The Test of Obedience
As I mentioned yesterday, 1 John contains a series of “tests” that John prescribes to help us to know if we are genuine followers of Jesus. Yesterday was the test of fellowship. Today, in 1 John 2, we have the test of obedience. Here is what John writes: 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. We know that salvation doesn’t come through obedience to rules and commands; salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. But it seems pretty clear from these verses and others that genuine salvation leads to obedience to God’s commands. Obedience follows salvation. If there is no obedience can there be salvation, or as John puts it, can a person really know Jesus if he doesn’t keep His commandments? John’s answer seems pretty clear and that answer is “No”.
I don’t think John has in mind a perfect record of “commandment keeping”. No one is able to do that. That would be inconsistent with what John wrote in the previous chapter about receiving forgiveness. It would also be inconsistent with much of the other New Testament writing on sin. What I think John is writing about is the desire to make obeying the commands of God a priority in one’s life. Are you interested in following the commands of God? Does sin bring a sense of conviction in your life? I think that John puts forth a very effective test for us. If you don’t really care about the commandments and routinely break them without conviction or care, then John would say, and I would agree, that you don’t know Jesus as Savior. The good news is that you can receive Him as Savior and thus gain the ability and desire to keep His commands. By the way, keeping His commands brings about the “best” for your life. Please consider the words of John in this chapter and compare them to your life.