I teach a college aged Bible Study on Sunday Mornings. Over the past several months we have been going through 1 John and as we walked through the book one thing seemed to emerge right out of the pages and dance before our very eyes…Jesus is Grace. When John speaks of Loving one Another – he is not talking about a love that can be separated from the Love of Christ. When John speaks of holiness he is not talking about a holiness that exists apart from the Holiness of Christ. When John says “Do not Sin” he is not talking about behavior modification, he is talking about the idolatry that leads us away from Christ. Christ is our Grace. There is no Grace apart from Him. John culminates this idea in 1 John 3:23 – “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
The First Command? “Believe in Jesus!” There is no other way to please God. Believe in the name of Christ! This is our righteousness. This is our Grace! And this gives us Grace upon Grace to obey the Second Command…to Love one another as He has commanded us.
Isn’t it strange that the Apostle should feel the need to command us to Believe? I think most of us assume that we believe. We think that that should be the easy part. But it isn’t. In fact, there could not be anything more difficult for us. ”Believing in Jesus” really is the command that is impossible without Grace. We need Jesus, so that we might believe in Jesus. Everything else in the Christian life dances forever around this central truth. Whenever we move away from believing in Jesus, we move toward idolatry. And when we move away from Jesus, we move away from love, away from forgiving, away from grace. This is why John ends his letter with this abrupt warning…”Little Children, keep yourselves free from idols.”