Genuine Faith Brings Genuine Love Which Brings Genuine Obedience – November 11, 2022

When my boys were young, I used to take them and set them up on tables or platforms and tell them to jump, and I would catch them. At first, they did not have much faith in my abilities. However, they gained more confidence that I would catch them as time passed. So much so that I had to be on alert. They would climb onto something, say my name, and jump. They came to the point that they genuinely believed I would catch them. In this text, John wraps a bow around the tests of genuine faith that he laid out in the book.

At the end of his first epistle, John takes the three topics of the letter and demonstrates that he did not choose them arbitrarily but intentionally wove them together. The one who believes loves; the one who loves obeys; and the one who obeys believes. He begins 1 John 5 by informing us of the results of genuine faith. If we have genuine faith, if we are genuine believers, and if we are a genuine church, these things will be true about us. John Stott notes, “It is as impossible to love the children of God without loving God as it is to love God without loving his children. A family relationship unites the two loves.”

In the first five verses, John reveals that genuine faith in Christ results in obedience. In verse three, John demonstrates that we obey out of love. We can state all we want that we love God. However, if we do not obey the things God asks of us, we do not actually love God. Obedience is the sign of love. Consider Christ’s words in John 14, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (15, 21). 

Further, John reminds us that obeying God is not hard as believers. It is not a burden to obey God’s commands. They are not a burden to follow. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus informs us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. God’s laws are not crushing or oppressive. We must contrast this with the burden that human religion places on people. The Pharisees were so worried that people would not obey God that they created additional rules to ensure that everyone obeyed God. They failed to understand that obedience comes from a love for God. And so Christ condemned them. When the early church was established, the Judaizers did the same thing as the Pharisees. They were so concerned that people would not obey God that they added rules to people’s standing with God.

Obedience does not come out of compulsion. Obedience comes out of love. We can attempt to change people’s behavior through rules. But until God changes their hearts, we will not have changed them. Disobedience is not a rule problem. It is a heart problem. It is a love problem. People who love God and have genuine faith will delight in obeying God.