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God is Love

July 7 2024

Book: 1 John

Audio Download

Scripture: 1 John 4:7-21

Thank you for reading this sermon from Christ Fellowship. I hope and pray that this sermon will be a blessing of grace and truth to you. With that said, let me encourage you not to use this sermon as a replacement for your local church. Christ Jesus did not establish his Church simply for us to consume content. Instead, He calls us to be part of a real, covenant family. 


The word love appears 29 times, so that’s almost two loves per each verse. So I have a lot of love to talk about this morning, which is great. And I think this passage is helpful for us because it answers a lot of questions that we have about love.

Maybe you struggle to even understand what love is, you struggle to believe that you’re loved sometimes, or you struggle to know how to love other people. And so this passage is really helpful because it all connects back to God’s love, God as the source of love. And it answers that question that we ask over and over again, are we loved? And so this passage is a resounding affirmation that God does love us.

And so we’re going to begin starting in verse 7 and read through verse 8. So 1 John 4 verse 7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. So I feel like John would be a really good pastor if he was here today.

As we see throughout this letter, he always, not always, but he begins his address with beloved over and over again. It’s his favorite way to just address his people by saying beloved. So I think I might suggest to Mike that next time we announce something, he just starts it with beloved.

You know, we have coffee and donuts at the church. But that might feel weird, so I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll do that.

But John, he just wants us to know, and he just wants his people to know that they are loved. Loved by him, loved by God, and he wants them to love one another. And if you look at this text, you can see why he wants them to love one another.

He says that love is from God. If you love, you are born of God, and whoever loves, they know God. He even goes so far as to say that if you don’t love, then you don’t actually know God, because God is love.

And so he’s saying the source of all the love that we have comes from God himself. If we’re born from the one who is love, then love is in our DNA, and that’s what comes out of us. That’s what we grow up into.

So his point is that we can only love others if we belong to the one who is love. That also raises a question that we need to answer. What does that statement mean that God is love? So I think we hear this statement skewed in our culture today.

We have different denominations that will maybe say God is love means that we just accept everyone. We don’t call for any repentance of sin. We tolerate sin.

We accept it because God loves everyone. So it’s kind of skewed in that way, but I think it can also be skewed in the other way, where God only loves us based on our obedience. As long as we’re obeying God, then he loves us.

As long as we’re doing good as a Christian, then we have God’s love. So I think the Bible denies both of these errors, both of these misunderstandings of God being love. I think the right understanding that John puts forth here is that everything God does comes from his love.

At the core of who he is, God is love, and all of his works, all of his acts come out of the love that he has. So when God judges sin and he pours his wrath out on sin, even that still comes out of his love because he loves holiness, he loves justice, he loves what is right, what is fair. When he shows mercy and grace to us as sinners, that comes out of his love, his love for his people, for this world.

So nothing that God does can be unloving, and everything that God does comes out of his love. Let’s go ahead and go to verse 9 and 10, where John continues this thought. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him.

In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. So if God is love, then John is saying the love of God is manifested in Jesus Christ. God’s love is shown to us perfectly through Jesus, who has come to die for our sins.

This is where we see God’s love shine the brightest. In order to really understand this love that he has, we need to understand the depth of our sin. We need to know that we all, by our very nature, deserve the wrath of God.

We all walk in sin. We all walk in rebellion to God. Yet Jesus, being the propitiation for our sins, means that he has taken this wrath that we deserve upon himself.

He has taken the punishment that we deserve for our sins and given us life. He takes death upon himself. He gives us life.

He takes our punishment on himself, and he gives us the reward for his obedience. He gives us the righteousness that he has earned and deserves. So this is really the agape love that we’ve talked about the past couple weeks.

It’s an utterly perfect and selfless love that comes out of God. I love how John puts it in verse 10, that love isn’t that we have loved God. Love is that God has loved us first.

