1 John 4
God is Love

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This is one of John's greatest passages. God is love. Love is His supreme quality. God can be known only by those who live in love. We could not know how, nor be able to love Him, if He hadn't first loved us. If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected or matured in us.

Verse 1. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." This cautions us, as Christians, not to believe all we hear people telling us. There are many preachers on T.V. and elsewhere today that give you the build-up that you might want, but in the end they either water down the gospel and God's requirement of belief in His Son, or tell you all religions are like the roads to Des Moines. There are several ways to get there, but eventually you can get there on any one of them. They tell you there are other ways that will get you to heaven. God says they are Antichrists, and they are in the world today. Usually these messages have included in them, or are followed with, a plea for money, or something to buy.

Verse 2. "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:" Here we see the true way to know if they are really preaching and teaching God's Word. If they make it clear that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, came in the flesh and died on the cross, was buried, and raised again the third day for our sins, they have the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5. " For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:"

Verse 3. "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." We see that there are others who may try to represent God, but they aren't of God. They don't belong to God as does a believer.

We have several religions right here in this area who don't preach that Jesus is the Only Son of God. Any person or group that doesn't accept Jesus as the Only Son of God is a cult. Some of the largest religious groups in this area don't accept Him as the Only Son of God. They worship another with Him. They put Him on a level with some person, or just call Him a prophet.

Another thing is that some add the words of other men to scriptures and put them on a par with Christ's Words. Again, God says they are here in the world now. Anyone who doesn't believe in Christ is actually anti Christ. You are either for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground. Acts 2:12. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Verse 4. "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." This verse tells us that we are secure in our salvation because we have trusted in Jesus Christ. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us as proof and protection from Satan who dwells in the unsaved. 1 John 3:24. "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."

Verse 5. "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." The unsaved will live like the world because they speak a common language. They think like the world. The unsaved speak a different language than the Christian.

Verse 6. "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." Did you, as a Christian, ever try to strike up a conversation about how wonderful heaven is and how sure you are that you're going there with someone that was not saved? Those who love God want to talk about Him. The unsaved don't feel comfortable with talking about it.

God's nature is described in three ways by John. It is by no means a complete description, but it helps understand God's nature. First, He is described as "Light." 1 John 1:5. He is described as "Spirit" in John 4:24. And here, in 1 John 4:8, "God is love."

Verse 7. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." God's love is holy love. Much of what is called love in society bears no resemblance to holy love. Some even try to dignify immorality by calling it love. Christian love is a special kind of love. There is a false love, and that's the love God rejects. Christian love is given from God. Romans 5:5. "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." To know God is to be in a deep relationship with Him. It's to share His life and enjoy His love. Knowing this isn't simply understanding the facts, it's a matter of understanding the truth. We need to understand verse 8 in the light of verse 7 where it says, "every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."

Verse 8. "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Certainly many unsaved people love their families and even sacrifice for them. No doubt many of these same people have some kind of intellectual understanding of God. The one thing lacking is a personal experience of God. I know whereof I speak. I was in that situation before I got saved.

Verse 9. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." Put it this way; the person who does not have this divine kind of love has never entered into a personal knowledge of God. What he knows is in his head but it's never gotten into his heart. Romans 10:9-10. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Verses 10-11. " Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11: Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
God uses the example of the love of God to us first in sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins. In verse 11 we're called beloved. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." This is more than just saying, "I love you, man." It's to be an active love. Don't just say it, show it, even sacrificially, to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Show it like Christ did when He was here on earth. His showing of love for the people that society shunned, the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the blind, the lame and the sick is difficult for us at best to consider doing. But God has asked us to show our love for those of the world just as well as the more socially desirable and our brothers and sisters in Christ. John 13:34 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

God set us an example. He gave the supreme gift of love when He sent His Only Son to redeem a lost world of sinners. "There is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10. Jesus showed His love by not only ministering to the lost world in many physical ways but in also taking all their sins and ours, too, and paying for them with His sinless blood on the cross.

No wonder that God has asked us to observe verse 11. If you're saved, you're called "beloved."

Verse 12. "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." God is a Spirit so no man has seen God at any time. God revealed His love through His Only Son. God was manifest in human flesh in Christ Jesus, but He didn't reveal Himself in all His fullness. God's love dwells in the believer and is perfected or shown out through that believer.

