1 John 5:1-3
John’s Fresh Way of Saying Things
Repetition is the “mother of learning.” This is as true for adults as it is for children. But even though the Apostle repeats himself, he will arrange his thoughts in different orders providing fresh angles on what he is saying. He does so here.
Let me show how John does this in verse two: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” On the surface, this appears to be an odd way of saying things. We understand, “We know that we have passed out of death unto life because we love the brothers” (3:14), that love of our brothers is a witness to our salvation. We understand our Lord’s words when he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
But here it seems that John is saying that if one loves God and obeys his commandments, he will love his brothers—which makes perfect sense and says the same thing as that above—but simply says it in a different way. John is saying that if we love God and keep his commandments, we will love our brothers; that is, loving our brothers will be a natural consequence of loving God and keeping the commandments. But to word this as he does in verse two strikes me as rather odd. Maybe it’s just me. But I do think John is a master of saying the same thing in new and fresh ways—the task of every preacher (Matthew 13:52).
I know that I love the brethren when I love God and obey His commandments, for love of brethren flows from love of God and obedience to Him. I cannot love the brethren without loving God first, and I certainly cannot hope to obey God unless I love Him first. And the only way God’s commandments would not be burdensome to me is if I love God and so desire to please Him. And how does it happen that I love God? Is it that I believe in Him? But how did that come about? Because those who believe in Him and love Him have been born of Him as John says in verse one. It all begins with the work God does in our hearts through birthing us again unto saving faith and love of Him. We must be born again to believe in Him, love Him, keep His commandments, and love the brethren.
“The wind (Spirit) blows where it (he) wishes,” Jesus said (John 3:8). Pray that the Lord will send His Spirit to our ailing country and wayward churches that souls may be reborn to truly love again.