1 John 2:3–6 (NKJV)
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
On Facebook we have friends and acquaintances, but who really knows you, or who do you really know. Do you have or do you know a friend that either of you would know what they would say or do based on their character? In our superficial social media construct it may be hard for you to answer that question. On the flip side of that people constantly give a defense to poor doctrine or unfaithful statements of their favorite Christian personality with, “You don’t know them!” Meaning that you don’t know their motivation nor heart, but yet their words make clear their beliefs…such cognizant dissonance in an age of relativism (insert sigh). The apostle John wasn’t dealing with social media, but still had social issues within the churches he wrote to. These issues were relational issues with other believers, but also relational issues with God. Let’s see what he is writing about.
It is obvious from the text that he is emphasizing the word know or knowing. But what is knowing? John emphasizes this word throughout this whole epistle. This means to experientially know through observation and encounter. Spiritually the truth has been illumined in our hearts, we have been reborn, regenerate by the Spirit to exercise faith in the truth of who Christ is, and that what he has done on our behalf has been accepted by the Father. Simply put John is addressing true faith accompanied by Spirit regenerative transformation and sanctification. He shows us through practical observable traits. This is not to say that a believer in a backslidden state is not a true believer, but John addresses the “hot air mafia” of confession without true belief, much like the seed amongst the tares or stones. Many believe in God but do not know Him. This is belief in a concept or imaginative being that the individual holds to to assuages their conscience, giving a false sense of eternal security.
The proof of knowledge of any professor or subject matter expert is the practical employment of such knowledge, so that it is observable by others to evaluate the legitimacy of possessed knowledge. So to with the Christian life, we are on notice that both believers and unbelievers are entitled to observe and evaluate the legitimacy of not only a verbal confession of faith, but the true reality of transformation and sanctification in this life through noticeable behavior. I am not saying this to judge others, but as Bill Cosby used to quip, “The proof is in the pudding.”
So what are the proofs within these short verses. The construction shows the difference both definitively and implied between who knows Christ and who doesn’t. So let’s start with the negative.
- Verbal assent to knowing Him, yet walking in rebellion, makes the person a liar.
- Verbal assent to knowing Him, yet walking in rebellion means they don’t possess the truth.
Previously in 1 Jn 1:6, he writes “If we say.” In fact it reads, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” This verse really helps define and describe what 1 Jn 2:4 is about. The difference between the two is “fellowship with Him” and “keep His commandments.” Is it really that different? Do you have fellowship with someone or friendship with someone that doesn’t believe what you say, doesn’t live life with you to some degree, and doesn’t walk in harmony with you in truth? Both of these verses confront lip service of love for Christ. many say I love Jesus while wallowing in the mire of depravity and sin. Does God know the heart? Yes. However the mouth confesses Christ, but their actions deny him.
The emphasis of knowing Christ and living life is transformative. This is not simply an oath of allegiance, nor freedom to follow our own whims and fancies. This knowledge is tied to relationship based on knowledge of His character, life, and sacrifice. It changes you from the inside out. This is what John says in a positive light.
- To know Christ is to live his words
- To know Christ is to be honest
- To know Christ is possess the truth
- To keep Christ’s word is to love God
- To keep Christ’s word is to love God in the process of transformative sanctification into the image of HIs Son.
- To keep Christ’s word is to love God in the process of transformative sanctification into the image of HIs son, residing within his character and word.
- Therefore, we will live our lives as Christ did.
Oh to know Christ to the depths of our marrow. Oh to know Christ so that we feel it in our bowels of mercy. Does the love of Christ churn your soul into adoration, thanksgiving, brokenness, and humility? Do you seek the surpassing knowledge of who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. Meditate on Christ! Know Him!
In our culture today, and I am sure in times past, we settle the evaluation of truth based on a simple statement. We have failed to continue to be critical thinkers and are now drinking whatever Kool-Aid someone gives us. So one can confess Christ as Lord and Savior from the right side of their mouth, yet deny his commandments and word out the left side, and we think that is ok! God loves me just the way I am and my physical relationship with my girlfriend/boyfriend is ok. He will forgive me. We are lying to ourselves. Curtly put, we are calling evil good. We are calling sin idiosyncratic whims. We are trampling the blood of the Son underfoot.
To know the surpassing beauty of Christ and his sacrifice is to live for him. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” Who are you living for? Do you know Him? Just a few thoughts…