By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XV) 10/17/22

5:3 Loving God means doing what he tells us to do, and really, that isn’t hard at all;

And after Moses spent forty days and nights on Mount Sinai, he came down with this message, “I want to know what the Lord your God wants from you? The Lord, your God, wants you to respect Him and do what He says. He wants you to love Him and serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. So, obey the laws and commands of the Lord I am giving you today. These laws and commands are for your good.[1] This remained Israelite’s minds, and even after some of them were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, they did not forget.

Did not David learn this during his struggles? He was so confident that he sang: “The Lord’s teachings are perfect. They give strength to His people. The Lord’s rules can be trusted. They help even the foolish become wise. The Lord’s laws are right. They make people happy. The Lord’s commands are good. They show people the right way to live. Learning respect for the Lord is good; it will last forever. The Lord’s judgments are right and completely fair. His teachings are worth more than pure gold. They are sweeter than the best honey dripping from the honeycomb. His teachings warn His servants, and good things come to those who obey them.”[2]

Daniel, a young Hebrew carried away into exile by the Babylonians, made this a part of his daily prayer life. “O Master, great and majestic God. You never waver in your covenant commitment, never give up on those who love you, and do what you say.”[3]So this became a part of Israel’s commitment to Yahweh. Jesus promised His disciples just before His ascension, “If you love Me, show it by doing what I’ve told you to do. I will talk to the Father, and He will provide you with another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.”[4]

Since the First Covenant was the only Scripture the Apostle John had in those days, I’m willing to believe that he was aware of this Psalm and leaned upon it for inspiration. The young man who wrote the enlightening one hundred nineteenth Psalm made this vow: “I will follow Your teachings forever and ever. So, I will live in freedom because I do my best to know Your instructions. I will even debate Your rules with kings. I will not allow anyone to make me feel inferior. What joy Your commands give me! How I love them! Not only do I love Your commands, but I also honor them. I am committed to studying Your laws.”[5]  No wonder Jesus said He had not come to destroy these teachings but to show us how to follow them to their fullest potential through Him.[6]

Solomon personified these teachings as “Wisdom.”  And he proclaimed: “Wisdom will lead you to a life of joy and peace. Wisdom is like a life-giving tree to those who hold on to her; she is a blessing to those who keep her close at hand.”[7]  And the prophet Micah in a section where he addresses what God wants from His people writes, “People, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God.”[8]. Still, John is interested in his readers knowing that following the Anointed One’s teachings, which were given to Him by God, is not all that difficult, but they are beneficial.

Jesus repeats this when teaching His disciples about their place in Him, the vine, as branches, “I have obeyed My Father’s commands, and He continues to love Me. In the same way, if you obey my commands, I will continue to love you. I have told you these things so that you can have the true happiness that I have. I want you to be delighted. This is what I command you: Love each other as I have loved you. The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends. If you do what I tell you to do, you are my friends.[9] Unfortunately, we do not hear this as often as we should in preaching today. It is all about God loving you, being in love with you, and liking you just the way you are. John was not being hardheaded or demanding.

But the Lord has another message He wanted those who followed Him to hear. He told them that the person who is aware of My commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves Me. And the person who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love them and make Myself known to them because a loveless world is a sightless world. If anyone loves Me, they will carefully keep My word, and My Father will love them – we will move right into the neighborhood! Not loving Me means not keeping My teachings. The message you are hearing isn’t Mine, said Jesus, it’s a message from My Father who sent Me.[10]

Jesus knew that tough talk needed strong support. What evidence could He give them? There was none better than His. So, He told them that He loved them the way His Father loved Him. Therefore, He said, put yourselves at ease. If you keep My commands, you’ll be content in My love. That’s what I’ve done – kept My Father’s commands and made Myself at home in His love. So, if you want to be friends with Me, do what I’ve told you to do.[11] In his second Epistle, the Apostle John emphasizes this same point, “If we love God, we will do whatever He tells us to. And He told us from the very beginning to love each other.”[12]

Yet, the lesson for the Apostle John’s readers wasn’t over. Just as Jesus was, so John must have enjoyed reading the Psalms. He read that God’s revelation is error-free and keeps our lives as they should be. God’s traffic signs are clear and point to the holy highway. The life maps of God are accurate, directing to a better way. The directions of God are fair and easy to follow. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate to the last degree. God’s Word is better than a diamond on a gold ring. You’ll like it better than fresh fruit in spring. But there’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise, how will we find our way?[13] The same young psalmist who wrote that also said later, “I’m going to keep on obeying you, God, forever and forever, simply by living within the limits of Your laws, oh how I cherish Your statutes! How I enjoy Your commands! I honor and treasure Your instructions. I constantly meditate on your guidelines.”[14]

