This is Message 4 in our 1 John series
When I was a teenager, it was common for magazines to have questionnaires that told you if you were in love. (Nonsense)
E.g. 10 questions to find out if your love is real.
Well, today we are going to look at what I have called, The Love Test
1 John has been trying to help his readers know if their love for God is genuine.
The church has become distracted by false teaching that claims
So if you'd like to turn in your Bibles to 1 John 2, we will read verses 3-11
If you love Him, then you will consistently obey God (v3-6)
The first love test is obedience to God's commands (v.3-4) / Word (v5).
All that God has said in His Word. If He says it, we do it. If He says don't do it, we don't do it!
If we can say, Yes, that's me, then we can be certain that our relationship with God is genuine and that we are demonstrating our love for God.
How do we know that obedience is the way to demonstrate our love for God?
Remember that in 1 Jn 1:3, John has already told us that he is passing on what Jesus said to Him (and others).
In John's gospel, John 14, we read that Jesus said: John 14 > ^Jn14-15
Obey has the sense of much more than just doing as we're told.
Instead, it's about passionately desiring to follow the will of God; wanting to line up entirely with what God wants.
It's also about being consistent and persevering in our obedience.
Obedience doesn't just happen once. It is an ongoing thing we have to work at.
I demonstrate my love for my wife by being consistent in my actions toward her - even when I don't feel like it.
So If I say that I am seeking out God's will for my life based on His Word...
Am I seeking to put into practice what I read in the Bible?
When I realise God wants something, am I quick to respond, to obey? Do I stick at it even if it's the harder option?
Am I consistent in obeying God? Not just when I feel like it but even when I don't feel like it.
Do I know what God wants? Am I spending time in His Word so I can be exposed to God's will for me?
Maybe you need to have a consistent pattern for reading the Bible.
That's where we find out what God's commands are.
If we aren't reading the Bible, then we have to ask if we really are serious about what God wants.
We are more likely to act on feelings than facts.
If you love Him, you will consistently live like Jesus (v6-8)
The second love test is to live your life as Jesus did (v6).
There is a funny scene in the 1989 film We're No Angels. An escaped convict steals a monk's habit off of a washing line and lives among the monks to hide from the police. What he hasn't realised is that there is still a clothes peg attached to the habit!
A young impressionable trainee monk gets to know this new monk (not knowing who he really is) and starts to imitate the convict by walking around with a clothes peg attached to his own monk's habit.
When John says we are to show love by living like Jesus did, he's not saying we should imitate Jesus like a parrot.
We don't need to grow a beard, get a pair of sandals, and walk around Galilee pretending to be the Son of God!
The phrase literally means to walk around like Jesus, but it's speaking figuratively not literally.
Instead, it has to do with dwelling in God. Many commentators prefer to use the word remain or abide to catch the real sense of its meaning.
John is telling us that our own lives, our thoughts, behaviours, words, and our actions should flow out of what we have found in God.
If we love God, then we are dwelling in him constantly and consistently. And as we have said before, when you know God, you start to show God.
It's like saying - If Jesus were you, what would he do? Not, what would you do if you were Jesus, but what would he do if he were in your shoes?
Again we can't possibly know what Jesus would do if we don't really know Him.
So we need to get to know Jesus; we need to abide in him. And as we do that, it will become easier to live our lives like Jesus.
Are you consistently seeking to live your life as Jesus would if he were in your shoes?
Obviously, we can see how Jesus "walked" by reading the gospels but remember we also have Jesus living in us by His Holy Spirit.
“If you love me, obey my commandments.And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
We need to allow Him to ooze out of us as we live our lives.
The Spirit in us helps us to know, understand and live out the truth.
If you Love Him, you will consistently love others (v9-11)
The third love test is to consistently love others (v7-11).
This flows out of the second test (to live like Jesus) because if your life follows the pattern of Jesus, then you will demonstrate genuine love for others.
But it goes further than that, doesn't it? Because Jesus loved the unlovely.
Think about those Christians that you find it really difficult to love; maybe you would avoid them where possible.
Jesus would show love to them as much as he would to you or me.
This is also connected to the first love test, which was to obey God.
John reminds us in v7 that loving others is not a new commandment but an old one.
And yet Jesus takes this old command to love and supercharges it by demonstrating what Christian love looks like.
It is selfless in that it puts others before self. It is self-sacrificing, meaning that it is prepared to love all the way to the cross.
And it is supercharged by the fact that Jesus now lives in His followers, and His love flows out of them.
And so John says you can't claim to be a Christian and hate other Christians. If you do, John says, then you are living in darkness.
Again, don't miss the weight of this. John wants us to know that if you carry any kind of hate toward other Christians, then it's possible you don't really know God at all!
Can I see evidence that I love like Jesus?
Do I view the church as a family of brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers etc or do I view it as a club that I am a member of?
If we think of ourselves as a club, we will create cliques. We will exclude people from our little groups.
We will be quick to take offence and slow to forgive.
And when we need each other, we will be too busy.
A family behaves differently.
It tries to include everyone. It wants everyone to win. It makes sacrifices for one another - of time, energy, and resources.
It is slow to take offence and quick to forgive.
The significant danger for us with these passages is that we do one of two things.
First, we think we have failed the tests and go into a kind of meltdown where we believe God doesn't really love us and we are not Christians. We may as well give up.
Or, we ignore the tests, and we carry on thinking we know God when we don't, and our lives don't change.
So what are we to do?
Well, John is doing two things. He is warning us and comforting us at the same time.
For those of us who aren't taking Jesus seriously, it's a warning. It's a warning to put things right before it's too late.
He says, If you think you can claim to be a Christian and disobey God, live however you please, and treat other Christians like dirt, then you are badly mistaken.
You need to come to Jesus and confess this, receive forgiveness and start over with His help.
Secondly, and I hope this is most of us, John wants to comfort us by showing us that we are making progress when we look at our lives.
Well, if you were here last time, you may remember I said that God is looking for progress, not perfection.
Perfection isn't possible for us on this side of heaven but praise God, Jesus was perfection for us.
What John is looking for, and we should be seeing, is progress.
These three love tests should encourage and comfort us by showing us that God really does live within us.
I can see I have a growing love for His word and am passionate about obeying it.
I can see that I am increasingly allowing myself to think and act like Jesus would if he were me.
And I find myself growing in my love for God's people. Yes, even the weird ones! You know who you are!! :)