1 John 4:7-16 (#10)


An overview of 1 John

Major themes:

  • Remember, the Gospel of John was written that we might believe. The Letters of John were written that we might know – as in assurance.
    • Assurance that the Christian faith is true
    • Assurance of our own salvation
  • Pastor and author John MacArthur has stated that the overall theme of 1 John is “a recall to the fundamentals of the faith” or “back to the basics of Christianity.”
  • MacArthur tells us that John the apostle deals with certainties, not opinions or conjecture. He expresses the absolute character of Christianity in very simple, yet profound, terms.
  • MacArthur also reminds us that 1 John is very pastoral.  You may have noticed that I have been referring to him as “Grandpa Pastor John.”

Here is an overview of John’s first letter:

  1. Knowing Authentic Fellowship – 1 John 1:1 – 2:17
  2. Knowing Gospel Truth -1 John 2:18 – 2:28
  3. Knowing Our Gift of Righteousness – 1 John 2:29 – 3:10
  4. Knowing Sacrificial Love – 1 John 3:11 – 4:21
  5. Knowing Gospel Assurance – 1 John 5:1 – 5:21

Two weeks ago Gene spoke of 3 “spiritual bullies” from 1 John 3:11-24:

  1. Breaking The Spirit of CainBreak free of legalism and judgment…
  2. Passionless, or loveless, Christianity – Christ’s passion for us becomes our passion for Him and each other.
  3. Condemning Heart – God knows everything about your heart and He still died for you and forgave your sins then why are you condemning yourself?

Last week we discovered THE central, objective truth of all time – found in 1 Jn 4:2 – “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.[1]

The essence of the gospel is that Jesus becomes the perfect intersection of God’s holiness and God’s love.  Think of a cross…

In the fullness of time Jesus the Christ condescended to become an “earthling” to love, serve, and die on our behalf so that we could enter the presence of a fully holy God.

This central objective truth distinguishes between two distinctive groups of people described in 4:6: By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” The spirit of truth is God-centered and the spirit of error is human-centered.


John was the sole remaining apostolic survivor who had intimate, eyewitness association with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.

This text is one of the greatest and most thorough texts in the entire Bible on what love is. It tells us that God is love; that God loves us through Jesus’ death for our sins, and that God gives us His love to share with one another. It further explains that true love is not possible apart from God, but that by God through the Holy Spirit we can love others as Jesus has loved us.

What’s the BIG IDEA for today?  God’s character of love fuels our call to love.

  • I am incapable of loving Linda with the kind of love she deserves.
  • I am incapable of loving SBF with the kind of love you deserve.
  • I need God’s love moving into me and through me to love effectively.

V. 7 is an overview and tells us where we’re headed: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and loves God.” (All 5 words for love are related to agape – God’s sacrificial love.)

As we begin we must ask the question: What is the difference between the BEST of human love and God’s love?  (Aren’t there lots of people who are not active intentional followers of Christ who love well?)

CS Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, speaks of Gift-love and Need-love.[2]

The epitome of human (or natural) Gift-love, he says, is the love of a devoted mother.

Human Need-love is almost exactly what it implies – the inborn need of every human to be loved.

Natural Gift-love is always directed to objects, which the lover finds in some way lovable — objects to which Affection, or Eros, or a shared point of view attracts him, or, failing that, to the grateful and the deserving, or perhaps to those whose helplessness is of a winning and appealing kind.

But Divine Gift-love in the [person] enables him to love what is not naturally lovable; lepers, criminals, enemies, morons, the sulky, the superior, and the sneering.

That such a [Divine] Gift-love comes by Grace and should be called Charity, everyone will agree. But I have to add something…God, as it seems to me, bestows two other gifts: a Supernatural Need-love of Himself and a supernatural Need-love of one another.

What we have is 1) God’s character of love and 2) God’s calling to love.

God’s character of love (vs. 8-10)

V. 8 asserts that God is love — This is the nature of God in His divine compassion.

V. 9 is a very clear declaration of the gospel: By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

When we are born again by Him we begin to share His nature.

This gospel transformation is the act of the Holy Spirit connecting our dead, selfish hearts with God’s living, loving heart so that His life becomes our life and His love becomes our love.

A gospel transformation creates the connection between God’s love for us and our love for each other.

John shows that the manifestation of that nature in history was the sending of his Son so that we might have eternal life through him.

V. 10 is yet another declaration of the gospel:  it’s not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.

So, God is love – and Divine Gift-love starts with God.

In John’s mind the great manifestation of God’s love is that God sent his Son—John says this twice in the last two verses.

The aim of that sending, he says, was to bear our punishment for sin (propitiation) and thus be the one who removes the wrath of God. That’s what makes the sending to be what CS Lewis calls Divine Gift-love.

Propitiation means that God moves to satisfy His own wrath.

God’s calling to love (vs. 11-16 (21).

V. 11 – The Word Ought (to Love One Another)

How are we to understand this word ought?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

It is easy to take a legalistic – or moralistic approach here…

But John has not forgotten what he wrote verse 7-8. “Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

So when he says, “We ought to love each other,” he means ought the way fish ought to swim in water and birds ought to fly in the air and living creatures ought to breathe and peaches ought to be sweet and lemons ought to be sour and hyenas ought to laugh. And born again people ought to love. It’s who we are.

Look at v. 12: “No one has ever beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.” When we are born again, God Himself is imparted to you. He dwells in you and sheds abroad His love in our hearts.

God’s aim is that this love be matured – and eventually perfected – in us.

**Notice the phrase “His love” in verse 12. The love that we have as a believer is not an imitation of the divine love. It is an extension of divine love – first IN us and then THROUGH us to others.


Enjoy Me Poem

Just these two words He spoke
changed my life:

Enjoy Me.

What a burden I thought I was to carry–
a [cross], as did He.

Love once said to me, “I know a song,
Would you like to hear it?

And laughter came from every brick in the street
And from every pore in the sky.

After a night of prayer, he
changed my life when
He sang,

Enjoy Me.

[1] Objective Truth is truth that is real no matter what we believe (i.e., gravity). Jesus claimed to be (not just to have) objective truth.

[2] Chapter 4 – Charity

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