1. Substantive belief (4:1-6). There is a fight for our hearts. In one “corner” is the Lord, and in the other “corner” is the spirit of the antichrist. John exhorts us to believe in the one who has already overcome. In fact, those who have believed the message he preached already belongs to God, thus they are in His corner – but the fight is still on (Ephesians 6:10-18)! When you are told to “stand in the corner” be sure you choose the right corner!
2. Substantive love (4:7-11). Love is that emotion of the heart that so many people speak of “falling in” as if it was a ditch! Substantive love, however, is much more than that. It is an emotion of the heart that has gained knowledge from a source higher than anything of this world. Since God is love and we are to love as God loves, how can we fall into such a thing, unless we first learn from Him who is the source of love?
3. Perfected love (4:12-16). Love seeks the good (wellbeing) of another; when this action is put to execution, love is perfected because two things result (at the very least). First, emphasis is taken off one’s own self-interest and placed on another. Second, when that occurs, maturation follows.
4. Fearless love (4:17-19). If one loves because God first loved that one who loves, then why the fear associated with the end of life matters? There ought not to be such fear. If we believe and trust in the Lord, all fear and apprehension is removed. Perfect (mature) love removes fear because fear is associated with lack of knowledge; but Christians, on the other hand, have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness through knowledge (2 Peter 1:3).
5. Brotherly love (4:20-21). It is easy to say that one loves God, but it is another matter to demonstrate that love. “I hear you say, but I can’t see that you do!” Let our disposition, attitude, and actions conveys the same message as our word. This is where a maturing love needs to find a home!