« PreviousContinue »
is. Here, also, the other part of the truth is equally true, God dwells in him likewise.
I have spoken of the consciousness of this dwelling in God, for it is thus only that it is known. But it is important to remember, that the Apostle teaches it as a truth that applies to every believer. These might have excused themselves for not appropriating these statements as too high for them; but this fact judges the excuse. This communion is neglected. But God dwells in every one who confesses that Jesus is Son of God, and he in God. What an encouragement for a timid believer. What a rebuke for a careless one. The Apostle returns to our relative position, viewing God as outside ourselves, as He before whom we are to appear, and with whom we have always to do. Herein is love perfect with us in order that we may have boldness for the day of judgment), namely, that as He is, such are we in this world. In effect, what could give us a more complete assurance for that day than to be as Jesus himself. He who will judge in righteousness is our righteousness. We are in Him the righteousness according to which He will judge. Truly this can give us perfect peace.
But observe that it is not as representing us before God that this is here said, but as having Christ for our life, and as being livingly identified with Him.
Now in love there is no fear: there is confidence. If I am sure that a person loves me I do not fear him. If I am only desiring to be the object of his affection, I may fear that I am not so, and may even fear himself. Nevertheless, this fear would always tend to destroy my love for him and my desire to be loved by him. There is incompatibility between the two affections—there is no fear in love. Perfect love, then, banishes fear; for fear torments us, and torment is not the enjoyment of love. He, therefore, who fears does not know perfect love. And now what does he mean by“ perfect love"? It is the consciousness in the heart of that which God is, by His presence in us, so that we dwell in Him. The positive proof is that we are such as Christ is. But that which we enjoy is God, who is love, and we enjoy Him because He is in us; so that love and confidence are in and we have rest. That which I know He is love and love to me, and nothing els ne, because it is Himself who is so. There no fear. aire practically into the history, so to speak tions—if we seek to separate that which is t is united, because the divine nature in us e, enjoys love in its perfection in God, Hi road in the heart by his presence, therefore w fy the relationship in which our hearts fins with God in regard to this-here it is, “ we cause he first loved us.”
It is grace and grace, because it is God who is to be
Lll be worth our while to notice the ordex urkable psssage (7-10). We possess the od, consequently we love; we are born o know him. But the manifestation of love Christ Jesus is the proof of that love; it i know it (11-16); we enjoy it by dwelling present life in the love of God, by the pre Spirit in us; the enjoyment of that love by in that God dwells in us, and we thus dwel His love is perfected with us; the perfection viewed in the place that it has given us—w world, such as Christ is (18, 19); it is thu ed with us-love to sinners, communion fore God, gives us the moral and character = of that love, what it is in our relationship st passage, where the Apostle speaks of the
of this love, he does not go beyond the who loves is born of God. The nature o is love, being in us, he who loves know is born of Him, has His nature and realise
which God has been with regard to the demonstrates His nature of love. After which we learnt as sinners, we enjoy a
perfect love of God is shed abroad in the edwell in Him. As already with Jesus ir
this world, fear has no place in one to whom the love of God is a dwelling-place and rest.
Verse 20. The reality of our love to God, fruit of His love to us, is now tested. If we say that we love God and do not love the brethren, we are liars; for if the divire nature so near us (in them), does not awaken our spiritual affections, how then can he who is afar off do so? Accordingly, this is His commandment, that he who loves God, love his brother also.
Love for the brethren proves the reality of our love for God. And this love must be universal, must be in exercise towards all Christians, for whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and he who loves a person will love one who is born of him. And if the being born of him is the motive, we shall love all that are born of him.
But a danger exists on the other side. It may be, that we love the brethren because they are pleasant to us; they furnish us with agreeable society, in which our conscience is not wounded. A counter proof is therefore given us. “ Hereby we know that we love the children of God, if we love God and keep his commandmente.” It is not as children of God that I love the brethren, unless I love God, of whom they are born. I may love them individually as companions, or I may love some among them, but not as the children of God, if I do not love God Himself. If God Himself has not His true place in my heart, that which bears the name of love to the brethren shuts out God; and that in so much the more complete and subtle a manner, because our link with them bears the sacred name of brotherly love.
