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8- Glorifying God in Church by Loving God and Obeying His Commands

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Loving God and Obeying His Commands (1 John 4:19-5:3)

Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on February 24, 2008

www.goldcountrybaptist.org

 

I’ve been energized and refreshed the last several weeks for many reasons, not only the fruit of so many hours deep in Scripture, but I think your heart and spirit can only be lifted when you are seeking to lift up the Lord. Doing a series on the glory of God is not difficult to do, it’s not hard to find things to say or texts that proclaim the greatness and glory of God and how that should impact our church. There is so much glorious truth that can be proclaimed, the difficulty is what not to say, the challenge is there is never enough time to adequately do justice to God’s glory.

For several weeks it’s been a tremendous joy for me to be preaching a series on glorifying God in the church.

-          By our worship

-          By a high view of God and His Word

-          By our prayer

TODAY: by loving God and obeying His commands

Each of these ways the church is to glorify God come out of the new constitution we as elders have been drafting and will be presenting to the congregation a few months down the road.

PURPOSE: This church exists by the grace of God for the glory of God, which shall be the ultimate purpose in all our activities

 

Today we will study together how we can glorify God by loving our Lord and by obeying His commands.

Deuteronomy 30:16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.
… Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
Deuteronomy 30:20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life …

The life of a believer does not stay with the words of the song “Just as I am” but it also must be balanced with “trust and obey” – or as the OT Jews might have sung it based on Deuteronomy, “love and trust and obey for there’s no better way to see we have life from God.” Those 3 key words will form our outline: Love-Trust-Obey.  

Every Christian knows you must trust Christ. But mere faith  in facts about Jesus we had at some point in the past does not prove  we are God’s children, I want you to turn to 1 John where we’ll see this message that a born again believer loves, trusts, and obeys his Lord. We show true love for God by obeying His commands. We don’t earn God’s love when we obey, we obey because God’s love has been shed abroad in our regenerated hearts. And if God’s love is within us, we not only trust in Christ, but we love our brethren.

 

1 John 5:13 (NASB95)
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
The way we know we have eternal life is not by something we did in the past, but it’s by what God is doing in us now         

1 John 4:19-5:3 (NASB95)
19 We love, because He first loved us.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one 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, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Loving God and others and trusting and obeying God’s commands go together – they are like 3 strands of the same cord.

OUTLINE: 3 tests of salvation here. The first we’ll see is LOVE.

            I. LOVE FOR GOD AND OTHERS

A brother in the Lord gave me a book recently by Clyde Cranford entitled Because We Love Him. I think his introduction is a good one before we talk about biblical love, selfless love that’s grounded in love of God and from God, we need to recognize that there’s a big barrier to us understanding this message. There’s a major roadblock to us truly loving God and others: Self.

We live in a self-centered, self-absorbed society in which self is nurtured, pampered, indulged, and even worshiped. Self-obsession has so engulfed the church that the biblical concept of self-denial, which is simply saying no to self, seems strange and unfamiliar to most, even though this is the very entrance into the Christian life …

God Himself is the center of the universe. Even God’s command to be holy is a God-centered command. God does not say, “Be holy because of what it will do for you,” but rather, “Be holy because I am holy.” Yet God, in expressing His infinite [condescension], has made man the object of His infinite love and has called him to share in God’s own holiness. This is what man was created for to begin with; thus it remains his only true source of joy and fulfillment …

But instead, pride … self-exaltation … has dulled our influence on the world. The church of America was once salt and light. Now, rather than having any real impact on the world around us, we have become more affected than effective. Rather than being set apart from the world, we have sought to be like the world, conforming to its image rather than the image of Christ. We argue that by doing so we will win the world for God. Instead, the world and its values have rendered the church virtually impotent.

By imitating the world we have lost not only our influence but also our credibility. We are no longer a clear beacon pointing men to God. The world looks at the church and sees a cheap, amateurish imitation of itself, so it concludes quite reasonably that the church has nothing special to offer. The church has only one thing that the world does not have but desperately needs – Jesus. And He is everything … We must lift Christ up to a lost and dying world. But how can we lift Christ up if our focus is on ourselves? How can we lift Christ up if we are not living holy [set apart] lives that illustrate the difference Christ can make?’ (p. 15)

Jesus made very clear how we should be set apart, what should be different about His disciples. One of the major ways we glorify and lift up Jesus is by our love for each other, especially in the church. Jesus said to His followers “love one another, even as I have loved you [he said this right after washing their feet in John 13] … By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In the six verses we just read, the word “love” appears 12x, making it the obvious dominant subject of this text. If you count the 3 verses before our text, the word “love” appears nearly 20x in just a few verses.

