Read 1 John 2:1-11 :
In our current series we are looking at what the bible has to say about love in the context of marriage. To be honest, 1 John 2 really doesn’t seem to have much to do with marriage. But it does have a lot to say about love; specifically what it means to say you love God.
It’s easy to say you love God, but this section of scripture helps us discern the difference between those who claim to love God and those who actually do. The tell-tale sign of a person who loves God is obedience. If you love Him then you will do what he says; His priorities will be your priorities. But John takes the principle even farther; he said that if you say you love God, but don’t do what he says, then you are a liar! Strong words; but we need these words to be strong, because we often can live in deceit and not even realize it. We need these strong words to jar us into reality. It’s one thing to claim to know God, but if we actually do know God, then we WILL do what he says. Anything else and we are deceiving ourselves and others.
This all directly applies to marriage. There are many who claim to love their spouse, but if you could see what goes on behind closed doors you might beg to differ. It’s easy to put on a smile when you sit in church on Sunday and pretend everything is fine for those who observe you in public. But John says these verses apply not only to God, but to others. If you look at verses 9-11 John applies the same principle we described above to the way we treat each other. If we claim to be in the light, but hate our brother or sister, we are not in the light, we are in darkness. If you are married, and if you and your spouse are believers, then your sister is your wife, and your brother is your husband. If you claim to love your spouse then what is important to your spouse will be important to you. It should be a priority for you. I would even go so far as to say that if you claim to love your spouse, and you know what is important to them, but you can’t bring yourself to meet those needs for your spouse, you are in danger of being a liar. We all make mistakes, but if the pattern of your relationship is one of selfishness rather than sacrifice, you really owe it to yourself to ask if the love you claim to have for your spouse is true or if you are deceiving yourself.
I wish I could just end this here, but there’s one more layer to unpack in these verses. John says if you hate your brother or sister, then you are in darkness. In the book of John being “in the light” is a synonym for being saved. So what John is saying is that if you claim to know God but don’t have real love for your brother or sister, then you don’t really know God! Loving God and loving others is not just a nice sentiment expressed by Jesus, and it’s not simply an ideal to shoot for when it’s convenient, it is the hallmark of what being a Christian looks like. You can deceive yourself, and you can deceive others, but there’s no deceiving God.