Verse: 1 John 5:1-5 (ESV)
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Love God. Love your neighbor. Jesus told us in Matthew 22 that these were the two greatest commandments. In these verses, John provides a simple breakdown of what that looks like. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, you have been born again. John himself detailed this concept in his gospel, through the story of Jesus and Nicodemus. He continues here to say that loving God (a natural byproduct of being born again) also means loving other believers. Of course we know that our love is not to be limited to other believers. John is simply emphasizing here the concept of the family of God, which some of his audience seems to have lost sight of. When we love our neighbors, enemies, those who persecute us, we make a choice to do so. But we love our family BECAUSE they are family. It’s evidence of being part of the family.
And what does that evidence look like? How do we show our love to God and therefore to his family? We keep his commandments. Please be sure to notice that the keeping of commandments is NOT a condition of or a means to salvation. John is talking to those whose salvation has already been assured. The desire to keep God’s commandments is not tied to the hope of achieving something. Rather, it is the natural result of our love for him.
John reminds us that the commandments of God are not a burden, meant to weigh us down or make us feel bad about ourselves. On the contrary, as a result of our faith in God and Jesus, we have already overcome the world! There is no weight on us whatsoever, not even the weight of death! And verse 5 reminds us that only those whose faith is in Christ are overcomers. Put another way…if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
God, thank you for giving us the greatest possible example of love, by sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Thank you that his death has made a way for us to become a part of your family and to love you and others by keeping your commands. Help us to strive every day to do so more and more. Amen.
Author: Dave MacDonald