The love that 1 John speaks of - love of God and toward others - is the opposite of self-centeredness. It is the cure for self-focus, the liberation from self. The message of our passage in 1 John is that God’s love does make a difference in our lives, if we are truly in Christ. Being born again, as chapter 5 verse 1 refers to, does not just impact where you go in the future after you die, it radically impacts how you live today. Genuine salvation does not just give you a new eternal destination, it turns sinners into a whole new creation in Christ where old things have passed away and new things have come as the Apostle Paul says (2 Cor. 5:17).

Salvation is no small thing. As pastor Adrian Rogers said it’s not just getting man out of hell and into heaven, it is God coming down out from heaven and into man, or as the Puritan Henry Scougal wrote “the life of God in the soul of a man.” God’s love in the work of regeneration is a mighty merciful miracle, causing us to be born again by a work of God alone, not a joint effort. This work of God implants in us a new nature and transforms us and gives us the capacity and desire to love God and to love our brother. We don’t do these things or anything in order to become born again, John argues that we do these things in this passage because we are born again (if we are). Regeneration precedes and produces our love for God as 4:19 says “because He first loved us.”

Being born again as chapter 5 speaks about takes place when there is divine life from God imparted to our formerly spiritually dead self, we have a new heart, and we respond in faith and love and obedience not in order to be saved, but in response to God’s sovereign saving grace that was first shed abroad in our hearts.

 

1 John 4:19 says “we love because He first loved us”

“First” is emphatic in Greek. It’s not that the reason God chose to love us as His children is because He knew we would choose and love Him in the future and that’s what caused His love for us.

No, first and foremost it was God’s love, God’s particular love, God’s preemptive love, God’s prior love that enables a naturally sinful selfish man to love God or others with true selfless love. God’s effectual electing love to us causes our love to Him, not the other way around. As Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16 “you did not choose me, but I chose you” – His was the decisive choice, His choice preceded and produced ours. The same is true in love.

This is the truth that makes us sing “O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus because He first loved me

Or another hymn we sing sometimes at communion: “I love thee because thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree, I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow, if ever I loved thee my Jesus ‘tis now.”

Some of the manuscripts for 1 John 4:19 have “we love Him” – others have “we love God” – others leave it open or general (“we love”). Whichever text you have, the context and text of the next verse contains both – v. 20 begins with those who say “I love God” but then the verse also talks about loving one’s brother. Whichever way, the truth applies to all - the principle is that we love God or anyone, simply because and solely because God first loved us.

And in John’s mind, love for God and love for our brother can hardly be separated.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

This first point is that love is a test of salvation. It’s not what we say (anyone can say “I love God” – many do). The question is whether in your heart and life you truly love. God is the source of all true love and if God’s love is in us, we can and will love others.

1 John 4:7-10 (NASB95)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 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.

It’s important to note that John is not using the word for mere human love or the weakened watered-down understanding of love that our culture has. John is using the rich Greek word “agape” for love throughout, which in the Bible is not mere affection or attraction or “that lovin’ feelin” that can be lost. This is not even normal human relational love or the brotherly love that unbelievers have for each other. John is talking in this passage and in his epistle about deep divine love, agape love that is of God, from God, through God, and only possible by God and those who are in His Son Jesus Christ, those who are themselves born of God and therefore have His nature because they’re His children.

This sacrificial selfless agape love of God, as Christ showed in the cross, this love seeks at high cost the highest good in the one loved, not because of how loveable the recipient is, but despite how unlovely he or she might be. Agape love is not mere emotional feelings or a Valentine’s sentiment, but is an act of the will. It is not just nice thoughts, but includes actual actions of love.

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Don’t measure your love for your brothers here at church by what you say or what you sing – measure it by what you have done in deed lately. Your actions reveal your heart. Where you spend your time, your resources, and where you focus your prayers reveals whether or not or to what degree you love your brethren.

1 John 4:20 says that one who claims to love God but who hates his brother is a liar (emphatic: LIAR, that’s what he is). Our actions speak louder than words and often more truthfully.

In verse 20, John doesn’t leave our love for God as a mystical or abstract thing. He gets very practical: no matter what you might say, you don’t truly love God if you hate those He loves and died for, those He put in your family as your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The word “brother” primarily and predominantly refers to fellow Christians. In the first 2 verses of chapter 5 John makes this clear in this context by using brother interchangeably with children of God, those who are in his family by faith.

As John also wrote “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called children of God, as many as believed in His name … are born of God” (John 1:12-13)

-          Someone may say “I love Christ, I just can’t stand Christians, because they’re hypocrites.” But according to 1 John 4:20, when you say this you’re revealing YOU are a hypocrite. Worse, this verse calls you a liar.

