1 John 4:16-17
“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. 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.”
So, what is the love that God has for us? It is that he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die on a cross, to take on our sins, and to put our sins to death so that, by God-given faith in Jesus, we can now be delivered from slavery to sin and now become slaves of his righteousness.
By God-given faith in Jesus Christ we are no longer bound in chains to sin. Sin and Satan no longer have control over our lives. We are not helpless against Satan’s evil attacks. For we are now under the control of God’s Spirit who now lives within us giving us strength to resist the devil and to draw near to God.
So, if we know intimately the love of God for us, and we believe the love God has for us, then we will live, and we will walk in that love. And, that love prefers (chooses) what God chooses, which is what is moral, pure, upright, godly, honest, and faithful.
And, to abide in that love is not just to live in it, but it is to remain in his love, to continue in it, and to not let it go. And, to love God is to obey him, and to choose to live our lives in the power of God in doing what he has called us to do, as his followers.
And, abiding in his love also means we surrender our lives to Jesus, and he is our Lord (master), and we are to be in his word daily, learning from him at his feet, and then doing what he says to do. And, it is being in a continual state of fellowship with him to where we commune with him 24/7.
So, if we believe and we know intimately God’s love, and so we walk in his love and we abide in his love, and we continue in his love, then that means we are daily dying to sin and self and we are following Jesus in obedience to his commands to us, his church (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
And, this is why we have confidence on the day of judgment, because we are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, we are walking in obedience to our Lord, as a matter of practice, and we aren’t living to fulfill the sinful desires of our flesh (Rom 8:1-17; Gal 6:7-8).
1 John 4:18-19
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”
There are two kinds of fear which are good, and they both have to do with respect. As followers of Jesus, we are to walk in the fear (honor, respect, reverence) of our Lord. This means we take God and his word seriously, we love him, and our desire is for him, to obey him.
There is also a fear (respect, guardedness) against danger, which is a healthy fear. We don’t run out into traffic because we know we might get killed. We don’t put our hands on a hot stove, for we know we might get burned. So, this kind of fear is also called wisdom.
But then there is a fear which is lack of faith and trust in Jesus Christ which results in worry and fret and often with us taking matters into our own hands because we don’t trust the Lord. And, this is when we fear Satan’s attacks against us, as though Satan still has power over us.
This kind of fear, which is the opposite of love, doubts God and his promises to us, it believes Satan’s lies, and so it ends up yielding to the flesh instead of to the Spirit. And, it ends up following man instead of God. But those who fear may not recognize it as fear, but it is the opposite of love.
Many people get trapped in this when they doubt that Jesus died to deliver us from our slavery to sin and that he has provided the way out for us from under temptation to sin. They are afraid to lose control over their own lives, so they don’t surrender their lives to Jesus, thus they continue in sin.
They fear humbling themselves because of pride. They fear submission to the Lord for they want to still be in the driver’s seat. They fear dying to sin and self for they find comfort and self-pleasure in their sin. And, they fear confession of sin for they don’t want to be found out, either, for they fear rejection of humans more than they fear God and hell.
1 John 4:20-21
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
To love God is to (agape) love others, which means that we give of ourselves for their legitimate needs and we don’t willfully do what we know is going to harm them. So, we are not going to lie to, cheat on, commit adultery against, murder, steal from, slander or betray those we love.
But we are going to do for others what is for their benefit, so we are also not going to lead them into sin, or coddle them in their sin, or tell them that it is okay with God if they keep on in their sinful practices. But we are going to tell them to leave their sins and to follow (obey) Jesus with their lives.
Love is action, not a feeling, so we don’t have to have warm mushy feelings about someone in order to love that person with God’s love. That person may even be someone who is treating us spitefully and with contempt, and who is doing evil against us, but we are to return hate with love.
So, we pray for them, we do good to them, we say to them what is beneficial for them, we help them if they need help, if we are able, and if God leads us to a specific way to help them. And, we tell them the truth about God’s love and his sacrifice for our sins and how they can know the Lord Jesus, too.
But, if we hate others, we are not going to be kind to them, not genuinely, anyway. We will not want to do good to them or pray for them or to be helpful to them. But we will wish them harm and we will try to get even with them, and we may even plot evil against them out of spite.
So, what this is saying here is that if we treat others with hate, and so we use and abuse them, and we lie to them and cheat on them or so we gossip about them and slander them with the intention to do them harm, as our practice, then we don’t love God and we don’t know God (1 Jn 2:9-11).
So, we need to be like Jesus, and we need to love like Jesus if we want to be assured of salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For to love Jesus is to obey him, to go wherever he sends us, to be who he wants us to be, and to say what he wants us to say.
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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