Faith in the Incarnate Son of God
5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
This is one of the best set of verses about the role of obedience in a Christian's life. Specifically, John shows us the relationship between love and obedience. And the most important thing is the order of these two words. Love doesn't come from obedience, but obedience flows out of love. We obey God because he loved us first. God chooses us and lavishes His love upon us, and when we receive this love through His Son we are born again. God's love is now a part of us.
And I believe the most important verse in this passage is, "And his commands are not burdensome". So many think following God is out of obligation, or because they have to. But God wants us to obey out of love. Part of love is trusting in the person you love. What pleases God is not our outward obedience to the Law, but the obedience that comes through the heart yielded to him. When you are carrying out a command in love it is not out of fear. As we heard yesterday perfect loves casts out all fear.
When we are carrying out a command it doesn't seem burdensome, because we are willingly choose to do it. Just like when we give out of love and not obligation, it is freeing. Of course we can do things out of obligation and duty, and there are benefits. But God is more interested in the relationship. He is more interested in the why than the what. In fact in John 15, John compares a Christian's life to a Vine and it's branches. All the branch has to do is remain in the Vine. If it does it will bear fruit. It will not eke out fruit through lots of dutiful effort. The promise is that as we remain in the Vine, we will bear fruit that will last. Why will it last? Because it is Christ's work flowing through us. It is not burdensome, it is actually quite easy and organic.
So how do you view obedience? Do you experience it as joy or burden? If it is a burden it is not of God! God wants you to experience joy not burden. This is why he went to the cross for us. Take off the burdensome form of obedience and live life in the Vine. God will do things through you that you could not do for yourself.