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Last week we looked at the aorist tense of the verb sin and what that means to us. We saw that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice satisfied God the Father enabling us to have a relationship with Him. Let’s look at some continuing proof of our Christianity.
Take a look at 1 John 2:3-6.
I often deal with people that have doubts about their salvation. When I dig into the root cause of those feelings, more often than not, the doubts arise from something the person did or did not do. When you are involved in sin, you typically don’t “feel” like a Christian because you know you’re doing wrong. John says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” John uses the word know or a form of the word 40 times in this letter. In each case it is the verb form or it relates to the concept of the knowledge of God. He never uses the word as a noun here or in his gospel. Remember the Gnostics believed that having knowledge (noun) was the key to salvation. Know means to understand, to grasp, or ascertain. A person can know they have a relationship with Christ. Again, John provides a conditional clause. One way to know for sure that we are a child of God is that we keep His commandments. Each of us must, “Come to know Him.” This is a good proof text that no one has always been a Christian. That phrase means to learn to know a person through direct personal contact. This knowledge is not just intellectual knowledge; this is what John is combating.
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” The first know is a present tense verb – it’s right now. The second know is a perfect tense verb. The perfect tense means an event that occurred in the past that has ongoing results. We have come to know God through belief in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. Remember the previous verse? “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” How do we know that we have come to know Him? We keep His commandments. This is part of the new covenant established through the death and resurrection of Christ. Jer. 31:33 says, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” This passage is repeated in Heb. 8:8-12. Part of coming to know Him means we are obedient. Hearts are changed and obedience is not only possible, but expected. Obedience is not a condition of salvation, but a sign of salvation.
Take a look at another contrast in v. 4. Notice the then part is different from v. 3. We know we know Him because we keep His commandments. Here the person that says they know Him, but doesn’t keep His commandments and is therefore a liar. Keep is in the present tense. They claim to know God, but are consistently disobedient. This type of person is not all that difficult to identify. Their life is marked by inconsistencies. Not only is their claim to know Jesus false, but, “The truth is not in them.” There is no divine nature, there is no change, there is no transformation; there is nothing that would indicate that they are a child of God. Maybe they’re the type of people that say, “God loves me just the way I am.” That may be true, but that’s like comparing apples to submarines. John 15:10, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Love and obedience go hand in hand. Jesus’ goal is to conform you to His image. His goal is to transform you into a new creation. People who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk are liars and there is no truth in them.
V. 5a continues this line of thought. John restates what he said in v. 3. He connects the claim of knowing God to the practice of proper Christian behavior. When this happens the, “Love of God has truly been perfected.” Perfected here means completed. So God’s love is completed in us when we keep His Word. In His Word are found all the principles of life, all the answers to our problems, all the guidance we need to live a life that is pleasing to Him that draws others to Christ.
You want more proof? Proper behavior in the life of a Christian is important, but that’s not the end of it. If you say you know Christ then keep His commandments. If you say you know Christ and don’t keep His commandments, you’re a liar. Now he changes that up in vs. 5b-6. We who claim a relationship with Christ are challenged to walk as Christ walked. Walking in the Light is not just characterized by the absence of sin, but by the presence of love. Is it even possible to live a life like Christ? How can we learn that? In Matt. 11:29 Jesus said, “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.” One of the methods for training a young ox or draft horse for service is to yoke them together. The experienced animal teaches the young one. The idea Jesus is portraying is that if you want to learn to be like Him, you need to walk with Him. You need to spend time with Him and learn His character, learn His attributes, learn to think like Him, learn to be like Him. 1 Pet. 2:21, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” John 13:15 says, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”Those who abide in Christ’s love will display the fruit of the Spirit. We are known by the type of life we live. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” (Matt. 7:16)
Christianity is not an activity, it is a lifestyle. It is not something that comes and goes. If we say we walk in the Light, then let’s really demonstrate it.