(1 John 2:1-6) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
In reading this passage of holy scripture we find some truths that fly in the faces of our contemporary Christianity.
John declares (vs. 1) that his purpose in writing is “so you may not sin“. This flies in the face of our Christian culture, where we are in a hurry to convince ourselves and other other that we’re not legalistic. Often times without thought Christians admit in error that that they sin all the time. Even a cursory reading of I John reveals the error of such thinking. John’s statement in verse one (as well as the remainder to the book), calls us to live and practice righteousness as He is righteous; to be holy as He Himself is holy.
Secondly it reveals the grace of God we have in Christ, should miss the mark and sin: Our Advocate Jesus Christ. In chapter 1:9 we find that Jesus Christ secured forgiveness for all our sin, as well as the cleansing and power we need not to repeat the sin.
In addition, we find that the Christians who follows Christ, obeying His commands, truly knows Jesus Christ. The other side of that equation is that no matter how much a person declares they believe in Jesus or claims to follow Him, without obeying, they are nothing more than a liar, not having the truth in them. We also understand that person who knows Christ, as they keep His commands, is a living representation of God’s love being perfected, because Jesus (God in human flesh? is love.
As we dig, we discover that more than what we speak with our mouths, concerning our state of relationship to Christ, much more our actions in obeying His commands reveal the genuineness of our faith.
Perhaps this is no more clearly stated than in
(1 John 2:5-6) By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
Most Christians, reading these verses, would agree. Some would even have a heart seeking to live this truth. Doing so takes an understanding of how Jesus walked; which takes more than a consideration of His actions. To understand how to walk as he walked, takes grasping His foundational disposition. To do this we must understand His incarnation.
(Philippians 2:5-8) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross
Christ Jesus, as the Eternal Word of God, has existed always as God. Without beginning or end, without limit of knowledge, power or presence; He is God. Although equal to God the Father and Holy Spirit, the Living Word did not hold on to His right to express His glory (for the purpose of redeeming men, who are made in His image) . The word reveals that in being begotten as the Son of God (Psalm 2:7), “made Himself of no reputation”.
This important phrase (kenoō in the Greek) means He deprived Himself of what His equality with God afforded Him. To say it another way, the Living Word made flesh, emptied himself of His prerogative or right to express His Divine nature, unless commanded to by the Holy Spirit. This of course was for a time, until after He was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven; where ceased upon His prerogative again. This does not mean that as the Christ He was not God, for only God could have accomplished redemption, as the perfect man.
Here is the point: Jesus walk was to make “Himself of no reputation” in every aspect of His life. This we see from Philippians 2:7:9…
“but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross”
To summarize Jesus disposition: He walked in perfect selflessness, humility and obedience to God’s will. His life was not His own. His actions never for Himself. He embodied Love for God the Father and perfect commitment to the will of God.
If we say we abide in Him, we ought to walk in the same manner as He walked. We are to walk with a heart absolutely surrendered to Him, where our actions more and more are selfless, humble, obedient and a growing manifestation of Christ’s love for our Father.
Herein is a very great difficulty. In order for Christians in America to accomplish this we need a radical disengagement from our cultural idea of independence as a God given right (at least as Americans define independence)—we need a radical departure from seeking material good and provision as blessing—we need to disengage from seeking comfort and ease.
We also need to stop using religious philosophy to water down the meaning of salvation, holiness and Holy Spirit power. We must take up Jesus call with out diluting it that “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take us his cross and come follow me (Luke 9:23).
W.W.J.D. does not work, because it has been commercialized to the point of trivialization. Sinning sports hero’s, Hollywood stars and politicians, where W.W.J.D. proudly, while redefining the His walk to fit their agenda. Followers of Jesus should not need to even ask the question. If we will be like Christ, as He walked, it is time to let Him into the seat of leadership in your heart (Ephesians 3:17). This is not for the purpose of Him being the silent guest, but our Sovereign King, ruling and living His life through us. Not only is this possible, it is His command.
