John opens his first letter (340) by saying that Jesus has left us with a choice. Either we can continue to live in the darkness of the world, or we can live in the light of fellowship with Jesus. When we insist that we are sinless, we remain in darkness. When we admit our sinfulness, we come into in the light.
Living in the light of Jesus is evidenced by what we actually do, not just by what we say. If we say we love God while we hate other people, our claim of loving God is a lie.
Hatred for other people typically arises from our ungodly love for the things of this world. But this world is temporary, John says, while life after physical death is permanent. As to where that permanent life will be lived, John echoes Jesus by insisting that love for the world leads to hell, while love for God leads to heaven.
When we live this earthly life in constant fellowship with Jesus, the upside is that we are no longer obligated to sin; we can actually live without sinning! But the downside is that our sinless lives will attract the hatred of the world around us. In this context, John again insists that sinless living necessarily involves loving other people, as Jesus has commanded.
John then warns about the importance of distinguishing the spirits of the world from the Spirit of God. We know that people have the Spirit of God when they confess that Jesus is the Christ promised by God, and when they freely love other people.
Since God has loved us so much in sending his son Jesus to die for our sins, certainly we should love other people in the same unselfish way.
The love of God in our hearts – inspired by our faith in Jesus & evidenced by our love for other people — is powerful.
- Love overcomes all our fear of the hatred of this wicked world, which is ruled by Satan.
- As we love God & are ruled by him in this world, we are preserved by God forever.
(340) 1 John 1-5