Friday, 29 May 2020
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 1 John 5:2
Again, as he has repeatedly done, John begins the thought with, “By this.” In this, he is not making an inference based on conduct, but he is saying that we perceive the fact he will state. In other words, one can keep a commandment for whatever reason and actually not know that he is doing right. If the speed limit is 40mph, and someone is driving 40mph, it doesn’t mean he knows that is the speed limit. He is simply doing what is right without knowing it.
Or, a person can know that he is doing right by keeping a commandment. “The speed limit is 40mph, and I am keeping that law. Therefore, I am doing right.” This latter person is who John is referring to. “By this,” is equated to, “I mentally understand the situation.” Understanding this, John says, “By this we know that we love the children of God.”
In knowing the commandment he will refer to, and in applying the precepts of that commandment, one can know that he loves the children of God. John noted loving the brethren (who are the children of God) in 1 John 3:14 –
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” 1 John 3:14
In loving the brethren, we know that we have passed from death to life. But how do we know we love the brethren? He tells us with the words, “when we love God and keep His commandments.” John has spoken of loving God “because he first loved us” in the previous chapter. Right after that, he said that if someone says, “I love God,” but he hates his brother, he is a liar. So how can we know we love God? It is if we “keep His commandments.”
This is exactly what Jesus (who is God) was referring to in John 14 –
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15
The two are united in one thought – “If, then you will.” John referred to this in 1 John 2 –
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:3, 4
To understand what he was saying in those verses, refer to corresponding commentary, but in short, this is not referring to the Law of Moses. We are to believe in the Son, and we are to love our brethren. In this, we can know we love the children of God. This is because one who believes in Christ Jesus is believing in the Head of a body comprised of people. One cannot love the Head without loving the body. They are one. Therefore, John’s words perfectly explain the relationship between believers, who are the children of God.
Life application: John’s words bring up a point that needs to be readdressed. If some are the children of God, and we can know how they are children of God, then this by default means that those who don’t comply with what he says are not children of God. When we consider what he says, we will see that the vast number of people in the world don’t qualify as “children of God.” So, what does he say? It is –
1) “when we love God,” and
2) “keep His commandments.”
He says these in a united way. We cannot love God if we don’t keep His commandments. Likewise, the reciprocal is true. If we don’t keep His commandments, we prove that we don’t love Him. This brings up the need to review 1 John 4:20, 21 –
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
The commandment is love – specifically love for the brethren. If we don’t have this love, which John has been so clearly explaining, then we are not keeping God’s commandments and we therefore don’t love God.
Let us believe in the Son, honor the Son, and love the Son. In this, we bring honor to the Father. But, in loving the Son – who is the Head of the body – we are to love the body which is comprised of His people. If you are having troubles loving your brethren in Christ, you are not alone. But you should make every attempt to be the pleasing soul God wants you to be by demonstrating true and sacrificial love for your fellow Christians.
Lord Jesus, move our hearts so that we will be able to love our fellow Christians as You have directed. Because this is Your commandment for us, we truly desire for our lives to reflect what You have said. Take away the feelings of enmity we may have towards others, and mold us into the thoughtful, loving people that You intend us to be. To Your praise we pray. Amen.