look at Joshua 1:3-4, 6b, 13: “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.  Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates--all the Hittite country--to the Great Sea on the west.  …  because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  …  Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: 'The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land.”  The God of the covenant had already sworn to give the land of Canaan to the Israelites through Moses.  God said that the land of abundance flowing with milk and honey would be Israel's territory.  Joshua, who remembered this promise, told the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (v. 12) to remember the command that Moses gave them: “The Lord your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land” (v. 13).

 

We too must remember the Lord’s promise.  The word of promise the Lord gave to our church is Matthew 16:18 – ‘I will build my church.’  Our church is the Lord's church.  And the Lord promised that He will build His church.  Therefore, we must remember this promise of the Lord.  Not only do we remember, but we also need to commemorate this promise.  We must believe that the God of the covenant will surely and faithfully fulfill this promise.  And we must win with this faith in His word of the promise.

 

(2)   The secret of victory is the presence of God

 

In the Bible Joshua 1:5, 9b, 17 and 3:7, God made this promise to Joshua: “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  …  for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.  …  Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses.  …  And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.”  Just as God was with Moses, God promised to be with Joshua.  God promised Joshua that He would never leave him and never forsake him.  God promised that Joshua would be with him wherever he went.  And God promised to make Joshua great in the sight of Israel.  Therefore, He promised that all the people of Israel would know that God was with Joshua.  Therefore, God said that there would be no one who could stand against Joshua during his lifetime.

 

Our God is Emmanuel God.  That is, He is God with us (Mt. 1:23).  And this Immanuel God is for us.  If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)  We must overcome by faith in Immanuel.

 

(3)   The secret to victory is to be strong and courageous.

 

Look at Joshua 1:6a, 7a, 9a, 18: “Be strong and courageous,  …  Be strong and very courageous.  …  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  …  Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”  The covenant God who promised to give the land of Canaan to the Israelites and to be with Joshua commanded Joshua to be strong and very courageous.  God was with Joshua, who would he fear and what would surprise him?  Not only God, but also the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh said to Joshua, ‘Be strong and courageous.’

 

Look at Isaiah 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.”  We must not fear.  Rather, we must be strong and courageous.  The reason is because God is with us.  The reason is because Emmanuel God's promise to us will surely be fulfilled.  God will surely help us and will sustain us.  Therefore, we must strengthen our faith and overcome through faith alone.

(4)   The secret to victory is to be careful to obey all the laws that God has commanded.

 

Look at Joshua 1:7-8: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  Joshua and the people of Israel, who had received a promise from God, had a responsibility.  The responsibility was to be careful to obey all the laws that God commanded.  The reason God commanded the people of Israel this way was to make them prosperous and successful.  This is the secret to success and the secret to victory.  The secret is to be careful to obey all the commands of God.

 

However, as we know, we cannot obey all the commands of God.  This is our weakness.  But Jesus kept it all and obeyed them.  Jesus obeyed all the will of God until He died on the cross.  Therefore, we who cannot obey all the commands of God must only believe in Jesus.  That is why the Bible says that believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God's command (1 Jn. 3:23).  This is God's work (Jn. 6:29).  We must work hard on this.  To do this, we must meditate on the word of God day and night (Ps. 1:2).  And we must hear the word of Christ through the word of God that we meditate on (Rom. 10:17).  Therefore, there must be progress in our faith (Phil. 1:25).  And with the help of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26), we must obey God's commands.  We must win by faith.

 

In 1 John 5:4-5, the Apostle John says this: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  Here, the Apostle John says that the one who is born of God means the one who has been born again from God, which we have already meditated on in verse 1, and that means a new birth.  And its meaning implies ongoing faith.  In other words, there is evidence for the one who is born again, who is regenerated and who is new man (MacArthur).  The evidence is twofold, as verse 1 says: (1) to love the Father, and (2) to love our brothers/sisters who are born of God.  This twofold evidence has the same meaning as Jesus’ twofold command: (1) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and (2) “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37, 39).  That is, the evidence that those who are born of God (1 Jn. 5:1), those who are born again, those regenerated Christians who have been born of God, live as new people, as in the twofold command of Jesus and the word of 1 John 5:1, by (1) loving God and (2) loving brothers and sisters in Christ (neighbors).

 

The Apostle John says, “everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 Jn. 5:4).  What does it mean?  What is the “world” which we, being born again (regenerated) of God, and new creatures, overcome?  When I think of the word “world”, I think of 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  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.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”  By reading these words, we can understand a little bit about the “world” that we who have been born again (regenerated) and Christians who have become new people must fight and overcome.  It is “all that is in the world,” “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (v. 16).  To put this in the context of Genesis 3:6, when the serpent seduced the woman (Eve), Adam’s wife, to eat the fruit, the Bible says, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”  Here, “good for food” is “the lust of the flesh” (1 Jn. 2:16), “pleasing to the eyes” (Gen. 3:6) is “the lust of the eyes” (1 Jn. 2:16), and “desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6) means “the boastful pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16).  Adam and Eve fell into this temptation and sinned against God. If we say that in 1 John 2:15, the first Adam (as the representative of the family responsible for Eve and the representative of mankind) did not win the spiritual warfare and was defeated because he loved the world and the things in it.  In contrast, Jesus Christ, the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), triumphed when tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  When we read from Matthew 4:1, we see Jesus fasted for 40 days before beginning His public ministry and then hunger (v. 2), “the tempter” (v. 3), that is “the devil” (v. 1) tempted Jesus in three ways.

 

(1)   The first temptation was, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (v. 3).

