I will never forget that moment in my life during my late twenties. It was an indelible mark in my history. God spoke into my heart in a most powerful way. It wasn’t audible, but it may as well have been. I was sure it was from him, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I had been laboring over a decision for weeks. I had multiple opportunities in front of me for the upcoming summer, and yet I was stressed over the choice. I spent some extended time alone with God praying about the options. It finally became clear to me how much fear was involved in the decision. I was afraid that if I made the wrong choice, God would punish me in some way. (To be clear – none of these were moral decisions.)
Then God spoke. He brought 1 John 3:1 to my attention, which says,
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…
God reminded me in that moment that I had freedom to make the choice I wanted. What he was more concerned about was that I live in the freedom that exists for his children. In my fear, I was not living like a child of God. I was remaining in the bondage that fear brings. When God spoke, it was a game changer moment for me and one I will never forget.
This Sunday we will launch a new series for preaching and study in 1 John. We will trace out what it means to live as a child of God and dearly loved by him. Just as I learned on that special day, though, it is one thing to be a child of God and it is entirely another thing to live as a child of God. For the latter to be true, I must pursue a constant awareness and joy of abiding in God. As 1 John 4:15 says,
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
This key verse reminds us of an important reality: We cannot abide in God unless he chooses to abide in us. God does this through the powerful work of Christ the Son which is then applied by the Holy Spirit. This is what we were made for—an eternal, abiding relationship with God.
As we trace out this concept of God abiding in us and us in him, we will see three essential and related aspects: light, love, and life. I briefly explain each below and offer a way you can pray.
Children of God who abide in God choose daily to live in the light and not in the darkness. This means that, as we live out of our true identity in Christ, we will aggressively fight sin. You cannot enjoy a fruitful life with God and embrace your sin. Take a moment to ask God to help you live your life in the light and not in darkness.
As I shared above from chapter 3, we are loved children of God. He came after us in his love, and he keeps us in that same love. God wants us to daily rest in his love. First John will help us see a related opportunity as well: we can and should express our love to God as we enjoy our relationship with him. One way we do this is through obedience. As 1 John 5:3 says,
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Take a moment to ask God to help you express your love to him in obedience and reveal any area in your life where you need to submit to him.
God wants us to live a full life in him that comes from the assurance of our salvation. This is the explicit purpose of this epistle, as 1 John 5:13 says,
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
This isn’t blind confidence or rash presumption. God wants us to live in daily assurance of our eternal, intimate relationship with him. Ask God to further build in you the joy and confidence of his work through Jesus Christ on your behalf.
As we begin this study, we can look forward to how God will massage these truths into our lives on a deeper level. A deeper joy will be the result. I know I personally need that. I trust you do, too. So, let’s start praying. Let’s start studying. And let’s continue to pursue God as we experience his love and fruit in our lives.