|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-5 True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also; and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly. Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.
Verse 3. - Reason for the preceding statement. "For the love of God consists in this (1 John 4:17), that we keep his commandments: and these are not grievous." These are the words, not merely of an inspired apostle, but of an aged man, with a wide experience of life and its difficulties. "Difficult" is a relative term, depending upon the relation between the thing to be done and the powers of the doer of it. The Christian, whose will is united with the will of God, will not find obedience to that will a task.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments,.... Keeping of the commandments of God is an evidence of love to God; this shows that love is not in word and tongue, in profession only, but in deed and in truth; and that such persons have a sense of the love of God upon their souls, under the influence of which they act; and such shall have, and may expect to have, greater manifestations of the love of God unto them:
and his commandments are not grievous; heavy, burdensome, and disagreeable; by which are meant, not so much the precepts of the moral law, which through the weakness of the flesh are hard to be kept, and cannot be perfectly fulfilled; though believers indeed, being freed from the rigorous exaction, curse, and condemnation of the law, delight in it after the inward man, and serve it cheerfully with their spirit; and still less the commands of the ceremonial law, which were now abolished, and were grievous to be borne; but rather those of faith in Christ, and love to the saints, 1 John 3:23; or it may be the ordinances of the Gospel, baptism, and the Lord's supper, with others, which though disagreeable to unregenerate persons, who do not care to be under the yoke of Christ, however easy and light it is, yet are not heavy and burdensome to regenerate ones; and especially when they have the love of God shed abroad in them, the presence of God with them, communion with Jesus Christ, and a supply of grace and strength from him; then are these ways ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace, and the tabernacles of the Lord are amiable and lovely.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. this is—the love of God consists in this.
not grievous—as so many think them. It is "the way of the transgressor" that "is hard." What makes them to the regenerate "not grievous," is faith which "overcometh the world" (1Jo 5:4): in proportion as faith is strong, the grievousness of God's commandments to the rebellious flesh is overcome. The reason why believers feel any degree of irksomeness in God's commandments is, they do not realize fully by faith the privileges of their spiritual life.
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