"What is Love if you don't Show It?"
Today, we lit another candle on the Advent wreath-Love. We have been going through each of the themes of the wreath each Sunday. We had Hope, Peace, Joy and today Love.
Love is probably a topic all of us are familiar with, at least a little right? We fall in love. We are looking for love. We are in love with our spouse, we love our family. As it said, we fall out of love. We love our neighbor, we have even heard the golden rule love your neighbor as yourself.
Love is this intense desire or affection toward someone. Although we are the ones that posses that feeling, that emotion, that attraction toward something, unless we somehow do something to express it-do some outward act, love isn’t realized or made complete.
In other words, let’s say someone has a deep affection toward another person, that emotion is tied up in themselves, within their heart or mind, and unless they do something outward to express it in words, or actions, that emotion only remains in them, and the target of their affection never knows about it. Hollywood makes movie after movie about this. The hero has a silent love for the girl, and he doesn’t express it for whatever reason like fear of rejection, or social barriers. Throughout the movie, he does show it in small ways t but the target of His affection doesn’t notice and it isn’t until he finally gets the courage to make the grand gesture and then she notices and they live Happily ever after.
Today’s passage does not address that situation. That is just to get us thinking about love. Today’s passage talks about God’s love. This passage is a defining passage, it is not necessarily an exhorting passage. In other words, John is telling us what God’s love is and what that means rather than telling us to love God. A proper definition of God’s love produces in us, right views of love and is expressed in our love for others
SO lets turn to the book of 1 John chapter 4., starting at verse 7. Before I begin let me start with a word of prayer.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 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. 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. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Is that right? Is everyone who loves, born of God? For instance, all across the planet are people that are in love. They love one another, they love their fellow man. Some are married, some give to charity. Does that mean they are born of God? What about people who love, but are atheists? Is this saying they are born of God?
We must use caution when looking at that statement. Sometimes people elevate a statement, like that without really examining how that fits into the whole of the scripture, and see if that is indeed what John is saying. This is an example of three most important rules of Bible study. And you have heard me say this before the most important rules in Biblical interpretation is the same rules that are important in Real Estate. Location, Location and Location. We can’t just take that verse, standing alone and say Everyone who loves knows God. Then form some kind of universal doctrine that holds love up as the supreme virtue and decide the key to knowing God is love. That is just not true.
There are all kinds of people who love. Killers who love. Idolators who love, thieves who love. People who deny Jesus and love are they somehow children of God?
Practically and a little less extreme-does someone like Bill Gates’s extravagant generosity somehow mean that he loves God? And how would that compare to someone who like Mother Teresa who although she dedicated her life to the care of others, her service was small in comparison with the billions that Mr Gates is capable of giving. Does his love of God somehow exceed her love?
Love in itself does not produce or guarantee that someone knows God. You can love others and not know God. So why is this so confusing, well John is making a point. He is making a point he started much earlier in the letter.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
The truth about love that John is teaching goes only one way. Someone who knows God will love others, but it doesn’t go the other way. Love for others does not produce in us love for God. It is like this all thumbs are fingers. Or every thumb is a finger, but not evrey finger is a thumb.
There are those in the darkness and there are those in the light. The ones in the light are the same as those that are born of God. Those in the darkness are not born of God.The people in dark still love, but they love in the dark. They live in the kingdom of darkness, and everything they do even the good things are still in the dark. Unless you know God, unless you step into the light the love that you have, or the good that you do is still somewhat tainted.
This is a trick the enemy uses to fool people into thinking that they are ok and not in the dark. Hey look you are doing good, you must know God. Look this is an old truth look at Is 64:6.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags. When the people in the dark do good, like give to charity or love their fellow man, that is good, that’s great people are helped, but unless they know God-their righteous acts, in God’s eyes are still like filthy rags, and the devil is telling them you are alright, look at the good you are doing.
We just finished the blessing tree at Church, we had an opportunity to bless 11 families, with gifts. But, what is the difference between us and toys for tots? Is there a difference?
