OK…that was the first three effects of the love of God in our life. Here’s the…

FOURTH effect of the love of God is our lives: It distinguishes between TRUTH and ERROR.

John 4:1-6: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

To John the test of truth vs. error was simple: TRUTH confesses Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. ERROR will not.

False prophets, John says, are from this “cosmos” – this worldly way of looking at life.  But prophets of God are identified by their ability and willingness to confess Jesus Christ as God.

I did some quick research online this week about a cult that was very prominent when I was in my late teens and early 20’s. It was called The Way International. I wanted to see if it was still around. Not only is it still around – it’s going strong and its still deceiving people. It has thousands of followers.

The Way International was founded by a man (now dead) named Victor Paul Wierwille. He grew up in an evangelical church and graduated from Princeton Seminary. He was ordained in the denomination in which he grew up, the Evangelical Reformed Church.

And yet, while he believed that Jesus was the Son of God – he refused to confess that Jesus was God in human flesh. He believed that “Jesus Christ is not God – never was and never will be…When my life is over I think my greatest contribution may prove to be the knowledge and teaching that Jesus Christ is not God. Before I finish, my life may stir up the biggest beehive in Roman Catholicism and Protestantism since the religious leaders took a shot at Martin Luther.” (There’s nothing wrong with his ego either). His followers today still believe his teachings.

There’s a 49-year-old man in Siberia named Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion. He’s a Russian mystic. He founded and leads a religious movement known as the Church of the Last Testament. He has around 2,000 followers living in the settlement in Siberia and around 5,000 followers worldwide.

Vissarion claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. On August 18, 1990, when he was 29, Vissarion claims that he had a revelation that he was the reincarnation of Christ. He teaches reincarnation, veganism, the impending end of the world (or at least of civilization as we know it), and the belief of aliens.

These are just two recent examples of men claiming to know Jesus Christ – but who refuse to acknowledge him as God in human flesh.

John says if the love of God abides in you – it will empower you to know the difference between truth and error. And that TRUTH will always confess Jesus Christ was and is God in human flesh.

The next (FIFTH) effect of God’s love is that It Causes us to KNOW God.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:7-11)

There’s a big difference between “knowing about” God & “knowing God.” According to John we get to know God in one way – and one way only. It is through a Holy Spirit-inspired understanding of what God did on our behalf when He accepted the sacrifice of Jesus instead of our own to atone for our sins. John calls it “propitiation.” Some theologians call it “substitution.” That’s just a highfalutin word for saying that Jesus became what we are (sin) in order that we might become what He is (righteousness).

Just like 2 Cor. 5:21 says: “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Martin Luther once wrote to a friend: “Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You became what you were not, so that I might become what I was not.”

And John says that the result of that kind of love is that we can love others too. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

 John’s not done yet. He says God’s love has another effect (SIXTH): It Enables us to ABIDE (remain & endure) in God and Know that He ABIDES in Us.

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:12-16)

Here’s an amazing example story of “remaining” and “enduring” in God from the diary of John Wesley…

Sunday, A.M., May 5       Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday, P.M., May 5       Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday, A.M., May 12    Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either.
Sunday, A.M., May 19     Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
Sunday, P.M., May 19     Preached on street. Kicked off street.
Sunday, A.M., May 26     Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.
Sunday, A.M., June 2       Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.
Sunday, P.M., June 2       Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me.

The SEVENTH effect of God’s love in action in our lives is that It Give us CONFIDENCE in the Day of Judgment.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:17-18)

God’s love eliminates the fear of punishment for our sin. You and I will never ever be punished for our sin by God. Disciplined because of them, yes. But never punished for them. God’s love is perfected in us and it makes us perfect in God’s sight. And because of that love, we can be confident that we will never experience God’s wrath or judgment. Jesus will rescue us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). And Paul further assures us: “For God has not destined us to wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment.” (1 John 4:17)

The EIGHTH and final effect of the love of God operating in our lives is that It REVEALS the True Nature of Our Hearts and Actions.

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” (1 John 4:19-5:1)

Ian Pit-Watson comments on this when he says: “There is a natural, logical kind of loving that loves lovely things and lovely people. That’s logical. But there is another kind of loving that doesn’t look for value in what it loves, but that CREATES value in what is loves. Like Rosemary’s rag doll. When Rosemary, my youngest child, was three, she was given a little rag doll, which quickly became an inseparable companion. She had other toys that were intrinsically far more valuable, but none that she loved like she loved the rag doll. Soon the rag doll became more and more rag and less and less doll. It also became more and more dirty. If you tried to clean the rag doll, it became more ragged still. And if you didn’t try to clean the rag doll, it became dirtier still. The sensible thing to do was to trash the rag doll. But that was unthinkable for anyone who loved my child. If you loved Rosemary, you loved the rag doll—it was part of the package.”

 “If anyone says ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar.” (I John 4:20) Love me, love my rag dolls, says God, including the one you see when you look in the mirror. This is the first and greatest commandment.

What’s your motivation for loving people? Do you love them because they’re “loveable.” Or do you love them simply because they’re God’s creation? Only you and God know the answer to that question.

Here’s the bottom line. Are you experiencing the love of God? How many of these eight effects of God’s love are you experiencing in your life? These are the “proofs” that God’s love is taking effect in your life – and not some cheap imitation.

  • Reassurance of your doubting heart…Bold and effective prayer
  • A Spirit-filled life…Eyes & ears to discern truth from error
  • Knowledge of God…The grace to abide (remain & endure) in Christ
  • Confidence in the day of judgment…Godly motivation in your acts of love

Have you ever wondered why God loves you and me?  Sometimes I do. The answer is found in Deuteronomy 7:7-8. What God said to his “chosen people” 3,500 years ago, I believe applies to us as well: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you…”

God loves you and me…just because. No other reason. Just because. He loves us just because He does. And how are we supposed to respond to that love? “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:11, 19)

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