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, ESV)
Today’s devotion verse found me back in probably my favorite book in the bible, (New Testament at least). Verse three seems simple enough but as always we must take things in context and invite the Whole Counsel of God’s Word.
One of the ways I breakdown text is to ask some simple questions about the verse:
Who: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” John is speaking to the Body of Christ, the universal church. Everyone who believes, not some superficial belief by the kind of Faith that comes only from saving Grace and a true conversion.
What: “we love the children of God, when we love God” various bibles have different headings above these verses denoting the theme. The NLT says “Faith in the Son of God” the ESV says “Overcoming the World” for me the theme (or the what) here has to be Love. John uses the word 4 times in the first three verses.
When: When is it we are expressing our love for God and fellow believers? Every time “we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome”. As, believers saved by Grace, we should not feel like God’s Commandments (Exodus 20:1-20 and Matthew 22:37-39 ) are in anyway a burden or somehow oppressive to our lives. In fact the opposite we should be looking upon them as a gift to guide our daily walk.
How: So how are we to keep His commandments in such a sinful world? It can not be done on our own, we would fail miserably. This may seem a daunting task, after all we fallen creatures by nature and can never keep all the commandments that is why we needed a Savior. “God overcomes the world…”We can do it because we have a Savor in Christ Jesus that overcame the world and won the victory over evil for us ( Romans 6:6-11 )
Why: “For this is the love of God”. Why is it that we should obey these commandments? To express our Love for God. Again we can not dismiss the fact that for true believers this is not a burden but a way of life. We owe God a debt we can never repay (Calvary), we call Him Abba, Father, this should be a natural outpouring of our Faith and Love for Him ( 1 John 4:19 ).
Verses 1-5: True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also; and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God’s commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly. Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ’s example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.