A Sweet Savour Unto God
(Helpful to Sunday School Lesson of March 7, 1920, 1 John 4:7–21)
“God is love.” We could also say “God is law”; for in another place in the Scripture God says, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Now the law was holy and was placed before men that they might see themselves as God sees them. It was as if a shabby tramp suddenly came upon the picture of a real clean and well-dressed man, and recognized the awful chasm between himself and this gentleman. God placed the law that men might see the chasm between the natural man and God’s ideals of a man. There was no way by which a man could build himself up through effort to measure up to this law, and the law showed that something else was necessary to fulfill God’s ideal of a man.
This Christ did. Place the law in front of Jesus Christ and He measures up to it in every detail. God’s great love in Christ Jesus sent Him to Earth to measure up for us and to regenerate us, recreate us in His own image, and make us joint heirs with Himself. The law called for the fullness of love toward God and toward man, and Jesus was that fullness. He offers this love to regenerated hearts—it is the outflow of His own spirit. Because He has found a way of putting God’s love in our hearts we are alive toward God, and in God, and of God. As God looks at us we live, for love to Him is life.
“Whosoever shall confess.” This is the confession of love, and this love is from God. The very fact of our being able to love shows that we are connected with God. It is the greatest proof to the world, for love is nowhere else but in God.
If there were a rich Arabian perfume that could be obtained in only one city, a perfume which was never shipped, the whole world knowing this condition, and I landed in America from Arabia smelling of this perfume, someone who knew would instantly say, “You have been in that city.” The perfume itself would be the proof.
This is the heart of this lesson, that if men love it is a proof they have met God, that they dwell in God and God dwells in them. I may sing loudly of doctrines and shout my creed, but the proof to the world that I have God in my heart is that I have His love and His compassion for “God is love,” and as I love it is a plain admission, confession and revelation that God is in my heart.
“As he is, so are we.” Paul said this same thing when he uttered the words, “For me to live is Christ,” and again, when he said, “The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” It is the very love of God in hearts, and it is this identification of the same love in His heart that is in our hearts that makes us bold in the day of judgment, as this verse says. It is not our love, and we are to appear not in our own righteousness, nor in our own works, nor in our own character, but in the character of Him who is love. Because His love is shed abroad in our hearts we are sure that the God of love will recognize His own love.
“He is a liar.” Hate and love do not proceed from God. If a man be in God, who is love, he does not hate his brother. There is no fear in God, there is no hate in God; “perfect love casteth out fear,” perfect love casteth out hate. He is our victory over hate and fear and sin and death, and He is love. Let us be filled with God; let us be sure that it is love and we will be sure that it is God.