[1 John 4:11-16]
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the 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.  We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 42nd session in the 1 John Lectures. Chapter 4 Verse 11 talks about what we should do since we have received His love. It says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Not just God’s children but even unbelievers feel moved when they see something of goodness. Also, if they have received help when they were in difficult situations, they would hope to become strength to somebody else.
For example, when students in severe poverty continue their studies with financial help and eventually succeed, some of them establish scholarships thinking about the person who helped them. They don’t just pay back their benefactor, but they try to help other students who are in need, just like they were helped when they were young.
But the love of God given to us is such great love that cannot be compared with any good deeds of this kind. We cannot pay it back in full even if we weep day and night, or with any words or any offering. Since we have received such love, what should we do? We should not just love God first but also everybody, and even our enemies. To love our brothers is the evidence that we have received the love of God.
On the contrary, if we do not love others even though we have received God’s love, then we cannot fully enjoy the love of God either. In the Bible, we can find a story of a person who had received great grace, but then showed acts of evilness towards others.
A certain slave owed his lord ten thousand talents. One talent is an amount 6,000 times greater than a daily wage of a common laborer. It’s worth more than 16 years of daily wages. Ten thousand talents are ten thousand times more than that. You have to work every day for 160,000 years to save this amount. It’s not easy to grasp how much it actually is. Since he couldn’t pay this debt, his family members were about to be sold as slaves, but his lord forgave him the debt. How moved and grateful he must have been!
But this slave, who was forgiven his debt, was returning with joy and met with a fellow slave who owed him 100 denarii. One denarius was worth one hundred days of daily wages, so it was not a small amount. But it was very little compared to the debt that had been forgiven him. If he had considered even for a moment the tremendous grace he received, it was obviously required of him to show mercy to others, too. But this slave did not show compassion but put his fellow slave in jail until he paid the debt.
The master came to know this fact and was angry. He annulled the forgiveness of the debt and put this slave in jail until he paid the debt in full. Though this slave said ‘Thank you’ for the grace received, in his heart he could not realize the love. Thus, he could not show love towards others, either. Finally, he came to lose the grace he had previously received.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The next verse, verse 12 says, “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” As explained in the previous verse, those who truly realize the love of God will not only love God, but also show the love he has received to others as well. When we keep showing true love, we will also bear in us the fruit of God’s love, who has given us the life of His only begotten Son. It means we resemble God who is love itself and change into His true children who are sanctified.
As said in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments,” the original meaning of all commandments is love. For example, among the Ten Commandments God tells us not to worship idols and not to call on the name of God in vain. And they are not given to cause us difficulties.
If we love and respect God, we will naturally distance ourselves from such sins. Such a true loving husband will never commit adultery against his wife, and such children will never dishonor their parents or use their names in vain. Likewise, for such people, there is no reason for them to worship false gods or idols for they revere God. Especially, they will never call on the name of the God, whom they respect and value so much, in vain.
The same goes for commandments about our neighbors, too. To those whom we love, we naturally would not want to do anything evil. We would not commit such evil acts as murder, hatred, envy, jealousy, passing judgment and condemnation, stealing, and so on. So, if we love God and love our neighbors as our selves, how easy it would be for us to keep the commandments!
Brothers and sisters,
The same principle applies to mercy, grace, and love, too. If we understand the magnitude of grace of being forgiven of our sins, we can also forgive iniquities of others, too. If we understand the greatness of love that we received, we will also love others. I hope you will imprint the love of God given to us deep in your heart. In doing so, I hope you will love God first above all and love your neighbors as you love yourself.
Then God will recognize you as His true sons and beloved daughters and He will let you experience His love more deeply in His grace. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will realize the width, length, height, and depth of His love, so that you also will be able to cultivate perfect love in you.
Verse 13 says, “By this we know that we abide in Him(God) and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit who testifies that God abides in us. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”
You believe in the invisible God and profess that He is your Father. You never saw Jesus who came to this earth 2,000 years ago, but you can say from the depth of your heart that Jesus Christ is your Savior. Those who have not received the Holy Spirit cannot make such a profession. The Holy Spirit in us testifies about God and the Lord so that we can believe.
Also, when we live by the word of God, namely when we keep the commandments and love the brothers, we feel peace and joy. Namely, we will feel the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This fullness of the Spirit is the evidence that we are abiding in God.
Dear brothers and sisters,
God is originally one being, but He separated Himself into the Trinity. It’s because there were some parts that the Son and the Holy Spirit had to play during the course of human cultivation. To redeem the sin-stained mankind, Jesus had to become their Savior. It was because the Holy Spirit of the holy God could abide in us only after Jesus redeemed us from sins.
We can truly believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior and God is our Father only after the Holy Spirit comes to us. The Holy Spirit lets us realize the love of the Father God and lets us believe in the spiritual realm. To let us discern between sin and righteousness; to let us realize that we will be judged for what we’ve done; and to give us the strength to live by the Word; these are all works of the Holy Spirit. It is also the work of the Holy Spirit to help us to not just know the truth but also to apply it to ourselves and actually change our hearts.
For example, there are a lot of untruths in the conversation of the unbelievers. They frequently speak foul language, and they talk about obscene things and brag about themselves. They gossip, pass judgment and condemnation, and they easily slander others for their appearances or behaviors. But those fleshly people who have not received the Holy Spirit do not even realize that they are speaking untruths.
But after receiving the Holy Spirit, they change. They realize that it is not the will of God to speak such evil things, so they change their language. Those who used to speak foul language stop it. They stop judging and condemnation, gossip, slandering, and lies. They don’t just stop doing those things, but they also cast away such untruths from their hearts. Sometimes, they might speak some untruthful things because they have not cast away flesh yet. In this kind of situation, they feel the groaning of the Holy Spirit. They feel heavy and afflicted.
So, they make up their mind once again thinking, “I shouldn’t have said that. I should be more watchful. I will keep my mouth holy.” They pray hard and change. Let me give you another example. Even if they hear, “Do not seek your own benefit but that of others,” “Love your enemy,” it is difficult for them to practice such words unless they have received the Holy Spirit. They feel it is right for them to hate their enemies, and they find it hard to seek the benefit of others because they think they will suffer loss.
But the Holy Spirit continually teaches us. He speaks to us saying, “Son, daughter, the thing that you just did is not a behavior of somebody who loves God; it is to seek your benefit. Seek others’ benefit first. Sacrifice yourself, yield, and humble yourself.”
If we follow this guidance of the Holy Spirit and practice the truth, it means we abide in God. Those who abide in God will eventually bear the fruit of spirit and whole spirit, and be worthy of being God’s children. I hope you will also follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in everything and practice the truth. In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will abide in God and God will abide in you.