Yes there is difference between us and toys for tots. And I’m not saying that toys for tots is not good, it is it is great, and I am sure that many people volunteering giving, and involved do know Jesus, they do. but it is still very different.
The love that we demonstrate is that our love is a result of God’s love to us. it is linked to God’s love. it is not separate it doesn’t stand alone. The primary reason St. Luke’s exists is to glorify God. We show up here on Sunday to worship Jesus. We give to worship Jesus, we sing to worship Jesus. We love others as a way to worship Jesus.
If the primary purpose was to love others John would be only talking about loving one another. Instead I want you notice something about John’s thoughts here-When John is writing here about the love of one another, you cannot separate it from the love of God.
In this slide I highlighted loving one another in yellow, and in orange I highlighted the love of God. Go through your Bible with pencil or a highlighter and highlight love of God in one color or with a circle and highlight love one another in another color. You cannot take one thought apart from the other-they are weaved together if I pull on one thread the other thread comes with it. In fact the majority of the passage is not even about loving one another, it is mostly about God loving us.
John is saying that we cannot show love to one another, without first knowing the Love of God. Before we can show love we must first KNOW God and the Love he has for us.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is how God showed HIS love among us-He sent His one and only son. God showed His love to us through sending his son Jesus into the world.
God has made himself know in the world. We can all agree on that, even people who are not particularly religious, may even agree with this a bit. You can look outside and at the sky , you can see a newborn, the flowers, the trees, and say yeah there is a God right?
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
That shows us that there is a God, but that just isn’t enough to show us that he loves us. It is like the romance in a love story where the hero doesn’t fully show the one he is courting His love directly. We can look at the sky and at nature and say there is a God, but this does not show you personally that God loves YOU just by looking at nature.
But John writes this is how God showed His love among us.- He sent His one and only son-. This is now a personal display of God’s love for us personally- God loves US. He loves US beyond all that we can imagine. He loves us with a perfect love. And a love like that had to be demonstrated. It could not remain at a distance.
A love like that had to show up in a person that did something. God could not and did not remain at afar loving us from a distance through the night sky or the flowers. God broke into history and into the lives of people This is available to US-personally and directly. God demonstrated His perfect love in a person- a person Jesus.
When Jesus was born-God took on flesh and God became man to live among us. In Jesus God was demonstrating His love to us personally-SO that we could live through Him.
Then in verse 10 John further expands the definition of this love. Telling us how to accept that love.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This is love- Not that we were pursuing God, not that we loved God. In fact, when we walked in darkness we wanted nothing to do with God.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still sinners- or not that we loved God- But He loved us. While we were still in darkness, while we were incapable of loving, while our righteous acts were as filthy rags, God reached in and called us out of darkness and into light, God called us personally from the grave and to life, from sin and darkness and into righteousness and life-demonstrating His love by making us alive through Christ who gave up His life for us. 1 John 4:10 again.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Notice it says-He loved US. It doesn’t say he loved our sin. People see that text in this passage that says God is love, and they use that to justify their sin. God is love, he loves me for who I am. True but that doesn’t mean God can and will excuse my sin. God loved US. But he hates our sin, what we do is not who we are. God hates the sin we do.
When we look at the end of verse 10 it says He sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, in NIV. In the NASB it says it a little stronger
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
He sent His son to be a propitiation for our sins. That means that Jesus caused the wrath of God to be satisfied. The anger, the wrath of God toward our sins, was directed to Jesus the second person of the trinity. God loved us so much that even while we were still sinners He was willing to turn His wrath toward His son, instead us so so that you could come into fellowship with Him
Why? Why? would God possibly do this? What purpose could loving a sinner serve? What purpose does cleaning a sinner, and bringing Hi into fellowship with God serve?
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
So that we can love one another-which brings God glory.
When we see the Love of God, made manifest in Jesus Christ, We cannot help but love one another. When we see what he has been doing the whole time -When we see how the love of God is so pure-so perfect-so giving to love a dirty sinner while we were still sinners and die in our place, when we see that God did that for us because He loves us.....