The proof that we are reserved to God is that the Holy Spirit, the third member of the God Head, came to dwell in us the moment we got saved, God's promise.

Verse 13-14. "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."
14. "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." John says that our job is to testify and minister to the unsaved in whatever capacity God allows us. True love of the Christian isn't sentimental, sexual, or social. It is something that reveals itself when we take Christ to those who are lost. That's when we manifest our love. That is the testifying God wants from us. God wants this, not just in words, but in the very tone of our life and lifestyle. How can we demonstrate this to the unsaved when our recreation time is more important to us than our church time?

Verse 15 is where you begin with your life as a Christian and a lover.

Verse 15. "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." God takes it for granted that you, as a Christian, will love your family and so this is taking it one step farther. If you confess Jesus as Saviour, God wants you to tell it to others and with a true love for their soul. God wants to love that soul through you. Here is salvation, simple and total. If you confess that Jesus is the Son of God and believe God when He says that Jesus died for your sins, you are saved.

Verse 16. "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." John knew and experienced this love in person with Jesus for about three and one half years and knows what he's writing about.

This love is interwoven between the saved one and God. You can't simply say that you are a child of God when you hate the brethren down here. This is the second time in this chapter that it says "God is love." If we are of God, we have that love to share with both saved and unsaved. In fact, it is our God given right to do so.

Verse 17. "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." The believer who has practiced love during his earthly life will be able to approach the judgment seat of Christ without any shame. This isn't presumption on our part because the assurance of this is in the statement we are given here that "as He is, so are we in this world."

What this means is that we are like Him in love. It also means that our sins were forgiven and God sees us sinless just as His Son is sinless, because our sin debt was paid in full by this same Jesus there on the cross.

Another way in which our love is made perfect is in the love that He shows us. It shows His love to us is to be perfected when He can greet us in glory. He was raised from the dead and He has life. We will also be raised from the dead to have life eternal with Him in heaven. We are in Christ and we are accepted in the Beloved. In fact, this is so sure that in Ephesians God sees us as if we were already there! No chance for a slip up anywhere along the line. We've already seen that we can face Christ at the Judgment Seat without fear. Our motives for our acts here on earth will be reviewed and some of them even rewarded. But, our salvation cannot come into question. God's promise.

Verse 18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." There is nothing worse than fear in the human heart, but the child of God doesn't need to fear death or life nor judgment to come. It was all settled when Christ died for you.

Romans 8:38-39. " For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If you're fearful, you can't enjoy your salvation. Joy stems from love, and if you have love for the Lord Jesus, for God, and for your brothers and sisters in Christ, then fear has been cast out. God isn't some great big all powerful being that is just out there to catch you in some sin. God is love. I think most people fear God for the wrong reasons. The only reason to fear God is if you are disobeying Him, and if you aren't saved, you are disobeying Him.

Verse 19. "We love him, because he first loved us." God loved us when we were so unlovable. We were sinners, and God hates sin, but He still loved us. He is so holy that I marvel at the fact that He loves me, but He loved me first or I could have never loved Him in my natural state as an un-forgiven sinner.

I like to tell my wife that I loved her first, because before we were married, I told her so before she told me. I don't think that statement made her love me any sooner or any more. God loved each one of us first or we would never be able to love Him or the brethren.

Christ is worthy of all our love, all our devotion, and all our service. There should be no separation between a Christian's inner life and his outer life. That is love.

Verse 20. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" I didn't say this, John did. John said, by inspiration from God, that if you say you love God and hate your brother, you're a liar.

I think there is a lack of true love one for another in our churches today. There is a lack of commitment among many when it comes to fellowship. How can you love someone who you don't have anything to do with? Or those you only have casual contact with once a week? God is saying "How can you love Me that you haven't seen when you don't love your brother that you can see?"

Verse 21. "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." This is a commandment. God does not ask you if you feel like it or if you want to. He says, "This is what I command you. Because I love you, you are to love your brother."

Warren Wiersbe has a comment that I want to quote here. "Spiritual honesty brings peace and power to the person who practices it. He doesn't have to keep a record of lies he has told, and he is not using his energy to cover up. Because he lives in open honesty with the Father, he can live in honesty with other people. Love and truth go together. Because he knows God loves him and accepts him, (even with all his faults), he is not trying to impress others. He loves God, and therefore he loves his fellow Christians."