-          Someone may say “I love God, but these people around me that I see all the time, I just can’t love them. God’s Word in this verse says it can’t work that way.

-          Someone may say “I don’t care much for the church, I just love God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and me, we love each other and we do our own thing” – but God’s Word here says you are deceiving yourself if you think you truly love the Lord but you disregard who He loves

-          Someone may say “I tried church, I went to church, and they didn’t give me love, they didn’t meet my needs, or someone hurt me and offended me.” But God’s Word says it’s not about what people do to or for you – you are responsible to love others and to meet their needs. God’s agape love did not stop when we hurt Him, grieved Him with our sin, when we offended God. If we have God’s love, we can and will love others like Him and forgive others as God in Christ forgives Christians.

-          You might say “I don’t really hate my brother, I just don’t really like him very much” and that’s ok, right?” But look at the 2nd half of the verse – “the one who does not love his brother … cannot love God”

The verbs are present tense, indicating ongoing duration, habitual patterns – a life marked by hate or marked by not loving Christians

*Notice the second half of the verse equates hate with “does not love his brother” – if you do not and cannot continually have and show love for your brothers and sisters in Christ and that is the pattern of your life, God’s Word says here “you cannot love God.” “Cannot” is essentially the same as saying you “do not.” Some manuscripts and translations have “how can he love?” (KJV, NKJV) and the force is the same, a rhetorical NO. If you cannot and will not and do not love your brother who is visible in your life, you cannot and do not love the God who is invisible.

This is not a one-time act, that you never have moments of failure to love others around you in the church; the verb is present tense. As a continual pattern or habit of your life, if you don’t love others as the Bible says children of God love each other, it’s evidence that you don’t truly love God. Your problem is deeper than a lack of love for your fellow believer, your problem is a lack of love for God, a lack of relationship and fellowship not just with man, but a lack of relationship and fellowship with God Himself. Those who cannot love a fellow child of God are probably not children of God themselves. If it doesn’t manifest itself visibly on the outside toward others, we must question the inward reality of whether we have God’s love. Lack of love can be symptom of lack of salvation

Verse 20 says point blank that one cannot love the invisible God (the harder thing and not easily tested) if he does not love God’s visible image in a brother (the easier thing, easily tested).  

Why are you not showing love to others, especially those in the church? Why aren’t you committed to the church, why don’t you serve? Why do you sit on the sidelines and not join the body? 

Do you show love to those you see in this room? The excuse ‘“I just can’t love that person” (or other such excuses) is invalid. If we are born of Him and are abiding in Him then the resources for love are there. It is up to us to respond to His command with our will and whole being … One might say, “I want to love God more; I want to grow in my love for Him. But how can I love a God who is invisible?” God would say to us, “Learn to love Me, Whom you cannot see, by loving My children, whom you can see.”’ (Guzik)

John Calvin said: ‘It is a false boast when anyone says that he loves God but neglects His image which is before his eyes’

John Stott adds (p. 173): ‘Every claim to love God is a delusion if it is not accompanied by unselfish and practical love for our brothers and sisters’

Solomon said it this way: One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed. (Prov 19:17)

Our Lord said, whatever you have done for the least of these my brethren, you’ve done for me (Matt 25:31-46)

1 John 3:10 (NASB95)
10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
… 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Apparently this was a problem with the church John is addressing, there had been some false teaching, easy-believism: all you have to do is believe some facts about Jesus, or say you love God. But God says if you can’t love My children, you’re not one of My children, you don’t love Me. You ask “are you saying lack of love suggests a lack of salvation?” That’s what God is saying in His Word.

John’s argument has been summed up this way: ‘We may deceive our fellow men by claiming to love God without loving our brothers. There are many people in God’s church who have terrible attitudes toward each other. They will mistreat a brother, despise a brother, fail to practice brotherly love, and yet sing great praises to God at the same time. John says that this is not possible. We are liars when we make that claim.’ (College Press NIV Commentary)

Question for you: Are you living a lie here this morning?

There’s two possibilities before us.

1) If you’re a true believer you won’t hate habitually as a life pattern but if you do disregard or disdain your brother for a time, when God confronts you and convicts you, you’ll want to change, you want to make things right. As unlovable as a particular person might be, God has given you the resources and the ability by His grace and strength to love him or her and He demands you do that.

Application: Think of someone in your life that is most difficult to love. This applies beyond brothers in the church – we are called by the same word to love our neighbor and even our enemy. The Word of the Living God to you this morning calls you to repent and show love in deed and truth to that person, think of specific ways you can do this for that person. If you continually refuse that, you may have a much deeper problem.

