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1 John 4





In verse 8, we find one of the most familiar statements in the Bible.  It is actually repeated in verse 16.  That statement is “God is love”.

Let’s think for a moment about what this doesn’t mean.  For example it doesn’t mean love is God.  Love does not define God.  God defines love.  God is the One and the only One who can rightfully define what real love really is.  

Verse 9 goes one to help us understand God’s love.  One way we can know this love is by understanding that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Verse 10 explains that when God sent His only Son into the world, He sent Him to be the propitiation for our sins.  Remember the concept of propitiation appeared in chapter 2 and refers to the satisfying of God’s holy law.  

Here’s something for you to think about.  We are not saved by loving Jesus.  We are saved by believing in Jesus (John 3:16).  Our love of Christ grows out of our being saved by Christ.  In fact, the more we think about what Jesus actually did so that we could be saved, the more our love for Him should grow exponentially.  The more we think about what Jesus is currently doing for us and has promised to do for us, the more our love for Him should continue to grow.

But the only way we can love Jesus, or really love anyone else for that matter, is we have to have first experienced God’s love for us.  Verse 19 says we love because He first loved us.  

I suspect someone might want to argue this with me.  He or she might say that there are lots of people who are not Christ followers who love their spouses, their children, their parents, even their friends.  I would totally agree with that.  But apart from the love of God, our love for others is severely limited.  Every human has the capacity to love others to some degree.  But that love is a very different kind of love than the love of God.  And that love is always very limited in its scope.

God’s love, on the other hand, is unique.  (We are talking about the agape kind of love here.)  God’s love is limitless.  It is a sacrificial, selfless love that always acts on behalf of others.  It is the motivation to do for others what is desperately needed but may be impossible without outside “interference”.  It is a willingness to put what you want aside and do what others need.  

And yet it is this very love that we as Christ followers are not only to possess but also are to demonstrate in our relationships with others.  As you read through this fourth chapter, you will even see where this God love active in us is evidence that we truly belong to God.  It is evidence that we have actually been saved from our sins.

It is a staggering thing to think that God knew us and loved us before we were ever born.  It is a staggering thing to think that God loved us the way we were when we were lost.  It is a staggering thing to think that God loved us so much that He didn’t want us to stay the way we were when we were lost.  It is a staggering thing to think that God’s love is powerful that when it lives in us, we cannot help loving others.

1 John 3






As this chapter opens, John makes a couple of huge statements.  One of those is “See what kind of love the Father has given to us”.  The English language really does a disservice to this statement.  If we look at this more closely, we will discover that John is actually talking about the peculiar, out-of-this world, scandalous kind of love that the Father has for us.

Let’s break that down a bit.  First, God’s love is peculiar.  This simply means that it is very different from any other kind of love that anybody might have for us.  It is different from a parent’s love, from a friend’s love, or even the love of a spouse.  God’s love really is unparalleled.

Second, God’s love is out-of-this world.  Any love that is “of this world” is tainted by our sin.  Love that is “of this world” is corrupted by the imperfections of the human heart.  So, God’s love is “out of this world”.  It is unlike anything that we experience anywhere else.  It is not affected by sin.  In fact, it is expressed and freely given in spite of sin.  God’s love is perfectly divine.

Third, God’s love is scandalous.  Think about this.  God is perfect, sinless, and holy in every way.  We are imperfect, sinful, and anything but holy.  And yet God chooses to love us anyway.  God chooses to love us who are so very different from Him.  God chooses to love us who have turned away from Him.  God chooses to love us before we would ever consider loving Him.  His love for us really is the scandal of all eternity.

As you look at verse 1, you will see that God’s love is directly responsible for who we are.  Specifically, this verse says we are the children of God.  Before our salvation, we were dead in our sins, depraved, and, as Ephesians 2 says, were sons of disobedience and children of wrath.  But because of God’s great love for us, we can be saved and when we are saved we are made the children of God.  

Verse 2 takes this a step further and speaks of what we shall be.  This verse is actually speaking of what we will be when we get to heaven.  Now, when we arrive in heaven, we will still be human.  But we will exist in different kinds of bodies that the Bible calls glorified bodies.  We don’t know exactly what that will look like or be like.  But we do know that we will be like Jesus.

Verse 4 then fills in the gap between verse 1 and verse 2.  In other words, verse 4 speaks of our lives after we are saved and before we arrive in heaven.  Actually, the next several verses (through verse 10) speak of this.  Let me give you a short version of what is being said.

From the time we are saved until we arrive in heaven, we should be becoming progressively more Christ like.  We should, through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in us, be becoming victorious over our sins and struggles.  In other words, we should be becoming more like Jesus.

That doesn’t mean we will be perfect.  I don’t think we will be on this earth. But we should be getting closer to that all of the time.  The Bible actually calls this sanctification which could be defined as becoming more holy.  Now this will not make us self-righteous because that is sin.  It will help us be more righteous which is Christ-like.

As Christ followers, we really should be on a journey of becoming more like our Jesus.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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