Hosea 1:1-2:1; 1 John 5:1-12; Psalms 123:1-2; Proverbs 27:10
Psalms: “I lift my eyes to you, the one enthroned in heaven. Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand, like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until he shows us favor.” (Psalms 123:1-2 CSB)
This psalm is also a song of ascent – a psalm that would have been sung as pilgrims ascended to Jerusalem and to the temple of God to worship. In the blessing that God instructed the priesthood to proclaim over His people, it says this: “…may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace (Numbers 6:26).” The worshippers had faith that as they submitted themselves to the Lord, He would show them favor and give them peace in the midst of all the turmoil that was in the world around them. So as they proceeded up the mountain to the temple to worship, they lifted their eyes to the place where God’s name dwelt and submissively waited on Him. The Greek word used for worship in the New Testament paints a similar picture. It connotes a servant bowing down before his lord, looking up to him and kissing His hand as he awaits his instructions. When we come to the Lord in faith-filled worship, lovingly offering our bodies before him as a living sacrifice, ready to obey His will, He will look on us with favor, fill us with peace, and give us grace to overcome the world.
NT: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Jesus Christ — he is the one who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood — and these three are in agreement. If we accept human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that he has given about his Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. The one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:1-12 CSB)
In the previous chapter, John wrote about knowing and experiencing the love of God through Christ Jesus. He wrote that God is love and that anyone who is of God will also be of love. Hate has no place in a son or daughter of God. John continued that conversation on love here in the 5th chapter. He wrote that anyone who believes that Jesus is both the Son of God and the Christ will become born again as children of God. And anyone who is born of God will love anyone else who is born of God, including Jesus Christ and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
How do we know that we love God and love His children? John said that we show our love through obedience. Love for God is keeping His commands. When we keep His commands, we love our brothers and sisters in Christ – for that is what He commanded. Our love for God motivates us to obey, and our obedience validates our love. Our love for God was awakened in us by faith. It is through faith that we become God’s beloved children. It is by faith that we are able to obey God’s commands. God’s commands are not burdensome as we remain in faith. It is through faith that we receive grace: grace to will, grace to do, and grace to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. This is our conquering victory: our faith… faith in who Christ is, faith is what Christ has done, and faith in who we are in Christ. The one who conquers and remains standing at the end is the one who believes that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God.
The word ‘by’ in the phrase “He came by water and blood” denotes the channel through which an act is performed. Moses went through (or came by) the water of the Nile river as a symbol of baptism. Jesus not only went through the waters of baptism – He also went through the sacrifice of His own blood. At Christ’s baptism, God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” At Christ’s crucifixion, when the centurion saw everything that had happed, he glorified God and proclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” The Holy Spirit is the One who testifies to who Christ is and brings that revelation to people’s hearts that they may believe (1 Corinthians 2:10). All three of these key elemental forces testify to who Christ is – that He is the Son of God.
When we come to faith in Christ, that testimony comes alive in our hearts and we become part of the compelling witness to the world that Christ is who He claimed to be. That testimony within us is the life and the love that can only come from God. In fact, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His by the way that we love one another. As we overcome the world by faith… as we grow to love God by faith… as we obey God’s command to love one another by faith, we testify to who Christ is to the world – that those in the world may come to faith and be born again into God’s family, experience His love, and be victorious over the world.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that through faith in You – whose identity has been testified to through the Holy Spirit, the waters of baptism, and the sacrifice of Your blood – I overcome the world. I no longer have to conform to the ways and methods of the world, but am set free to love and obey You completely. Help me, by grace through faith, to obey Your word and become a living testimony of who you are to the world. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.