Summary: 4th in First John Series
THREE TESTS FOR SALVATION
INTRO: One of the main purposes of the book of 1 John is that you and I might come to know that we are truly children of God. To know that we are born again. The Bible plainly teaches that it is possible for a Christian to really and actually know he is saved.
It would be inconceivable to go to one of the first century Christians and ask him if he were saved and get answers like, “Well, I hope so or I think I am saved.” Those early Christians had assurance because their salvation was solidly based on a real experience with the Lord Jesus Christ and the unshakable testimony of the Word of God.
Notice a phrase that occurs three times in these verses. It is the phrase “he that sayeth.” It occurs in vv. 4, 6 and 9 and introduces us to a series of tests whereby we can know beyond a doubt that we are a child of God.
I. THE TEST OF ATTITUDE (vv. 3-5).
This first test that John talks about is the test of your attitude towards obeying the Word and will of God:
Obedience Desired (v. 3). The word keep in this verse is an interesting word which means: “to carefully guard,” as if a person were guarding a treasure.
A person who is genuinely born again will have a heart attitude that desires to carefully guard and keep the commandments of God. It is not enough for a person to just say he is saved, but there must be the attitude of obedience in his heart.
In v. 4, John makes it quite clear that if this attitude of obedience is not in your heart you are not saved. He doesn’t mean that all of us keep the commandments perfectly all the time. But he does mean that there is going to be the desire for obedience in our hearts.
Obedience Described (v. 3). “Hereby we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments.” Note the word, “commandments.” Then in v. 5 he says, “But whoso keepeth His Word,” note the word “word.” Do you see the difference? In one verse he talks about keeping the commandments of God and in the next about keeping the word of God.
Look in John 14:15. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Now look in v. 23, “If any man love me, he will keep my words.” There is a difference between wanting to do the commandments of God and wanting to do the Word of God.
ILLUS: Suppose a young man comes home from school and his father says to him, “Bob I want you to take out the garbage and wash the car.” These are the specific commandments of his father, and he does them. But suppose Bob overhears his father tell someone else that he is not feeling well and wishes someone would mow the yard and rake the leaves. So Bob does that, not because he is commanded to, but because he loves his father and wants to do not only his commandments but also his word.
This is to be the attitude which is to be in the heart of the child of God. Because of our love for Him we want to keep His word, we read specific commandments in the Bible but also we learn some of the desires of Jesus concerning our lives and we want to do these also.
Obedience Discharged (v. 5). If we really love God and if God’s love accomplishes its intention and reaches its goal in our hearts, there will be the attitude of obedience to the commandments and to the Word of God.
II. THE TEST OF ACTIONS (v. 6).
If you are a child of God, there is a sense of obligation on your part to live as Jesus lived. Our walk and talk ought to coincide. Our lives ought to be consistent with the way we talk.
Think about the walk of Jesus. In childhood He walked in submission to His parents. In His earthly ministry He walked the dusty roads of Galilee healing, preaching and doing good to all people.
As Savior. He steadfastly walked to Calvary for our sins. “We ought to walk even as He walked.” This means that there ought to be a desire on our part to imitate the life of the Lord Jesus. Salvation is identification in salvation as well as in the daily Christian walk.
But imitation is also taught in the Bible. In Ephesians 5:1, the Bible says, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” The Greek word translated followers is the English word “mimic or imitator.”
III. THE TEST OF AFFECTION (vv. 7-11).
Your love will be an indication of whether or not you are really a born-again child of God. In v. 3, he uses the word, “commandments,” plural. He is talking about the commandments of God in general. Now in v. 7, he has narrowed down our thinking to one commandment.