The Book of 1 John
Overcoming the World
1 John 5:1-5 SCC 9/4/11
We have discovered that John’s message to us includes:
A. The boundaries for intimate fellowship with God. Those are loving our Christian brother.
B. God has given us His love within as the means of loving our brother.
C. Our loving God is connected to loving our brother.
Once again John visits these themes in our current passage.
1. God’s love for us should motivate us to love one another 19-21
19 The basis for Christians loving one another is the prior love of God for them. The emphasis seems to be on ‘our love for one another’—We love ‘one another’—because God first loved Christians, they ought to love him and others in return based on the following argument.
20 Love for the unseen God can only be concretely demonstrated by love for ones visible Christian brother. He begins by stating, hatred of a fellow Christian is irreconcilable with genuine love for God. The individual who claims to love God while hating a fellow Christian is a liar—he does not love God. He makes a false claim (1:10; 2:4; 4:20; 5:10). It is impossible for such a person to love God, because all the love there is comes from God.
21 Furthermore, God’s command has joined love for God and love for one’s brother. The commandment consists of: “that the one who loves God should love his fellow Christian too.” Now this is beyond the realm of speculation. God literally connects the two together so that we cannot have the one without the other. You cannot say I love God while hating your brother not can you say I love my brother while spurning God.
1. So if you claim to love God that will be evidenced by not hating your brother.
2. The way God agrees that you love Him is by concrete demonstrations of love for your brother.
3. God demands that our love for Him and our love for one another are inseparable.
2. Obeying Gods command to love one another is loving God 5:1-3
1 If anyone asks who constitutes a Christian brother the answer is ‘anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ’. This one is born of God and this one is the object of our love. This is the unique and unqualified application of the title “Messiah” (“Christ”) to Jesus during his earthly career and ministry. Together with the confession in 1 John 4:15 and 5:5, “Jesus is the Son of God,” the confession forms the full and complete confession as found in John 20:31 “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” The statement of the confession here (“that Jesus is the Christ”) is also consistent with the confession in 4:2, “every spirit that confesses Jesus [as the] Christ who has come in the flesh,” since here “Jesus” and “Christ” are separated and “Christ” is what is being confessed. In 4:2 “who has come in the flesh” is an additional qualification to “Christ,” while here an abbreviated version of the confession “Christ” appears.
Therefore, our love for one another springs not from how lovable one may be but from the fact that God fathers us and thus each of us is His child. We are His offspring. We are family. We owe each other our love—the love of God within us by means of the HS—precisely because we are all united in the family of God by our mutual confession of Jesus as the Christ! Determining to love you is in no way related to how lovable you may be.
2-3 Loving our Christian brother is inseparable from loving God.
First, we know we love God when we keep His commandments v 2. This is what it means to love God. This is inseparable. Specifically, this love for God is demonstrated by obeying God’s command to love
one another. So love for God and one another is reduced to its fundamental character—namely, obeying God’s command to love one another is how we love God. God connects our obedience to His command to love one another to our loving of God. So the standard of judgment of our love for God will be based upon our obedience to the command to love one another. It will not be based upon church attendance or spiritual leadership or giving record or devotional history or theological correctness or denominational distinctive or religious rituals or personal convictions!!!
Second, A Christian’s love for God expressed by obeying him is not burdensome v 3. One might think that this command to love one another is how to express my love for God would be a difficult burden for us. But John tells us as a matter of fact God’s commands are not burdensome. Even on the OT under the Mosaic Law God’s commands were not heavy (Psa 119:97-105). This echoes Jesus statement “My burden is light” (Matt 11:30) unlike the Pharisees who heap big burdens on people by adding man’s laws, which become heavy and burdensome (Matt 23:4). The love of God involves keeping this commandment and since it does it is not a burden. But why?
3. Believers are world-conquerors because of their faith in Jesus Christ 4-5
4 Every believer has the principle of victory residing within.
The explicit reason the commandments of God are not burdensome to the believer is ‘because everyone who is fathered by God conquers the world.’ Previously it describes believer’s victory over the Enemy, the evil one himself, in 1 John 2:13-14, and over the satanically inspired ‘world’ 1 John 4:4. This suggests that what the author has in mind here is a victory over opponents, who now belong to the world and speak its language. Because we have already achieved victory over the world through our faith, keeping God’s commandments is not a difficult matter. Our faith in Christ that has regenerated us is victory over the world system. So in principle we have achieved that victory already. Our faith in Christ has conquering power! Given that Jesus himself claimed victory over the world in John 16:33, and this victory was closely related to Jesus’ death and resurrection in John’s gospel, it is easy to see how that victory is appropriated as something shared by the Christians in 1 John.
5 This principle of victory is only possible for one who believes Jesus is God’s Son.
Here is a question of which the answer is clear. The author now affirms that it is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God who has conquered the world. So a believer is a world-conqueror by means of his faith in Christ. This faith is the secret to continuing victory and engenders our continued obedience to God’s command to love one another. These two terms are used here because they form the full-orbed confession “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”. Obedience to God’s commands need not be a difficulty because of the conquering power of faith in Jesus Christ God’s Son. Our lives have been radically altered and transformed by faith. So has the nature of our existence. Thus we can participate in what before was against our nature. We can obey that which before was contrary to the way of the world. Since that principle of victory is now within us we can match God’s expectations for our lives.
1. Our whole Christian life is bound up in loving God by obeying His command to love our brother in Christ.
2. It is never enough to say I love you but it must be expressed in tangible ways that address ones best interest while giving expecting nothing in return. This is to be our lifestyle.
3. We may and will wrestle with this concept but God places it in front of us not as a heavy responsibility but a light one because of our faith and its implications and benefits.