It is also the only way for us to live, as He lives His life through us by the power of His Spirit leading us. In closing consider Galatians 2:20, from the King James translation, which is the most accurate rendering of the passage.
Galatians 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
ARE YOU SEEKING TO WALK, EVEN AS HE HIMSELF WALKED?
I am very blessed by your sharing and insight into the true things of God. I am just sharing the below writing with you to blend in with the heart of God in His people. This is just to you personally as there is a mutual knowing how the Body of Christ in our land is in great need of a move of His Spirit to repair the breaches, the lukewarmness and the sectarian spirit of the world which has divided His People from one another. I pray that His Spirit would continue to minister through you the same message that He is sending out today to those who have ears to hear.
The Holy Love of God
DIMENSIONS OF HIS LOVE
“THE BREADTH AND LENGTH AND DEPTH AND HEIGHTH”
“GOD IS Love”
1 JOHN 4:8, 16
Having felt impressed to write a single article on God’s love it is now apparent that this will be a series of short writings in an attempt to present a brief outline of this majestic subject. The enormity of such an undertaking, and the sense of total ineptness on my part, is coupled with a prayer that HE who chooses the weak things to confound the mighty, the base things to confound the wise, may be pleased to do so here.
I remember probably 35 years ago pondering the responsibilities that God has given to men and the great need we have to draw from HIM the resources to be found faithful in all of the different aspects of our lives. The man of God must be a good husband learning by Christ’s example to love his wife AS Christ loves the church. The man of God must be a good father who discovers through his experience with the Heavenly Father to raise his children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. Failure in these prevents us from having the experience and understanding to be expressions of wisdom in the Church.
“But if anyone does not know how to rule his own house,
how will he care for an assembly of God?”
1 Timothy 3:5
The man of God must be a good employee/employer as we recognize our accountability unto Him. The man of God must also be a witness and an example to the world without where we walk in wisdom and righteousness. As I contemplated these things the scripture in Ephesians 3:18 came alive and I was struck with the fact that there are four dimensions of knowing Him and His Love that we are to discover and experience.
“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge”
The first dimension is the height of this LOVE. It is here that we must see that every aspect of God’s dealings with us is to enable us to discover that HE IS HOLY. Failure to understand Holiness will dim and corrupt our ability to know His other dimensions; knowing HIS breadth, length and depth. Scripture is clear that “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord”. It is the responsibility of all those who minister to the people of God to set forth a clear presentation of the Living Christ. In so doing the hope would be that each life would see THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE and forsake everything in pursuit of the acquisition of Him. Without the aspect of Holiness men will not see HIM as HE is.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:
And the knowledge of the holy is understanding”
There is a much today in terms of instruction, and scriptural facts concerning the Christ, but it is not the “knowledge of the holy” which is the true understanding of God. Men who know not of “the HOLY” know not God as they ought for God IS HOLY.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit…”
In our religious world today there are many forms of contriteness and humility but unless these qualities are the RESULT of seeing Him they will always fall short of being the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Watchman Nee remarked in the book “Release of the Spirit” that there are many types of brokenness but the only brokenness of any value is that which brings the release of the Spirit of God into the lives of others. So it is with every facet of the Fruit of the Spirit.
The absolute truth that God is Holy and that God is Love is the revelation of WHO and WHAT HE is in HIMSELF. These are not attributes. They are HIS intrinsic self (HIS NATURE) and as such all that HE does flows from the great substance of HIS BEING. We can no more remove the wonder of HIS Holiness from HIS Love than we can take the element of hydrogen from water and still expect to have water. The church of today has in fact removed that element from HIS expression and because of this it is left with a love that is soulish, tepid, secular and devoid of the power and the pulse of the Holy Spirit. This will taint the expressions of love that are poured forth from the life of the individual believer. The most blatant result seen today is the lack of LOVE between the members of the Body of Christ. Those who have the fear of the Lord know that they are not free to pick and choose which brother they will interact with for the LOVE of GOD is without partiality. They have a holy sense of the connectedness of the Body of Christ and are able to extend that LOVE of GOD to other believers because they ARE His body. They know the flow of that LOVE, for it is based upon HIS Nature not upon a brother’s worthiness or capacity. This is where the breadth and length of the expressions of God’s love is determined by the height of a man’s understanding. If there is no comprehension of the height the love becomes earthly and human in its expression. Without the height men become very comfortable with the status quo of the day, exhortation and reproof are seen as expressions that contradict this “love”, and we become apathetic, lethargic and deceived with our current condition.
