"This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. and his commandments are not grievous."—1Jn_5:3.
True religion consists of three things; knowledge in the mind, love in the heart, and obedience in the life. The first is the theoretical, the second the experimental, and the third the practical, part of Christianity. The first leads to the second, and the second produces the third; separate, hey are only imperfect parts; but together, they form the sum and substance of religion. The text refers to the two latter, love and obedience, and affirms that his obedience is not grievous. I. Obedience to God's commands is the best evidence of love to God. II. His commandments are not grievous.
I. Obedience to God's Commands is the best Evidence of Love to him.
1. Love is the spring of action.
It is this which influences the lip and the life; if we love God, it will effect the consecration of the lip, and the free devotion of the life to him.
2. Love produces the most disinterested obedience.
It finds in itself the cause and end of labor and exertion. When the object loved demands it, it riots in danger, and glories in sacrifices and toil. Men may obey others from fear or self-interest; but the Christian obeys "because the love of Christ constraineth him."
3. Love always produces the most constant obedience.
It enfetters us to the object of our delight. Many waters cannot quench it, nor death itself destroy it.
4. Love invariably produces obedience.
The loving subject cheerfully yields subjection to his sovereign; the loving child freely obeys his parents; and the loving servant obeys his master with delight; so the true Christian willingly gives to his king and parent, and master, the homage of his heart, and the obedience of his life.
II. God's Commandments are not grievous.
1. Explain this declaration.
It does not mean that they are not grievous to some persons; to the carnal they are toil and drudgery. Neither does it mean that they are not strict; for they extend to heart, lip, and life—to God, mankind and ourselves. But it means, they are not grievous to those who love God; such esteem "his yoke to be easy, and his burden to be light."
2. Establish this declaration.
They are not grievous because they are,
(1) The commandments of goodness itself. God is good, and all his commandments are the regulations of that goodness. They do not issue from a tyrant, an enemy or from cupidity and selfishness; but from our Creator, Benefactor, and Redeemer—him who hath loved us even unto death. They are not grievous,
(2) Because they accord with the dictates of sound reason. To adore the highest, to serve the greatest, to love the best, and to trust in the most wise and powerful, must commend itself as being "our most reasonable service." They are not grievous,
(3) Because they conduce to our present advantage. They tend to health, reputation, and long life; they produce cheerfulness, serenity, and content; "for godliness is profitable to all things," &c. Pro_3:1-18; Isa_1:19. They are not grievous,
(4) Because of the divine assistance which aids us in our services. The Christian does not go a warfare at his own charge. When God commands, he gives power to obey, strength and grace sufficient. "He supplies all their need," &c. Thus they "can do all things through Christ," &c. They are not grievous,
(5) Because of the glorious prospect they unfold. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Rev_22:14; 1Co_15:58; Gal_6:9; Rev_2:10.
(1) Do we love God? Is he the first in our esteem? Does he command our chief thoughts—engage our chief attention? Do we give the highest evidence of our attachment by keeping his commandments? And do we truly feel and rejoice that his commandments are not grievous? (2) Invite his enemies, the servants of the wicked one, to bear his yoke, to exchange employment, to secure the best of masters, the pleasantest work, and the greatest and surest reward. (3) The subject presents an unerring test by which we may judge those around us, and correctly know our own hearts. "By their fruits ye shall know them."