Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

1 John 2:3-11- Keeping his commandments

8th July 2021

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And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 1 John 2:3.

Praying aloud in the hostel during the hours before dawn was a spiritual discipline valued by many of the young Christians who came to train for the ministry. It was a cool time of day that gave opportunity for personal prayer and fellowship with God. To these students, praying out loud so that others could hear showed that they were earnest about their faith. The problem was that it did not take into consideration the needs of other students in the hostel. Inevitably, the practice caused conflict and led to intense debate. Eventually, the matter was resolved when the college issued a new rule. Out of consideration for others, those who wanted to pray out loud were asked to do so further down the road, away from the hostels.
We all need rules to help us to live together in community. We expect to know and keep the rules and regulations that govern life among our neighbours in local, national, and even international communities.  In this passage, John explains that those who belong to Christ and live in fellowship with God, demonstrate their citizenship of God’s kingdom by knowing him and keeping his rules (commandments).

Calvin writes, “To love God in sincerity of heart is to keep his commandments” (p.175). This is the evidence that we have “come to know him.” To know God through Jesus Christ is to be so profoundly re-orientated from darkness into the light that we no longer habitually disobey God’s word but walk in obedience to his commandments, just as Jesus walked in obedience to his Father’s commands (v.6).

As in the first chapter, John uses opposites to show the intense difference between those who walk in the light and those who remain in the darkness. In v.4 he counters a fourth claim made by the false teachers. They claim to “know” God and yet disobey his commandments. This, John states in no uncertain terms, is nothing other than hypocrisy and lies because those who really know God, show it by keeping his word. They do this not in their own strength, but through the perfect love of God that “abides” within them (v.6).

In the Old Testament, to “know” God means to live in covenant relationship with him (Jer. 31:34). In the New Testament, it refers to life in the new covenant in Jesus Christ. Yet, the new commandment given by Jesus to “love one another just as I have loved you” (John 13:34) is not a new commandment at all. It has been there since the beginning. Love of God and of the neighbour was central to the Torah under the old covenant (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18) Yet it is a new command, because it is central to the new covenant in Christ. 

In v.9-11 John introduces love and hate as another pair of opposites that parallel the opposition of light and darkness. He counters the fifth claim made by the false teachers, that they walk in the light when they really hate their brothers (fellow Christians). True knowledge of God is characterised by love of others and a life lived in the light. Hypocritical claims to know God, can be discerned through the presence of hatred and darkness. The one who loves walks in the light without stumbling. The one who hates, on the other hand, stumbles in the darkness.  

Let us search our hearts today to determine whether we are walking in the knowledge of God. In love? In light? In obedience?


And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your only Son, Jesus Christ, through whom and in whom we can know you. Help us to live in obedience to your word by walking in the light, in love and truthfulness, today and all the days of our lives.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Pray with us today's prayer request:

Getch Temere, who is from Tigray, Ethiopia, is living under asylum in the U.S. and he attends an Anglican Church in North America church. He reports that many people in the Tigray region are starving. His own family's home was looted by soldiers leaving them without money or resources. He is hopeful that a recently proposed cease-fire will allow food and relief to reach the people of Tigray. Pray for peace in Tigray and that relief will be able to reach his family and many others.

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