1 John 2
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
1 John 2:4
If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? This is a question believers in Jesus sometimes say to remind ourselves (and others) that if we claim to know God, it should show in how we live. In 1 John 1, the writer looked at our attitude towards sin as a test of whether or not we truly believe in God, using the contrast of light and darkness to bring his point home.
Now John adds a second question to test our claim of being a true believer in God. In 1 John 2:3 he tells the reader that if they are not sure if they are really saved, they can examine their lives to see if there has been any change in them. Proof of true faith will be seen not just in a change in behaviour (because anyone can change their behaviour for a time) but in a change in attitude. As verse 6 tells us, ‘whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.’ Jesus lived perfectly not to attain perfection, but because he is without sin. With verses like this, there is always the temptation to be concerned more with works than with grace. But we are not told here to obey God so that we can be saved, but because we have been saved.
The writer of 1 John will circle back to this again later in greater detail, but here he explains that walking in the light (as introduced in chapter 1) is not just a mental exercise, but it has hands and feet.
One example of the evidence of our faith is seen in our love for others. In verses 9 and 10, he clearly states that we cannot walk in light and hate those around us, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. When the world looks at us, do they see someone who shows their love for God through how they love and treat others? This is a reminder, yet again, of the two greatest commandments of the Lord. To put it in simple terms: love God and love others. How we do the latter shows if we are have the former. Otherwise we make God out to be a liar. Why? Because if Jesus saved us from being slaves to sin, why would we still be living as if we are bound by its chains? ‘But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them’ (verse 5).
May that be so for us too, and may the verdict come back as ‘guilty’!
Dear Lord, please help us to hold to the truth of walking in the light, that we would be light to those still walking in darkness. Amen