1 John 5:3-5 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
There is so much of extreme value and importance in this chapter! That’s why meditation on the Word is so valuable: we can’t take it in by just casual reading. Some people would think this particular passage is largely theoretical, but it is actually extremely practical. We tend to say we love God, but John here quotes what he heard Jesus said in the Upper Room: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) That’s where the rubber hits the road! In our human foolishness, we tend to rebel against God’s commands, but here John expresses why that is so very foolish: it is obedient faith that brings us victory in all the challenges of life. The devil wants us to think that God’s commands are just to bind us and hold us back, when nothing could be further from the truth. Where they hold us back, it is to keep us from going over the edge of the cliff! Properly understood, God’s commands should be a source of deep gratitude. That’s the position the writer of Psalm 119 had come to, which is why that Psalm is so worthy of meditation. Many people feel defeated in life, and here we have the secret to consistent victory: obedient faith. There is no end to the self-help books that promise victory in various areas. Some of them may be helpful, but here we have the key that unlocks it all. One problem that many people have is their understanding of what it means that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. If we fail to see God as infinite and absolute, we can’t grasp what and how much it means that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s why they devil works so hard to erode the belief in absolute truth of any kind. In recent years he has been sadly successful! If we want victory in life, and who doesn’t, then we have to accept that God is God, and He loves us so much that He sent His Son, and live accordingly.
This is of extreme relevance to me, not just personally but in my ministry in Japan. A major problem with the spread of the Gospel in Japan has been the lack of belief in an absolute, omnipotent Creator. Japan calls itself “The Land of 8 Million Gods,” and there are quite probably more than that even in Shinto, which is where the expression came from. When you add in Japanese Buddhism, which essentially makes anyone who dies an object of worship, you get many times that number. That makes the commitment even of many Japanese church members rather shaky. If things don’t seem to be working out as they try “this Christian thing,” they are all too prone to dump it and try something else. There’s naturally no victory in that! However, that attitude isn’t limited to Japan. I know of Americans who have seemed to be very earnest Christians who have suddenly turned their backs on the whole thing. The devil has deceived them, blinding them to the truth that is expressed here. I am to pray for all such people that the Truth may indeed set them free. (John 8:32) Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not be able to stand against His Church, made up of those who have genuinely acknowledged Him as Lord. (Matthew 16:18) I am to be sure that I am in that number, and speak the truth in love so that as many people as possible may be added to it.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I am reminded all too often of my own inability to be victorious. Help me indeed take my eyes off of myself and fix them on Jesus, (Hebrews 12:2) just as I encourage others to do, so that we may all experience the victory that is ours in Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!