Xow there is a touchstone even for this love of God, namely, obedience to His commands. If I walk with the brethren themselves in disobedience to their Father, it is certainly not because they are His children that í love them. It was because I loved the Father and because they were His children, I should assuredly like them to obey Him. To walk then in disobedience with the children of God, under the pretext of brotherly love, is not to love them as the children of God. If I loved
them as such, I should love their Father and my Father and I could not walk in disobedience to Him, and call i a proof that I loved them because they were His.
If I also loved them because they were His children, should love all who are such, because the same motiv engages me to love them all.
The universality of this love with regard to all th children of God: its exercise in practical obedience t His will : these are the marks of true brotherly love That which has not these marks is a mere carnal party spirit, clothing itself with the name and the forms o brotherly love. Most certainly I do not love the Father if I encourage His children in disobedience to him.
Now there is an obstacle to this obedience, and that i: the world. The world has its forms, which are very fat from obedience to God. When we are occupied on with Him and His will, the world's enmity soon break out. It also acts, by its comforts and its delights, on th heart of man as walking after the flesh. In short, th world and the commandments of God are in oppositio to each other; but the commandments of God are nd grievous to those who are born of Him, for he who i born of God overcomes the world. He possesses a natur and a principle which surmount the difficulties that th world opposes to his walk. His nature is the divin nature, for he is born of God; his principle is that o faith. His nature is insensible to the attractions whicl this world offers to the flesh, and that because it ha outside this world an independent spirit, an object of it own, which governs it. Faith directs its steps, but faitl does not see the world nor that which is present. Faitl believes that Jesus, whom the world rejected, is the Soi of God. The world, therefore, has lost its power ove it. Its affections and its trust are fixed on Jesus who was crucified, owning Him as the Son of God Thus the believer, detached from the world, has thi boldness of obedience, and does the will of God whicl abides for ever.
The Apostle sums up in a few words the testimony o God respecting the life eternal which He has given us.
This life is not in the first Adam, it is in the second
in the Son of God. Man does not possess it, does not acquire it. He ought, indeed, to have gained life under the law. This characterised it, “Do this and live." But man did not and could not.
God gires him eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, and he who has not the Son, has not life.
Now what is the testimony rendered to this gift of life eternal? The witnesses are three: the Spirit, the water and the blood. This Jesus, the Son of God, is he who came by water and by blood. Not by water only, but by water and by blood. The Spirit also bears witness because He is truth. That to which they bear witness is that God has given us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son. But whence did this water and this blood flow? It was from the pierced side of Jesus. It is the judgment of death pronounced and executed (compare Rom. vii. 3), on the flesh, on all that is of the old man, on the first Adam. Not that the sin of the first Adam was in the flesh of Christ, but that Jesus died in it as a sacrifice for that sin. “In that He died, He died anto sin once.” Sin in the flesh was condemned in the death of Christ in the flesh. There was no other remedy. The flesh could not be modified nor subjected to the law. The life of the first Adam was nothing but sin in the principle of its will; it could not be subject to the larOur purification as to the old man is its death. He who is dead is freed from sin. We are, therefore, baptised to have part in the death of Jesus. Crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, but not we, it is Christ who lives in us. Participating in the life of Christ risen, we reckon ourselves as dead with Him, for why live of this new life, this life of the second Adam, if we could live before God in the life of the first Adam ? No; by living in Christ we have accepted, by faith, the Sentence of death, passed by God on the first Adam. This is Christian purification: even the death of the old man, because we are made partakers of life in Christ Jesus. “We are dead,” crucified with Him. We that which was impure no longer exists.
a perfect purification before God-we have it for