Summary: John encourages his readers to persist in their spiritual walk by confronting them with a social test. Do they love the adelphos (brothers and sisters) or do they hate the adelphos because they stumble and cause others to stumble?
You can listen to the full message here:-
Knowing That You Know Jesus.
A distinct memory from my childhood is the method my mum used to cheer me on at a sports day.
When I was doing the 100m sprint she would run along the side yelling and cheering. “Keep going.” “Run faster.” “You’re nearly there.”
For the 50m breast stroke … you guessed it … she would walk alongside the pool. Which sounded like this. “Kee” …. “ing” … “you” … “rly” .. “Al” … “ster”.
There were not many other mothers … actually no other mothers … did that. But you know what. It spurred me on. You just can’t give up when you have that foundation of support.
I didn’t give up. Not once.
John also doesn’t want his readers to give up. John wants his readers
… the readers of the first century.
… the readers of today.
John wants his readers to persist … to keep going in their spiritual walk. In our text today John focusses on the foundation, the key support, which enables all of us to persist in our Christian walk. Let’s turn to
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
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.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
At first glance we could come to the conclusion that John is establishing a foundation which is based on rules, regulations and performance.
You can know you know Jesus by keeping commands.
If you don’t keep the commands you are a liar who really doesn’t know Jesus.
Obedience shows that you love God.
Rules. Regulations. Performance. Instinctively we can be sure that this isn’t what John is teaching. You are not saved by rules, regulations and performance. Such an approach to our Christian life will lead to failure every single time.
In Matthew 19 Jesus once met a rich young man who thought he had succeeded in being saved by command keeping.
He asks Jesus “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
Just to be sure the rich man asked, “Which ones?”
Jesus replied, ‘“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,” and “love your neighbour as yourself.”
Now listen to the response.
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
The rich young man went away – knowing he couldn’t do it.
Command keeping cannot earn you a place in God’s family – no matter how many commands you keep you will never keep all of them … ever.
So while, at first, it kind of sounds like John is requiring command-keeping … it is not what John is saying.
You see, the main question here is not, “Do you know the commandments?”
The main question is, “Do you know Jesus?”
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands
This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one
Do you know Jesus?
You know that you know by living out the old-but-new command.
Which sounds kind of confusing – until we read what Jesus says in …
A new command I give you: love one another.