the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
In last week's article I referenced 1 John 5:2-3, which reads, The fact that we love God Himself, and obey His commands, is a proof that we love God's children. Love for God means obedience to His commands; and His commands are not irksome (Weymouth Translation). I commented on that passage by writing, “Keeping the commandments of God is evidence of love toward God and his children. Hence, love is primarily about how we act. It is not enough to say we love the Lord and our neighbor, we must show it.” Yet how does obedience to God's commands prove our love for fellow Believers?
The fact is, there are many reasons we may love others. Nonetheless, true love toward other Christians is revealed in love of God and sincere love toward God is always a matter of obedience. There is no other way we can show affection to the Lord. And anyone who truly loves the Father will love his children as well. In other words, love for God's children must flow from a love for God in order to be genuine. Since love for God is only unfeigned if we obey his laws any so-called love for God's children that is not rooted in obedience to God is spurious.
For example, someone might say he loves the brethren, enjoys their company, looks forward to getting together with them and is disappointed when his schedule does not allow for regular fellowship. However, if that same fellow refuses to obey the law of God, his declaration of love for the brethren is just hot air. His love is really for himself – the opposite of Christian love. Instead of thinking of others more highly than himself he is interested in maintaining an atmosphere that allows him to feed his own needs. This doesn't mean he never does anything for anyone else; it means he does his acts of “service” in order to fuel his own ego. The amazing thing is how easy it is for people to convince themselves they are loving God and his children simply because their circle of friends is made up of other Believers.
You see, the Bible tells us we are supposed to think of others more highly than ourselves, but we cannot do that if we don't know how the Bible defines it. So, to love God and obey him requires we know how he defines obedience – all along the line. We cannot be satisfied with a middling knowledge of the ten commandments. Instead we need to consider all of the Bible in light of Christ's fulfillment of the law. We must accept that there is not a square inch of this universe exempt from the authority of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus, toleration of gossip, anger without cause, participation in leftist politics, failure to protect vulnerable members of society – all of this shows we don't really love God because we don't keep his commandments. Additionally, it is proof we don't love the brethren because to love others is to obey the law and love does no harm. In short, failure to understand and obey biblical directives concerning any aspect of life means we do not properly love God nor his children. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10 NKJV).
Christian living is impossible for the self-centered, self-satisfied person. He may attend Sunday services, Monday morning Bible study, mid-week prayer and participate in the special events but unless he grows in understanding and obedience toward God's law he does not truly love.
Since none of us can perfectly obey God's law, are we condemned for our weakness? I will be addressing this issue in three weeks.