1 John 4:7-12 ESV
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. 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. 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 word “love” (agape) is centered in moral preference, and it means to prefer what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, upright, honest, and faithful, etc. For the believer in Jesus Christ, it is preferring to live through Christ, embracing God’s will, choosing his choices, and obeying them through his power (source: biblehub.com interlinear).
So, when this instructs us to love one another, this is the love it is speaking of, not human love which is based in our emotions. But this word “love” also is used to mean to take pleasure in and to long for and to esteem, which fits well with the passage of Scripture which teaches us not to love the world or the things in the world – the lust of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life. We are not to take pleasure in and to long for those things (see 1 John 2:15-17), but we are to long for and to take pleasure in our Lord.
So, in today’s passage, when it says that whoever loves has been born of God and knows God, this is not speaking of human love based in our emotions but this is speaking of love as God is love, as defined above. This is love for God in walks of obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant), and this is love for God in walks of surrender to our Lord in holiness and in righteousness, and in truth. And this is love for our fellow humans in purity of devotion to our Lord which does them no harm.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
God Manifesting His Love
And God showed his love to us by sending his only begotten Son into the world to be the propitiation (atonement, payment) for our sins. Jesus Christ, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, came to earth, was born as a baby to a human mother, conceived of the Holy Spirit, with God as his birth Father. He lived on this earth about 33 years.
During his years of ministry on this earth he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, delivered people from demons, fed the hungry miraculously, and performed multiple miracles. And he preached repentance and obedience as necessary components of believing faith which saves. For he taught that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we don’t, we do not have eternal life in him (Luke 9:23-26).
Now, Jesus did have crowds of people following him for a time, mainly because of the miracles he performed, and because he was healing their diseases. But he also had nemeses (opponents, antagonists) who hounded and harassed him continually, always looking for ways to trip him up so that they could accuse him of something. And their hate of him eventually drove them to plotting out and carrying out his death on a cross, although he had done no wrong but only good.
But in that death on that cross, Jesus Christ, who was perfect in every way, became sin for us, putting our sins to death with him, so that we might now die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. But he didn’t remain dead. On the third day he rose from the dead victorious over the grave, hell, Satan, and sin, on our behalf, so that we can now live in victory over sin and in walks of holiness and in righteousness and in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.
[Isaiah 53:1-12; Matt 26:26-29; Lu 9:23-26; Lu 17:25; Jn 1:1-36; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 8:24,58; Jn 10:30-33; Jn 20:28-29; Rom 5:8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 9:5; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Co 11:23-32; 1 Co 15:1-8; 2 Co 5:15,21; Eph 4:17-24; Php 2:5-11; Col 2:9; Tit 2:11-14; Heb 1:8-9; Heb 2:14-15; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:1]
Loving One Another
So, when this instructs us that we are to love one another, it is teaching us to love one another with this divine love, this pure love, which does no willful harm to another, but which does for others what is for their good. And it is to love others as God loves us, so this love is also self-sacrificial. And it is to love as Jesus loved us and gave himself up for us so that we can now live in freedom from slavery to sin and walk in his holiness and righteousness, to the glory and praise of God, and in his power and strength.
So when we love others with this kind of love we are going to have the mind of Christ in expressing this love, and we are going to have the will of God in mind as we express this love. So, this is not fleshly and worldly love. It is unselfish, and it thinks of others and their needs, including their spiritual needs. So when we love with this love we are going to be sharing the truth of the gospel with others for their salvation, and we are going to also be encouraging our fellow believers in their walks of obedience to our Lord.
[Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Jn 4:31-38; Jn 13:13-17; Jn 14:12; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 10:14-15; Rom 12:1-8; Rom 15:14; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Php 2:1-8; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:23-25; 1 Pet 2:9,21; 1 Jn 2:6]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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