1 John 4 verse 11-12 and 16-18. Is there a keyword that you see in those sections repeated? “Perfected.” I want to talk today about being perfected in love. Perfected in love. It says in 1 John 4, 11 and 12. What is one sign that we are perfected in love? Answer. We love one another.
And then in 1 John 4, 16 through 18. And also, secondarily 1 John 3 19-21. What is a second way that we are perfected in love? No fear. Another way to say it? Confidence. Two signs that we are being perfected in love is that we, in light of God’s love for us, we love one another. And secondly, we have confidence before God.
I think it’s possible to have one without the other. It’s possible to seem like you’re a very loving person (but it could be merely human personality), but in your personal life, there is not that confidence before God. I think if you have confidence before God, you may not quite be ready to love one another well, but you’re getting there. And so I think these two elements should be there eventually for all believers who are being perfected in God’s love for us.
Why did John write this letter? There are a few verses which actually outline very clearly why he wrote it. 1 John 1 verse 1. It says, that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled concerning the word of life. The life was manifested and we have seen and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. That which we have seen and heard, we declare to you that you also may have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ and these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
So what is one reason he wrote this letter? Joy. I haven’t preached on that topic in some time because I’m still growing into it and so at some point I will teach on this verse, but we’ll continue.
1 John 2 verse 1. My little children, these things I write to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righteous. So what’s another reason that this letter was written? So that we don’t sin. The patterns of sin are broken. And then chapter 5 1 John 5 verse 13. These things I written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
So what’s the final reason that John wrote this letter? Anybody? To know that you have eternal life. So two signs that we are being perfected in love is first we love one another and secondly we have confidence before God.
I think the two are supposed to go hand in hand. Let me start with the second one first. We have confidence before God and as it says in 1 John 4 verse 16. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment because as he is so also are we in this world. And to clarify this confidence I want to go back to 1 John 3 19 to 21. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him for whenever our heart condemns us God is greater than our heart and he knows everything. Beloved if our heart does not condemn us we have confidence before God. And actually the verses that go slightly before verse 16. By this we know love that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his heart against him how does God’s love abide in him. Little children let us not love in word or talk but indeed and in truth.
Then he goes on to say by this we shall know that we are of the truth. And so the deed part of loving is obvious if there’s a brother in need and you see that need and you deliberately shut your heart and you say that’s not my problem.
He’s just a church member, he’s not my family member. Even non Christians can love their family member well. But it’s distinctive about a Christian is that our love keeps flowing so when you are married you love your spouse well. When you’re a parent you love your children well. And the love keeps getting perfected in us and we start loving more and more people.
And so that part I think is obvious–we love in word, we love in deed. If there are needs we meet those needs because they are in the family of God and so it’s not biological but it’s the same to us we are just growing we’re being perfected in our love. I pray that our church becomes that kind of a place where we love well in this place. So we love our spouses well, we love our children well, we love our brothers nd sisters well. Love keeps getting perfected in us.
But this other part says you love in deed that’s obvious. But we also love in truth. And then he says by this we shall know that we are of the truth and the truth here is that we are beloved children of God. We are beloved children of God and we should have confidence to approach God.
And we see throughout first three chapters, there is an adversary, there is an evil one, there is an enemy and we covered that last week. Satan can come to us, attack us and build a stronghold in us because of legal rights because we sin for whatever reason Satan can damage us, deceive us, enslave us. And that is an attack from the outside but according to these verses the main attack is internal. The main person against you is you. It’s your own heart.
It’s your own heart. Whether it’s because there’s a wound in your past, whether it’s because you’ve heard something at present, there’s something that’s triggering you, or some situation in your life that’s not going well, there’s something that rises from within and it condemns you. And as people who are growing into truth we confess with our mouth that God is greater than my heart and we give God our heart–this bundle of paradox and contradiction, one day you’re good, the next day you’re in turmoil.
This deceitful thing that’s called our heart we keep giving it to the Lord Jesus and we say God you’re greater than my heart. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and he comes at us quite often but I think most of the condemnation that you feel, which makes you feel unworthy to come before God, disqualified, that I’m not a child of God, I don’t feel like I God hears me. What’s the point? He doesn’t approve of me that condemnation mainly comes from our heart. And as children of God we keep confessing, no, I’m a beloved child of God. God loves me so much that He sent Jesus to die and lay down His life for me while I was a sinner, while I was unworthy, Jesus died for me.
