“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. ” – John 14:15 (NASB)
“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” – 2 John 6 (NASB)
There are more than a few essentials that we need to know and understand if we seek to live our lives as Christians in a manner worthy of our Savior Jesus Christ. Honestly, don’t we actually have a tendency to avoid thinking too much about some of the essentials. One essential is loving God. Having been born of God and having received eternal life, God the Holy Spirit lives within our spirit. Jesus the Son of God is with us in Spirit as well. Now, here it is: Love for Christ is inseparable from our obedience. When Jesus says in John 14:15 “My commandments” these are not only Jesus’ ethical commandments in context (John 14:23-24), but the entire revelation from the Father. In his second letter John defines love, not as a sentiment or an emotion, but as obedience to God’s commands. If we are obedient to the truth as contained in God’s commandments, the fundamentals of the faith are identified as walking in love. There is no “falling in” and “falling out” of love with Jesus. There is only our love by our obedience to His Word exactly as He gave it to us.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:3-4 (ESV)
Just yesterday we read the promise of Jesus that His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He offers to teach us how this is true. Today’s passage is from John the Apostle who continues the same promise. If we love God as He calls us to, we show that love by keeping the commandments He gives us. Not many of us bow gracefully on our own under the commandments or restrictions that are laid upon us. We do not like the idea of being told by someone what we are to do. It can be difficult to buckle under to the mandates and the laws made by men. But not so with God’s commandments. It is our love of God that relieves us of any weight from keeping His commandments. Today’s promise is that God’s commandments are NOT burdensome. Why is this true? Because having been born of God we overcome the difficulties of obedience to God. What seems insurmountable we now overcome and we have our victory in this struggle. What is that victory? It is our faith in God. By faith we believe and this victory becomes ours. It’s how we love God and each other
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” – 1 John 5:3-5 (ESV)
The Apostle John emphasized what he has written by saying it again because obedience is a characteristic of an overcomer. It is overcomers that are victorious. In the first five verses of 1 John 5 John weaves faith, love, obedience all together inextricably. It is a dynamic relationship and the genuine proof of love is obedience just as the genuine proof of faith is love. The word “keep” is one that means ‘guarding by constant obedience.’ A special promise is here for us in these verses, along with several others, is that keeping His commandments are not burdensome. We can do it because God has promised to help. Unless of course, we try to do so all by ourself in our own strength and using our own reasoning. Every other religion in the world has commands to obey to please their system but offers no spiritual help in doing so. The Christian has the Spirit of God alongside. We overcome by being yoked to Jesus who makes our burden light. (Matthew 11:28-30) We confirm ourselves to be overcomers not by our works but by faith believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:2-3 (ESV)
Twice in our verses today the apostle John says that love and obedience to God’s commandments go hand-in-hand. We are members of God’s family because we have been born of God, that is reason enough that we love all of God’s children ⸺all others who are born of Him. This kind of love is the second characteristic of the overcomer. We who by faith believe in God are the overcomers. We have overcome the stain and guilt of sin and our sin has been forgiven. Having never sinned Christ paid the penalty when He died on the cross in our place. The third characteristic of an overcomer is obedience. Let’s not think that obedience to God’s commandments, is too difficult or and onerous chore. God promises that his commandments are not burdensome. What is burdensome is the effort of earning our way by following the requirements of the false teachers and false religions. Trying to be “good enough” is difficult and tiring. Faith, love, and obedience to God are the characteristics of a true believer which are woven into a tapestry of our lives. Following in the way of Jesus Christ is not taxing but liberating.
“This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” – 1 John 5:3–4 (ESV)
Struggling to be obedient to God as if obedience is a heavy burden is not evidence of love for Him. Our acts of loving God amount to much more than just keeping His commandment. Truly, loving God is having a heart for God that enables us to keep the statutes and instructions without that becoming a burden. John explains why God’s commandments are not burdensome. When we are born of God – and this is for all who are truly born of God – He makes us overcomers of the world system. We have what overcomes the many pitfalls and obstacles to keeping God’s will. It is the new nature we have through being born of God. That new birth creates in us a new creature and that creates a faith developing and maturing within ourselves. This faith in God who loves us and gave us His only Son, does more than enable us to assent to God will, it also enables us to embrace all that He is for us in Christ. Eighteenth-century pastor Jonathan Edwards wrestled with this text and concluded, “Saving faith implies love. Our love to God enables us to overcome the difficulties that attend keeping God’s commands.”
“When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live;” – Proverbs 4:3-4 (NASB)
Remember the manner we were taught the ways of life by our parents when we were very young? Our parents taught us what they had learned from their father and mother and life experiences. In our verses today Solomon spoke of this boyhood training when his parents King David and Bathsheba would teach him. He was then their only child, though later he had three brothers. In verse four Solomon quotes his father David and will continue the quote through verse nine. Solomon is was passing the instruction he received from his father to his sons (v.1). Solomon knew the importance of the sound teaching as he had received. The admonition to let “your heart hold fast my words” might be also said as “obey my words wholeheartedly.” That is what we want our children to do when we teach them. That is what God wants us to do when He teaches us. Keeping the commandments of God and loving Him with all our heart is the way to live in righteousness before Him. When we heed this teaching and the rest of this passage, we find and receive great value in understanding and observing God’s commandments.
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:10-11 (ESV)
We are fruit bearers for the Spirit of God. He bears the fruit through our obedient service to Him. The first three mentioned in Galatians 5 are love, joy, peace. In his last Passover meal Jesus emphasized these three with His Apostles. Our promise in our passage today is that keeping the commandments of Jesus as by his own example he kept the Father’s commandments, our lives will bear out joy. The very reason Jesus expounded on so much during this last supper was to produce joy within the hearts of his closest friends. Except for Judas, these were going to bring the Good News to the whole world. Jesus knew the road would be rough for them yet He promises joy as they journey on it. We are promised joy in any and all circumstances of our lives. If our joy is not rooted in our circumstances but in our obedience to God, it will produce more joy. It promises to be a full joy even when situations are dark. Let’s not fear what might be or is and so lose our joy, instead do what He has called us to do. Love one another and our neighbor too.