“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” ~ 1 John 5:2 (KJV)
Have you ever read a verse over and over and then one day see it differently. Well that was what happened to me in studying for a sermon on 1 John 5:1-5. What I had not noticed before was that John does not make the connection of loving the children of God by what we do to the children of God, directly, but by how we love God and obey His commands. If this does not strike you let me repeat; we show our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ by loving God and obeying His commandments.
What struck me was the connection between love and law, His commandments. A connection that most believe is nonexistent since most see love and law being at odds with each other. Ask the average professing believer what they think of the law as it relates to love and you will either get a blank stare or more than likely they will say that they are not connected. But, John after speaking throughout his letter about the life of the believer, says that love for one another is shown by loving God and being obedient to God’s commandments, living out His law.
Now most may not have an issue with the connection to loving God and if obeying God’s command is about His call to love one another they may also not see an issue. However, the passage says “commandments” and thus this is not speaking to only one command of God but about His law, His commands. How can this be so? How can obeying God’s law reveal love for each other?
As I thought through this it became clear that as we love God and obey His commands we do what not only glorifies God, our first duty, but we do what God sees as best for one another. When we seek to show love for one another by our own standards we end up with all sorts of problems as we try by our own devises to show love. We need to see that God has set out in His word how we show love for one another and that includes obeying His law. Not just that part of God’s law we like but all of His law as reveled in His word. God’s word is sufficient for all of life and that is why we are to obey His commands and when we do so we not only show our love for God but also for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
An example of this is when Paul speaks to the Corinthian church about the man that was having an affair with his father’s wife (1 Cor 5). Paul tells them that in their efforts to seem accepting they did what not even the world would accept. To deal with this Paul tells them they should discipline the man as God’s word speaks to dealing with sin and not overlooking it. That they need to obey God’s word and commands and not come up with their own law. This is all done not out of retribution but out of love for the man as the goal is reconciliation, to them and God.
We need to regain a view of the law that is not at odds with love and grace. The opposite of law is lawlessness and that is what God’s law deals with and as believers we need to seek to obey the law and help our brothers and sisters in the Lord do so as well. Is it not loving to be used by God to help His children stay on the path His law gives us to live on or to let them wander of God’s path. God will do what is necessary for His children to live lives that glorify Him and we need to seek to help others avoid the discipline that will come from straying.
For more on obeying God’s law and seeing how that work’s itself out as love you can listen to the sermon that led me to look at this subject: Love and Law. I know that for many this is new since for so long the evangelical world as set up a wall between Love and Law, Grace and Law, but that wall does not exist in scripture. Yes, the law is not to be seen as a way to salvation but the law is used by God as a means to lead one to salvation and for the child of God His law is used as the path for life. So let us regain a love for His law and see that this will reveal love, biblical love, for one another.