Paul makes a very similar statement in Romans 5.8, where he says God shows his love for us, and that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So what can be more loving than a God who looks on a creation that has rebelled against him, who has turned against him, who mocks him? He looks at this creation, and he says, I will sacrifice the person I love most in this world to save you. You people who have turned against me, I’m going to send my only son to take your punishment on himself so that you can be saved.

And so this is a pure, this is unselfish, and this is a sacrificial love. And this is the love that God has for you. God saw you at your very worst.

He saw you at the depths of your sin and your rebellion against him, and instead of turning away, instead of sending his wrath upon you, he was filled with love for you. So filled with so much love that he sent his son for you to die for you, save you from your sin. And so if you’re unfamiliar with the Christian faith, if you’re not a believer this morning, I really urge you to just consider this love.

This love is unlike anything else you will find in this world. It’s not transactional. It’s a love that is free.

It’s a love that does not take from you. It just gives to you. It’s not a love that fades.

It’s an endless love, and it’s not a love that you have to earn. It’s a love that’s given to you because Jesus has paid the price for it. So come and believe in this love.

Believe in Jesus who has died for your sin. God does not love us because we love him. He loves us so that we can love him.

That’s what John’s trying to get across here. This also leads us to verse 11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

So it’s almost as if John is saying, look at how amazing the love of God is. If God has poured out this love for us, how can we not show this love to other people? And this really should stir our hearts when we contemplate how God loves us, the grace that he gives to us through Christ. It should stir our hearts and motivate us to love others.

How can we neglect other people who have wronged us when we’ve wronged God and he’s forgiven us? How can we ignore the weak and the helpless when God has saved us out of our helplessness and out of our weakness? So the selfless love that God gives to us, it transforms us in how we love and allows us to love selflessly as he does. Verse 12. No one has ever seen God.

If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. So John, he starts by making a kind of interesting argument here. He starts with no one has ever seen God and it seems kind of out of place because he just got done talking about the love of God.

But it makes sense if we consider what John says after it. He says no one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

So what John does here, he makes a really incredible comparison. But in order to see it, we kind of have to zoom out from the rest of the passage and go back through the progression that John’s giving to us. So he begins by declaring that God is love.

So he starts there. God is love. All love comes from God.

Then he goes to, we see the love of God in Jesus. In the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s love is displayed. And now he makes that same point, but he says the love of God is now displayed in how we love one another.

In our sacrifice, God’s love is seen. Just as Jesus reveals God through his love, we now reveal God too through our love. And we don’t do it perfectly like Jesus did.

It doesn’t affect salvation. But Jesus, he shows us this example of how to love others and show them the love of God. So it’s incredible that we as humans, as people of God’s creation, we get to reveal him to people through our love.

John’s saying that nobody can see God, but his presence, it dwells among us as we love one another. And this is really why our church family is so important. This is why it’s so important that we know and that we love each other, because this is where we experience the presence of God.

This is where the body of Christ is, right? It’s physical language. Because our lives, they get really difficult throughout the week. I know that a lot of us are maybe stressed with our job.

Maybe you’re stressed with your kids. There’s a lot of illness and there’s a lot of unknowns in the future that cause us to worry. On top of that, we’re all at war with our flesh.

We’re trying to battle against sin. And when we have all this just coming down on top of us in the middle of the week, it’s really hard to see the love of God in those moments. It’s really hard to remember that he is with us in those moments, because it’s a fallen world that we live in.

We’re in a world that tries to do everything it can to distract us from the love of God and to forget that he’s actually there and that he’s present. And this is why we really need each other. We need each other because we show each other the presence of God.

We remind each other that God is here, that he has not abandoned us to our sin. He has not abandoned you to the world and the loneliness that you may feel. So when we come and we hear the gospel proclaimed, when we worship as our church family, when we give to each other and support those who are in need, all of these things, they remind us that God abides in us as a people, that God dwells among his people.

This is really the point that John’s trying to drive home here. So we see this even more in verse 13. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his spirit.

