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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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What is love? It’s a question humans have pondered since the beginning of time. Sadly, what the world tries to sell as love is anything but love. So how can we know? Where does the answer truly lie?
Continuing our “Love On” study, this past weekend Pastor Doug shared from 1 John 4. In this message, we discovered what the power of perfect love is, how we can experience the fullness of it, and how we can share it with others.
Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.
Perfect Love Exposes Lies (1 John 4:1–6): In part, the apostle John wrote this letter to discredit the very lie he mentions here. You see, a movement called Docetism had begun to make its way through many churches throughout the world at that time. This movement essentially claimed that Jesus did not have a physical body, that He was only a spirit. And if this were true, then the crucifixion wouldn’t hold any weight because it would not have been a true sacrifice and real death to atone for our sins. Thus, we would still be under the curse of sin and the penalty of death.
So, John, as a spiritual father, stepped in and sought to correct this falsehood that was creeping in before it deceived many, saying, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.”
As a believer, mentor, and spiritual parent, John demonstrated true agape love for the early churches in this moment, exposing the lie and sharing hard truths with his “little children.” He understood that doctrine matters; he knew it was where the head and heart connect. He knew that apart from sound doctrine and right beliefs in Christ Jesus, believers would not be able to experience the full joy, peace, and freedom Christ freely gives us. He knew they’d be shackled by lies and a works-based spirituality that leads to disappointment, resentment, and self-hate.
Perfect Love Is Contagious (1 John 4:7–12): How do you know you’re growing and maturing as a believer? How do you know that the love of God is being perfected in you? By your love for others.
The word for “perfected” in the Greek describes a goal that is reached, something that is fully accomplished and finished to perfection. It’s complete and whole in every aspect, like when you finish a puzzle. For the believer, this means embodying true, genuine, sacrificial, perfect love for one another.
All throughout this letter, John hammers this simple truth home, explaining in detail how Christ loves us and then telling us to love others like just like Jesus loves us. This verse simply emphasizes the point that we will never be able to live in the fullness of all that God has for us if we don’t genuinely love others. We’ll be cutting ourselves off and limiting our capacity to experience all of His promises and the complete abundance of life Christ came to give us.
And here’s the beautiful thing to think about: The Bible tells us that no one has seen God. Even Moses had to turn his gaze away from the glory of the Lord. But John tells us that if we love one another like Jesus loved us, if His love overflows from us into the lives of the people around us, then they will see Him who lives in us through us. It’s just as Jesus said to Phillip in John 14:9 (NIV): “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” If you love others like Jesus loves us, then people will see Him and His love will spread like wildfire in our world.
Perfect Love Drives Out Fear (1 John 4:13–18): The love of God gives us a confidence and boldness. It allows us to trust the Father. Fear may creep in from time to time, but it will not win because we will have learned to trust the Father more than we fear the circumstance.
Consider how infants learn to be alone because they have come to trust that they are not truly alone or abandoned. They don’t have to be held every second because they know in their heart their mom or dad are never too far away, that they are for them. This is the confidence that develops between the Father and His children when they spend enough time in His presence. When we abide in Him and grow in His love, confidence and security develop.
Perfect Love Dislodges Hate (1 John 4:19–21): This is a simple truth that must be embraced by the believer: The love of God cannot possibly have a hold on us if we harbor hate for others. His love cannot be perfected in us if we hate our brother/friend/parent/coworker/neighbor/a group of people/an ethnic group/a different race/yourself.
But here is the good news . . . the perfect love of God can cause hate to dissipate; it can root out whatever hatred, apathy, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, anger, or unforgiveness we’re harboring toward someone (or towards ourselves) and heal it. And as His perfect love is made complete in us and restores us from the inside out, and conforms us to the image of His Son, His love will change the way we look at ourselves and the people around us. So, if we want to eliminate hate from our lives, if we want to see fear overcome, if we want to experience the fullness of His love and promises, we must abide in Him. When we do, He will produce amazing fruit in and through us!
Quote to Remember: We are the only Bible some people will ever read.—Doug Sauder
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
As you think about this weekend’s teaching, here are a few questions to reflect on and consider on your own, with your family, or in your group.
1. What lies has the Spirit exposed that you previously believed?
2. How can you strengthen your sense of spiritual discernment?
3. What does loving like Jesus practically look like in your life?
4. How are you showing the love of Jesus to the people around you today?
5. How has God’s love helped you overcome fear? What specific instances come to mind?
6. Why does John use such strong language regarding the believer hating his brother?
Join us for an incredible night of powerful worship and heartfelt prayer as we reflect on God’s goodness and worship Him together. As a church family, we will pursue God’s heart and lift up His name!
Then on the weekend, we’ll conclude our study through 1 John as Pastor Doug shares from 1 John 5. In this message, we’ll discover what we have when we have Jesus in our heart.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.