“Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
Interestingly, many people profess to know the character of God — He is love. And because God is love, they are free to do anything they want. “He will understand, anyway.” For them, God’s love is more of something to be received than a standard to aim for.
This kind of thinking is a sad reality. It shows an utter lack of understanding about the love of God and the God of the Bible – a loving yet holy and just God.
In a recent article that showed which books in the Bible focus on love most, the clear winner is the first epistle of John (1John). “If you read this book, you’ll understand why. John is writing to help Christians separate truth from lies, brothers from enemies, light from the darkness. In many of John’s arguments, love is the key to understanding the difference. Specifically, John believes that the way to recognize true Christians is by their love for one another.” (Jeffrey Kranz, Overview Bible, Nov2016).
When the apostle John wrote in this epistle that God is love, it is not to tell us how God should respond to the love of man. But instead, how believers should live in obedience after knowing God’s kind of love for man.
We need to understand that God is the essence of love. “Love is inherent in all He is and does. That even His judgment and wrath are perfectly harmonized with His love.” (Mac Arthur Study Notes, 1John 4:7-8). The greatest act of God’s love was demonstrated through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). We are all sinners and our sin separates us from God. Left on our own, we are bound for hell. All our good works cannot save us and will not stand right before a Holy and Righteous God. This is why Jesus had to come, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and be raised up on the third day to conquer death once and for all, for all who believe in Him. At the cross, the justice and love of God were displayed. GOD’S JUSTICE – someone needs to pay for man’s sins and Christ did this; and GOD’S LOVE – God sent His son, Jesus, to die on man’s behalf. And for those who truly believed and received this greatest gift that God gave through Jesus Christ, they experienced God’s love. They understand the God who is love.
Knowing that God is love, John reminded the true believers how they should respond. They should stand firm with their faith in who Jesus Christ is. And as they believe this truth about Christ, their love for Him will cause them also to love others who have joined God’s family through their faith in Christ. And this love will finally be proven real when believers love one another and God as they obey His commands. John knew that on his own, the believer could not accomplish all these things. That is why, in 1 John 4:13, John tells us that the Holy Spirit is present to help every believer.
God is love. But the same God is also a righteous and just God. The next time we think about His love, let us reflect on how much we have responded to this love.
Do I have the right faith in Christ that will move me to love God and others so that I will find joy in obeying His commands?
Lesson Reflection on iStudy 1 John Lesson 5
By Jo Isaac