The Believer's Spiritual DNA - Part 1 of 3

by Wayne Barber

I can't get over how many times in First John the apostle brings up the word "love" in describing our relationships with one another as believers.

We know from the Apostle Paul that Christ lives in us. Over and over we see this precious truth flood through his epistles. The song goes, "Jesus be Jesus in me, No longer me but Thee, Resurrection power fill me this hour.Jesus be Jesus in me."

But how do we know that He is living in and through us? Is there a litmus test for experiencing His presence in our lives?

Absolutely. It is the LOVE which is our spiritual DNA that John, the beloved apostle, brings up over and over again in First John. This love is the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can produce in us. From 4:7 through the end of chapter 4, John uses the word "love" 27 times. If you took the time to mark each time it is used in this chapter your Bible would look like it had chicken pox.

John first brings up loving our brother in 1 John 2:10: "The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him." John shows how this love was bestowed upon us in 1 John 3:1, when he said, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are."

It is this love that marks us as children of God, who are different from the children of the devil as John explains in 1 John 3:10-11: "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother... For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."

He has shown us that this love is the very proof that we have eternal life in Christ in verse 3:14: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." He describes this "agape" love in verses 16-18 by showing us that it is not in what we say but it is manifested in what we do for one another in laying down our life for our brother! "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." John mentions this love again in verse 23: "This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us."

Then in the next verse John brings up the One who produces this love in us-the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ: "The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by (ek-out of) the Spirit whom He has given us."

From verse 24, the word "keeps" is te reo in the Greek, which means much more than to simply obey. It conveys the idea of one who is standing watch over something that is critically important to him-a guard who is keeping his attention focused on something that is very valuable and precious. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us this divine appreciation of God's will in our lives to the point that we seek to guard God's will with a careful eye. And He also gives us the divine enablement to obey that will.

From chapter 4, verses 1-6, we learn that the Holy Spirit also gives us the ability to discern the spirit of the evil one in the world today, who teaches false doctrine about our Christ.

He shows us that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. John, who was himself transformed by God's love, brings us full circle to the most precious thing that the Holy Spirit does in our lives! He produces in us the divine character of Christ, which is His love in our relationships with one another!

How is your love life?

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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