Tuesday, 19 May 2020
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 1 John 4:13
John begins this verse with words he has used several times, “By this.” He uses this term to open the door to his coming thought, which is to tell us how we know that the reciprocal relationship between us and God truly exists
Here John restates what he has already said in part of verse 3:24 –
And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
But it must also be noted that verse 3:24 gives the reason for this. It is a reason tied directly the reason John just gave for stating verse 4:13 (above) –
“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him” (1 John 3:24).
“If we love one another, God abides in us” (1 John 4:12).
The connection between the two is that the commandment of Christ Jesus is that we love one another (as seen in 1 John 3:23). The seemingly drifting thoughts of John are not drifting at all. He is precise and careful to repeat and build upon his own words to show, time and again, what is proper concerning our relationship with God in Christ. Understanding this, his words of this verse can be more carefully analyzed. He begins with, “By this we know that we abide in Him.”
In John 3:24, he said we could know that He (meaning Christ) abides in us. Here, he says that we can know that we abide in Him. Christ abides in us, but we also abide in Christ. It is a two-way reality which is also referred to by Paul. An example of each would be –
Us abiding in Christ – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Christ abiding in us – “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27
John has said that we can know that Christ abides in us “by the Spirit whom He gave us” (3:24). That was based on keeping His commandments (as noted above). John now finishes this verse by saying that we can know that we abide in Christ, “and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” Both states – residing in Him, and Him residing in us – are confirmed by the giving of the Spirit.
But the giving of the Spirit must come in some manner. As we have seen already, the keeping of His commandment to love is not a basis for salvation, but a state which comes after salvation. John has already explained how one is saved in Chapter 3, and he has built upon that in Chapter 4. He will continue to write about this in the next three verses, confirming that a person is saved by faith alone, and that confession of that faith is both necessary, and that it is not a work – as some ridiculously claim.
Life application: John’s words of this verse aren’t just an introduction into something new. Rather, they are building upon what he stated in the previous verse, “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”
John is a master of the pen, and he builds carefully and precisely each argument and each point. In fact, he is so careful and so intentional, that his thoughts weave into a colorful tapestry. Each point overlaps above and below each previous and each subsequent point.
Had John said, “No one has seen God at any time…” and stopped, we would be left wondering how we could know God at all. But we aren’t left in that untenable situation. Instead, he tells us that love is one way of knowing Him. Another is because “He has given us of His Spirit.” This doesn’t mean we receive an actual slice of the Holy Spirit, but rather we receive His indwelling – which is a seal of ownership.
As the Wycliffe Bible commentary states, “A believer can never obtain more of the Holy Spirit, for he indwells the Christian’s life in all his fullness. But the Holy Spirit can get more of the believer; that is, he can exercise complete control of the life that is yielded to him.” This thought is confirmed by Jesus’ own words –
“…for God does not give the Spirit by measure” John 3:34.
We are given the fullness of the Spirit, but we often fail to give the Spirit the fullness of ourselves. Yield your life, your actions, and your very soul to the Spirit of God and you will live in complete harmony with your God!
Lord God, that You would send Your Spirit to dwell in us is simply amazing. We stand in awe of the work You did and continue to do on our behalf. Thank You for Jesus and His work which allowed this close and personal relationship. All glory to You, O God! Amen.