I’ve struggled in the past with assurance. Assurance about life, money, love, salvation, etc. I’m what you’d call a “worrier”. (though I hate labels because I’m the one responsible for it, not the label) I worry about little things and don’t worry as much about big things. I guess small things give me more time for my brain to over-think them. Sometimes I’ve said “I’m not worried!” and deep-down been quite distraught.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” ~1st John 2:3-6
Though my claiming to be worry-free and our claims to know Christ are quite different calibers of thought, the concept remains the same: What we say about ourselves doesn’t change where our hearts are at. So whether you call yourself “devout”, “good”, or something like that, that doesn’t mean anything if your heart isn’t transformed by The Holy Spirit Himself.
Jesus called people who didn’t practice what they preached “hypocrites”. Their hearts were hardened to the truth, they thought their little religious world would keep them cozy in a little self-righteous cocoon.
In today’s society we’re the most masked society yet with our Facebook messages hiding our true thoughts and feelings, our Jobs becoming our identities, and all the “stuff” becoming our god while Christ is put on the shelf like he’s just another toy we play with when it’s convenient.
This is what John is getting at.
You can read very clearly what John is saying here. He says those who claim Christ but don’t follow His commands (indicating an un-changed heart) are liars. Re-iterating again he says that “the truth is not in him”. That’s a very critical statement. Those who claim Christ but don’t show signs of a changed heart are liars, even to the point that they’re lying to themselves! One thing: Why am I saying “a changed heart”? Doesn’t the text just say you need to “obey”? Let’s talk about that.
The reason I say this is not just because of the rest of the Bible, but from the beginning of verse three: “we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”.
Seems general enough until you notice something. As John words many times in his writings, he says: “that we have“. “Have” meaning “having already”. If he meant that those who obey become saved by obeying it would have been worded differently and He wouldn’t have said: “the love of God is perfected”.
It would really stink to believe in works-based salvation at this point.
“the love of God is perfected” literally means in the Greek: “To execute fully, discharge, advance a person to final completion of character”.
So when we obey, that is the outcome of something God already did in us. So works become the product of a changed heart, not the beginning of redeeming yourself. Gotta get the order right people!
Grace by faith alone in Christ alone.
Thanks for reading!