A summary by Sosthenes
God presents what He is to men, so we know that He is holy, righteous and love. He is love, and love draws me. Love is the divine nature.
I need to be separate from evil: “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14). It is not said, ‘He is holiness’. Indeed I as a sinner would be repelled by mere holiness. He is holy. He is just, and He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. (Hab 1:13) He may be the God of judgment, but He blesses His own so that they might be eternally happy in holiness, for He is holy love.
Whatever our state may be, God is perfect in His love, and He would make us learn, enjoy and walk in it now, not when we get to heaven.
Our selfish, unbelieving nature hinders us down here, but this only serves to magnify God’s grace and love. In spite of all, He brings us to the knowledge of perfect love because “Perfect love casteth out fear, for fear hath torment” (v.18). If, when thinking of God, we fear, we have torment. That is the conscience. Man may seek to bury his conscience, but only succeeds in hardening it.
If we seek peace in ordinances, it is not love but fear. The effect of true ministry is to put the soul in direct contact with God. False ministry brings in something between the soul and God.
The soul must have the blessed consciousness of perfect peace with God. God brings you into the joy of His perfect love in His presence; “Who shall separate us? … More than conquerors.” (Rom. 8:35)
The family character of the children of God is light and love. It is God’s nature, and seen in both in Christ and in all God’s children. I must have the new nature to know this; but how do I get it? Where is it found? In Jesus Christ Himself, image of the invisible God. (Col 1:15). In Christ I find a perfect manifestation of His love. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (v10).
There is no mention of anything required of us, but the simple fact of what we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1)
Though He is a God of judgment, He brought out the means of our approach: through Christ’s sacrifice. Abel’s faith testified how man was to approach to God, so from Abel downwards God showed mercy.
Man as man refuses to come to God “none righteous.” (Rom. 3:10) When Christ comes, it is another thing altogether. God now approaches man in grace; not man approaching God. He visited men in their sins, “that they might live through him.” (v.9) All around was darkness, degradation, and idolatry. God took them out of that condition that they might live through Christ. “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:10). Thus we are brought into His presence.
We live through His only-begotten Son. He is bringing us into His presence, before the One in whom all His delight was from eternity. It is the eternal enjoyment of it to know eternal life in the Son; but down here we often question it, because we do not see this love in us. He is “a propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 2:2)
God has loved me not only when I wanted it, but because His knew what I wanted. He has not mistaken my case; Christ on the cross made the propitiation for my sins. So I can say, “Herein is love.” (v.10) I have found God, and my soul rests there. The cloud has been taken away for ever. If you say, ‘I have committed such and such a sin’; I answer, ‘It is for the sins you had or still have that Christ died; for He died for your sins.’
He cannot bear sin, and therefore He must put the sinner in his sins away, because He cannot bear the sins. I learn to judge sin according to God, because I am brought into the light. I find many sins in myself. He is the propitiation for my sins. I believe this, and then I enter into communion with Him. Why do I find fear and torment when I find sin in myself? Can I not trust that love? Have I not believed the love God has towards me?
God does not expect fruit from man, but His grace produces fruit. We should feel sin, and know it has been blotted out. We are told that “The glory thou hast given me I have given them, that the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:24) “There is no fear in love.” (v.18). It is a matter of communion and we live through Him. “… Perfect love casteth out fear.”
I am not honouring God, if I do not trust the work of Christ in love on the cross. I come to Him just as I am, and then I know God. He enables me to trust in blood of Jesus Christ His Son – the perfectness of His work in putting away sin.