1 John 2:3-4 "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who say, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him".
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One of the foundational principals of Bible study is to NEVER simply take a verse and build a doctrine upon it without further study. The verse in question (1 John 2:3-4) could be presented in MANY different ways. There would be people who’d argue that if you don’t know Christ if you don’t literally obey Christ’s “command” to cut off your right hand or gouge out your right eye if they cause you to sin. Yet we know that apparently none of the Apostles or Early Christians followed this “command” literally. So what does this verse mean? When faced with a difficult passage, the answer is to read more. In some cases, the very book itself, or books by the same Biblical author will give you insight. Here is our verse: 1 John 2:3-4 "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who say, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." So, WHAT are the commands to which John is referring? In v. 7 of the same chapter we get a hint: 7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. So what are the commands of which John speaks? Look a few pages over in 1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. John says something similar in 2 John 1: 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. I think you will agree with me that someone who doesn't even believe in Jesus certainly doesn't know Him. And the MORE we know Him, the more we understand real Agape love (although His love is so expansive we may never comprehend it, at least not in this life.). Certainly Jesus gave us other rules to live by, as did Paul. But in this instance the Apostle John is talking about the command(s) to 1) believe in Jesus and 2) love our neighbor. The command to love one another is NOT optional, but foundational to the Christian life. Jesus said in the Gospel of John 13:35: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (And how many churches have bitter splits over the color of carpet or some other trivial issue? I'm just saying....) Now, to be clear, the love John is talking about isn't the touchy-feely type of love that pats everyone on the head and tells them they’re okay. The Early Church was pretty strong against heresy and immorality, and had no problem putting people out of fellowship. But the Early Church was a beacon to the pagan world because of the LOVE that the pagans saw. Pagans weren’t used to the type of charity and kindness that Christians displayed; it was a foil to much of the selfish, Worldly paradigm of the Roman Empire. Again, love does NOT mean that we have to be politically correct, never hurt anyone's feelings, accept heresy, or overlook immoral behavior. Jesus didn't. The Apostles didn't, either. Love doesn’t mean that we LIKE another person’s personality or actions. But love DOES mean that we do whatever we can, prayerfully, to help those God has placed in our path, be it by financial gifts, counsel, encouragement, or simply by surrendering our rights and letting someone else get the limelight. In this way, we're showing the world a little of what Christ is like.
To me the key word in this verse is to 'KNOW' Christ. This means that a believer doesn't just know about Christ but knows Him personally. Throughout the Bible we are warned to know Him personally in order to follow and obey. The verse that I think of that also warns of the seriousness of not just knowing about Jesus but personally knowing Him to obey His commandments is Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus is saying that those who obey the commands really know the Father in vs 21 and that those who continued to disobey prove that they didn't really know Jesus and are told to go away (not to heaven) in vs 23. These people were religious without relationship. Other verses that explain this is in the prayer that Jesus prays before going to the cross. John 17: 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. This means that you must be a sheep who knows Jesus so personally that you hear His voice and follow. For instance, you may know who the President is but you don't know him personally in relationship. Jesus is saying that He must be known in relationship otherwise it is just religion. Also in John 17: 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Jesus makes Himself known to His followers and they obey Him because He is "In" them through the Holy Spirit. In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25, Jesus says that He did not know the foolish virgins who were not ready for Him, and He refused to open the door to the kingdom for them. In verse 12 He said, "truly, truly, I do not know you". In John 10 Jesus explains how the sheep know Him-- 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. Sheep obey the Master. They know His voice. They love Him as number one in their lives. To not love Him above everyone else is not obeying His commands out of love (ie. The Greatest Command in Matthew 22 or the Great Commission in Matthew 28). We show love and obedience by 1 John 5: 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments." He promises to reveal Himself to those who love and obey.John 14:21 "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” This is the proof of relationship built on love and intimacy with Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit. The desires of the heart of the born again believer are to obey, submit and surrender to the power of Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is abiding in Christ-- 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. And the desire to do this comes from being born again (John 3 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. When you come to know the Lord personally, the Holy Spirit inside is the guarantee of coming to know Him, and He brings the sancitification that makes the believer obey and walk by the Spirit.
Thanks Shanna: Scripture that supports each other helps to better understand God's Word. We ask ourselves just what commandments is John writing about in verse 1 John 2:3-4. 1 John 5:3 "For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (burdensome) His commandments are not a yoke of bondage. 1 John 3:24 Matthew 19:17-19 Jesus mentioned 6 of the 10 commandments and defined the importance of His Fathers 10 commandments. The importance of God's 10 commandments is repeated in Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:23. Some will say, Jesus spoke of only 6 and left out 4 of God's commandments therefore those 4 must be void. Just as the Pharisees focused on the letter of the law they missed the true spirit of it. Many of us, my self included, talk the talk but fail to walk the walk. Revelations 22:14-15 "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.'also supports 1 John 2:3-4. God Bless.
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