There have been many songs, in the church and in popular music, written about love. In fact, if you search “love” on the Hymnary.org website you’ll find 59,040 hymn texts. The same cannot be said about “obedience.” That search turns up only 1,342 results. Apparently, we like to sing about one much more than the other!
Yet from the apostle John’s perspective, love and obedience are matching bookends. He uses family relationships to demonstrate why they connect. Because of our salvation through Christ, we’re God’s children. As children, we owe love and obedience to God, including the Father and the Son. We also owe love to one another, as members of the same family. Human families may be marred by sin, but God’s family is transformed to be like Christ.
As John explained, to trust in Christ for salvation is to be born of God (v. 1). No special knowledge is needed. To be born of God is to love God. Even further, to love God is to love His other children. Love and obedience are in fact how we can be certain that we are born again and members of God’s family (v. 2).
Love and obedience are so inseparable that we can almost regard them as the same thing (v. 3). Obedience to God’s commands is not burdensome. Why not? Because “everyone born of God overcomes the world” (v. 4). How? By trusting in the One who has already overcome the world (v. 5; 1 John 4:4). The victory, then, comes not by any merit of ours but through faith.
As Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). Spiritually, obedience is true freedom, not in the American cultural sense of doing whatever we want, but in the biblical sense of freedom from sin (John 8:34–36).
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We are awed by the work of sanctification You are doing in our hearts. We ask You to continue transforming us, replacing our selfish desires with desires that align with Your plans, so that we can obey You with joy.