THE TEST OF ABIDING IS FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST AND LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN BY THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT
(Most of this involves review of previous material and making some interconnections between major themes that are woven throughout the epistle.)
Don’t lose the connection back to the power of prayer and the promise of answered prayer from verse 22.
I. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TEST OF SONSHIP AND THE TEST OF ABIDING
“And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.”
Obedience is a key theme in all of the sections.
The relationship of the believer to the Law of God:
Apparently there are some comandments of God that we need to still obey today in this age of grace! The law of God still has relevance for us. Surely any expression of the eternal moral will of God must still be conduct that pleases God. The Sermon on the Mount takes the Ten Commandments and shows us Christ’s interpretation of the original intent of the Law — that it deals with heart attitudes even more fundamentally than with external conduct. The standard is perfection.
Conversion doesn’t make me throw off the law of God to do as I please. Instead God writes His law in our hearts in the context of His grace as the law of Christ and gives us His Holy Spirit to enable us to obey — and He gives us the desire to obey. Thus the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us as we walk by His Spirit.
What the law can’t do is justify anyone or sanctify anyone — but the problem is our sin, not the goodness of God’s law. Law is not a hindrance or an enemy to faith and to love. Instead the law helps us by convicting us of sin and driving us to Christ who bore the curse of the law for us so that we could be dead to sin but alive to righteousness. We need the objective law of Christ to provide guidance for our expression of love. Otherwise we are left to our own subjective impressions of what is right and wrong. On this basis of a false type of love that is divorced from God’s standards, people are able to justify all types of ungoldliness.
II. EXPLANATION OF THE CONCEPT OF ABIDING — CF. JOHN 15
Stott: “The concept of a mutual abiding, mentioned here in this Epistle for the first time, we in Him and He in us, is derived ultimately from our Lord’s allegory of the vine and the branches (Jn. xv. 1 ff.).”
III. FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST — ITS DEVELOPMENT TO THIS POINT IN 1 JOHN
“And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ”
There has been a lot of emphasis on Truth … but this is the first mention of faith. Now this will be a major theme for the rest of the epistle.
IV. LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN — ITS DEVELOPMENT TO THIS POINT IN 1 JOHN
“and love one another, just as He commanded us”
Stott: “Reciprocal love has already been mentioned as a commandment in ii. 7, 8 (cf. 2 Jn. 6) but here for the first time faith and love are brought together (cf. Gal. v. 6). Both are the will of God, and both are commanded by Him.”
Love in a practical sense for the brethren is the evidence of genuine faith. It seems to be the critical area in each of the 3 major sections of the Epistle.
Gal. 5:6 “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”
V. INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT — ITS EMPHASIS IN THIS THIRD SECTION
“And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”