1 John 3
People get in relationships for all types of reasons and love is not always the reason. Now one may say they love the other but that word is often used as a tool to manipulate. People of the world don't even know what love truly is so they will use the word not even knowing that their motive for saying it is impure. As the Tina Turner song says "What's love got to do with it?" Well, for those in Christ; everything!
1 John 3:1-3 says "it is the great love of God that we are called His children, and we are being purified until we become like Him." It is not by works that we are transformed it is by the love of God. In this world, you have to earn someone's love by your performance in Christ we are loved simply because God is love.
How can we tell who is a child of God and who is not? The love factor! Those who do not know God, sin, continually, for they are of the Devil. Those who do know God do not sin, for they are righteous, they don't produce evil but destroy it. To know God is to know love, to know love is to do what is right. Those who do not know God cannot know love and therefore will behave in the opposite of love which is hate, and to hate, is to steal, kill, and destroy, which is very the nature of evil.
It is Christ's love in laying down His life for us that has set the example for us to follow. Love is known through action! If we have received God's love we will be transformed and likewise, give our lives for others. As 1 John 3:18 says "we must not love in word or speech but with truth and action. Love is the force within that moves us into obedience where we step out in God's call by serving those He has put before us with compassion.
The charge, therefore, is to ask the Lord to be filled with His love, for it is the only way to come out of sin and live a righteous, God-centered life.
1 John 4
Like I said from the previous devotion, people get in a relationship for numerous reasons and love is not always at the top of the list. One may say they love you but love is more than a word it must be backed up with action. There are three forms of love, Phileo which is friendship-based love, Eros which is sensual-based love, and then Agape which is unconditional love. The world can experience the first two but without God, they cannot experience the third for that love comes from Him. The love of the world will never satisfy the longing for the complete full expression of love which includes Agape. No matter how great a man or woman you are in a relationship with if they do not know the love of God, the love they offer you is limited and will never be enough.
Here in 1 John 4 John is writing to help fellow believers discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. He is telling them that they need to test the spirits. Just like when someone introduces their boyfriend or girlfriend to their parents and the parents test the individual if they are worthy of their child so God wants us to test the people we are in a relationship with. Just because someone says they are a Christian and use the name of Jesus does not mean they are operating in the right spirit.
A group called the Gnostics was spreading a message that denied the humanity of Jesus and John was writing in response. The Gnostics were speaking as if they were hearing from the Holy Spirit, but they were as John says in verse 3 speaking under the influence of the spirit of the antichrist. This spirit is cunning it doesn't blatantly deny Jesus Christ we must really listen and discern or we will be deceived just like Adam and Eve with twisted truth. We who know God have been given discernment, anything that doesn't sit well in our spirit we must question, for those who know God listen to the truth and those who do not love listening to lies.
So what does love got to do with it? Everything! If Jesus did not die as a human then we are still lost in our sin. The Gnostics denied the humanity of Jesus so they had not received Him, therefore they did not know God's love, and if they were truly observed that would be clear. It is by the fruit that we shall know them. God's children are marked by love the Devil's children are marked by hate. We will see through the rest of this chapter that those who know God, know love.
We can see who is born of God as it says in verses seven and eight by love. God's nature is love so therefore anyone born from Him will have in them the nature of His love. The way God displayed His love towards us was in sending to us His only Son so that we might live through Him. Love is displayed in sacrifice and that is what God did. It is through this love that sin is defeated. Sin defined is separation from God, but by us confessing that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, relationship with God is restored and through that relationship, sin is overcome. It is the love of God that saved us, it is the love of God that keeps us, it is through this love that we remain in Him.
How do we know we are growing in His love? The lack of fear! As it says in verse 18 "perfect love casts out fear." This year has been a reality check for the church it has been the opportunity to see the condition of our heart! Are we people of faith or people of fear? Do we truly know God or not? If we have fear then His love has not yet been perfected in us. When someone builds something that can easily fall apart they need to start over again. Some of us need to start over again with God, to make sure we truly gave Him our heart, and ask Him to help us trust Him and to grow in faith.
Another love test is how we treat others! If we have received the love of God then we love others, no excuses! If there is hate in our hearts for others no matter who they are, whether democrat or republican, black or white, rich or poor, if we lack love for them then we have not been perfected in God's love.
So fear and hate are the commonalities of those who do not know God! You can go to church all you want and serve in whatever capacity but if these works of the flesh are habitually present in your life then you need to come running to God for salvation and deliverance. So what does love got to do with it? Everything!