Obedience In Love
1 John 5:1-5
5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Truett Cathy is an extraordinarily successful businessman who has done some very unusual things. Truett is the founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. Even though it has cost him millions and millions of dollars, all of his 1,000 restaurants are closed on Sundays. It is that important to him to honor the Lord’s Day. When he first started his restaurant chain during the days of segregation, he took a very unpopular stand as he made it a point to hire people irrespective of race. That decision cost him a lot of business but he didn’t care. He wanted to do the right thing no matter what the cost. He also took the unusual step of setting aside some of his profits to develop a successful foster home system for orphaned children. Truett Cathy did these things and many other things for one reason and one reason alone. He wanted to obey the greatest of all commandments.
Deuteronomy 6:5 commands us to "LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH." Lest we underestimate the importance of this command, Jesus repeated it in Matthew 22:37: "LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND."
He then added that this was the first and greatest commandment. No wonder it is repeated over and over again throughout the Scriptures. Loving God is our greatest responsibility and privilege. "God is to be loved completely and totally because He, and He alone, is God and because He has made a covenant of love with His people. In the covenant, God promises himself totally… in love to His people, so He expects His people to give themselves totally (soul, mind and strength) in love to him. Loving God should be an absolute priority in our lives just like it is in Truett Cathy’s life.
The "heart" and "soul" and "mind" are references to our emotions, wills and intellect. Such represents the Hebrew way of saying that we are to love God with our whole being. With all of our might and strength.
Admittedly, this whole concept of loving a God we cannot see or physically touch seems so perplexing. How does one express or demonstrate love to a God we cannot embrace or audibly hear His voice?
Our text for this afternoon helps us better understand just what it means to love God. It tells us what we must do if we would keep this great commandment. Loving God has more to do with obeying Him than anything else. Our text (1 John 5:3) says…
1 John 5:3
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Obedience is the sign of our love for God. Jesus made this truth very clear when in John 14:15 He said to His disciples, "IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU WILL OBEY WHAT I COMMAND." It is very clear, our love for God is expressed through obedience. Obedience is what God is looking for from us. Loving God has more to do with obeying Him than anything else. This obedience is exhibited in three areas of our lives and they are our concern this afternoon.
We love God when we take Him at His Word, believing it and acting upon it. "When He says we are forgiven, we believe Him and unload the guilt. When He says we’re valuable, we believe Him. When He says we have eternal life, we believe Him and bury our fear. When He says He will meet our needs, we believe Him and stop worrying. In believing God…we love Him.
We express genuine love to God when we believe Him and act on His Word. God has made it abundantly clear in His Word that we are all lost sinners in desperate need of forgiveness and reconciliation. He has said that our sin is an enormous problem that separates us from Him. He also emphatically tells us that He has done something about our sin. He has paid the just penalty of our sin.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We, however, must receive this forgiveness by repenting of our sin and receiving Christ as our personal Savior. When we honestly believe in God, we repent of our sin and we believe in Christ. If we really don’t believe, we fail to repent. When we believe God and obey Him by repenting and believing in Christ, we demonstrate love for God.
2: HOLY LIVING.
1 John 5:4-5
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Holy living is another way we profess love to God. Verse 3 of our text says, "THIS IS LOVE FOR GOD: TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS." "This leads us to one place… the Word of God. We must know His commandments and then obey them." This is the secret to loving God on a daily basis. "Our love of God is expressed by living the way He commands. Living the way God commands is what the Scriptures mean by holiness.
We are commanded in 1 Peter 1:16…
1 Peter 1:16
16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
We are expected to live according to God’s ways and standards. Here’s another one…
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We must not live by the sinful ways and standards that the world finds acceptable. We are to please God by living in the light of His ways. Living the way God commands is a matter of obedience and obedience is better than sacrifice.
Holiness really is Christ-likeness. As such it is every believer’s calling; it is not an option…
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
As we mature in the faith we are to become more and more like Christ. “It is an ever-expanding openness to God. It is a growing, maturing, freely given conformity to the will of God.” It is obedience and it enables us to become the people we were created to be.
We also love God by serving Him. Love serves. In Luke 7 we read about a dinner party to which Jesus was invited. It was customary to wash the dusty feet of the guests upon their arrival. Simon, the host, failed to do this; it was a breach of etiquette. He also neglected to offer the traditional kiss of greeting. Furthermore, he didn’t offer to anoint his guest with oil, a special amenity of the day. If you and I were living then and found ourselves in such a situation we would have concluded, and rightly so, that we were really not welcome guests.
But what Simon failed to provide, someone else did in a most unusual and unexpected manner. A woman, hearing Jesus was there, entered, came to the table where Jesus was eating and showed her love for the Lord. She was weeping and with her tears she washed the Lord’s feet. And when she had finished washing, she wiped His feet with her hair. Then, as Luke records, she began to kiss His feet and she anointed the feet of Jesus with an expensive ointment. What an example of love.
Jesus used this incident to teach an important biblical truth. He said that two debtors each owed the same creditor. One debtor owed 500 pence; almost ½ a year’s wages. Other debtor owed 50 pence. Neither were able to pay so the creditor graciously forgave both debts. Jesus then asked Simon, the host, a question: “Which of them will love him most?”
Easy question, Simon answered immediately: “I suppose that he who was forgiven the most.” “You’re right,” said Jesus. Jesus then turned to the woman and said “What she did she did because she loves me very much.” (7:47) The one who has been forgiven much, loves much!
Jesus was saying that if we love God, we will do what He asks, willingly, joyously and freely. We will obey the command to serve Him. If no love exists then there will be little or no service or it will be rendered grudgingly, complainingly and unwillingly.
The fact of the matter is that love serves. Those who love God demonstrate their love through acts and deeds of service. It is first and foremost a matter of love. If we love God… we will serve Him.
Loving God is our greatest responsibility and privilege. We must, however, always remember that our love for God is the consequence of His great, unconditional love for us.
1 John 4:19
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Loving us He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the just penalty of our sins. Through His love for us in Christ, we are offered forgiveness and reconciliation. We can live our lives of a higher, more fulfilling and satisfying plane. We become, as Scripture says, “A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST”.
Gratitude for God’s sacrificial love should move us to love Him more and more and in so doing we will believe more and more, serve more and more and pursue holiness. If thankfulness does not move us to do these things then we do not love God as we should.
Pastor Richard Santos
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