In the letter to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation we see a God who pronounced judgment upon the Church at Ephesus for leaving their “re-eminent love”. In the Church at Pergamos we see false teachings were being embraced because God’s Holiness was not presented in their lives. We could expound on the other issues found in each of these locations but the cure for all of them is a people who live in the fear of God. Men who fear God have no interest in the approval of men.
Concerning the breadth of God’s love we must come to see that HIS love in us will love not only every brother who is truly a part of the Body of Christ but also those who are contrary and opposed to all that God is. A love that truly loves its enemies prays for them even to the point of blessing them. The absolute breadth of such a love is truly beyond understanding. This love is beyond the manufacture of men, beyond human ability or desire, and it almost seems to contradict our very understanding of Justice and Truth. The breadth of such a love is revealed in the first martyr as we see Stephen being stoned and asking God to forgive them! It is one thing for us to forgive men for their deeds but it is another thing altogether to ask God to forgive them eternally! It is no wonder Paul prays for us to be “strengthened to lay hold” of such a love (Ephesians 3:16).
In our consideration of the length of this love we must grasp the enduring love of God who has gone to great lengths of patience and long-suffering with us in our walk with Him. This same love will produce in us a love that will continue to love in the face of indifference and rejection. This is the love that will enable us to suffer long with a brother who refuses to grow, develop, or overcome the obstacles of life. It is a love that, because of God’s Holiness, will not compromise with a brother’s walk but will ever seek to raise them up to the CALL of God to holiness and righteousness. In this dimension there is a suffering born of the knowledge of God’s provisions and HIS own priestly concern over the life of every one of HIS. This is a love that will go to every length within its sphere to see HIS people rise and walk with their Holy God! It is from such a love that the ministrations of encouragement, admonishment, reproof and intercessory prayer is born. They who know little of this dimension of God’s love will have little impact upon the Body of Christ.
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord,
we persuade men…”
2 Corinthians 5:11
(Read the full context of this scripture)
When I began to contemplate the mystery of this fourfold knowing of HIM and HIS LOVE I was impacted by the realization that in earthly things my concepts were only three dimensional. Having enjoyed drafting and drawing buildings and such when I was younger it occurred to me that one of those words used in Ephesians 3:18 was beyond my capacity to know. In studying the Greek words used for all of these dimensions I came across the word that is translated depth. This Greek word is a mariner’s term used to describe the ocean and its depths. As sailors they understood they were merely moving upon its surface but that below that surface there was a whole other realm of life about which they knew nothing. Praise the LORD! It is the same Greek word that Jesus used when He invited the disciples …
“Launch out into the deep,
and let down your nets…”
“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:
for the Spirit searcheth all things,
yea, the deep things of God”
1 Corinthians 2:10
Can we not hear HIM inviting us to leave the shallow waters of men’s concepts, traditions and teachings and launch ourselves into the depths of HIS BEING where light, glory and LIFE abound? Do we not instinctively sense depths within HIM that surpass knowledge and words, books and sermons, where the Apostle Paul himself declares that he saw and heard things which cannot be uttered? These are things which men cannot articulate for they are beyond the speech of men, beyond the reach of the human mind and are only shown to those who have made holiness of life and purity of heart their pursuit.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:
for the Spirit searcheth all things,
yea, the deep things of God”
My prayer is that together we will explore the unfathomable dimensions of His Love, for to love Him is to know Him and to know Him is to love Him.