2) The 2nd possibility. Others of you in this room need to repent for the first time and experience God’s love for the first time. You may do outward works and deceive others or even yourself, but the double-edged sword of God’s Word cuts you right open at this point and lays bare the fact that true agape love as defined by the Bible is not truly inside of you and has never been. You might love your spouse or kids or siblings with natural human love, but you as a life pattern have not and do not and will not practice supernatural selfless sacrificial biblical agape love toward others in the body.

READ 1 John 3:10. This verse says if you continually will not love your brother that reveals that you are a child of the devil, just like Cain who killed his brother Abel (v. 12), you are in your heart a murderer. You need to be saved this morning, you need to repent.

‘One may know the Word, may never miss a service, may pray fervently, etc ... Yet in it all, that one may be like Cain, offering to God the fruit of their hands and not the fruit of the Spirit.’ (Guzik)

THIS LEADS US TO THE 2ND TEST OF SALVATION: TRUST IN JESUS AND ALL HE IS.

The first test is true love for God and our brothers. The second mark of all true believers is true faith or trust in Jesus. “Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life”

1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
               

We began our series on the church with the first mention of the church in the NT (Matt 16:16) where Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God, and Jesus says you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church. No one can be born again or a part of Christ’s true church unless they believe Jesus is the Christ, and all that means. Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the fulfillment of the whole Old Testament, He is our prophet, priest, and King. As other scriptures say He is the Lord and the Savior, He is the Son of God and God the Son; He’s the way, the truth, the life

I am using the word “trust” instead of “believe” for this point, because the biblical word is not mere mental or intellectual belief only but it includes trust. As Strong’s defines it, it’s “a constant profession … especially reliance upon Christ for salvation.”

‘The present participle denotes that the individual exercises a persistent, continuous faith. The verb, a favorite term with John, means more than intellectual apprehension of a truth or assent to a creed; it involves an active personal committal to the truth believed.’ – Hiebert, Bibliotheca Sacra Journal # 147, p. 217

Saving faith is not referred to in the Bible as a moment of belief in the past (prayed a prayer one time as a little kid, or a moment at some camp, or at some crusade, or some feeling you had at one time, a temporary superficial belief that hasn’t continued to the present). The original language makes clear that this is a continual constant reliance and trust in Christ and in Christ alone, and the proof that it’s genuine faith is that it continues and bears fruit.

1 John 2:19 speaks of those who went out, i.e., never truly saved

GRAMMATICAL INSIGHT: “is born of God” is perfect tense whereas “believes” is present tense. The different tenses ‘shows clearly that believing is the consequence, not the cause, of the new birth. Our present, continuing activity of believing is the result, and therefore the evidence, of our past experience of new birth by which we became and remain God’s children.’ (Stott)

‘To believe that the man Jesus is “the Christ,” i.e., all that is contained in this term starting from 1:1-3; 1:7; 2:1, 2 on through to 4:9, 10, 14, means to believe the deity of Jesus, the expiation of his blood, the remission and the cleansing which this blood effects, in fact, the whole love of God that is expressed in the whole Saviorhood of Jesus, the whole gospel. John is not presenting the minimum content of faith but its full, normal, true content. After all that he has said his brief wording is sufficient.’ (Lenski, 518)

Remember, 1 John 5:14 says this book was written so that you may know that you have eternal life. It’s possible to KNOW that you have eternal life. You know it by the love of God inside of you that goes beyond natural explanations or normal human love, a supernatural love that you have experienced and that you extend to others. And the second way you know you have eternal life in our text is by your trust in Jesus Christ.

Are you trusting Him and Him alone for your salvation? If you’re trusting in anything other than Jesus for salvation, you need to be born again.

If you are born again, you will continue to trust Christ for your all in all, your lifestyle pattern will be marked by trust in God. You will still sin, you will falter, but you will repent and seek to change and you will continue in the faith rather than going away.

OUR THIRD AND FINAL KEY WORD IS OBEY: 3rd TEST OF SALVATION: OBEYING GOD’S COMMANDS

1 John 4:21 (NASB95)
21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

This may refer to the new commandment that John recorded Jesus gave to his disciples in John 13 “to love one another” and He showed them how in washing their feet and then going out to give Himself up and to die for them. Or it may refer to the “greatest commandment” to love the Lord with heart, soul, mind, and strength and others as ourselves – the sum of all God’s commands.