The we also ought to love another- How can we doing anything else?
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
If we do that. If we love one another as a result of knowing the love God has for us-THEN God’s love is made complete in us. When we, by faith, turn from our sins and toward the Lord Jesus Christ, then we know God. Then we love another and they can see Jesus through our love for them. Like it or not brothers someone’s love is responsible for you knowing the gospel.
Have you ever thought about that. Someone who knew God, because of what God did for them, loved you enough to pray for you. Someone who knew God loved you enough to donate to spreading the Gospel. Some preacher who knew how much God loved you, told you about it. He loved you enough to preach the Gospel to you SO THAT YOU COULD KNOW THIS GOD WHO LOVES YOU. SO that-you would give God glory.
Then in verse 13 John shifts just a bit. He was talking about this loving of one another as a result of knowing God. But lest we ask how we know if we know God, he explains it. People might not be sure that they are part of this group that is loving from the right direction. People might not be sure that their righteous acts are not just filthy rags, so beginning in verse 13 John lets us know how we can tell.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.
How do we know if we are living in Christ? He has given us His Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit. The deposit of the inheritance, the sealing of God’s power in our lives, the evidence that God’s love of us the sinner has been made manifest in our lives. How do we know we have the Spirit what is the evidence of the Spirit? How can you go from knowing that you have the Holy Spirit?
One way and perhaps the most important way is you are being made Holy. Are you moving from sin toward holiness,
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
The saved, those in the light are being sanctified by the Spirit. The work of the Spirit in your life is that you are being conformed to ever increasing likeness of Jesus. Are you being made more like Jesus? Have you turned from sin and toward Jesus? That is work of Spirit.
Sometimes people look for the supernatural, strange feelings, or weird coincidences, I know those experiences can and often do go with the Holy Spirit, but sometimes the Holy Spirit is less flashy. Sometimes the work of the Spirit is producing peace patience kindness Gentleness and self-contol. DO you have anymore of those? Then you have the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps you conquer sin. The Holy Spirit helps sanctify you or make you Holy If You have the Holy Spirit you are being made Holy.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
The experience that John had with Jesus was real. He would testify about it, He has seen Jesus. Just because you and I have not seen the living actual Jesus does not make it any less real. We know we really are being changed toward the likeness of Christ. We really are turning from sin, and that my friends is just as real.
We can testify about it as well. I can tell you that in my life the Holy Spirit has helped to sanctify me. He has helped me to overcome sin, He has transformed from the darkness to light He has called me from the dead to life. Can you say that Jesus has had a impact on your life, can you testify about it?
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
If we can say that-then God lives in us. The Holy Spirit indwells us, He abides with us. This why the miracle at Christmas is so important. Jesus is Emmanuel-God with us. Through Jesus Christ, through our faith in His death and resurrection God comes and abides in us.
I want you to see way john does her with the text visually.
Yellow is love one another. Orange again is the love of God. Then look at the red- That is the assurance. that The Spirit is in us, then after that is blue-Blue is God abiding in us, and us in Christ,
Look How prominent the orange is God loving us, then near the At the center is the red-and the green. The green is the gospel Jesus dying for your sins, the red is the Spirit indwelling us, then the blue, us and Christ dwelling together in a relationship.
This what I want you to see. It is impossible for us to love one another with first knowing the Love of God. The love of God acted personally specifically as God broke into History intentionally because he loved us. Not because of anything you did but because of who He is. He was willing to die for you, to go to the cross for you to make atonement for your sins so that He could abide in you, and you in Him through that, through that you pour out HIS love into others, pointing them to the God that loves them just like He loved you, therefore dear brothers, love one another.
Back to our opening illustration, In everyones life, God is painting this picture that He is there that He exists, like in the cheesy romance movie, but people are not noticing. TIn those movies there is always a character that come up to the target of the hero’s affections, and she explains that the hero has loved her along. That is our job as the church we are to go and explain to others, not that there is a general God-but that there is a person a person who has died for our sins, and rose again, and that person came at Christmas it is Jesus.