1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
So, Commands, what are commands?
We tend to see the word “command” and cringe, or bristle, or even bow our necks and become rebellious - as if the God’s commands are somehow opposed to us (which of course means that if the commands are opposed to us, God must be opposed to us) and that is not so…
God is for us! This is His promise and encouragement for His children! And, if God is for us, who can be against us…? (Rom 8:31; 1John 4:4)
God’s purpose is to conform us to Jesus… (Rom 8)
Commands are not to forever live by, but to learn from, be protected by, to be molded by, to be expressed through, to be reminded - God’s commands have been fulfilled by Jesus in us.
Jesus’ love language is obedience and therefore our “I love you” to Him is to obey His commands, but often we relegate our christian lives to compliance (John 14-17)
1. I read the command
2. I try to do the command
3. I have obeyed, or, at least tried to, so I’m ok
I do not believe that that is Jesus’ intent. Jesus is the truth and His life - His person and His manner and way - is what He desires in us. We become like Jesus by hearing/reading, ingesting, digesting, exercising… (Jesus = wisdom Prov chapt’s 1-4)
We are a work in progress… We are being conformed into His likeness as we grow in Him through obedience, the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, and because of the very real righteousness we have received from Jesus (1Cor 1:30; 2Cor 5:21). We join in this conforming by our loving obedience, and in so, begin to more and more express God’s commands naturally.
So, it is important for us to remember:
● Commands are God’s expressions of love and affection to us. (Psalm 19; 119; Prov 6:22-23)
● Commands are those things that glorify Him and help us prosper. (2Pet 1; Prov 3:18; 4; 10:17)
● Commands are given to us at our points of most resistance or to that thing we are least inclined to do. “love your enemy”, “do good to those who mistreat you”, “pray for those who hate you”
The goal of God’s commands are to reveal, instruct, lead and guide, correct, remind, warn, convict, affirm, transform that we might be conformed into Jesus - the commands…
● Establish (and express) to us the knowledge of God’s own character and heart
● Establish boundaries for the young and inexperienced (and we are all that, all the time, in some area of our life)
● Establish (a working knowledge of) the way of God and desires to establish that way in His children by the commands
● Establish Jesus’ character and way in the minds and hearts of His children
● Establish wisdom in the minds and hearts
● Establish liberty/freedom/love in lives of God’s children - especially as character is formed
● Establish (much) fruit bearing in and through the lives of His children
Commands are the boundaries in which we live until character and value is established…
● We follow the command until it is so deeply ingrained in us and the value it represents is developed in such a way that we now naturally live out or express the character and value the command expresses and teaches - we now live in love - hence: “Love the Lord your God… love your neighbor as yourself… all the law and the prophets hang from these two commands” (Matt 22)
The goal is to no longer live by the commands, but…
● ...by having followed and lived by the commandments, they establish in us the very character of Jesus and the values He espouses that are represented by the commands, so that our lives now naturally express and demonstrate what the commands point to and have led us to - Jesus, His person, His character, and His attributes. As they, by the commands, are established in us, we are then established in Him.
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth empowers and enables us… (2Cor 2; Eph 1; Gal 5; 1John 4)
● To live a life transformed, not just conforming to commands. You see, conforming to the commands is just the beginning, but the true goal is being transformedby the commands (Rom 12) - and this comes by practice, obedience (Heb 6) - tasting to see that the Lord is good, that His commands, precepts, instructions are a delight, sweet to the taste. (Psalm 19; 34; 119:103; Prov 16:20; Jer 17:7; 1Pet 2:3)
This process of progress takes a lifetime!
Growing into Jesus means remaining humble and being perpetual learners, and this necessitates hearing/reading, re-reading, practicing, and being molded by God’s truth and His character as expressed in His commands - to love - in particular, as we are always being tested and tempted.
