"3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." 1 John 2: 3-6
In verses 3 through 6, John makes it pretty clear that “to know” God is related to keeping His commandments. What does this mean though? What does knowing God have to do with obeying His commandments?
Sometimes the overly religious Jews called “Pharisees” in the New Testament were more concerned with keeping God’s commandments than with loving Him with their heart. They didn’t even accept His son Jesus because Jesus seemed to change too many religious rules. They were so in love with obeying the rules that they did not know God because they did not know Jesus.
Then you have the secessionists we talked about last week. They were the group that left or seceded from the group of Christians that John is writing to. They claimed that they knew God but didn’t think they had to obey any of His commandments at all. John says that this isn’t right either, that they don’t really know God if they don’t obey His commandments.
So what is the answer? How can we have confidence that we really know God and find a balance between the Pharisees and the secessionists’ way of following rules? According to John, we do have to keep God’s commandments. But God’s commandments are the entire truth or message that God gives to us through His son Jesus. Therefore if we have an attitude that says to God, “Hey God! I love You so much that I will order my entire life to obediently follow everything You’ve taught me through Your son Jesus in the Bible to the best of my ability!” then that is living a life walking in the same way that Jesus Himself walked on the earth.
Because remember, Jesus wasn’t focused on just obeying religious rules like the Pharisees. Jesus’ main focus was living a life that fully followed the directions God gave to Him in His personal relationship with God because He loved God and fully depended on God’s directions! When we have this same attitude as Jesus did, then we can be very confident that we love and know God. Then we can be very confident that we will come to know God more and more as we follow the directions and commandments He gave us through the Bible.
Questions for reflection and discussion
1. Is it possible to be too obedient to God?
Dear God, we thank You that a relationship with Jesus isn’t just about perfectly following a rule system, but it is a genuine relationship with rules that help direct us to live a life that truly reflects our identity in You. We thank You that You have given us ways, such as following Your commandments, that help us to know You. We pray that through Your son Jesus, we would be able to abide in Your direction and commandments. Amen.