If we listen to the Holy Spirit living with us and if we remain in fellowship with Christ, as we talked about last week, it will be no problem for us to live the holy life John, Paul and Peter have been teaching about. If we try to do it on our own, we will most definitely fail. Our humanity will be stronger than our will. But God has given us the Holy Spirit to prompt us when we should not say what we are about to say, or that what we just said was wrong and we need to apologize. It becomes sin when we choose to ignore what the Spirit is saying to us or ignore what we have learned while studying God’s word and enjoying fellowship with Him. Let’s consider James’ definition of sin: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it (James 4:17).
John goes on to explain what true fellowship with Christ looks like.
And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it show that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. – 1 John 3:5-10
These are powerful words. God’s plan is to make us into who He created us to be. His grace gives us the strength to overcome sin, not just unmerited favor that looks the other way while we continue to submit to our sinful nature (James 4:6). LOVE – this is what it looks like to respond to Christ when we are in relationship with Him; to love Him enough to obey and to demonstrate our love for Him in our actions towards others.
This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should LOVE ONE ANOTHER…
We know what REAL LOVE is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and LOVE ONE ANOTHER, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us. – 1 John 3:11, 16-24
And so we end right where we began – Our life is different when the Spirit lives in us and when we remain in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Our life produces this kind of love naturally as we live in obedience and relationship with our Savior.
I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should LOVE ONE ANOTHER. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. – 2 John 5-6
I love the circle that John creates in these verses. If we truly love God, we will obey whatever He commands. And what does he command, to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. So, if we truly love God, we will love one another. In fact, we show our love for God by loving others – demonstrated in word and action. And this verse in John’s second letter is consistent with what he wrote in his first letter:
But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. – 1 John 2:5
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love…Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. – 1 John 4:7-8,11-12
I know. We’ve heard all of this before. But I think it is helpful for me to study it again, especially during this Christmas week. To remember what true obedience to God looks like – loving others in word and deed. I can say I love everyone and that my love for God is expressed in the way I love others, but then I need to consider when I complain and speak negatively about someone else. Does this express my love for God? Do I love God well when I’m avoiding someone or focusing on how someone gets on my nerves?
Lord, forgive me for my lack of love for others. Lord, perfect YOUR love in me. I want to live a life of obedience and love. Please fill me with Your Spirit today and love through me! May your truth be evident in our actions today as we love each other just as You intended us to. Fill us with the kind of REAL LOVE John spoke of – the kind of love that would give up our lives just as Christ gave up His life for us. Amen.