The heart is deeper than we imagine so, as we walk with God and our faith grows, He exposes, little by little, areas in our hearts that are not yet redeemed or made holy through repentance and sanctification - so, even among the mature, the boundaries of His commands will appear, disappear, and reappear as each new area is revealed. This process is ongoing and is necessary for growth by God’s Spirit’s revealing to us a new area of work and our obedience for repentance and further establishing Jesus - character: love, wisdom, manner and way - in and through us (further)
It is not God‘s intentions for us to live a life of compliance, that is, compliance for compliance’ sake, but a natural loving obedience born out of reverent obedience that is fruit of the seeds of compliance
Galatians 5 speaks to our freedom, first our freedom from the law (5:1-12), second our freedom from the rule of the flesh. (5:12-26)
So why the command to honor? That we might esteem those we might not otherwise respect and esteem
So why the command to honor? That we might obey those, who, having our best interest in mind attempt to instruct, guide, protect, lead, form, shape, and facilitate into sound character, when we would prefer to go our own way, do our own thing, be our own person (at the expense of others, future selves, …
● Wisdom of
○ Cooperation (respect, consideration, value of others, compromise, team/body - together)
○ Preparation (learning, forecasting, strategizing, character development, friend making, mapping of the way or ways…)
○ Delayed gratification (prudence, value, sound judgment, opportunity cost)
● Those closest to us are
○ God and His Spirit
○ Our closest loved ones who hold places of honor
○ The fellowship of believers
Ex 20:12; Eph 6:1-2. So, to honor comes with a promise – that it will go well. And that, we must trust – God wants it to go will for us!
1Cor 6:20 “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Ex 12:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Eph 6 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.”
Romans 13:7 “Pay everyone what you owe him: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
So why the command to honor?
God knew, in all of this, we might be lured, by the enemy, into perceiving or believing that those who love us most (and therefore stand opposed to our fleshes’ desires) are actually our enemies. (Adam and Eve’s rebellion, the Serpent's deception). So, the enemy taps into our fleshes’ desires, uses the glitter of the world around us and attempts to convince us that the “now” is better and more real than the “then or later” enticing us to defend “ourselves” of true love’s intrusion into our rights, wants, perceived needs, desires.
What or who are those “true loves”? Those we might perceive as the enemy and therefore dishonor?
● God the Father - who the enemy and our flesh distorts our view of as angry and unfairly vindictive
● God the Son - who the enemy and our flesh distorts as being a gracious pushover who wants us to be happy or a nice guy, a historical figure who is not relevant for the day - who may or may not be God
● God the Holy Spirit - who the enemy and our flesh distorts as distant, too mysterious, un-understandable, not really there….
● Close family
● Close friends
● The body of Christ
● The word of God
So why the command to honor? That it might go well with us… as we listen and honor those who are committed to our best, fighting off the false belief in the flesh “being me” and the misconception that they my enemy, I will experience peace, joy, and
Who in our lives do we struggle to honor? Why?
● Do I need to give grace?
● Do I need to give the benefit of the doubt?
● Do I need to change my perspective, and with it, my attitude toward them and their role in my life?
● Do I need to remember that God has placed them in my life for a reason?
● Do I need to forgive?
Let us hold onto this truth
3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
So, this command to honor… God wants it to go well for us “plans to prosper” (Jer 29:11)
● Why are we commanded to honor? Because, we are not inclined to. The origin of sin. (Gen 3)
● The serpent did not honor God or man; Eve did not honor Adam; neither did Adam honor Eve
● They both, each and together, dishonored God
● It did not go well for them… or, us.
What does honor mean?
● Assign value; to esteem, to see as precious; to fix a value, a price; to revere or venerate
● As He did us by sending His Son
What does it then to honor?
● To esteem, to count as precious, to revere - to respect or admire someone
● According to the intrinsic merit of the one honored
● To love denoting personal attachment – God has made us His children – attached to us
What does honoring demand?
● A right perspective of God, self, and others
● A right attitude toward God, self, and others
● A humble spirit before God, self, and others
● A growing confidence in one’s position and identity in Christ confident of who we are to God
...that bears itself out in…
● Love - an agape love (Matt 22; 1Cor 13; Rom 12:9-10) – as we have been loved by God…
○ A preferential love
○ A decided love
○ A committed love
○ A staying love
○ A love that chooses the good of, what is good for, the benefit of, the object of that choice or choosing to, love (the beneficiary)
○ A love that chooses the good of the one loved even if it does not (seem to) benefit the one loving
○ A love that forgives and keeps no record of wrongs - rejoicing in the truth, it considers the fragility of one loved when assessing that person’s being worthy of our, my, love.
● Honor – as we have been honored by God – seen as precious and valuable worthy the price
When we honor... we do what God has done for us, even when we were His enemy… (Luke 2; Romans 5)
● We esteem and dignify
● We encourage goodwill
● We choose to love… even the unlovable
● We bring life
● We walk in peace - of soul, mind, and spirit
● We are free - no longer controlled by fear or contempt or disappointment
● We walk out our identity as God’s children
● We are free to love and honor… as we have been loved and honored (Rom 13:8)