Last night we looked at how John describes “love” — what it is, where it comes from, and how it should affect us. Specifically, we looked at verses 7 – 11 in chapter 4 in 1 John, and how the view of what love is in the letter contrasts with a current idea of “love” as universal, unreflective affirmation and acceptance.
First, since I promised this, here’s an outline of what John teaches about love in this letter, as a whole:
1. God is Love. (4:8, 4:16)
2. Love comes from God. (4:7)
3. God loves us. (4:16)
4. God shows us His love:
a. by sending His son that we might live through Him (4:9)
b. by Christ’s laying down His life for us (3:16)
c. by loving us first and sending his son to be a propitiation for our sins. (4:10)
d. by adopting us as children (3:1)
5. We love God because He first loved us. (4:19)
6. Because of how He loved us, we should love others the same way. (4:11,3:16)
Loving others shows:
a. we’re born of God. (3:10, 4:7, 5:2) we’re of the truth (3:18-19)
b. we’re truly alive (3:14)
c. we know God. (4:7,8) We’re in the light (2:9)
d. we love God. (4:20)
e. we know God loves us. (4:11)
f. God’s love…and God Himself. (4:12)
7. We love others the way He loved us by:
a. not being like Cain/the world (3:11-13)
b. laying down our lives for each other (3:16, 4:9-11) / giving to those in need (3:17)
c. not just talking love, but doing (3:18)
8. Love leads to being unafraid of the day of Judgment (4:17-18)
Now, on to our study from last night…
4:7a “Beloved, let us love one another”
People talk a lot today about “love being the main thing,” “all that matters is that we love each other” and even “God is a God of love.” They then go on to talk about how we should think about and treat others. But how do we know what it means that God is a God of love? And how do we know how to use that knowledge to love others? In other words, what is love?
4:7b-8 “…for love is of God…God is love” — Since God is love, and love comes from God, He is the definition of love. (see also 4:16)
- Love is what existed in God, between Father, Son, Holy Spirit. (Jn 3:35, 5:20, 14:30-31)
- Love flows out of God to the things He made.(He made them in love, for fellowship)
- We can only know what love is if we are in relationship with the God who is love. (4:7)
Conclusion: The only way to know what it means to love others is to get to know Him.
4:9-10 “In this the love of God was manifested…that God sent His only Son…” So, what is God’s love? (4:9-10, 3:16)
Love is to see us in our need (death) and do what was necessary so that we could be made alive. The love of Christ is to be the one doing it. God loved us, though out of the family, and made us part of the family.
In other words…Love acknowledges that something is terribly wrong with Humanity. We are separated from God (out of the family) and dead (lifeless) because of our sin. Love doesn’t ignore this to be nice to us! Love acknowledges it and then does two things: First God did what needed to be done (action) and then He arranged for everyone to be told about it (speech). Notice 1:1-5. There is a message that leads to the enjoyment of fellowship with God. But the message contains the truth, that those who are in darkness are not connected to God.
4:11 “…if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” We love others by being loved by him and then being made like Him. (4:11)
- We’re “born” from Him: meaning we share His characteristics as children. (4:7)
- We’re in relationship with Him (“knowing him”) (4:8)
- He lives in us: And makes us grow to be like Him. (4:12-13, ppt Rom 5:5)
So, we become people who: acknowledge what is wrong with people, and do something about it. We live and die like Jesus to get them the message of Christ, show them what He was like, and get them to Him. For believers, we continue that love towards them (also 3:16).
Love is believing what God says about people, being moved to care like God cares, and then faithfully doing what God says is best for them—namely, helping to reconnect with Him. But we can’t even begin to love people until we are reconnected with the real Love…that is, until we know God.
This is an important point to sit on. The Bible is clear that it is only by knowing and being changed by the Lord that we can become truly loving people. So any solution to the world’s problems that includes a “love” that excludes Jesus can’t really be a solution, because in the end, it will leave people themselves unchanged. It can only be a surface solution. But God goes to the heart, and offers the only real plan for true change. Selfish people become unselfish, oppressive people become generous, hateful people become loving, all by the power of the Lord’s Spirit to change hearts.
1. Get to know God more fully than ever before—Get to know His love.
2. Allow Him to change you to be like Him—in love.
3. See Christ’s example—of love—as the picture of what you’re being changed into.