Saturday, 16 May 2020
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
In verse 4:7, John implored his reader to love one another. In 4:8, he noted that God is love. In 4:9, he then said that the love of God was manifested toward us in the sending of His Son. With that train of thought in mind, John now says, “In this is love.” In the Greek, the word love is preceded by an article, “the love.” This indicates the very nature of God. His love simply is – it doesn’t increase or decrease, but it is constant, complete, and perfect.
John will now define what this love of God is. Yes, it was manifest toward us in the sending of Jesus, but what does that really signify? Understanding this, he says, “not that we loved God.”
It may be true that we love God, but that is not the highest and most perfect manifestation of love. Even if we love God, it is not an all-encompassing love. We get busy with life and forget the other things going on around us. We forget the time. And, we forget that God is even there. Our love toward God, if it even exists, is a directed thought which is not always being displayed or even considered. However, such is not the case with God.
John has already noted that God is love. There is no increase or decrease in His love. It is – always. Further, it is unconditional. That is seen first in the words, “but that He loved us.” Think of the vilest person you know of that is alive today – maybe a politician. What if that person becomes a Christian tomorrow? What would that mean to you? Probably relief that he finally came to his senses. Now, you can finally start to like him.
But God already loved that person. There is no time He didn’t love him, and His love for him did not increase after he received Jesus. As John says, “and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Nothing changed from yesterday to today from God’s perspective – only from ours. God sent Christ Jesus before anyone received Christ Jesus. Therefore, He loved you before you came to Him. He loved Paul of Tarsus before he came to the Lord. And, he loved Vile Vince the politician before he changed his ways.
Our love is an after-the-fact love. God’s love is a before, during, and after the fact love. God is love. And so God sent Christ Jesus to be for us what we could not be for ourselves. He became our “propitiation.”
God cannot look upon man with favor. Not because He doesn’t love him, but because He is Holy, Just, and Righteous. Because of sin, man is none of those things. Therefore, God must judge man’s sin, or He is none of those things. But because God is Mercy, Grace, Truth, and Love, God was willing to judge the sin – not in the man, but in His Son – in order to bring about a propitious relationship between the two. This is what the word “propitiation” signifies.
The word in Greek is hilasmos. It is found only here and in 1 John 2:2. It is an offering intended to appease an angry and offended party. Christ died on the cross, shedding His blood. Through His sacrifice, He provided the necessary propitiation which was foreshadowed in the Day of Atonement offering found in Leviticus 16 and 23.
Jesus Christ is the actual point of propitiation, but more, it is because of His death that this is so. To get a better understanding of the meaning of this word, and another word used by Paul, hilastérion, please refer to the commentary on 1 John 2:2.
In short, and understanding these two words, the implication is that without Christ Jesus, there would be no atonement for sin. But in Him, there is full atonement for all sin. And this offering was made before any person was saved. Thus, this is the highest expression of love. Its Source is God, its message is one of restoration, and it was sent out before any love toward God existed from those who would receive it. In this is love.
Life application: While we are looking out for ourselves and never considering God in our little world, God never forgets His creatures. He loves us regardless of how we have considered Him.
Our lack of love, resulting in sin, has caused a rift between us, and that rift needs to be mended. And so, God sent Jesus. It is He who restores felicity between God and man when we accept His work. Think on this today. Consider the perfection of what God has done for us through Jesus! He loved us, and He loves us.
O God, that You would send Jesus for us! It is more than we could ever imagine. What a great and splendid love You possess to restore us to You through the blood of Christ! May we never forget the majesty of this act, and may we never fail to proclaim it to others! Restoration and life are available because of Jesus. Hallelujah and Amen!