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Christian Obedience – 1 John 5:2-4


Christian Obedience

Text. 1 John 5:2-4a
Is there an objective test for brotherly love? John suggests that there is. It is obedience. We will know that we love God’s people, when we love God, and obey him. So we need to examine these verses and see what John is speaking about:

1. The Background to Obedience.
God demands that we obey him. He tells us this over and over again in his word. There are two many references, but here’s a few:-
1 Samuel 15:22 Jesus said:- John 14:15 John 14:21 John 15:10

R C Sproule defines our obedience to God’s commandments like this: The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honour and glory.

Let’s just take a wee moment or two for some serious self-examination. Let’s just confine ourselves to the ten commandments, shall we? Just for ease of reference.

  • What about having no other God before the Lord?
  • What about the command to keep the Sabbath holy?
  • What about murder? Matthew 5:21
  • What about adultery? The same principle applies. We wouldn’t dream of cheating, but how often do we fall foul of this warning… Matthew 5:27
  • What about theft?

The law is God’s ideal for us. It tells us what God wants if we are to live to please him, it gives us a standard to aim for, and it helps us to know what we must repent of when we fall short, knowing that we are already forgiven. Yet it is by loving and obeying God, as we have seen, that our loving relationships with others are free to develop.

We should be applying law and gospel principles to all our relationships with other people.
Family relationships. When Christ is present in a home…
A husband will love and serve his family by being a proper spiritual head of that home, seeking to surround his family with prayer, to graciously witness to them, to raise up his children in the knowledge of the Lord…
A wife will love and serve her family, through her devotion to Christ her prayers and the practical outworking of his love.
Both will remember who they are and what Christ has done for them. They will consider each other, and they will forgive each other as Christ has forgiven them.
Employment relationships. Put Christ first. Remember that whatever you put your hand too, you are to do it as if you were doing it for the Lord. See your work as your vocation. Whatever it may be, and it will become a means of loving and serving others.
You can see how important this is. It can be applied to every other area of our lives too, to our friendships, our civic responsibilities and even our church relationships. See the world and your place in it through the lens of Law and Gospel.

2. The Burden of Obedience.
his commandments are not grievous.
The law lies upon the unsaved as a great burden – yet now John is telling us that his commands (Christ’s commands, which are the commands of God – the third use of the law) are not burdensome. Now, that’s important for us, for we want to see that walking in obedience to the Lord is not a matter that weighs us down – it is a delight! The psalmist describes the attitude of the justified man in Psalm 1:2 (But be careful, for most commentators regard this as a Messianic psalm )

Now, how can a burden be a delight? Let’s imagine we have to lift a great weight. How can we make the burden seem lighter?  We might offer some good advice, like…

  • Get some help! If we carry a great weight on our own, it can break our back, but if another comes and helps us, especially if that one is much stronger and able than us, what a relief that is!
  • Get to know the person whose burden you are carrying! Perhaps because we are doing it because we love the person we are carrying it for!
  • Believe in what you are doing! Many people have borne great difficulties, and great burdens, because they believed in what they were doing. They believed that to bear that weight was the right thing to do.
  • Know that the burden is blessing! Sometimes we bear a burden, because we know that ultimately it will be for our own good.

But ultimately, the burden of obedience to Christ’s commands is not burdensome, for when God demands our obedience, he gives us the strength to bear that burden, and he gives us the Holy Spirit, the presence of God with us, to help us as we obey him. Every step of the way, Jesus walks with us, urging us to continue in the way. And we carry this burden of obedience out of love for him, for he has loved us! And we believe in him, and overcome the world through our faith, our belief in Him. And we know, that ultimately obedience is right for us. Matthew 11:28-30

So, are we willing to submit to God, and to seek to obey him, even knowing that our obedience cannot ever be perfect? 1 Samuel 15:22,

© Bob McEvoy

From → 1st John

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