1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (NKJV)
In the first chapter of 1st John, we find out that full joy comes from fellowship with God and His beloved Son, Jesus. You can’t have fellowship with someone you don’t know. How do you do know if you know that you know what you think you know and want to know? (I’ll set up an email folder for all English teachers who are clicking “new email” right about now!).
1 John 2:3 – Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (NKJV)
What is meant by “know”? It’s about having an intellectual knowledge and awareness of God but also includes a deeper level of perception, discernment, familiarity and understanding. How can you be sure that you genuinely “know” God? In short, obedience and love. Find out what God says, and do it because you love Him. If you do what God wants then your choice of submission and obedience are evidence that you truly know the God you serve.
John describes obedience as:
- Keeping His commandments
- Keeping His Word
- Walking just as He walked
What a blessing we receive for our obedience – the love of God is perfected in us! Does that mean we are perfect? Not in this lifetime. But it does mean that when we obey God we are headed in the right direction.
We walk as Jesus walked. John says this obedience thing isn’t anything new that we haven’t heard before. Obedience has always been the trademark of the true believer. Jesus is the light of the world and the darkness will pass away because of Him… an ongoing process in this life (sanctification) and completed fact in the next life for those who know Him (glorification).
1 John 2:9 – He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. (NKJV)
John has a way of making it simple for those who want to play games concerning sin. In 1:6 he flat out says we are liars if we practice sin but claim to be Christians. He returns to that blunt but unmistakably plain language in chapter two by declaring “Liar!” to anyone who claims to know Christ but does not obey what the Lord commands.
Claiming Christ in one breath and sinning the
next makes you a liar. Ouch.
I was thinking on this and wondered how much less I would sin if I had a neon sign around my neck that lit up for all to see every time I sinned: “I am liar. I call myself a Christian but I just chose to sin”. Or maybe if I got “Liar” tattooed on me every time I chose to disobey the Lord. I’m afraid after week or so the Guinness Book of World records might want my picture as the “most tattooed man alive”.
John continues with his blunt, “here-I’ll-give-it-to-you-simple-so-you-can’t-mess-it-up” instruction by simply informing us that if you claim to be a Christian but hate your brother you’re “in darkness”. Whether or not you believe this is talking about salvation or fellowship with God is irrelevant for this lesson. If you’re “in darkness”, that’s some place you don’t want to be. Hating your brother will put you there.
So John tells us that obedience is evidence that we “know” God. Then he makes the point practical by giving us some “things” to obey: God’s commandments, walk as Jesus walked, love your brethren.
How do we have full joy in this life? One part of it is through assurance. If we know God, we are assured that we are on the right path and that we will end up with Him for eternity. 1st John gives us many practical and tangible ways to be sure that we know God.
John writes so that we may have full joy. Then tells us how, who, what and why. Thanks John!
Lord God, forgive us when we lie about loving Christ by denying Him with our willful sin. Help us to walk in the light, and walk in love towards others. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Is your claim to know Christ validated and authenticated by your obedience? Do you follow God’s commands? Do you seek to find out what they are? Does your conscience convict you each time you sin of “lying” about your claim to know Christ? Or have you become insensitive to that conviction? Do you walk in love and show love to others? Or is your whole world about you?
Application: Full joy is not only possible, John tells us specifically how. But you can’t know what you don’t study, pray about and meditate on.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?