So we’re reassured that God abides in us because we love one another, and we know that we love one another because his spirit is within us. This kind of goes back to the language of being born of God, that whoever has been born of God, they’ve been given a new life in God. And this new life enables them to love one another as Jesus loves us.

And so when we love one another, really what happens is we’re assured that the spirit dwells within us, because the fruit of the spirit, it is love. It’s this love that the spirit is producing within us. Romans 8, 7, and 9, this spells it out pretty clearly as well.

Paul says in this text, for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if in fact the spirit of God dwells in you.

So when we were in our flesh, when we were controlled by our sin, controlled by our sinful nature, we weren’t even able to love one another selflessly. All of our actions came out of a selfish place. We were dead in our sin, dead in our trespasses.

But now, when we love one another, we’re reassured that we’ve been given a new life. When we show the selfless love of God to one another, we know that the spirit dwells within us by the grace of God, and it’s transforming us to look more like him. So our love for one another, it doesn’t bring God to us, it actually shows that God already lives within us.

So it’s there for our comfort, for our assurance. John continues to give assurance the rest of this passage. Let’s go to verse 14 and 15.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And so we know that God dwells in us because we have his spirit, and we also know that God dwells in us because we have professed faith in Jesus as the Son of God.

Paul makes a similar statement in 1 Corinthians, where he says, no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. So this confession of Jesus, this faith that we have in Jesus, even this is a gift from the Spirit, where we come to know, come to believe in the love that God has for us. So our love for one another points us to God abiding in us.

And then our faith that we have in Christ also assures us that we are in God, that God is in us. Verse 16. So we have come to know and to believe that God, believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. So these are the marks of our Christian assurance, that we’ve come to know Jesus, come to believe the love that he has for us, that we’ve come to place our faith in him as our Savior. This is when we fall on our sin, when we fall short, we can go to Jesus, we can know that he has died for us, that we are forgiven of our sins, we can cling to him in faith, be assured that he loves us, and we can be assured that we are in God through the love that we showed to one another.

This is kind of like how if you meet someone, or something, it’s kind of how like if you meet someone you can really tell when they live in the South. If they’ve lived in the South their whole life, you can usually figure that out from how they talk. Maybe they have a Southern drawl, maybe they love country music, maybe they love sweet tea, and so all these things, they kind of point to this person lives in the South.

You want to assume this person lives in New York or anything, but just how you would know they live in the South, in some way you can tell that the South lives in them, is expressed in them, because the whole the culture of the South as a whole, it comes out in this one individual, in the way that they talk, maybe in how they interact with people. So growing up in the South, it’s molded them into someone who represents the South. And so likewise, this is kind of how our love for one another shows that we live in God.

Our love for one another, it’s not just, it doesn’t just show where we live, it shows who we live in. When we love people, it shows that we know of God to love, and that we rest in God to love. And it also shows that God lives in us, that God has grown us up, and he has molded us and shaped us to love one another like he loves us.

And so this love, it shows that God is in us, and that we are in God. And really, this should change how we love people. It should change how we view others, and how we interact with them.

First of all, I think this should humble us. I think if we’re tempted to take pride in how well we serve people, and how well we love people, this should remind us that all of the love that we show to other people comes from God. And it should really, it should drive us to praise him, that he dwells within us, that he’s redeemed us, and that he’s enabled us to love one another.

So it should drive us to humility, praising God who lives within us. But second, this should also comfort us. I know that if you’re like me, you always feel like you should be doing more.

You feel like you’re not loving people well enough, and you feel like God may be displeased that you’re not loving people well enough. And if you’re not loving anyone at all, this may be true. If you’re just locked in your room, not interacting with anyone.

But the very fact that you are loving people shows that God isn’t displeased with you. It shows the opposite, that God actually dwells in you, that he dwells in you with love. And so we don’t have to be burdened by guilt that we’re not doing enough all the time.

We can rejoice that God has actually prepared good works for us to walk in. So we can rejoice in him. We can praise him that he’s enabled us to walk in these good works.

