1 John 4:15 “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,<sup class="crossreference" value="(AG)”> God lives in them and they in God.”

     What does it mean for ‘God to live in us’ and for us to ‘live in God’?  The Forerunner Commentary says; “The verse emphasizes an ongoing, unbroken, intimate relationship. Nothing can be closer than for one to be in another!”  Wow!  This is closer than being in the same house with another person.  This is closer to God than being in church every Sunday dressed in your finest.  This is closer than any kind of intimacy we might share with any other human being be it spouse, child, sibling or friend.  How does it come to be?

     Jesus tells us plainly; “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the  Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. The Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)   This is Jesus’ work and His alone.  No human intervention or ritual is required other than obedience.  This work is based on His love for us as we express our love for Him by keeping His commandments.  The outward sign is consistent and daily living in obedience to His Word.  John points out; “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

     Jesus makes the promise; “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)  The Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us when we are obedient to Jesus’ teachings.  Do we do this perfectly?  Can we do this perfectly? Anyone who is married knows that intimacy with another is a daily struggle as well as a daily blessing.    Jesus understands that we aren’t perfect – He loves us anyway – His Word never fails us although we may fail Him.  When we fail we repent.  He will perfect us; “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

     Jesus warns us that this simple test will be an entrance requirement to heaven; “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)    God Himself spoke His will at Jesus’ transfiguration; “Then a voice came out of the cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Keep listening to him!” (Luke 9:35)  Charismatic gifts and signs do not necessarily  prove a relationship with the Holy Spirit. 

     Paul following Jesus applies this simple test when he writes: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> and can fathom all mysteries<sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”> and all knowledge,<sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”> and if I have a faith<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”> that can move mountains,<sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”> but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor<sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”> and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)  Only our Love for Jesus gives us the strength to love God first and then each other as ourselves.  Anything that puffs us up and draws our attention away from Jesus impedes our intimacy with Him. 

     Paul knew that displays of gifts and signs that tend to draw attention to ourselves can’t last; “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies,<sup class="crossreference" value="(Q)”> they will cease; where there are tongues,<sup class="crossreference" value="(R)”> they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part<sup class="crossreference" value="(S)”> and we prophesy in part,  but when completeness comes,<sup class="crossreference" value="(T)”> what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood<sup class="crossreference" value="(U)”> behind me.   For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;<sup class="crossreference" value="(V)”> then we shall see face to face.<sup class="crossreference" value="(W)”> Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

     Jesus commands us in no uncertain terms to love one another.  Indeed He says that this is the sign that we are his disciples; “ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.   By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13, 34,35) 

      When the gift takes priority over the Giver,  perspective is lost.  There is a danger of idolizing the gift or sign and bowing down to that which should never be worshiped   John concludes his letter with this admonition; “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

    Praise the Lord!