1 John 4:7-12 gives us three reasons we are to love on another. We explored the first reason in this post and today we will explore the others.
Love one another because God loved us.
God is love, therefore “all of God’s action is loving.” God works are by His love. We should love one another because God has loved us. This is hard for us to understand at times.
The other day I was rocking our 9-month old daughter to sleep. She was fighting hard, trying to push me away. If you did not know better and saw it you would assume I did not love her. But at that moment I was fighting her to sleep because I did love her and sleep was the best thing for her at that moment.
I think many of us, myself included, treat God that way. He loves us and He is holding us close to His chest when we are in a trial. He tells us this is for our good and He is with us during the trial but we push Him away not understanding that all of His actions toward us are driven by His love for us in Christ.
Verses 9-10 are a beautiful explanation of the gospel. Let’s slow down for a moment and focus on these verses for a bit.
How do we know God loves us?
God’s love was made manifest among us, it was revealed among us first in the sending of His Son. The Trinity had perfect communion and experienced perfect love before the creation of the world. God would have not lacked any love if He had not created us. That He has revealed His love at all is astounding. But that He showed his love by sending His Son, whom he had loved for all time. Praise God!
I need this reminder often. Jesus was sent by the Father because the Father loved sinners. Jesus did not come to secure or to make the Father loving. Jesus came because the Father loved. There is a world of difference there. God is not a curmudgeonly miser who is tight-fisted with His love. He gives liberally and he gives that which is precious to Him.
The depth of God’s love is seen because He sent His only Son. God sent what was precious to Him. We think it strange that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac not thinking that God did sacrifice his only precious Son. He had no other Son to send, He sent His cherished Son. John is saying that Christ “is the Supreme one. There is none greater than Christ.” (MacArthur) If you are ever tempted to doubt the love of God for you brothers and sisters think of this one truth. God sent His only begotten Son because He loved us.
Christ Reveals the Love of God
Christ reveals the love of God for sinners. God sent Jesus so that we might live through Him. God sent Jesus for dead people. We were dead and God the Father sent God the Son so that we might live. Christ came so that we might have eternal life. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came that His sheep might have life and have it abundantly. God’s love is revealed among us in sending Jesus and at the cross. The cross is the pinnacle of the love of God. Here we see the Father’s love for us and the Son’s love for us. Jesus came to die.
First, John tells us that at the cross God loves us, not that we have loved Him first. When it comes to God’s love we are not dealing with a situation like which came first the chicken or the egg? No, God loved us first and sent Jesus and sent Him to the cross. God loved us first. Later in chapter four, John says we love because He loved us first. God loved sinners and sent Jesus to die for those who were His enemies. God loved those who hated Him. We hated God and God loved us and sent Christ to die to atone for our sins. Why would someone go to such great lengths for their enemies? Because they love them.
Second, we see the love of God in Christ absorbing the wrath of God. He is the propitiation for our sin, the atoning sacrifice for sins. Jesus is the only way to avoid the wrath of God. If you come to Jesus, if you are God’s child you will never, ever face the wrath of God. There is no other way to escape the wrath of God. All other attempts will fail. You can try to earn your way out from under the wrath of God and you will fail. You can try to be the best person that ever lived, and you will not escape the wrath of God. Jesus is not a way to be made right with God, He is the way to be made right with God. (John 14:6)
Our Atoning Sacrifice
This word propitiation is full of meaning. It means that Christ has taken the wrath we deserve atoning for our sins and purchasing our forgiveness. What drove Christ to do this? His great love for sinners. Friends, if we want to see love we need to look to the cross.
- See your Savior with pierced hands and feet.
- See the Savior shedding His blood for you and me atoning for our sins and taking the punishment and wrath we deserve.
- See your Savior’s anguish when he is forsaken by the Father who had loved Him for all time. See His love for you in His cry My God, My God why have you forsaken me? He was cast out for our sin. This is your loving Savior.
The Son of God out of His great love for sinners came and fixed the biggest problem we will ever face. Think of all the problems you have faced this week. They pale in comparison to the problem God out of His love has solved for His children. We were under the wrath of God, deserving of His wrath and condemnation. But, God sent His one and only precious son to be the propitiation for our sins, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that the relationship with God we had broken could be restored.
The hymn writers help us grasp these wonderful truths
"And can it be that I should gain, an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me who cause Him pain, for me who Him to death pursued. Amazing Love how can it be, that thou my God should’st die for me. Amazing love how can it be? That thou my God should’st die for me." The hymn goes on to say: "He left His Father’s throne above, so free so infinite His grace. Emptied Himself of all but love and bled for Adam’s helpless race. Tis mercy all immense and free for O my God it found out me. Amazing love, how can it be? That thou my God should’st die for me!"
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us contains a verse on the cross. "Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon His shoulder, ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished."
"Oh, that rugged cross my salvation, where your love poured out over me. Now my soul cries out Hallelujah! Praise and honor unto thee."
Loving One Another is the Only Proper Response
If God has loved us in this way we ought to love one another. Our love for one another is a gospel energized love. We love because God loved us and saved us. We love others because of the great work God has done for us in the gospel. Therefore, when we lack love for God’s children it is appalling. If God loves sinners in this way why would we not love those same sinners He redeemed? Are we better than God? Do we have a higher standard than God?
When we intentionally withhold love from our brothers and sisters we are acting out of character, we are sinning. Everything we do for our brothers and sisters should be immersed in love. How might we unintentionally be withholding love in our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
- How do we talk about them when they are not around? Do we speak well of them? Do we question their motives in secret, but maintain a facade of love in public?
- How committed are we to them? When trouble comes or there is a rift in the relationship do we want to reconcile or jump ship? I think this can be one of the reasons people church hop. They never seem happy anywhere because they do not love the believers God has placed in their life, showing a lack of commitment.
- How do we converse with one another on social media? Is our speech sweet or sour? Many people will never step foot in this church, but will they see the love of God by how we interact with each other on Facebook or Twitter? Would our interactions make them ask, what do these people have going on? I need in on that!
Let us love one another because God has loved us.
Let us love one another because God abides in us.
Last, we should love one another because God abides in us.
Verse 12 opens in an odd fashion so we need to remember the context. John’s theme for this chapter is that we are to love one another. If no one has ever seen God how then will they see God’s love? One can hardly say it better than John MacArthur “People will not see God’s love unless believers love one another. Love is our strongest apologetic… The church is the collective representation of God in this world. That’s why our testimony is critical. Our love is that testimony.” The world will see God’s love in our love for one another. What an amazing privilege that God would use us as ambassadors of His love.
If we love one another we show that God abides in us, the Spirit is dwelling within us working in us so that we might love one another. Love can be overwhelming. After all, we are trying to live with sinners and will get messy. But we have the Holy Spirit working within us so that we can and will love one another. We are not alone and we cannot do it in our own power.
And as the Spirit is working in us God’s love is perfected or completed within us. The commentators are not completely sure what this means but I think if we look at verses 17-18 we can get an understanding of what John is saying.
Perfect love casts out fear so we have no need to fear judgment or punishment. If we fear then we have not been completed in love. Therefore as we strive to love one another we should not become discouraged when we fail. We do not need to fear punishment because God is working in us through His Spirit to reassure us of the love of God and to drive us to love one another.
Love One Another
Friends, let us love one another because our great God is love, He has loved us and through His Spirit, He abides in us. Let’s love each other so that outsiders look in and crave what we have so that we might have an opportunity to tell them about the depths of God’s love. If you’re not a Christian this love can be for you. Jesus says come to Him if you are weary and He will give you rest. Do you know why He will give you rest? He is a God of love.