Lessons from 1 John: Love Others as Christ Loves You
The only way to avoid being led astray by false teaching is to know the truth about God as declared in His holy Word! Love others as Christ loves you!
So won’t you continue to make the study of His Word a priority? Especially as we see the day of the Lord approaching?
And where are you treating sin more like a friend than an enemy? Won’t you confess your wrong thinking before God? Will you walk in the light of His truth and enjoy the benefits of your salvation?
And how will you stand for the truth, so that others won’t be led astray?
Love Others as Christ Loves You
Now, you might ask how I can be sure I am not being deceived by myself or by others. Let’s continue and read what John says about those who are truly born again of God and love others as Christ loves.
John continues in 1 John 2:3 saying that we will know we have come to really know God if we obey His commands. If we say we know Him and yet do not do what He tells us through the scriptures, then our very own words condemn us. They make us out to be nothing more than a liar and reveal that the truth is not in us.
But if we obey His Word, God’s love is truly made complete in us.
And this is how others will know that we walk in the light of His truths: we obey His commands and walk as Jesus walked.
John’s point seems to be that the miracle of fellowship with God results in a life-changing experience. And he reminds them that this was not a new revelation or commandment because they had heard it taught from Jesus Himself.
But what was new was that they had witnessed Jesus’ great love for them as He laid down His life on the cross. Therefore, this was the kind of obedience Jesus was looking for in them.
John says anyone who hates his brother, meaning another believer, is still living in the darkness. This is darkness or sin of unforgiveness or hatred, which seems to blind the person to where he is going. His sin has blinded him to God and the things of God.
If we don’t heed the word and spirit of God, it always leads to destruction and disaster.
Yet, whoever loves his/her brother/sister lives in the light and therefore there is nothing in them to make them stumble. There is nothing with which to give the devil a foothold in our lives.
And then John addresses believers of all ages and stages of life in verses 12-14 in a short poem. He reveals to them that though all have sinned, God forgives each one’s sins. Therefore, believers can stand in full confidence against the trials and temptations of the evil one.
The assurance of each believer’s salvation rests on Jesus and His atoning work. It does not matter what the evil one tries to do to undo them, God will not allow it.
Believers not only have assurance of faith as they walk in the light of God’s truth, but also the confidence that they are equipped to overcome the evil one as they abide in Christ. In 1 John 4:4 John tells them, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is on the world.”
God’s people can overcome sin and Satan as they hold to the truth of His word and live out their faith.
John instructs believers not to live as the world lives. Then he lists three characteristics of the world. One is that those born in and of the world set their sights on satisfying their sinful nature. This is opposed to God and His command to live holy as He is holy.
Second, John says that the sinful man or woman sets his eyes, and therefore heart, on satisfying not only the inward lust of the flesh but also lives out their sinful cravings in front of others.
And then the third thing is that they not only live out these sinful behaviors, they boast about them. They become arrogant and prideful and boast about their possessions or positions and accomplishments as if they have made it on their own.
John adds that these sinful behaviors do not come from God. Thus, the things of this world will pass away, but the man or woman who remains true to God will live with God forever.
John warns believers in verses 18-27 that this is the last hour. This refers to the fact that though Jesus had been resurrected and had ascended into heaven, He promised to return and that could happen at any moment. So be warned that before that happens the antichrist will come. Indeed, had already come in the form of these false teachers.
In other words, don’t be surprised at the rising of false teachers, especially as the Day of the Lord draws near. But also, don’t give in to their false claims.
Apparently the false teachers of John’s day claimed they had a special anointing by some ritual or by some superior knowledge, called gnosticism. But again John refutes the claim of these false teachers by reminding the believers that they had already been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised He would lead them into the truth of God’s Word. Therefore, they had all they needed to obey God and keep to His Word. Nothing more was required, no matter what others were trying to say or teach to the contrary.
John encourages these believers to remember what they had learned from the beginning. He wants them to remain true to these words and the prompting of the Holy Spirit who keeps them safe and secure for eternity.
Friends, it important that we too go back to the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must trust the Holy Spirit to instruct us in light of those truths.
False teachers desire to lead believers astray. They want to take them out of the church and lead them to their own position of authority and place of importance.
John says in verse 28 to continue in Him. This is so that when He appears we may be confident in our faith and unashamed before Him. If you know He is righteous, you know everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.
It’s apparent from the opening of chapter 3 that as John was writing this letter to encourage other believers, he himself was overcome by the greatness of God.
He says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” And that hope is what makes us want to be pure as He is pure.
That, my dear friends, is another mark of one who is born of God: moral purity that is motivated by the hope of Christ’s return.
This kind of moral purity is evidence of a righteous life that doesn’t have sin as its defining characteristic.
1 John 3:7 instructs us to not let anyone lead us astray. Jesus appeared in history to set us free from our sins. He took away all our sins and He defeated the devil from whom sin originates.
John goes on to say in verse 10 that, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, neither is anyone who does not love their brother or sister.”
So God’s children are evidenced by doing what it right, not by doing what is wrong. Also, others will know us by our love. Unlike Cain, who murdered his brother, we are to live like Christ, who laid down His life for the sake of others.
And when we do, John says in verse 13 “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” No, instead we are reminded that if they hated Him first, and He was perfectly flawless and holy, they will also hate us.
John repeats the teaching of Jesus in verse 16 by saying, “This how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” This is a divine love that we cannot muster up on our own. It is only available through the power of His Spirit. And, it also reveals who we are truly living for, ourselves or others!
Romans 12:1-2 says,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In other words, we are to use our God-given resources to come to the aid of others.
We need to put others’ needs before our own comforts or desires, their needs over our wants and pleasures.
John encourages believers in verse 18 not to love in words only but with our actions. Verse 19 says, “This is how we know we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.” If we do not follow through in obedience, not only will our conscience convict us, but God who is greater than our hearts knows the true motivation behind the lack of obedience. It’s self! And sin!
Yet when we walk in obedience to His command to love others as Jesus has loved us, we reveal to whom we belong.
We can also rest assured that whatever we need, God will faithfully provide!
Again John returns to the subject of false teachers in I John 4:1. He instructs believers to test the spirits and see whether they are from God or not. He says you will know them by their acceptance of Jesus Christ or not! John says don’t let them fool you with their teaching. Instead, remember whose you are!
1 John 4:6, “We are from God and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.” Therefore, the key to knowing who is from God is obedience to do as He has instructed in His word.
One of the key elements of faith is that we love one another, for true love comes from God. Those who choose not to walk in love are not from God. And since the Father revealed His love for us by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins and the Son who loved the Father and us came in obedience to that love, this is how we are to love others.
1 John 4:16, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Verses 17-18 continue: “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus! There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Christ has eliminated the cause of true fear because He took our punishment for us!
John says in 1 John 5:2, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.” He continues in verses 3-4: “And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
Christians are commanded and equipped to love others as Christ loves them.
Who is God calling you to love unconditionally as He loves you? Are you willing to follow Him in obedience and trust that He will supply all your needs?
He will, you know. Of this you can be sure!