Today’s Reading: 1 John 4 & 5 and 3 John
I love the strong message of love that John presents in his letters. It was what I needed to hear over the last three days and a great reminder as we celebrate God’s perfect expression of love throughout the Christmas story. God loves us enough to change us into who He created us to be. John goes on to speak of four different life changes that take place in our lives when we:
Remain in fellowship with Christ
Have the Holy Spirit living within us
We will gain discernment.
When the Spirit lives within us, we will become more and more discerning of the truth. When we hear something that is not truth, the Spirit within us will warn us and we will experience uneasiness. The Spirit living within us is truth and is greater than the spirit who lives in this world. Because we belong to God, we listen to the Spirit and are able to DISCERN TRUTH from deception (1 John 4:1-6).
We will grow more perfect in love.
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.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is REAL LOVE – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
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.
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us…All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, OUR LOVE GROWS MORE PERFECT. – 1 John 4:7-17a
We will obey out of love and not fear.
Such love has no fear, because PERFECT LOVE EXPELS FEAR. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loves us first…And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. – 1 John 4:18-5:3
We will overcome evil by our faith.
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. – 1 John 5:4-5
As John reminded us earlier in this first letter, we live in this evil world and love the people around us but we do this without loving the world and the things of this world (2:15). So, though surrounded by sins and encouraged daily by the unsaved around us to join in their sin, we choose instead to remain in fellowship with Jesus and give in to the urgings of the Spirit instead of the urgings of the sinful nature.
We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. – 1 John 5:18-20
Sin will not overpower us. We don’t have to be afraid that we will sin when we remain in fellowship with God. We are children of God and no evil in this world is more powerful than him. BUT, we also have to keep our hearts devoted to Him and avoid situations or temptations that could weaken our resolve to remain in relationship with Him. We need to make sure that we do not start making other things in our life more important than Him. God wants more than just first place in our lives, He wants Lordship over EVERYTHING in our lives.
John ends this first letter with great advice for us, especially during this Christmas season, and so I end my morning coffee pondering this verse.
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. – 1 John 5:21
Lord, thank you for the evidence we are already experiencing in our lives, evidence that you are at work and creating us into a new person. We thank you for Your perfect expression of REAL LOVE as demonstrated in your birth and in your death on the cross. Lord, continue to strengthen our faith in you and our love for others. Amen.