5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
(1 John 5:1-5 NIV)
As we begin chapter 5, John makes his fourth and final trip through the pairing of doctrine and duty, of faith and practice.
John begins this section by reminding us of the basis for our relationship with God. Our trust in Jesus as Messiah provides everlasting life, a new spiritual birth that reconciles us with God through Christ.
John reminds us that we prove that we love God by obeying His commands. Our obedience does not earn our salvation or good standing before God. Instead, our obedience is in response to our salvation through Christ. It’s our way of saying “thank you” to God for redeeming us, for giving us new life in Christ.
In verse 3, John tells us that God’s commands are not burdensome. God’s commands are not meant to be overwhelming or heavy to the point we give up or walk away from Christ.
Jesus also taught that His commands are not burdensome:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
Jesus’ teaching is not a promise that our lives will be trouble-free. In fact, Jesus teaches just the opposite – that we will have many troubles in this life as a result of following Him.
When we find ourselves with an overwhelming burden, do we continue to try to carry that burden, or do we give it to the Lord and wait for His supernatural power to either deal with the burden or provide a path forward? Or do we wear ourselves out trying to deal with the burden on our own?
John tells us in verse 4 that we are overcomers in Christ. The word “overcomes” means “victor” or “victory”. This word was used often in athletic events to identify the one who competed and won. Through Christ, we are declared victors over death to eternal life. Through Christ, we have overcome the natural and achieved the supernatural, that is, eternal life reserved for us, spent with God.
As John concludes this passage and teaching, he circles back around to the beginning. Who are overcomers / victors? Only those who believe that Jesus is Messiah.
Do we say we believe that Jesus is Messiah? Is there proof that our lives reflect that belief, through what we think, say, and do?
May our lives carry the sweet aroma of Christ, so when others get close enough to “sniff” our lives, that they smell the pleasing fragrance of Christ, of eternal life that comes only from Him.