In these 21 verses John in this chapter covers two fundamental issues which were not only present when John was writing this Epistle, but in my opinion is / should be a major concern for Christians living today.
During 2020 the number of people watching church services online sometimes from the otherside of the world has increased dramatically, allowing people to ‘dip in and out’ finding new preachers. I have listened to some different preachers, some I’ve liked and some not so. Unfortunately this has given those who either have their own agenda / persuasion a platform, with the risk for those who are new in their journey with Christ or not rooted in Scripture of being at risk of believing in false teachings and they may not think to ‘test’ what has been spoken. I found it interesting in verse 3 “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” [ESV] When you’re younger you are taught about the antichrist in Revelation / end times, and that there will be false preachers / prophets but here we read how the spirit of the antichrist is already amongst us. My understanding of this text, is that when someone is intentionally preaching scripture in a false precept or making false prophecies there is a demonic element to it.
The second fundamental issue in this text comes in verse 8 “because God is love” [EVS] this verse has been misinterpreted by numerous people, as they think and proclaim because ‘God is love’ they can carry on living their lives as they want, or it’s okay for fellow Christians to live in their sinful nature. But for God to be God He has to be just, and in 1 Samuel 15:29 Samuel reminds Saul that God is not human and is out of time and space and what he found sinful at the dawn Creation He still finds it sinful today (paraphrased). In Romans 6:1-14 Paul tells us that we shouldn’t / want to carry on sinning, with my analogy being when we truly love someone we don’t intentionally do something which we know will upset them, so why do we think it’s okay to purposefully sin?
God is love in His nature and we are made in His image, “The statement refers to his action. Yet it signifies more than “God loves.” for its effect is to claim that all God’s action is loving. Since love is a personal activity, the statement stresses the personality of God to the fullest extent.” #1 (I. Howard Marshall) During His ministry Jesus left us with two commandments love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbour as ourselves with the key word here being ‘love’.
This coming week think when was the last time you tested the message which had been spoken either online or in a physical service? and when you hear the phrase ‘God is love’ what do you think?
All Bible verse quotes and links are from http://www.biblegateway.com with the quote #1 taken from The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistles of John – page 213 by I. Howard Marshall