It’s one of those “in the shadow” verses. A verse which, at least in my experience, more often than not is eclipsed by the better known verse which follows it. So often, I can be in such a rush to get to the “money verse” and glory in it that I gloss over it’s lesser known predecessor and miss the glory it emits. Not this morning. Rather than chewing afresh on 1John 4:18, “perfect love casts out fear”, I’m savoring more of a first-time taste from a truth statement in the verse before it.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. 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.
(1John 4:16-17 ESV)
Let me see if I can summarize what’s running through my head . . .
This section of John’s first letter, 1John 4:7-21, deals with a command to obey: “let us love one another” (v.7) . . . “whoever loves God must also love his brother” (v. 21). But, at the heart of getting this “to do” done, it’s less about a discipline and more about a dynamic. God is love (v.7). That love was manifest in God sending His Son so that we might have new life through the Son (v.9). If then, God is love and God loves with such redeeming grace, and we live through Him by the Spirit He has given us (v.13), then it is only logical that we will be marked by the love of God, as well (v.11). Thus, loving the brothers and sisters comes not just from a determined action on our part, but just as much, if not more, from a determined abiding on God’s part.
. . . if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.
(1John 4:12b ESV)
It’s a dynamic more than a determination. And, says John, it is the confidence we have for the day of judgment — our love for one another is the evidence of the reality of God abiding in us and we in Him. And how is that possible?
. . . because as He is so also are we in this world.
At first I read that and thought it was a call to action statement. That when we act just like Jesus acts then we can have confidence on the day of judgment. But it doesn’t say that. Rather, it says, as He IS so also ARE we.
Okay, so let the brainstorming and meditating begin. How IS Jesus? So ARE we.
He is perfect. So are we, in Him. He is righteous. Us too, His righteousness credited to our account (Rom. 4:22-25). He is in heaven, raised in power. Yup, that goes for us as well, as we’ve been raised up and seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph. 1:20, 2:6). He is the beloved Son of God. Behold what manner of love that we should be called children of God; “and so we are” (1Jn. 3:1). And the list goes on, if we’ll take some time and chew on it a bit.
As He is so also are we. That’s our confidence. That’s the essence of God abiding in us and us abiding in Him. That’s the source for loving others as ourselves. Loving others simply manifests that abiding reality. And that abiding reality becomes the motivating reason for us to want to love as we’ve been loved.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1John 4:11 ESV)
To be sure, the flesh gets in the way far too often, and the world continually tries to conform us to its image, but that’s what the cross is about. Thank God for the cross! While we have such a standing, we are still undergoing our sanctification. And in the process of being made more like Jesus, we wear a well-worn path to the place of forgiveness and cleansing. But at the end of the day, the day of judgment, our confidence lies not in how well we did, but in the reality that as He is so also are we.
Because of His abundant grace. All for His everlasting glory.