• January 5, 2018

“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? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).

Practicing Biblical love is not easy. It’s easy to talk about it, but it’s hard to live. Nevertheless, believers are called to continually work at loving one another in deed and truth. That’s why John keeps coming back to it and calling believers to manifest true love in the congregation. He says, ‘You can talk about loving God all you want, but if you don’t love the family of God, then your talk about loving God is empty and vain.’ You see, John is saying that our deeds reveal our heart — our actions show our true nature. In other words, you do what you are. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus said a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree yields bad fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).

What about you? Do you demonstrate true love to other believers? Do you say you love God? That’s what every Christian is saying by attending worship service on Sunday morning. We worship God because we love Him. Is your love demonstrated as true by your love to fellow Christians? John goes on to say at the end of vs. 20: “For the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” You see, it’s impossible to love the invisible God and not love the visible saints. In other words, love for God expresses itself in loving concern for fellow Christians, and a lack of such love proves a lack of love to God.

John is testing the sincerity of our love for God by our love towards one another. Anybody can “say” but only the Christian can “do” because of the power of the Holy Spirit who works in the believer’s heart. That’s why John addresses the lip service many times in this epistle: 1 John 1:6: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Ch. 2:4: “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” You don’t have a saving relationship with God if you live in habitual disobedience of God’s commandments. Another lip service that John attacks is the lie that we can know God and yet deny His Son. He wrote in Ch. 2:22-23: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.“ You cannot have a relationship with the Father and deny what the Bible teaches about His Son, Jesus Christ.

And the lip service that John deals with in our text is the lie that says: “Oh, I love God, but I don’t love the brethren.” John says it doesn’t matter what you say if it’s not followed by actions of love. We read in James 2:17, “Faith without works is dead.” So, if a person’s actions contradict his words then he’s a hypocrite — a liar — he’s play acting. What message do your actions towards other believers demonstrate to the watching world — true love for God or only a going through the motions? “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

Category: Scott Henry

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