After King Solomon asked God for wisdom in ruling over His people, he discovered that such wisdom was a blessing.  So, he paid Wisdom this compliment, “Wisdom ensures living a long, good life, being content with honor, pleasure, and peace.[15] That’s why God gave the prophet Micah this assurance to give to Israel, “God has already made it plain how to live, what to do, what He is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.”[16]

So, going back to where this all began, Jesus had all this backing Him up in telling everyone that He saw these words as one command, love one another as I love you, as God loves you, and as I love God. That is why His offer of salvation was so meaningful and promising. He told everyone and anyone who felt tired, worn out, and burned out trying to keep all the laws to come to Him, attend a retreat with Him, and recover his life. Then our Lord promised, “I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the harmonious rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me, and you’ll learn to live freely and unburdened.”[17]

The Apostle Paul passed on what he learned by following and obeying the Anointed One. He told the Roman believers that he loved to do God’s will for his life since it satisfied his new nature as a child of God.[18] And the author of Hebrews took a page out of the prophet Jeremiah’s writings to tell his readers that the LORD wanted to write a new covenant with the people of Israel. It isn’t going to be written externally in a book; God won’t chisel it in stone. Instead, God says, this time, I’m writing out the plan internally, carving it on the lining of your hearts. “I’ll be your God; you’ll be My people.”[19]

The reason for the Apostle John’s previous statement. “This is how love is made complete;”[20] so that we “keep His commandments which not burdensome.”[21] These are the words, not merely of an inspired apostle but an aged man, with vast experience with life and its difficulties. The Greek adjective barys (“burdensome”) is relative depending on what is demanded and the ability to comply. Being in union with God’s Will proves that obedience is not a sentence to hard labor for any Christian.

We see how the Apostle John folds three spiritual dynamics into one: 1) trust the truth, 2) apply the truth, and 3) manifest the truth in your love for God. Believers who bring these dimensions together show their spiritual abilities. Notice that “for” in the opening of verse three explains what verse two is about. Applying God’s principles to experience is the key to finding out if we love God’s family. Love in God’s economy involves more than sentimental affection; God’s love revolves around His principles. “For” explains the reality that our love for God is synonymous with doing His commandments. Our love for God is at issue here, not God’s love for us. When we obey divine directives for our lives, we demonstrate love for God. Observation of God’s commandments flows from loving Him. Keeping God’s instructions keeps us in the sphere of His will because His directives reveal His character.[22] Thus, Christians apply divine ordinances to their lives because they love God. 

Furthermore, believers show God’s character by relating His Word to their experiences. Each time they apply the principles of God’s Word, they reveal His glory. But some might ask, is it possible to blaspheme God’s love? If we claim to love God but live contrary to His principles, we revile His name and detract from His glory.  People will then speak against the Bible and God’s name because we do not live consistently with His truth. The Apostle Paul confirmed this principle in his letter to Titus.[23] The Word of God is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It is our compass, our plumb line for life, and our measuring rod of truth. The Bible is our standard of living, so there is no relative ethics in biblical Christianity. Comparative ethics say that what’s wrong in Europe is all right in the United States. Nor are they any situation ethics in God’s Word, where lying is wrong if you do it under oath but right if you lie to protect a friend. Biblical commands are always accurate in any culture of any age. They never change. They are the same in every period of history and in every society.

[1] Deuteronomy 10:12-13

[2] Psalm 19:7-11

[3] Daniel 9:4

[4] John 14:15

[5] Ibid. 119:44-48, Cf. 119:103-104, 127-128, 140

[6] See Matthew 5:17

[7]Proverbs 3:17-18

[8]Micah 6:8

[9]John 15:10-14

[10] Ibid. 14:21-24

[11] Ibid. 15:9-10, 14

[12] 2 John 1:6

[13] Psalm 19:7-11

[14] Ibid. 119:45, 47-48; See 119:103-104, 127-128, 140

[15] Proverbs 3:17

[16] Micah 6:8 – The Message

[17] Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message

[18] Romans 7:12

[19] Hebrews 8:10

[20] 1 John 4:17

[21] Ibid. 5:3

[22] 2 John 1:6

[23] Titus 2:5

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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