By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:2-4
When we read this passage quickly, and without seeing the context, we assume that keeping the Law is what John is talking about. But John is talking about a different commandment. Jesus gave it directly, saying;
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34
How do we know this? Because John says, “His commandments are not burdensome.” There is no law against love (Galatians 5:23), and love fulfills the old law. (Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:10) The laws given prior to the coming of Christ were indeed burdensome, as no one in well over 1500 years had yet to satisfy or fulfill the law.
John then begins to describe the enabling agents to his plea. He says, “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.” We are born of God by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). So then, “For by grace…” the agency or power that produces and accomplishes our being saved is through the process of continually having faith, or trusting in God to receive the grace that we need moment by moment to overcome the world and walk in the love that he has shed abroad in our hearts. The verse Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.
Are you seeing it yet?
God gives us grace. God gives to us the faith to obtain the grace we need, and by, through and with this mighty working power of grace and faith we lay hold of salvation. And our salvation is eternally more than just being born again. It is overcoming the world, victory over sin, our flesh, and death, abiding in Christ’s righteousness in fullness, and forever being one with Christ.
So not only is our salvation the gift of God, but so also is the grace and our faith as well the gift of God. That is why it is not burdensome—there is no me or you in the equation! It is not of works that we are saved, that is to say our own works of righteousness, because there would be an occasion for boasting or pride. If faith and grace were not a gift, then one could boast of his or her great faith, as if their faith were attained by his or her own power or ability, knowledge or understanding.
We are not saved by our own works that we accomplish in our own strength, but this does not mean that works are excluded in bringing about our salvation. On the contrary works are mandatory to prove, or to show that salvation is working in us.
As long as grace is present and active in our lives, then the love of God will be present and active in our lives and thereby faith will be present and active in our lives, which in turn causes and empowers us to overcome and abide in God’s love. “For without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)