Obedience to God and Love to the Saints

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Perfect obedience characterized the life of Christ here on earth. He was ever the dependent One, ever the obedient One. “In the volume of the book” it was written of Him, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:77Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. (Hebrews 10:7)). And when on earth, He could say, “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me” (John 5:3030I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)). And again, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:2929And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)). This was perfect obedience.
But His path of obedience to the Father was also the perfect exhibition of God’s love to man. His words, His ways, His acts, all spoke of God’s love to His guilty creatures. And the cross was the full revelation of this, together with the infinitely perfect expression of His obedience to God the Father. In the life of Christ as a man on earth perfect obedience and perfect love were united; and the life in which these were displayed in Christ is the life which, through grace, is imparted to the believer.
In Christ there was no imperfection. His was a life of perfect obedience — perfect love. In us there is much to hinder the manifestation of this life; yet the life in us is the same in its nature, its traits, and its characteristics — it is the same life. And whether in Him or in us, it is characterized by obedience. Obedience is the state in which it subsists. “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:33And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2:3)). No matter what our pretension may be, it avails nothing unless there is this obedience. “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:44He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)).
The other characteristic of the divine life is not separated from this. Where there is obedience there will also be love, because they belong to the same life — the same nature. “Whoso keepeth His word” — this is obedience — “in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him” (1 John 2:55But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)). His word is the expression of what He is, of His nature; and “God is love,” so that if we keep His word, His love is perfected in us.
But “His commandments” are not only the expression of what He is, but of His authority as well. We are called to obey, and to obey as Christ obeyed. We are sanctified unto the obedience of Christ. And if we say that we abide in Him, we ought also to walk even as He walked; that is, in obedience to God, for His whole life was that. There was not a single movement in His soul, not a single act of His life, that was not obedience to His Father’s will. Blessed indeed it is to behold that perfect One in His path of perfect obedience! And happy they who follow His footsteps, who walk even as He walked!
The commandment to obey as Christ obeyed, to walk as Christ walked, was not a “new commandment.” It was the word they had heard from the beginning in connection with the manifestation of the divine life in Christ. It was the Father’s commandment to Christ, according to Christ’s own words: “For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak” (John 12:49-5049For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:49‑50)). So John says the commandment was “old.” Again, it was a “new commandment,” because true in Him and in us. The commandment was the expression of the divine life — “His commandment is life everlasting,” and was first seen in Christ. But now it is true in us too, “because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth” (1 John 2:88Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8)). God had come out through the cross, and the light of life was now shining for man, and dispelling the darkness. This life, for man, and in man, as the fruit of redemption, life in Christ, life in the Spirit, was a new thing. It is Christ in us, Christ as our life. The commandment is “old” because the obedience which characterizes this life was seen in Him which was from the beginning, “the word of life.” It is “new” because the same thing is seen in the believer now. If they were seeking something new, according to the Gnostic philosophy, the bane of Christianity in that day, the Apostle John gives them this; but he would not disconnect it from Christ, the believer’s life, “that which was from the beginning.” “Which thing is true in Him and in you” (1 John 2:88Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8)).
Until redemption was accomplished Christ remained alone. Now He is no more alone; we are in Him, and He in us. This is a wonderful truth, and it gives a wonderful character to the children of God. The Holy Spirit in us is the power of it all — the divine answer in us down here to all that Christ is in glory as a man. It is no longer Christ as a man walking alone in this world, but Christ in the saints, and the “eternal life” displayed in them. In John’s epistle, Christ is seen as “eternal life” down here in this world, first alone, and then in the saints; “which thing is true in Him and in you.” And this life, whether in Christ alone, or in Him and in us, is first an obedient life, and second a life of love.
Verses 9-11 are love and hatred.
Obedience and love characterize those who are in the light. Disobedience and hatred characterize those who are in the darkness. A man may say he is in the light, but if he hates his brother, he is still in darkness, and has never seen the light. He knows not “the light of life.” But if we see the outgoings of divine love toward a brother, we can say, There is a man who dwells in the light. He has found God who is light; and having found the light, he has the love also, for “God is light,” and “God is love”; and we cannot have the one without the other, just as you cannot have the sun without having both light and heat.
The light casts out the darkness, and then there is no occasion of stumbling. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:66For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)). And He who has shined in our hearts as light is love also. Wonderful grace to such as were once “darkness,” but now “light in the Lord.”
Have our eyes been opened to see the light? Have our hearts tasted the love? Oh! then to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor”; and to walk “as children of light (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:2,8-102And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. (Ephesians 5:2)
8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8‑10)
). Let us walk in the light and sunshine of His presence who could say, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God,” never swerving from this path, and who, “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:11Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)).