And we can trust him as he leads us to love one another. So this isn’t a condemning love, this is a freeing love that we have that enables us to love, that reassures us that God is in us. And this confidence in God is what John points to in the next verse.

So let’s go to verse 17 here. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. And so think about earlier in our text, in verse 13, John said, if we love one another, then two things are true.

So one, God abides in us, and two, his love is perfected in us. And so John, he just finished explaining what it means that God abides in us, that he lives in us, we live in him. And now for the rest of the passage, he’s going to explain what it means that God’s love is perfected in us.

Which really is a good question to think about, what does it mean that God’s love is perfected in us? What is John saying here? So I think we can all agree, it doesn’t mean that we love one another perfectly. I think what John is getting at is that God’s love is shown to be fruitful within us. God’s love is completed in us.

Because as we abide in God’s love, it achieves the goal that it is set out to do, which is to produce more love, right? This is the love that God has, that it produces even more love within us, and it completes us, it makes us whole in him. And this is what gives us confidence that we’re in God. This is why John talks about confidence when we think about judgment.

This doesn’t mean that we’ll be saved from judgment because of how well we love people. This means that we can be confident that we’ll be saved from judgment, because God has brought us into his family through his son. Through Christ, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God, and we know that we belong in his family.

And if you’re in Christ, then you do belong in his family. You’re a child of God that belongs to him. John says, as he is, so are we in this world.

And so since we’re God’s children, we walk like God’s children. We reflect him in what we do. We bear his image.

We love one another. We’re trying to point people towards our father who has loved us. Like I said earlier, love is in our DNA.

So we know that we walk in love because Christ has saved us. We walk, we have the status that Jesus does as a son of God, that God’s love will never fade for us. We have this assurance because God is a good father.

So no matter how much his children annoy him, ignore him, disobey him, he will never cast his children out of his family. He will teach them. He will discipline them.

But like I said earlier, he is a God of love, and everything he does will be out of his love. So this is the confidence that we have, that if you’re in Christ, you belong in God’s family, and he will never cast his children out. Let’s go to verse 18.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. So John’s saying we’re living in the perfect love of God that drives out our fear. Because as we saw earlier, God’s love, it’s shown in Jesus who has come, and he has died for us on the cross.

And so when Jesus takes this punishment on himself, this means that we don’t have to fear punishment anymore. Punishment has to do with fear, and so when punishment is removed, we no longer have any reason to fear. This is what the perfect love is.

It’s a love that gives us assurance. It’s a love that gives us hope and confidence in God, and it’s a love that completes us. I think we all, this is all the love that we crave.

Every human, they desire this kind of love, a love that is complete and full. Let’s all take a second and think about our middle school and high school relationships. I know we would love to do that this morning, but think about your first crush, and if you’re like me, this was a terrible experience for you.

Because if you were like me, you wanted more than anything to just ask this girl out. Even though I was in like seventh grade, I wanted to ask her out on a date. I wanted to know her because I thought, man, if this girl likes me and I know that she likes me, then everything in my life will be okay.

Everything’s going to be awesome. The only problem was as much as I wanted to ask this girl out being in seventh grade, I was even more scared that she was going to reject me and say no. So everything would be great if she said yes, but if she said no, then my world was over in my mind.

So in the end, I didn’t ask her out because I was too scared that she would say no, which was probably a good thing since I was in seventh grade, and I’m over it now, so not to worry. But the point is we all have this deep desire for love, but we also have this deep fear of being rejected. So we all want to love that we don’t have to fear that we’re going to lose.

And when we come to God, God’s love is all that we want, right? We know that if we’re in God’s love, everything will be okay. Everything will be fine. He’s sovereign.

He’s in control. So we know that His love will fulfill us, and we also know that His love will never cast us out if we’re in Christ. We know that He dwells in us forever.

He abides in us. So it’s a perfect love of God that fulfills us forever, and it’s a love that reassures us we’ll never lose it. So if we’ve been perfected in this love, if this love has come to bear fruit in us and reassure us that we’re in God, then we lack nothing, right? We know we’re complete in God.

