What to watch for below: We have entered another month hoping for the lifting of restrictions and anticipating meeting again. Until then may today’s video and written message be an encouragement to you. Please find a couple worship songs to magnify our great God and King followed by God’s messages as placed upon my heart and a closing prayer. Pray for the peace of our nations among all peoples which is perfectly possible in Christ alone. Come LORD Jesus and bring your everlasting Kingdom!
Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer…
Living in God and He in Us
The Scripture used this Sermon manuscript are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Main points of this message were developed using Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: The Letters of John by John Stott.
Have you ever met a person in your travels and your first impression of him or her was, “I wonder if that person is a believer in Jesus?” What was the evidence that tipped you off in this direction? Was it kindness? Was it courtesy? Was it friendliness? Was it a caring nature? Many of these characteristics do point to a person being a believer in Jesus, but are they enough to make that conclusion? I have met some genuinely nice and kind people who are not Christian at all. In fact, they are of other religions or have no religion at all.
How can somebody know if a person is actually a believer in God? This is an important question to answer because just as there are many nice people in our communities who are not believers in Jesus Christ so also there are a lot of people who attend church on a regular basis who are not believers in Jesus. These unbelieving church-goers go to church because their spouse, parent or grandparent make them go. They could be coming because they want to know more about God but have yet to receive Jesus as their Saviour and LORD. They could also be going to church because they treat it like a social club.
The apostle John wanted the churches who received his letter to look for evidence of a person’s salvation. These evidences can be revealed by answering this question, “How do we know God lives in us and we in Him?”
The apostle John answers this in 1 John 4:13-21, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
How do we know that we have a love relationship with God where He is living in us and we in Him? John gives us two reasons in this passage.
How do we know God is living in us and we in Him?
1. God has given us His Spirit
In verse 13, John makes it quite clear, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” The apostle John records Jesus saying these words in his gospel, John 14:15-18, ““If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
When the Holy Spirit is given to a person, He enables faith and that person can see who Jesus really is. In 1 John 4:14 and 15, the disciples were able to recognize who Jesus really was, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life is not just about niceties and good behaviour it is about acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God. Do you acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God? Do you acknowledge Him as your Saviour and LORD? If so, then you can have the assurance that the Holy Spirit has been given to you and He lives in you and you are saved. You are a child of God!
You can also know the Holy Spirit is given to you because He enables love. In verse 16, John continues, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
The story is told about a little boy who was flying a kite. It was a windy day, and the kite kept going higher and higher. Finally, it got so high that it was out of sight. A man passed by and saw the little boy holding onto the string. The man could not see the kite, and he asked the boy, “How do you even know you have a kite up there?” The boy replied, “Because I can feel it.” Source: A Firm Foundation, Paul Chappell.
Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we know He is given to us because we have this compelling love, this compassion, tugging on our hearts to tell people about Jesus. Is this true for you?
This leads us to the second reason we know God lives in us and we in Him…
2. God has given us His “Perfect” Love
John speaks about our love maturing and developing for God. It is not that our love will be perfect this side of heaven, but we can experience God’s perfect love in us and through us leading us to a greater love for God and for our brothers and sisters in the LORD. We will know that we have this perfected love in two ways.
First, we will have this confidence before God. In verse 17, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” The word confidence comes from the Greek word “parresia” which is an “unshrinkable boldness.”
John is making a radical statement about children of God here, “in this world we are like Jesus.” Therefore, just as Jesus the Son of God was dearly loved by His Father in Heaven, we (as the children of God) have the same love from our Heavenly Father. This means we can come boldly to our Heavenly Father and relate to Him, talk to Him and ask for what we need. We are not objects of God’s wrath which means we will not suffer on the Day of Judgment. Do you have this confidence of God’s love?
Secondly, we know that we have this perfected love because this confidence of God’s love drives out fear. John wrote in verse 18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
John is telling us that fear and love cannot coexist together. Love that has confidence or assurance in being a child of God does not hide from God in fear. This love is “complete” in its focus on God. This love has reached its goal in being without fear and thus has been perfected.
Pastor and Theologian John Piper says, “this perfected love is not flawless love. Perfected love is when you don’t just talk about the need to share Christ, you do it. It’s when you don’t just talk about the hungry, you feed them. It’s when you don’t just talk about floundering new believers, you disciple them. And so on. (Perfect Love Drives Out Fear – desiringgod.org)
Application – Do you have confidence in approaching God as your Heavenly Father? Is your love fearless? If not, come to God now and receive His Son Jesus as your Saviour from your sin and accept Jesus as Your LORD.
We know that God is living in us and we are living in Him by giving us His Holy Spirit and His perfect love to mature us in loving others.
John concludes this passage by giving us a lie detector test. We find it in verses 20 and 21, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
Have you ever been hurt by a brother or sister in the LORD? If not, you will be. As your pastor, I may have hurt you. And if I have, I am deeply sorry. Children of God are not perfect this side of Heaven. When you are hurt by a brother or sister your response should never be hatred instead it should be forgiveness. Someone has said, “we are most like God when we forgive.” Who do you need to forgive today?
How do we know God lives in us and we live in Him? God has given us His Holy Spirit, His perfect love, and in response we love and forgive our brothers and sisters when they hurt us. Perfect love drives out fear and hatred. As a child of God, make that your motto this week and live it!