Love has been maligned of late by those who slander it with humanistic fleshly elucidations. Love is defined as not holding anyone accountable to the standard of God’s Word, so that any and all manner of perversion is smiled upon with a benevolent grin. Those who believe that God has spoken and has declared the truth regarding righteousness, godliness, holiness, and obedient living are viewed as abusive and unkind. They have the temerity to say that promiscuity, homosexuality, adultery, heresy, false doctrine, drunkenness and blasphemy are sin, and require that those who claim the name of Christ live by the standard of the Holy Scriptures. Studying the Word of God reveals the standard that we must adhere to when we love one another. Normally and erroneously, the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, is appealed to for those who desire to dilute the righteous standard that God calls us to live by. Since God’s love is never at odds with His holiness or our godliness, I would like to look at John’s first epistle to see what this apostle, whom Jesus loved, has to say about that exalted evidence of faith in the believer’s life, love.
Three times in 1 John the apostle John appeals to perfected love as he writes to defend biblical faith from spurious interlopers claiming to know Christ. Perfected love is a powerful evidence of the life of Christ within the born again believer. Those who have a sham faith cannot approximate genuine love because it is wrought in the heart of God’s children by His Holy Spirit. I would like to start with the third incidence of this phrase first because it rests upon the foundation of God’s salvation in the life of the believer. Then I will continue with the first and second occurrence of the phrase in that order.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in the world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:17-19
Perfected love assures us of the salvation that we have through faith in Jesus Christ and of our reception into heaven because we boldly follow the example that Jesus Christ left us. We do this because we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
…giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14
The love of the Father wrought salvation for us through our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the propitiation for our sins and reconciles us to God.
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10
The shed blood of Jesus Christ is the ground of our confidence when we consider the day of judgment because Jesus has taken the punishment that we deserve and has redeemed us from sin and wrath by His love so that just as He lived to the glory of the Father we can also by His Spirit.
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
So then love is perfected in the life of the believer because of the grace of God which is effective in our lives to deliver us from sin, Satan, death, and wrath through His Son Jesus Christ so that we can boldly walk as Jesus walked and with joy contemplate our departure from this earth into the realms of glory in heaven with God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We can be ambassadors on Christ’s behalf because nothing can separate us from the love of the Father which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
In 1 John chapter 2 is the first occurrence of this phrase.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6
God’s love is perfected in us when we keep His word. As we keep His commandments we bear witness to the veracity of our confession of knowing and loving God. By keeping God’s commandments we are also showing our love to fellow believers.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:1-6
Jesus Christ loved the Father and perfectly kept the law which bore witness to His love of the Father. He also demonstrated His love for His disciples, His followers, by keeping God’s commandments. God’s love is perfected in us as we abide in Christ and walked just as He walked. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ we are able to overcome the world, which means we reject each and every belief system that is contrary to the Scriptures, even if that system of belief “appears” to come from the church. By our faith in Christ, we resort to the Word of God to be led into righteous godly living that bears the fruit of love to our fellow believers. It is our faith in Christ and His perfect love for the Father that led Him to grace us with His love by dying on our behalf that gives us the victory to reject this evil world system diabolically opposed to God, His will and His kind loving life, and gives us the power to obey our Father in living godly holy lives that exhibit the life of God within us by rejecting sin and embracing righteousness.
Finally, because of God’s love for us, we prove our faith in Him by loving one another. The apostle wrote all three of his epistles to refute false teachers, false doctrine, and false brethren. The apostle John distinguishes between the false and the true by love for one another.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:7-16
Through the love of God abiding in us by the Holy Spirit we will love one another sacrificially. As God gave His Son for us, so we too will give ourselves to love and serve our brothers and sisters in the Lord. At times, this might mean we must stand for the truth with Christ when all around us are falling for the lie. Through the Holy Spirit we stand for the truth of the Scriptures, the Word that tells us about God’s love and His glorious Son Jesus Christ who is our life, because we love God and the brethren and are compelled to stand against the tide of compromise, error, wickedness, and apostasy; joining with those who through the ages have stood fast for the faith once for all delivered to the saints ensuring its continuance until Christ returns for His own. Other times our love for other believers will be demonstrated by meeting their physical needs.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:16-22
Can’t you just hear the earnest pleading of God through John that we love one another, when the beloved apostle addresses us as little children? As we love one another, we assure ourselves of our love for God and that we are His children. When we obey God’s command to love one another we have great boldness as we approach God with our prayers knowing that He will grant us our petitions. Perfected love displays love for God through loving our brethren.
God’s love perfected in us, His children, is diametrically opposed to the world’s insubordinate “love” that embraces any and all those who reject Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. God’s love perfected in us, His children, guides us to live for Him, obeying Him in all that we say and do. God’s love perfected in us, His children, establishes us in the truth and exhorts us to stay true to Him no matter the cost. God’s love perfected in us, His children, compels us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost. God’s love perfected in us, His children, brings us always to His Word as the only source of truth and leads us to reject the futile sentiments of men. God’s love perfected in us, His children, leads us to love one another for His praise and glory and for one another’s good.
Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5