 

If we say this in terms of Genesis 3:6, we can say that it is “good for food.”  And if we say it in terms of 1 John 2:16, we can say that it is a temptation to stimulate “the lust of the flesh.”  At that time, Jesus overcame the temptation of the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 of the Old Testament: “…  It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4).

 

(2)   The second temptation was, “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (vv. 5-6).

 

Here the devil is quoting Psalms 91:11-12, but it is different: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”  If we say this in terms of Genesis 3:6, we can say that it is “desirable for gaining wisdom.”  And if we say it in terms of 1 John 2:16, we can say that it is a temptation to stimulate “the boastful pride of life.”  At that time, Jesus overcame the second temptation of the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 of the Old Testament: “…  It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Mt. 4:7).

 

(3)   The third temptation was, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me.

 

If we say this in terms of Genesis 3:6, we can say that it is “pleasing to the eyes.”  And if we say it in terms of 1 John 2:16, we can say that it is a temptation to stimulate “the lust of the eyes.”  At that time, Jesus overcame the third temptation of the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 of the Old Testament: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Mt. 4:10).

 

Ultimately, the world we have to fight and overcome is “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes” and “the boastful pride of life”, which the Apostle John already spoke of in 1 John 2:16 (Ref.: Gen. 3:6; Mt. 4: 1-11).  The Apostle John says in 1 John 5:4, “everyone who is born of God overcomes the world.”  In other words, we who are born again (regenerated) from God and are new creatures, fight and overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, which are in the world (2:15).

 

But I think that apart from this lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, we who are born again (regenerated) from God and the new creatures have more to fight and overcome.  That is, as the Apostle John said in 1 John 5:1, (1) to love God and (2) to love brothers and sisters in Christ (neighbors) (Ref.: Mt. 22:37, 39).  In other words, the spiritual war we must fight and win is obedience to the twofold command of Jesus.  To obey this twofold command of Jesus is doing the will of God (1 Jn. 2:17).  The Apostle John says, “the man who does the will of God lives forever” (v. 17), which specifically means that we “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (v. 15), but that we love God and love brothers and sisters in Christ (5:1).  As we love our brothers and sisters in Christ according to the Lord's command, we can know that we have passed from death to life (3:14).  In other words, when we love our brothers and sisters in Christ in obedience to His command, we know that we have eternal life.  But the devil continues to tempt and deceive us into disobeying His twofold command, and to make us hate our brothers and sisters in Christ (neighbors), thus leading us to sin.  The devil is trying to make us hate our brother like Cain, so that we are in the darkness (2:9).  And the devil tries to create something in us to make us stumble (v. 10).  In a word, the devil is preventing us from enjoying eternal life by making us to hate our brothers and sisters in Christ (3:15).  The Apostle John says that he who is born of God (regenerated) and the new creature wins this spiritual war (5:4).  In other words, “he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” overcomes the world (v. 5).

 

How, then, does the Apostle John say we are victorious?  Look at 1 John 5:4b – “…  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”  Here are just a few of the short reflections I wrote a few weeks ago while reading and meditating on Hebrews 11, the chapter of faith: (1) I still want to speak to my beloved wife, children, church members, and brothers and sisters in Christ around me even after I die by faith in the Lord (Heb. 11:4).  (2) A Christian who receives the evidence that he is pleasing God is one who must believe that God exists, that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him and the one who walks with God and live in deep fellowship with God (Heb. 11:5-6; Gen. 5:24).  (3) Receiving disgrace for the sake of Jesus Christ is greater value than the treasures of this world (Heb. 11:26).  (4) We must love our family, our church brothers/sisters, and our neighbors whom we can see (1 Jn. 4:20; Mt. 22:39) like seeing God who is invisible (Heb. 11:27) and whom we cannot see (1 Jn. 4:20).  (5) By faith, even if it is the same faith as the Israelites who grumbled before the Red Sea when they saw the dreadful situation (Heb. 11:29; Exod. 14:10-12), we must be strong in our weakness (Heb. 11:34).  If we are to be strong in our weakness, we must be captivated by the powerful word of the Lord: “…  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33), “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37), “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor. 2:14).  

 

In 1 John 2:13, 14, the Apostle John said: “…  I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one  …  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”  Here we can see how the children of God can fight and overcome the devil.  In other words, we can learn some of the secrets of how to fight and overcome the devil's temptation to hate our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The secret is that we are strong and the Word of God abides in us.  Here, ‘we are strong’ means we are strong because the powerful word of God dwells in us.  Also, the fact that the word of God abides in us is proof that our faith in the word is so strong and firm.  So the Apostle John said in 1 John 5:4: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

 

This is the hymn “Encamped Along the Hills of Light”, verse 2 and chorus lyrics: “On ev-'ry hand the foe we find Drawn up in dread array; Let tents of ease be left behind, And onward to the fray.  Salvation's helmet on each head, With truth all girt about, The earth shall tremble 'neath our tread, And echo with our shout.  Faith is the victory!  Faith is the victory!  Oh, glorious victory, That overcomes the world.”  Faith wins.  Faith in the Lord Jesus fights and overcomes this sinful world and the devil.  Although the devil tempts us to (continuously) hate our brothers and sisters in Christ, the victory over that temptation is our faith in the Lord (1 Jn. 5:4).  And because the God in us, the object of our faith, is greater than “the one who is in the world” (4:4), we will fight and win by faith.  May our hearts be filled with joy as we all stand firm in the faith and love our neighbor as ourselves, as Jesus commanded (1:4).

 

 

 

 

 

Desiring to love God more and more,

 

 

 

James Kim

(April 25, 2021, Praying for victory over Satan’s temptation to hate my brothers and sisters in Christ by faith as I obey His command to love them in the Lord)