Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
- Everyone who believes Jesus is the Messiah is born of God.
- Anyone who loves God the Father loves those who have been of God.
- Those who have been born of Father are referred to as the children of God.
- We know we love those born of God when
- We keep God’s commandments.
- We love God.
- Love of God is keeping God’s commandments.
- God’s commandments are not a burden.
- Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.
- Our faith is the victory over the world.
- The only ones that overcome the world are those who believe Jesus is the Son of God.
How do we know if we or someone else is a Christian? Here John sets the standard. Anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, gives evidence to having been born of God. That is, the standard by which we know if one is fathered by God is if they confess Jesus is the Christ. The second half of verse 1 then goes no to state that anyone who loves the Father will love those who have been fathered by Him. Love for the church brethren is the outgrowth or evidence of love for the Father.
In the previous chapter 4:20 John says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” In 5:2 John says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” In order to love the Christian brethren, we must God. In order to love God, we must love the Christian brethren. On the face of it, it sounds like a circular argument. What John is actually saying is, loving Christian brethren and loving God is the same thing. Paul says in Colossians 1:24 and 1:18 that the body of Christ is the church. And then again in Ephesians 1:23 -24 Paul again refers to the church as Christ’s body. John says to love God is to love the body of Christ and to love the body of Christ, i.e. the Church, is to love God.
Keeping God’s commandments is another way we know we love God. If you love someone you want to do what they want. If you love God you will do what He wants. Not because it is a duty or obligation rather because you want to do it. The phrase “And his commandments are not burdensome” is a call back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light…”
In verse 4 John says, “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world” What does it mean to “overcome the world?” Here John, give the assurance of salvation and the peace that a Christian can and should have. That is, there is no need to struggle we have already overcome the world. It is our faith that has overcome the world. And what is the source of our faith? Our faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8).
If we love God, we love His church. John states anyone who confesses Jesus is the Messiah is born of God. But there are no magic words. Simply say Jesus is the Messiah does not mean you are born of God. James 2: 19 says, you believe in God? Great! But even the demons believe that. So if you only believe that Jesus is the Christ you are simply qualified to be is a demon. The confession that Jesus is the Christ goes beyond simply stating it. It goes beyond a simply intellectual belief.
Here is an example. I have a tremendous fear of heights. I can think of no rational reason for my fear but it is there. I have walked across the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. Scared the bajeebers (Is that a real word?) out of me. My family walked across and leaned over the railing to look down into the gorge. They were encouraging me to come and look down as well, so I could enjoy what they enjoyed. I knew the railing would hold me. I had seen my family and several others lean on it. I knew I was not going to fall over the rail, no one else had. Intellectually I knew it there was no real danger. The danger was all in my mind. But I kept playing these, “what if,” scenarios in my head. A simply intellectual ascent to facts did not allow me to enjoy the view. I did finally coax myself out to the middle of the bridge and quickly lean over, a little bit. I am sure I did not enjoy the view as much as my family because I did not have as much faith I would not fall as they did. But I did get to see a beautiful view. That is the type of belief John is talking about, a belief you trust, not one that is simply acknowledgment of the fact.
If we have that type of faith, a faith that Jesus is the Christ, there is evidence. The evidence is, we will love those who are also born of Him. Why? Because, together we are His body.
Remember the purpose of John’s letter, to address the false teaching and those trying to separate the brethren from the body of Christ, that is the Church. If you have confronted false teachers I am positive you have heard “Where is the love? I am not seeing it!” Loving someone does not mean you let them go down a path you know will end in harm. That is not love. It is not even hatred. That is indifference which is the opposite of love.
Secondly, there is no need to struggle and fight. Christ has already overcome the world. Our faith in him has already overcome the world. We can trust that fact because our faith is not something we generated within ourselves rather it is a gift given to us by God Himself.