Love and Obedience ~ 20200913 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
09/13 Love and Obedience (John 14-15; 1 John 4); Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20200913_love-obedience.mp3
We’ve been talking about obeying Jesus. We obey what Jesus commands us when we believe in him, see him in all the Scriptures, abide in him and pray to him, give him our primary allegiance, treasure him above all else, and anticipate his coming. We obey him when we proclaim the gospel and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the triune God, and endure suffering for the sake of his name. We honor Jesus when filled with the Holy Spirit, we walk by faith, rest, worship and remember him, when we love God, neighbor and enemy, when love one another and extend hospitality to others, and in humility serve the least.
Love – The Motive for Obedience
There’s a lot that Jesus expects of his followers, but we must understand the motive, where our obedience comes from. Jesus said:
Obeying everything Jesus commands must be rooted in love for him. Obedience flows out of love. If we love, we will obey. Obedience is evidence of love. We may say that we love Jesus, but if we don’t obey him, it demonstrates that we don’t really love him. Obedience flows out of our affections for Jesus. We want to do what pleases him because we love him. That’s the only sustainable kind of obedience.
Love and Obedience in Deuteronomy
I want you to see that this connection between love and obedience is not new with Jesus. What Jesus teaches is in continuity with the Old Testament. In the Ten Commandments, God requires that we worship no other gods, and that we do not use images in our worship, because he is a jealous God who punishes iniquity,
In Deuteronomy 6, we are told that the commandments were given so that God’s people would fear him.
We are commanded to love God with heart and soul and might, and if we love God, we will love his commandments; we will keep them on our hearts and on our lips and we will pass them on to others.
In Deuteronomy 7, God is described as
God keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him, those who keep his commandments. The flip side of this is that he repays to their face those who hate him. To refuse to keep his commands is to hate him.
This sounds harsh, but we need to back up in Deuteronomy 7 and look at what comes before: He warns them to guard themselves against anything that would turn their hearts away from following the Lord.
You are a set apart people, a people freely chosen by God above other people. You are treasured, his treasured possession. You have been rescued and redeemed, God loves you because he loves you. Therefore, know that this God who is God above all is faithful, and he keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments. God initiates. We are to reciprocate. We are to love because he first loved us.
Jesus’ Obedience to His Father
In John 14, Jesus is talking about leaving his disciples and he promises to send the Holy Spirit to be in them. He is on his way to the cross. At the end of John 14, Jesus holds up his own obedience as a proclamation of his own love for the Father.
Do you know why Jesus died on the cross? Because God so loved the world. Because he was made sin on my behalf. In order to drink the cup of God’s wrath that I deserve, as the Lamb of God sacrificed in my place. Those are all right answers to why Jesus died. But here in John 14, Jesus says that he is ‘obedient’ to his Father ‘to the point of death, even death on a cross’ (Phil.2:8) so that the world may see his love for his Father. Christ’s obedience to the command of his Father is the most powerful demonstration of God the Son’s own love for his Father.
Jesus invites us to proclaim our love for him by our obedience.
The one who has and who keeps the commandments of Jesus is the one who loves Jesus, and is the one who is loved by both the Father and the Son.
Here the opposite is stated; it is the one who does not love Jesus who does not keep his words. And Jesus’ words are the Father’s words. To disobey Jesus’ words is to disobey the Father who sent him.
Abiding and Obeying
In John 15, Jesus invites his followers to abide in him, in intimate communion and relationship, like branches in the true vine, so that we bear much fruit.
Jesus is saying that the proof of a genuine disciple is about remaining in his love, remaining in intimate communion and fellowship with him.
He says ‘as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.’ Did you hear that? Exactly how deeply and profoundly does the Father love his only Son? That is the kind of love Jesus has for you! That should cause our knees to buckle! And this is past; ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you’; indicating the fullness, the completeness of his love. The command to us is to abide, to remain in his love. How do we do that? How do we remain in his love? We keep his commandments, just as Jesus kept his Father’s commandments and abides in his love. Our obedience demonstrates our love. We abide, we remain in close and intimate relationship with him.
It is Jesus’ words coursing through our veins and our asking connection to him in prayer and his Spirit living inside, empowering our fruitful action that characterize this abiding. This is New Covenant Spirit wrought obedience, in accord with Ezekiel 36:27
He gives us a new heart and a new spirit. The Holy Spirit is the effective cause of our obedience. Jesus says:
Jesus’ purpose for us is that we bear much and abiding fruit to the glory of God.
Love, Abiding, and Obedience; 1 John
If our fruitful abiding is characterized by obedience to his commands, and if our obedience is an outworking of our love for him, where does this love come from? We see this same connection between obedience and love in the letter of 1 John.
John again connects this abiding with keeping his commandments with the transforming New Covenant work of the Holy Spirit.
This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. That’s what loving God looks like. And his commands are not a burden but a joy.
The Source of Love;
So where does this love that expresses itself in obedience come from? John tells us.
God is love. If we truly love God and love one another, it is evidence that we have been born of God, born again by the Spirit. Love is from God, and it is produced in us by the new birth.
Love is from God, and God displayed his love by sending his only Son Jesus to be crucified as the wrath propitiating sacrifice for our sins. This is where love comes from.
John here connects abiding with the gift of the Holy Spirit given to all who confess Jesus. Where does our love originate? We look to Jesus, to the cross. We come to know and believe the love that God has for us. Our love is derived from the love that God has for us. Our love is rooted in God, who is love, who ‘loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’
God’s love made manifest in Christ on the cross brings about our confidence for the day of judgment. Because God loved us by sending his Son to die for us, all fear of God’s just punishment is cast out forever. Here it is:
We obey Jesus because we love him and desire to please him. We love because he first loved us. He chose us to be his own treasured possession. We have been set apart, loved, rescued, redeemed. We love because he first loved us. We can’t understand love, we don’t even know love apart from his love.
Love is demonstrated in obedience, and we love because he first loved us.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org