Love, Obedience & Forgiveness

1 John 2:1-2 ESV

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on a cross one day many years ago so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin, and so that we could walk righteously before our God. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross that we might become the righteousness of God, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

The whole point of Jesus’ love offering to us via his death on a cross was not just to forgive us our sins so that we could go to heaven when we die. For, he died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. Thus, when he took our place on that cross, he bought us back for God with his blood so that we would now be God’s possession, and so that we would now honor God with our lives – minds, hearts, and bodies.

So, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. But, it doesn’t end there. Now we are to daily die to sin and self, and to daily live for Jesus in obedience to his commands – all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit now living within us.

Nonetheless, we still live in this world. We still live in flesh bodies. We still have the propensity to sin against God, and we are still tempted to sin. Our flesh is at war with the Spirit, and the Spirit is at war with the flesh. So, although Jesus died to deliver us from sin, and he empowers us to live free from sin, it doesn’t mean we will never sin. But, when we do sin, Jesus’ blood sacrifice still covers that sin, and he will help us to not sin, too.

1 John 2:3-6 ESV

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Yet, lest we begin to think, now that Jesus forgave us our sins, that we can go on sinning, making it our practice, and that it won’t impact our eternal life, we need to take in the reality of what John just said here.

True faith in Jesus Christ involves both repentance and obedience to Jesus Christ. It does not mean we will never sin against God. But, it does mean that we now make it our lifestyle, our practice to live for our Lord and to do what he says. If we make it our practice to follow our Lord in obedience, in his power and strength, then this is how we know that we have truly come to know him.

And, the opposite of this is true, as well. If we do not make it our practice to follow our Lord in obedience, and/or if we have this attitude in our hearts that says we can keep on sinning, now that we are under grace, and yet we claim to know him, we are liars (See also 1 Jn. 1:5-9). For, to know him is to walk in obedience to his commands.

Jesus said that his sheep listen to him and that they follow (obey) him. He said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily and follow (obey) him. And, to follow him means not just to do what he says, but also to walk like he walked, doing the kinds of things he did and said, following his example for how to live and to love others.

1 John 2:7-11 ESV

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever 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.

Love and hate are opposites. We can’t love and hate at the same time, unless it is that we are loving righteousness and we are hating evil. But, if we are making hate our practice towards other human beings, then we are not walking in love. And, here it says that if hate is what we practice, that we are not walking in the light, but we are still walking in darkness.

This is not to say that we will never get upset with other people when they sin against us, or that we won’t have to confront others with their sins against us. For love for others does not pacify or placate sin. True love speaks the truth in love. True love helps others out of their sinful addictions. It does not pat them on the back to try to console them in their sin.

True love also forgives others for their sins against us. Yet, forgiveness does not mean we then turn a blind eye to further sin. Forgiveness does not give permission for continued and willful sin. It doesn’t ignore sinful patterns of behavior, and it doesn’t put the innocent in harm’s way. It is gracious, and it is loving, but it is also wise and discerning. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”

Also, if we make it our practice to sin against others via lies, deception, manipulation, trickery, adultery, stealing, cheating, false accusations, slander, gossip, spite, and abuse, then don’t call it love. That is hate. And, Jesus said that to hate is the same as to murder.

So, when you lust after that other person and/or you go to that porn site, don’t make light of it, or think it is no big deal, and don’t call it entertainment or relaxation, or justify it in any way. If you are married, it is adultery. If you are not married, it is still adultery against God.

Remember that the scriptures teach that love does no harm to its neighbor. It doesn’t take advantage of others to fulfill its own lustful desires. True love does what is in the best interest of others, what is for their good, as God defines good. It is concerned for the welfare of others, for what is beneficial to them, which is foremost that they know God, and that they walk in holiness in His power and strength, and that they are free from their slavery to sin, and that they have true hope of eternal life with God.

There is a lot of hate in the world, though, and in the hearts of many who profess faith in Jesus Christ, too, because they are still holding on to their sinful practices, and they have not truly submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. And, those who hate will also hate those who are walking in righteousness and holiness, and they will persecute us. But, we need to forgive them, and we need to return their hate with love.

All Through the Night

An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

 

4 thoughts on “Love, Obedience & Forgiveness

  1. This is an excellent post Sue. I know you frequently look at both sides of the coin but this one is really about as truthful as you can get. This is indeed, the Christian walk, this is the Christian reality. When I read this particular sentence, a political name immediately came to mind: “Also, if we make it our practice to sin against others via lies, deception, manipulation, trickery, adultery, stealing, cheating, false accusations, slander, gossip, spite, and abuse, then don’t call it love. That is hate. And, Jesus said that to hate is the same as to murder.” I’m not going to go there but for the life of me I cannot understand how some “Christians” can see these character traits and not recognize them for what they are and ultimately who they undeniably reside in. And yet, for some, for many actually, the supposedly envisioned greater good overrides the character traits of this individual and he is looked upon as the knight in shining armour that is going to save the day. If that reality doesn’t scare you and tell you where too many “Christians” are, then I honestly don’t know what will. Sorry for getting off track but every time I see these character traits listed, the personification of them embodied in this political person comes to mind. Dying every day means focusing on Jesus, Him and Him alone. My apologies once again. Grace and blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

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