1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (NKJV)
The Apostle John writes “these things” in 1st John that your joy “may be full” (v.1.4) What things?
- Full joy comes from fellowship with God, walking in the light. (1.5-7)
- Full joy comes from confessing our sin (1.9)
- Full joy comes from having Jesus as our Defender (2.1)
- Full joy comes with knowing God; evidenced by our obedience and love (2.3-11)
- Full joy is obtainable for all Christians in every stage of maturity (2.12-14)
- Full joy through loving the things of God and not of the world (2.15)
- Full joy is cultivated by righteousness (2.28) and purity (3.3)
- Full joy comes from loving in deed and truth, not just words (3.18)
All throughout 1John, especially the 4th chapter, we find that love is evidence of true salvation. God is the source of love and the presence of love shows is authentication of true saving faith.
1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (NKJV)
Godly love characterizes the genuine Christian. This love gives us assurance that we have experienced the true saving power of Jesus Christ. “Assurance” is the overriding theme of 1st John. If you ever doubt your salvation, or need to disciple someone who does, take them to 1st John. There you will find over and over statements about what indicates true salvation.
- If you are “this” you can know you’re saved.
- If you act like “this” you can know you’re saved.
- If you believe “this” you can know you’re saved.
- If you love like “this” you can know you’re saved.
The Apostle John writes in very plain and easy to understand language what “this” is.
1st John can be either very encouraging, or VERY convicting.
Along with obedience, “love” is one of the most mentioned attributes of the true Believer. How to love, who to love, what to love, when to love… with Jesus being pointed out as our example.
1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (NKJV)
Love is important because it is the base reason for why God bothered to save us. When we return His love by imitating it, then we can be confident of God being pleased with our life. John, in usual fine form, takes us through the logical progression of the affect of Godly love in our life:
- Why is love important? So that we can have boldness in the day of judgment (4.17). On the day we stand before the Lord to account for our lives, we haven’t nothing to fear when His gaze falls upon the history of our life.
There is no fear in love (4.18), because the essence of true love is to act like Jesus. When we act like Jesus we can boldly stand before the throne and expect approval from Almighty God who is pleased in all ways with His Son.
If you want be confident and assured in God’s presence, it’s simple:
act like Jesus.
- If you have fear in your life it will be directly proportionate to a lack of Godly love (4.18). Fear of what?
Fear that God is not pleased with you. Fear of not being saved. Fear that God is out to get you. Fear of facing God. Fear of God’s opinion of you. Fear of having to give an account for your life. Fear that God won’t love you.
Don’t confuse this with the healthy and proper “fear of God”. That is a reverent proper fear that understands the gulf that separates frail and finite man from a perfectly holy and infinite God.
The kind of fear here is a fear that is produced from knowing that you are not living a holy life sacrificed daily to God, exchanging your will for His.
It’s the same fear you had when you hadn’t done what your parents told you and then had to face the music. It’s the same fear that comes with doing a half-hearted job at work then being called on it by your boss. It’s the same fear you have when you are confronted with an opportunity to share the Gospel but your neglect of God’s Word leaves the poor victim with more questions than answers.
If you fear meeting God on judgment day to account for your life,
you should pray and ask God to reveal where love is lacking in you.
John finishes the thought by giving us the reason we are to love: because God loved us first. Now think about that a minute. Why is that a big deal? God loved us first. So what? I thought you’d never ask…
- God gives us life and we deny Him
- God blesses us daily and we shame Him
- God cares for us and we take it for granted
- God created us in perfection and we ruined it with sin
- God sent His Son to save us and we killed Him
- God draws us to Himself, saves us, secures us eternally… and we thank Him by being worldly, lukewarm and wishy-washy
- God loved us when He had no reason to, no obligation to and no real need to….
Accept for the fact that God is love. And the essence of true love is to love the unlovable; love the undeserving; love for the sake of love. We are unlovable before God transforms us into the image of His Son. But God loved us anyway.
God loves us first and calls us to love others. It’s a good thing God chose to love us first because we are utterly incapable of loving Him or anyone else FIRST without God Himself giving us a heart transplant and infusing us with the ability to do so.
So let’s put it all in a logical summary:
- We are to love because God loved us first and Jesus is our example.
- Love is the evidence of true salvation.
- Love casts out fear and allows us to be confident to stand in front of God.
- This confidence translates into assurance of our salvation.
- Assurance of salvation results in a life of “full joy”.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us first and showing us what love is so that we can love our way into a life void of fear and full of assurance. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you know that difference in the “fear of God” and the fear we are discussing in this lesson? Do you have a fear of facing God and having your life examined? Does it correlate to a lack of Godly love in your life? What does this kind of love look like? How do you identify it?
Application: God loved us first when we were unlovable. Then He shows us how to love by giving Jesus as our example. When we imitate Jesus and our lives are marked by love, we can stand in confidence before God with no fear. If that isn’t full joy, could someone please tell me what is?
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?