His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus says: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” There are many who quote the first part of what Jesus says without knowing, acknowledging or understanding what He is really saying. They say judge not, that you not be judged as if that is all Jesus said. They say it, often as a defense mechanism, basically to say that what they do is none of our business. Jesus is not saying we should not judge the actions of others. He is cautioning us that we should first look at our own actions and motives. That in part is why what we can see in ourselves is bigger than what we can see in others. We are not able to judge the heart, the thoughts and the motives of others. We can only judge their actions. With ourselves we cannot only judge what we are doing, we can also judge our motives, our intentions, our hearts. The log of our own sin, knowing not only what, but why we do things, can be much larger than the speck of what we see in others by their actions alone. Jeremiah 17:9 says: The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? It is difficult for us to judge our own hearts accurately. We see and know from our own perspective, preferences and even prejudices. In Psalm 139:23-24 the psalmist says: Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Only when we are certain that there is no hurtful intention in our heart toward others can we begin to help them to see the speck in their eye. But we should, with God’s help, help others to see more clearly.
Galatians 6:1 says: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Restoration, not condemnation should be our motive in pointing to the speck of sin that we see in another person’s life. In today’s text John says: If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. John doesn’t expand or expound on the difference between a sin not leading to death and a sin which does lead to death. We have a natural human tendency to define and categorize which sins fall into which categories. What usually happens when we do that is that other people’s sins end up in the category which leads to death and our own sins are in the “lesser” category. In Revelation 21:8 it says: “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” So, it would seem that it is not the degrees of sin, as we typically categorize them, but rather something else which separates sin which leads to death from sin that does not. Most Biblical commentators agree that what John is saying here is that there are two categories of sin. There is sin which is unrepentant and sin for which others have repented but may still struggle and fall. John had previously said: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) It follows then that John would encourage us to stand with those who have confessed and repented of their sins. For those who being aware of their sin, willfully continue in that sin, for them it is a sin leading to death. Jesus Himself says: “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) Willful sin, choosing and practicing sin, without repentance leads to death. On the cross Jesus said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus sacrifice on the cross, once for all, paid the price for sin, even the ones we are unaware of, when we don’t know what we are doing. In fact, the only sin that is not covered by the finished work of the cross is the sin which we choose to continue in rather than be forgiven from.
Along with choosing sin over repentance, there is something else which keeps many people from committing to and submitting to God. They believe that God is oppressive and burdensome, that following Him will be difficult and costly. In today’s text John says: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. Jesus Himself says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) God doesn’t force us into bondage to rules and regulations. Bondage and burdens come when we seek to do things on our own and when we follow the ways of the world. Jesus invites us to willfully join Him, to willingly partner with Him. Then He will do all of the hard and difficult things with us and for us. The psalmist says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Psalm 37:4-5) Following God, committing to Him, observing His commandments is not burdensome, rather it is in delighting in Him that we receive all we need and all we desire.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for the knowledge and understanding of truth which You have given through Your Spirit. Thank You that through the finished work of the cross there is no sin which cannot be forgiven, even the sin I may be unaware of. Holy Spirit, as Jesus said You would, convict me regarding sin and righteousness, that I may repent, commit to and delight in You. Amen.