13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
In yesterday's passage we saw that we are to love because love is the very essence of God and He dwells within us, therefore love dwells within us. We were also shows that God demonstrated His love by sending His only Son to die for us in order to reconcile us to Him. We see the love of Jesus towards God that He would obey that request, and the love of Jesus towards us that He would die for us. And that demonstration of live gives us the ultimate example of how we are to love those around us. We also saw that we are to love because that is our testimony. Jesus no longer walks this earth physically, but we have the opportunity and responsibility to show the world the love of God in action as a testimony of His love.
Today we see a few more reasons to love.
Love is the assurance of our salvation. We know that we abide in Him and that He abides in us because He has given us His Spirit. How do we know we have the Spirit within us? Because we believe the gospel - that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world and acknowledge Christ as Lord, and the Son of God, that salvation is by faith not works. When we were unbelievers we were dead in our trangressions and simply could not believe the entirety of the gospel message apart from the Holy Spirit. And once we believe the fullness of the gospel, the Spirit dwells within us. And not only do we believe, but we understand that all of this was done out of love for us. And when we are connected to Jesus Christ, we cannot help but love because love abides in us. We have no choice but to love! Love is the assurance of our salvation.
Love is our confidence in judgment. When that perfect love abides in us, we can look ahead to the coming day of judgment without fear.
MacArthur puts it this way....
do you think Jesus could face the final judgment of God with confidence? You think He can? With boldness? With fearlessness? Of course. Because love is absolutely perfected in Him, obedience is absolutely perfected in Him, righteousness is absolutely perfected in Him. And how incredible is it that we can actually go to the judgment and stand there as confident as Christ, because in reality we've been covered with His righteousness. Jesus is God's beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. And so are we.
We don't need to fear the judgment. We don't fear the return of Christ. In fact, we long for it! Fear is connected to punishment, and believers have no need to fear because we are made righteous in Christ and are perfected in love. As believers, we can live in love, confidence and hope.
We love because love is only reasonable. 19 We love because he first loved us.
You can't claim to love the invisible God and not love the God that's in His people. You can't claim to love the invisible Christ and not love Christ in His people. It's absurd. So it's only reasonable then to say true believers are characterized by loving the way God loves, sacrificial, selfless love.
Listen then, love is not an emotion, it's not a feeling to which we give expression whenever we feel like it. There is that kind of love and it's a wonderful thing. It belongs in human life. But we're not talking about that here. There is the wonderful love that a husband and a wife share, that a family shares, that children share with parents, friend with friend. We're not talking about any of those human loves which are enhanced and enriched by the love of Christ in the heart of believers. We're talking about this kind of love that extends toward anybody that has a need, particularly those in the family of God. It is a perfect kind of love, a different love than the world's kind of love. It is a whole, complete love and it is the essence of God manifest in Christ. It is our testimony, it is the assurance of our salvation. It is our confidence in judgment and it is only reasonable because you could never truly have the love of God in you and not love others with that love. Perfect love is the mark of the true believer.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 5:1-5