Love Leads to Obedience
Love is not primarily an emotion. We may feel lovingly towards someone or experience the emotional warmth of another's love, but love is much deeper and more active than the way we feel. True love is always expressed in action; like God's love was shown by giving His Son to be our substitutionary sacrifice. The believers who John was addressing were being caught up by Gnostic teaching which claimed that if you have a special religious formula and mental attitude you can know God: but John said you do not need a formula – you need love and obedience.
How do we know if we have a relationship with God? We will listen to what He says, and obey. The people who claim to know God through a religious formula but do not obey Him are not listening to His word; they have no relationship with Him. Worse than that, they are liars and frauds because they are claiming to have a relationship with God which does not exist.
When the people who know God hear His Word and choose to obey Him, they demonstrate that they really do love Him. As they grow in their relationship with Him they grow to be like Him: His character comes out in their behaviour and lifestyle. It is not that they slavishly adopt the way Jesus lived, but that in knowing Him they love what He loves and hate what He hates. Our lifestyles become more like Jesus as we want to let His Word inform our desires and choices.
Alas, we do not always live consistently like that. But the personal test is: do we want to? Does it matter to us that we please Him? Indeed, even the act of confessing our sins demonstrates that we want to be made clean again so that we can be restored to a loving relationship in which we obey Him. If you love Him, seek out a new opportunity to obey His Word today. If you are ridiculed for being like Jesus, give thanks that your love for Him is shining through.
© Dr Paul Adams