Summary: We may have a relationship with Jesus Christ, but very few of us actually have fellowship with God.
There are three major themes that we’re going to cover in 1 John 2:3–11. One is that we are going to realize that if we say we have fellowship, then we need to be obedient to God’s Word. There is a major difference between having a fellowship versus having a relationship. We all have a relationship with Jesus Christ, but very few of us actually have fellowship with God. When I talk about fellowship, it means having an intimate time between us and God. Three things need to be working in our lives. First, we are going to have to understand that we are to be obedient to God’s Word. There’s a desire, a heart, a passion to want to apply God’s Word in our lives. Second, if we say that we are faithful, then we would be able to surrender our will to the will of God according to 1 John 2:6–8. So we’re able to give up the very thing that we are hanging on to and do whatever God wants us to do—that is hard to do. It’s easy to say it, but it’s tough to do it. And thirdly, in verses 9 through 11, we are going to begin to love the way that God wants us to love. We are going to love anyone, regardless of what color they are, where they live, rich or poor, tall or short, skinny or fat. We are going to love people—God’s way. So if we say, “Hey, I have fellowship with God,” then it will be evident in our lives by our obedience to God’s Word, by surrendering our will to the will of God, and finally by the way that we love people.” So if we can honestly say that we do all three things, then there is no doubt that we have fellowship with God. If we don’t, then we have a relationship that is falling short. And that relationship means that we have come to the cross, but we’re still in the tomb. What we want to do is to get through the tomb, off the cross, and be resurrected, walking in the newness of life; putting off the old man and putting on the new man and begin to die to ourselves. That is a major issue.
The Apostle Paul says in 1 John 2:1–2, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate (defense attorney) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” So the first thing we realize is that God’s love is bigger than us. He will love us but He’s also big enough to love anybody at any place at any time. Verses 3, 4, and 5 says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (If we are going to keep His commandments, there is no doubt we love Him.) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (If we say that we have fellowship but we’re not keeping God’s Word, then we’re not telling the truth.) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected (complete or mature) in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” So that is the greatest evidence of our love: when God begins to perfect, to complete and mature that work in our lives. So God is working for us and not against us. He’s not trying to deal with our sin; He’s now dealing with our relationship and our maturity, and trying to help us. So often, we find that God is somehow working against us only because of our sin. The Bible says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. Here is what we need to understand. When a man and a woman have a child, it was because they had fellowship. That means that they had an intimate moment with each other and so, she conceived and had a son. And that means that they were in the same bed at the same time and shared a little special moment of their lives and during that special moment, produced a boy. And so they brought a boy into the world through a time of fellowship, intimacy, and now a relationship has been born, their son is their son; that’s a relationship. Through the years, it has always been a fellowship; holding him and enjoying him. But if he got arrested and was thrown in prison, would he still be their son? Yes. Would he be in fellowship? No. Is he still part of a relationship? Yes. They can never get rid of that. Similarly, when we came to Christ, we were justified—just as if we didn’t sin. God took that sin away and made us as sons of God. We have a relationship with God.