And I am now growing in my confidence. I give this deceitful heart to the Lord which keeps condemning me, which keeps me from God. I give it to the Lord and I keep confessing, God, you’re greater than my heart. God, you’re greater than my heart. This mood that I feel you will help me overcome. You’re greater than this mood. This thing that’s being triggered, you keep giving it to the Lord and say, God, you’re greater than this. I can approach You because of what Jesus did.
And if we are growing in truth in this way as we’re being perfected in God’s love then how should we talk to other people when we see them sinning, when they annoy us, when we see them bothering us, we remember Jesus and how He laid down His life–while we were sinners God died for us.
So Jesus displays perfection in love Jesus didn’t even want to go to the cross. He struggled at Gethsemane. He didn’t want to go to the cross. He prayed, can this cup pass. Yet, Jesus embraced the cross and He went to die in a cross. He did not want to do this in His flesh, but He let go of his flesh and He died on a cross out of the joy that one day we would all become brothers and sisters in Christ.
And so when we deal with sinners, when we’re trying to love people, it can be your spouse, it can be your child, it can be your church member. If we’re growing in this perfection in love, we experience this overcoming of our hearts. Then when other people sin against us, we also can love them in that same way, not being triggered, not being angry, but remembering how we reassured ourselves.
That although I feel this way, although things don’t look so great around me, although people are criticizing me in my family, I trust the Lord. I am a beloved child of God. This heart that’s trying to condemn me, Jesus overcomes for me as I give Him my heart.
And when people are sinning around you how do we love them? We love them in deed. That’s the easy part. They have a need we love them but we also love them in truth. Meaning, when they sin against us we’re not annoyed, we’re not angry at them. No, we show the same love that God is showing to us when our heart condemns us. They also could feel condemned if we lash out at them, but we show them grace. Isn’t that what God does for us? When we’re in sin, God shows us grace.
God says, I’m your Abba Father God. Nothing can disqualify you, nothing can keep you from the love of God. And so you keep on saying, God is greater than my heart and He shows you grace And you still have confidence to approach God. Isn’t that what kind of love that He wants us to show other people especially those closest to us?
He wants us to show them grace. He wants us to show compassion on them, not just throwing money at them, not just providing for them, but to grow in truth and to show them this kind of a truth, that although you feel condemned, let me reassure you, son, daughter, spouse, brother, sister–let me assure you. God is for you. God loves you. You’re never disqualified and that is what it means to be perfected in love.
Okay let’s pray.
Father, we understand through Your Word that the harvest fields are plentiful. But we understand also that the workers are few. The kind of worker that you’re looking for they’re few and far between. You’re looking for people who are perfected in love. We can love in deed but also love in truth.
Father, we give you our heart. This bundle of inconsistency and deceitfulness and paradox and confusion–we give you this heart of ours. We ask You, Lord Jesus, to do surgery on our hearts. All the condemnation that comes from within and without we give it to You, Lord Jesus.
We understand that one of the main reasons you wrote this letter is to tell us we have eternal life. Lord, we really want to believe this. That we have eternal life because of Jesus. That we can have confidence in this life. That we can be fearless in this life. In the face of persecution we can be steady and unshaken in this life. Because what can Satan do to us? We have eternal life. If we die we have heaven. We have great gain even in death.
Father, we pray for this kind of confidence to be perfected in us in love. We confess with our mouth on this day that God You’re greater than our heart. Help us to love the people around us well. For those who are married, help us to love our spouse as well. We pray that families can love well. Parents to children, children to parents. We pray for us all here, those who are gathered.
We pray that Hill Community Church can be known for loving well. Not only in word but in deed and in truth. We reassure one another that we are beloved children of God.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying on a cross, for laying down Your life. You took up Your cross, You didn’t want to do it. But you did it out of love for Your Church that would soon be birthed.
Father, likewise, you encourage us to deny ourselves to take up our crosses. Often to give us assignments and situations that we would not welcome on our own, that we don’t want to do, but Lord, You’re inviting us to trust You, to follow You, to take up a cross, to deny ourselves.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for allowing Your Body to be broken and Your Blood shed. We pray, Lord Jesus, that You would minister to us and perfect us in love during this time. Help us to love one another well. Help us to be confident as children of God to approach the throne of grace. Help us to be gracious in our love as we strive to love one another well. Thank you, Lord Jesus. In Jesus Name, Amen.