Summary: How do you know if you are a Christian? Can you? Is it possible? John says yes in his letter and gives three ways that we can know we are "living in the light." The first is the Moral Test.
We are going to continue on in 1 John tonight. Just to recap, two weeks ago we focused on God being the one constant in our lives. His relationship with us is the only thing that will never fail and never let us down. Last week, we talked about sin and that it is a reality that we all have to deal with. We defined sin as something that goes against what God would want for us and then agreed that we all have sin in our lives.
But, thanks to God’s forgiveness we are able to have a relationship with God and be forgiven for those sins because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. John then challenges us to “live in the light, as God is in the light.”
As we begin to look at chapter 2 of John’s letter tonight, he begins to answer more specifically what “living in the light” really looks like and really tackles the question, “How do you know you are “living in the light” or are a Christian?” Throughout chapter 2, I think John brings to light three different “tests” or “guides” to answering that question, and tonight we are going to focus on the first one.
To start though, why don’t you grab the person next to you and just talk briefly about this question: “How do you know you are “living in the light” or are a Christian?”
***After a minute or two, have some of them share their thoughts***
To help us jump into the first guide that John suggests to help answer that question, I have a video clip for us to watch together from an oldie but a goodie, The Lion King. In this clip, Simba and his best friend Nala head out in search of a forbidden elephant burial ground. Both of them are fully aware of the danger and of their disobedience but they convince each other otherwise. Let’s see what happens.
***Play video clip***
I think when it comes to rules and guidelines and, for our sakes tonight, commandments, a lot of people get really turned off. I mean how many of you here tonight like rules? I’d be willing to bet, not many of you. Especially as teenagers, it seems like that sometimes there is always some rule, or parent, or something that is trying to ruin our fun and keep us from having a good time.
The truth of the matter though, and what we see in this clip from The Lion King, is that most often rules are in place to bring about a greater good and to protect us. Typically as a parent, school, church or any other rule makers, you are talking about people who are older and wiser and set rules for our own good as we grow up. This doesn’t necessarily make them any easier to swallow and I know that some of you may deal with rules that may not be fair or seem practical but nevertheless, parents and those setting the rules are usually right in heart and really care about you.
This same description goes for God and we talked briefly about this last week. He created each and every single one of us and everything around us, things seen and unseen. Therefore He knows us better than we even know ourselves and the things that He asks of us are to make us most happy in the long run. Unfortunately for our sakes, whether we like rules or not, this is where John starts as he begins to answer the question, “How do you know if you are a Christian?” The first thing that John lays out could be called the moral test. Let’s open our Bibles to 1 John 2:1-6 to see what John says about this.
***Read 1 John 2:1-6***
“We can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
What is John saying here in these verses? I think he is trying to communicate that we can know if we have a relationship with Christ by whether or not we try to please Him. Think of this in terms of dating. If you have just started dating someone and you want to impress them or keep them from dumping you, how are you going to act? You’re going to act all lovie dovie, and sweet, and kind, and buy presents, and etc. etc. In a healthy relationship, you are also going to spend a lot of time listening to them and finding out what they like and don’t like and then adjust accordingly. When you can do this, you will not only make them happy, but also yourself. This is what John is saying about God. If you really love God, you are going to take the time to listen to Him, hang out with Him, and try to do everything you can to make Him happy.