Willful obedience can overcome Darkness
In the passage described by John there were two great commandments in his mind. The first laid it down that we must love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and the second one is we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Obedience is the sign of our love for God. Love is selfless, self- giving, undeserved. John transfers this to the realm of Christian thought and experience.
We express genuine love to God when we believe Him and act on His Word. When we believe God and obey Him by repenting and receiving Christ, we demonstrate our love for God. But we have often given up the belief that we can overcome the world. We think its power is too strong. The world might seem terribly oppressive and impossible to live a life dedicated to God. Today's devotion helps us to understand the power of obeying God’s word and how this leads us to overcome the power of sin within us.
1. Application of God's Commandments Two times in these verses we are told that the children of God love Him and keep His commandments. In the Old Testament people were forced to keep the law as a moral responsibility. The Pharisees professed to love the law and they kept it outwardly, but there was no joy and no peace. They did it as a duty. But, when we are born into God’s family, doing God’s law becomes our desire. It is love that turns duty into desire. We must know His commandments and then obey them." This is the secret to loving God on a daily basis. "Our love of God is expressed by living the way He commands. Living the way God commands is what the Scriptures mean by holiness. Holy living loves God." We are expected to live according to God’s ways and standards. We must not live by the sinful ways and standards that the world finds acceptable. We are to please God by living in the light of His ways. Living the way God commands is a matter of obedience and obedience is better than sacrifice. Loving God is then our greatest responsibility and privilege.
2. Understanding God's Conquest Three times in these verses John uses the word “overcomes.” That is to let us know that there is a real conflict going on. There is an unseen war that is raging between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. We fight three enemies; the world, the flesh and the devil. John writes these words to inform the children of God that everything necessary for victory has already been given to us.
3.Initial conquest of Jesus-Human can never overcome the worldly forces of sin. Adam and Eve learned this through their experience, they met Satan in their own strength and were eventually conquered. Jesus Christ came into this world and met Satan head on. Every temptation possible was hurled at the Son of God. Finally, the devil rolled out his biggest weapon, death. But when the dust had cleared and Satan had done his worst, the tomb was empty, and Christ had arisen and the victory is ours.
4.Continual Conquest of Christ. — This means daily victory over temptations and anxieties. Now we have a defense to resist the infections of the world. On all sides of our life there is the pressure of worldly standards and motives. We now have the strength to endure the attacks of the world.
Prayer: Gracious God, teach us to love one another as we love ourselves and to understand the source of our strength against the forces of evil within us.
Rev. Binoy J Thomas, Washington