Summary: Discover how God measures our obedience, and discover what a compliment He gives to us.
First John was written to counter the lies that crept into the church by 90 AD. These lies, we saw, are still present and so the responses John wrote almost 2000 years ago are quite applicable to us today.
The first lie John dealt with is the lie that a right and healthy relationship with God and with one another comes from a secret knowledge. Many people today are trying meditations and rituals to discover such a secret knowledge. From 1 John 1:1-4, we found that the answer to a right and healthy relationship with God and with one another comes from Jesus Christ, Who is our peace offering between God and sinful humanity.
The second lie John dealt with is the lie that we have within ourselves the solution for our violation of God’s image and standard. As a result of this lie, some try to do enough good to outweigh the bad to make right their relationship with God. Others work at never doing wrong again; that’s perfectionism. Still others claim that they have never violated God’s image and standard; that’s denial. In 1 John 1:5-8, John tells us that the only sufficient solution for violation of God’s image and standard is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The third lie John dealt with is the lie that obedience to God is not important to a right and healthy relationship with God. Many people believe that sincerity or head knowledge is good enough. In 1 John 2: 1-6, John tells us that not only is obedience to God important to a right and healthy relationship with God, but also that obedience to God is a possible response and a relational response.
If any of these sound interesting to you and you want more detail, you can go online to our church website or get the message on audiotape. This morning, we will continue with 1 John 2:7-11 and see how John deals with a fourth lie, the lie that obedience to God cannot be measured.
John tells us this morning that the obedience to God can be measured and this measure is not new. In fact, we who know God have heard this command from the beginning; we have seen, by way of Biblical records, the command lived out in Jesus Christ, and we are capable of living out this command also. This measure or command John writes about is the command of love for one another.
Of all the things God use for measuring our obedience to Him, why does He choose love? Why not choose Bible reading or prayer as a measure of our obedience? Then those who read five chapters from the Bible and pray daily would be more obedient to God than those who read one chapter a day and pray now and then. And those who read one chapter a day and pray now and then would be more obedient than those who never crack open the Bible or pray except on Sundays. Wouldn’t that be easier, God?
And God, there is the other problem of definition with using love as the measure. There are many definitions for love. Our culture tells us love is like a boat, something we fall into and out of. The media illustrates love as emotionalism or hedonism, that is pleasure seeking. Love in the pages of self-help and many religious writings is no more than dressed-up selfishness or escape from pain and suffering. Love in your upbringing may be understood as reward for desired performance. And love in your marriage maybe a game of give and take.
So, God, how can You measure our obedience to You, when Your command for our obedience is love for one another? But John would have us know that we have heard the command from the beginning; we have seen the command lived out in Jesus Christ, and we too can live out this command. So our obedience can be measured.
FIRST, we have heard the command from the beginning. We see this in verse 7. John reminds us not to listen to the false teachings and new definitions of love in our day, but to go back to the definition we had heard from the beginning.
What is that definition? Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)." And then Jesus went to the cross and laid down His life to be the payment for our sins against a Holy God. The good news is that God loves us enough to die for us, and the measure of our obedience to God is that we would love others enough to lay down our life for another.
Someone tells the story of Sarah who was asked to donate her bone marrow to her little brother so he could live. As she was being wheeled into the pre-operating room, she said to her mother, "When I die, please give Johnny my toys also."