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Complete: I John 4:15-21

I John: LIGHT/LOVE
Complete: I John 4:15-21
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday April 24, 2022

Draft, Not Transcript

Life is trying.
 
You know that if you’ve lived here for a bit. 
 
This place can wear you out. Grind you down.
 
However, there is a certain freedom in Christ, in knowing God, and in exercising obedience. There is a certain freedom in radical obedience, and John calls us to live in the freedom of obedience.  Today, if we’ll lean in – we’re going to see John offer up and encouragement that frees us to complete the love of God.

We should desire to respond to that, we should always be looking for incremental improvements unless we have NO sin, and John already spoke about that:

1 John 1:8 (ESV)
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 4:15–21 (ESV)
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
 
Abiding as an act of discipline sounds like something you can muster up the strength to do. I abided today, you could say. What happens to our abiding in times of trial and calamity? When the wheels of all your discipline, effort, and energy have fallen off. 
 
Do we abide?
 
John in 1 John 4:15 reveals a New Testament reality about life as a believer: that God lives in man, and man in God – this is the Christian new life. The man in whom God lies desires to lead a life of obedience. As a believer, knowing God for all He is, in Christ, with His presence dwelling in us, through His Spirit, results in evidence. As John continues in this thought, we’ll see him provide a nugget of encouragement for us who abide with God in this trying life. 
 
16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
 
John keeps pulling us in, reminding us that we have God in us. Those who “know” and “believe” have our knowledge and believe IN something. We know what John is talking about that we know a) God and b) the love of God. One that comes for us while we’re still in sin. 
 
Consider:
 
John 17:26 (ESV)
26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
 
It is the man Jesus through who we KNOW the father:
 
John 14:9 (ESV)
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?
 
Colossians 1:15–20 (ESV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
 
John 1:16–18 (ESV)
16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
 
Jesus’ life and teaching are how we come to know God. Knowledge of His life and teaching is how we’re compelled to be justified and ultimately joined to God. As He said of Himself, in John 17:26, He made God known to them, continues to make Him known, and the love of God for us would be in us, and Christ in us. 
 
Our awareness of our meaningful connection to God in Christ provides the full circle picture of John’s letter. Knowledge of God leads to faith, faith leads to increased awareness of God’s great mercy and love, and God in us bears fruit around us, in love. 
 
17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
 
John 4:34 (ESV)
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
 
How will Jesus “accomplish his work”? He’ll do the work that was prophecies, forth told that he would do. He’ll teleioo, complete, bring to an end, make it “perfect” by completing it by giving us knowledge of the father that leads to saving faith, redemption/justification, and ultimately fruit-bearing.
 
Perfect/accomplish are the same word we have in verse 17. Love is “perfected” – complete or brought to an end. What is the “by this”? Those who Verse 15 confess Christ as messiah, abide in Him, God abides them – AND who verse 16, we have the love of God in us, abide in that love. 
 
By that, God’s love finds its end in us.
 
Hidden away in verse 17 is a nugget from John subtlety mentioned in the swirl of encouragement to take on the Godly trait of love is this “so that we may have the confidence for the day of judgment.”
 
Earlier, he said something similar but subtly different:
 
1 John 4:12 (ESV)
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
 
In 1 John 4:12, love is perfected in us. Here in verse 17 is perfected with us, so as we God, knowing God and believing in Him, Him present in us, His love is with us and flows through us. This presence of God gives us a kind of confidence in Jesus’ finished work on our behalf. It makes us KNOW by faith in the truth of God and His word – as John encouraged in verse 10 that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. 
 
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
 
John has encouraged us that our sin is dealt with and there is no more account to be made. God is with those of us who know and have faith. We approach judgment day without fear. Why:
 
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 
1 John 2:1 (ESV)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
 
1 John 2:2 (ESV)
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
 
1 John 4:10 (ESV)
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
 
This is why he works up to the nugget of assurance in verse 17. It’s why we have confidence in the day of judgment.
 
19 We love because he first loved us.
 
He loved us first. We weren’t in a neutral place or passive love when He loved us, but we hated him.
 
Romans 1:28–30 (ESV)
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
 
 
John 15:18 (ESV)
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
 
Titus 3:3 (ESV)
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
 
Our history of hatred for God is why Ephesians 2:4-8 stands incredibly in the face of that truth:
 
Ephesians 2:4–8 (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
 
Where does the picture of God’s love, given to you while you hated Him, echoed in Ephesians 2:4-8, need to radiate out from your life today? Who do you need to radically, without cause, merit, or need for any return need to give love away, and perfect the love of God in you? 
 
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
 
Is it convicting, right? 
 
Maybe you’re not feeling it often. I’m not either. The good news for both of us is our feelings aren’t the measure. Verse 12 comes along like a hammer and commands that we love.
 
21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
  
That’s it. That is the command. 
 
Are you not feeling like being loving?  Remember, verse 17 encouraged us to perfect love – not to remove flaws from it, but to satisfy its calling, be actively about Christian love. Put your pride aside and radiate the very self-sacrificing love that loves while hated and without any desire for a specific return. 
 
We love in response to the command, which is completely freeing – let us be obedient to love.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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