Faith, Love & Obedience

Faith, Love & Obedience

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:1-5

On Sunday Pastor Mike shared the three marks of being born again—(1) Genuine faith, (2) love for God and other Christians, and (3) obedience to God’s commands.

What is genuine faith?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:1a, 5

Active belief in Jesus as the Son of God is John’s definition of genuine faith. There is no subcategory of Christian confidence that includes your personal will power, your baptism, your family upbringing, or your Sunday school attendance. Jesus is THE trustworthy Savior. “Jesus and” will never do.

If genuine faith = trust in Christ alone, how can genuine faith AND love for God and others both be marks of a Christian?

…and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. – 1 John 5:1b

The Bible offers no description of genuine faith that does not include a total change. Describing faith without fruit is like describing a deer as having tentacles. You can only accurately describe a deer by its real traits. Deer have antlers, long snouts with noses, and stubby tails. John cannot but describe true Christianity by the fruit Christ produces. Christians love God and their fellow Christians.

How is obedience to God’s commands a mark of a Christian?

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

Pastor Mike shared, “Genuine loving leads to commandment keeping.” Just as genuine faith and love are never apart from one another, so too commandment keeping comes from genuine faith and love for God. When Christ is seen and believed in as the only hope for a sinner like me, I cannot but love, in reverence and joy, the God who has intervened for my wretched self. I also see those whom Christ died for and love them as intimate family who have experienced the same renewal. It is not difficult to then believe that I would fight to obey the commands of the God who has worked such an amazing salvation.

On the other hand, if love for God leads to commandment keeping, what does my sin say I believe about God? Would we be helped to see and believe that sin is anything but indifferent to the world around us? I think so. Pride can ruin even our view of sin to believe that it only has an impact on our lives. We speak of commandment breaking as a personal struggle, but sin is anything but personal. Sin always affects those around us (in ways we will never fathom) and tries (never succeeds) to prove God to be a failure. Sin is hatred of God His ways at the root. It is a feeble attempt to diminish God’s glory (it will never be able to do this).

It is silly to believe that genuine faith and love are able to be separated for the Christian, and it is wrong to believe that obedience to God is simply an add-on you can purchase for extra Christian perks. Faith, love, and obedience are simply Christian. Like purchasing a parachute for your friend who is terrified of heights, no matter how much gear you buy the man, no one will ever call him a skydiver if he has never jumped out of a plane.

Are you feeling victorious?

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:4-5

Ponder these possible answers to the question, “Are you feeling victorious?”

  • No, I do not love perfectly and have sinned against God’s commands.
  • No, I have trusted in myself for salvation in addition to Jesus.
  • No, my life is full of contradictions.
  • No, I do not fear God as I ought to.
  • No, 1 John 5:1-5 gives me more fear than hope.

Question: Who is it that overcomes the world? Who is it that overcomes every sin, deception, and entanglement that could keep him/her from Jesus’ love? Who is it whose sin has been fully paid forever and is free to walk in freedom and the joy of the Lord? Who is it who fights as a victor because of what Christ has done?
Answer: The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

There is no better place to start than at the foot of the cross.

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross*, Verse 1

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

*Lyrics by Isaac Watts, 1707.

What I Learned Last Sunday