That We Might Live
1 John 4:9 ESV
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
Why did Jesus come to the earth? Why did he die on that cross? What was the purpose? It was that we might live through him. Yet, it isn’t just that we might live for eternity with him, but that we might live. And, this living is more than just breathing in and breathing out, and having our physical hearts beat. It has to do with how we live, too, i.e. with how we walk.
For, how we live has to do with our thinking, our believing, our attitudes, our values, and our conduct (behavior). And, living “through” Jesus has to do with him being the source, the support, and the foundation for what we think, believe, and do, from beginning to end, and all throughout our lives. It means our lives are wrapped up in him, and they are in him and he in us.
But, it is more than just that. It is that he is our life. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20). My life is no longer my own to be lived however I want, but the life of Christ is now within me living his life out through me. And, the purpose of my life now is to live for the Lord, to submit my life to his purposes, and to walk in obedience to his commands.
In This is Love
1 John 4:10 ESV
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
But, we can’t live for the Lord in our own strength and via our own resources. It isn’t about us just “doing” things for God that we think he wants us to do. It is about us giving up full reign of our lives over to him, to yield to his control and his purposes, and to allow his Holy Spirit to work in our lives and through our lives according to his purposes for our lives.
For, Jesus wasn’t our sacrifice for our sins just so he could forgive us our sins, and just so we could go to heaven when we die. For, he shed his blood for us on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. And, it was to buy us back for God so that we would now be God’s possession, and so that we would now honor God with our lives (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24).
If We Love One Another
1 John 4:11-12 ESV
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
This relationship we now have with Jesus Christ, though, is not just about us. It isn’t just about Jesus saving us from our sins so that we are free from the punishment of sin, and so we can go to heaven when we die. Jesus didn’t die for us so that we could live for ourselves. He died that we might live for (and through) him, and so that we might love others with his love.
For, God uses us as his instruments in the world to demonstrate his love and his grace to others. But, this love is not human love. It is not based on our feelings. It isn’t some mushy-gushy warm and cozy feeling. And, it isn’t about making other people feel all warm and fuzzy, either.
This is God-like love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, godly, pure, upright, moral and faithful. And, it is about the welfare of others, too, which has to do with their peace, healing, soundness and completeness in Christ Jesus, our Lord. So, this love is about what is best for others, which has to do with their relationships with Christ.
So, if we are loving others with Christ’s love, we are not going to lie to, cheat, steal from, gossip about, lust after, or commit adultery against them, etc. But, we are going to do and say what would reflect Christ and his love toward them, and which would care more about their freedom from slavery to sin than we care about whether or not they like or reject us.
By This We Know
1 John 4:13-16 ESV
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
We have to read scripture in context. We can’t just pull out one verse and make it say what we want it to say. So, we can’t just quote, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” as the totality of our doctrinal statement regarding our salvation from sin.
For, many people “confess” that Jesus is the Son of God who never submit to him as Lord, and who never walk in obedience to his commands. For, that is what “wolves in sheep’s clothing” do, and so do hypocrites. And, James said that even the demons believe and they shudder, but they are not saved. So, a mere verbal confession of faith doesn’t equal true faith.
Nonetheless, these words, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” summarize well for us the theme of 1 John. But, even here we have to understand what this word “love” means, and what it means to abide in that love.
It is the kind of selfless love which Jesus demonstrated when he was on this earth, both in his ministry and in his death. And, to abide in this love means to walk in it, to live in love, to stay, to remain, and to continue in love, which is God’s love, which prefers what God prefers, and which considers what is truly in the best interest of others.
And, too, it is a love which submits to Christ as Lord and which walks in obedience to his commands (See: Jn. 8:51; Jn. 14:23-24; Rom. 6:16; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 3:24; 1 Jn. 5:3; 2 Jn. 1:6).
So Also Are We
1 John 4:17 ESV
“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.”
If we want to have confidence on the day of judgment that we are in Christ, and that he is in us, and that we are saved from our sins, and that heaven is our eternal destiny, then we need to abide in God’s love. We need to live in his love by walking in obedience to his commands, doing what he says to do.
But, this is not about just following a set of rules. This is about letting Christ’s life be lived out through us for his praise, honor and glory.
For, this continues by saying, “because as he is so also are we in this world.” We are to be like Jesus. And, we can only be like Jesus if we are allowing his life to be lived out through us by yielding control of our lives over to him, and by surrendering our wills to him. And, we can only be like Jesus in the world if we are living the kind of life which he lived.
Yet, Jesus never sinned, but this is not because he was not capable of sin, for he lived in a flesh body when he lived on the earth. He was tempted to sin in all the many ways in which we are tempted, but he did not yield to sin. He had to resist Satan, too. He had to flee temptation. And, He had to call on the Father and yield to and submit to the Father’s will, too.
But, I will say here that theologians are divided on this subject of whether or not Jesus could have sinned. But, the scriptures teach that Jesus was tempted in all the same ways in which we are tempted, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). So, to be tempted like we are tempted would seem to indicate that he could have sinned, but that he chose not to. But, I won’t debate this.
My point here is that, although we are not perfect, as Jesus was perfect, and we were born with sin natures, which Jesus was not, we can now walk in holiness, and we can walk according to the Spirit, and not according to our flesh, because Christ lives within us empowering us to live righteously. We can walk as Jesus walked when he was on the earth.
And, this is because our salvation is not just freedom from the punishment of sin, so that we can go to heaven when we die, but it is freedom from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. And, it is empowerment to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.
So, as Jesus was in the world, so can we be also, perhaps not in sinless perfection, as he was, but in walks of obedience to our Lord, daily dying to sin and self and daily living for our Lord, according to his will and purpose.
He Gave Me a Song
Songwriter: Alton Howard
He took my burdens all away, up to a brighter day…
Brighter the way grows ev’ry day, walking the heav’nly way…
I am redeemed no more to die, never to say goodbye…
He gave me a song, to sing about
He lifted me from sin and doubt
O, praise His name, He is my King
A wonderful song He is to me
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