1 John 5:2-3 (NASB95)
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Trust and Obey, Belief and Obedience go together. The most famous verse written by John (3:16) the chapter in the Bible where Jesus tells Nicodemus how to be born again, that most famous chapter ends with these words:

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

BELIEVE IN THE SON – YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE

DON’T OBEY THE SON – YOU WON’T SEE LIFE

Aren’t we saved by faith? Yes. But if you would ask John do saved people obey the Son? He would answer yes just as strongly. Our obedience does not cause us to be born again – being born again by God’s power causes us to obey as the pattern and pursuit of our life

Notice at the end of verse 2 that our obedience flows out of love.

That’s also what all those verses in Deuteronomy were saying.

Deuteronomy 5:9 ‘You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Deuteronomy 5:10 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 6:6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
Deuteronomy 11:1 “You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.

Deuteronomy 11:13 “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul … [God will bless]
Deuteronomy 11:22 “For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, [23] then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.
Deuteronomy 19:9 if you carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in His ways always—then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three.

John was there when Jesus said to him: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

True love is not a passive feeling, if it’s genuine there are actions that go along with it. James Boice says it this way: “Christians frequently attempt to turn love for God into a mushy emotional experience, but John does not allow this in his epistle.”

In verses 2 and 3, the keeping or obeying of God’s commands is again that ongoing habitual lifestyle that marks a believer.

Salvation does not mean we reach perfection but it does mean there’s a new direction in our life, a growing pattern of obeying.

Unbelievers can try to obey God’s commands, but they’re burdensome. They may obey for the wrong reasons, not motivated by God’s love, not done with God’s power, or done for God’s glory

Someone may try and obey God’s law and not be saved, but you can’t be saved and not be striving to obey God’s commands.

And when you have God’s love inside of you, it frees you to obey God’s commands in such a way that they are not burdensome but you want to obey to please the One you love as 5:3 says.

           

The Apostle John grew up in a community with Pharisees who were very burdensome in how they treated God’s commands and they even added to the burden with manmade laws

Matthew 23:4 (NASB95)
4 “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB95)
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

John 8:30-36 (NASB95)
30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.
36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Paul wrote in Romans 6:17: thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed

In Romans 7:22 Paul says I joyfully concur [or delight] in the law of God in my inner man

 

Paul couldn’t say that when he was a Pharisee, but only after his heart had been regenerated and replaced spiritually, he could understand what John meant “his commands are not burdensome”

The Psalmist understood this: “I delight in [God’s] commands because I love them” (Ps. 119:47)

O how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day” (v. 97)

He describes God’s law or commands as sweeter than honey from the honeycomb, more valuable than gold, even much fine gold, more precious than a thousand pieces of silver, etc.

Because you have a new nature and a new heart as a believer, God’s commands are no longer burdensome. That doesn’t mean they’re easy, but it’s not a burden to do things for someone we love 

Jacob worked hard obeying Laban for seven years so he could  marry Rachel seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her (Genesis 29:18), so obeying God’s commands does not seem a burden when we really love Him. An old proverb says, “Love feels no loads.”

The story is told of a boy going to school long before the days when transport was provided. The boy was carrying on his back a smaller boy who was clearly lame and unable to walk. The stranger said to the lad, “Do you carry him to school every day?” “Yes,” said the boy. “That’s a heavy burden for you to carry,” said the stranger. “He’s no’ a burden,” said the boy. “He’s my brother.”

Love turned the burden into no burden at all. It must be so with us and Christ. His commandments are not a burden but a privilege and an opportunity to show our love. Difficult the commandments of Christ are, burdensome they are not; for Christ never laid a commandment on a man without giving him the strength to carry it; and every commandment laid upon us provides another chance to show our love. (William Barclay, Letters of John and Jude, 104)

‘Love-prompted obedience is not a crushing burden that exhausts the believer’s strength and destroys his sense of freedom in Christ. He finds that the new life in Christ makes obedience possible and has implanted in him a desire to do the will of God; for he realizes that God has given His laws for the believer’s own protection and highest welfare. He finds in them guidance concerning “what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). For him “the statutes again become songs, and the commandments prove to be the stepping-stones to freedom.” As Dodd points out, John “does not mean that God’s demands upon us are less exacting than we supposed, but that they are accompanied by the assurance of power to fulfil them.” God’s commandments become burdensome whenever a Christian desires to do something inconsistent with His directives; when a believer attempts to carry out his own will, God’s commandments seem cruel and restrictive and fellowship with God is broken. Then he finds that he must come back to a loving obedience.’ (Hiebert, 220)

3 Tests of salvation:

LOVE – Love for God and others

TRUST – Trust in Christ and all He is

OBEY – Obeying His commands.

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