And so again, I urge you to consider, if you haven’t professed faith in Christ, know that no other love in this world will satisfy you. All other love in this world, eventually it will run out. Eventually it won’t satisfy you anymore, or it will reject you.

I urge you to come consider this love that God has, a love that will fulfill you and that will never leave you. Let’s go to verse 19. We love because He first loved us.

And so perfect love, it drives out our fear, drives out our fear of condemnation, our fear of judgment, but it also transforms how we love one another. This is really the beautiful picture of the Christian life, that it’s just a cycle of, we receive God’s love and we give God’s love to one another. It’s actually very, very simple.

We’re loved by God. We love other people. This is what John is trying to get them to believe.

He calls them beloved over and over again, because that’s who they are. In the core of their being, they are beloved. And that’s who we are.

We’re people who are loved by God and we’re people who love one another. Verses 20 through 21. If anyone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar.

For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this is the commandment we have from him. Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So going back to 21, or 20, this is an interesting argument that John makes here. He’s saying, remember, he’s writing to a group of people who are in the midst of apostasy. They’re in the midst of false teaching.

And it’s likely that some of these false teachers, they’re practicing a form of mysticism, where you go, you retreat by yourself, you go deep into prayer, deep into meditation, you’re seeking this spiritual experience from God. Which sounds great, but the only problem was they weren’t loving God’s people. They were neglecting God’s people.

They were even, as John says, hating God’s people. And so really they’re showing that they don’t actually love God. He’s saying that they can’t love a God who they do not see if they’re not loving his people who are right in front of them.

This is kind of like what he’s getting at here. They can’t love God, yet fail to serve his people. This would be like saying you love the father of a family, but when that father leaves the house, you seek to harm his kids.

So if you’re going to harm his kids, you’re showing that you really don’t care about the father. You actually hate the father because you’re harming what matters most to him. You’re harming what he loves the most.

And so this is why we have the command to love one another. Ultimately, our love for God is shown in how we love his children, how we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that parents are really pleased.

Nothing makes them happier when they see their kids just loving each other, just forgiving each other, sharing with each other. I know it just fills their parents’ heart with joy when they see their kids walk in love for one another. So this is what we’re called to as a church family.

We’re called to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re called to walk in obedience, forgiveness of each other, giving selflessly to each other, and just being a family because that’s what pleases God, and that’s what fills us. And nowhere do we see this love more clearly than in Christ.

I think the biblical picture of Jesus that we sometimes forget is Jesus as our big brother. We talk about him as the son of God, and if we’re sons and we’re daughters of God, this makes Jesus our brother, the first son of God. And Jesus, he’s a perfect older brother.

We know that older brothers, they’re supposed to look out for their younger siblings, right? And Jesus, he does this perfectly. He actually leaves his father’s house. He goes out, finds his brothers and sisters, gives his life for his brothers and sisters so that they can be brought back home to the father’s family.

So Jesus, he’s this perfect older brother that we have. And this really, reading through the passage this week, brought me a lot of comfort as an older brother. I think having a younger brother who passed away, I think it really reassures me that Jesus is an older brother who’s looked out for him perfectly.

He showed him the love of God here on earth. He gave his life for him, and he loved him by bringing him back home to the father safely. So we all have this perfect older brother who looks out for us.

He brings us into the family of God. He teaches us how to love one another, and he shows us that God is a father of love. This is a Savior that we have.

This is a Savior that you have. So I just urge you to praise him, trust in him, and follow him in his love. Let’s pray.

Father, we just come, we just praise you for giving your son for us. We just thank you for the fact that you are love, that all you do is in love, and that you have brought us into this love. Just an amazing blessing that it is.

Let’s pray that you teach us to walk in love for one another, that we show each other the love of Christ, that we give selflessly to each other, that we forgive each other, that we just come and praise you as your children. In your name I pray, amen.