I JOHN 3:23-24: “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: What is the evidence of true faith? The answer to this question will either lead someone to a life of legalism or a life of freedom. A life of legalism is marked by a growing and ever changing list of requirements and expectations that are placed upon one’s life. Legalism tries to achieve and maintain one’s standing before God through works. Legalism leads us back to the bondage from which we have been set free. Freedom, on the other hand, is being liberated by the Spirit of God to live in the power of God’s Grace and Mercy.
Jesus died so that we could be set free. Jesus died so that we could live in the newness of the Spirit. The essence of true faith is really very simple. John clarifies it with only two points. The first is to believe in the name of Jesus Christ. The second is to love one another. This is really nothing new. It is simply a restatement of the Great Commandment – “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus proclaimed – “On these hang all the law and the prophets.” To add anything to these two commandments is to deny the words of Jesus. To embrace them and to do them is to live in the power of His Grace and Mercy, by the Holy Spirit.
Why do we tend to complicate faith? Why do we make it a list of do’s and don’ts? I have often pondered this question. I think it is hard for us to believe that the evidence of true faith can really be that simple. That to believe in Jesus Christ and to love one another really can’t be enough. So we layer on our own commandments. Instead of learning to walk by the Spirit in the love of Christ, we begin to create our own list of what it means to love. This list then becomes a standard by which we judge people. It becomes a wall, a litmus test, and ultimately a place of pride which divides us.
Someone may object and ask – “What about truth?” To understand that the evidence of true faith is simply to believe in Jesus Christ and love one another does not deny truth. In fact, to believe in Jesus Christ is to affirm and uphold all of His teachings. When we truly learn to walk after the Spirit of God, to truly love our neighbor as ourself, we will find our lives moving continually toward the truth of God’s Word. A life that loves God, and loves others, will not dismiss the Word of God or diminish it in any way. Rather, it will honor, obey, and uphold it. It will do this however from the power of Grace and Mercy, not from the effort of self will and works. What we could not do in the power of our weak sinful flesh – we now can do through the power of the Holy Spirit through love! Love always upholds God’s truth!
This morning Lord, help me to focus on the true evidence of faith. May I love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength – and may I love my neighbor as myself. Fill me anew with Your Holy Spirit. Enable me this morning to walk in the power of Your Grace and Mercy. Help me to let go of my own works and learn to live through Your love in the power of Your Holy Spirit!
In Jesus Name!