NET: Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. 2:4 The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 2:5 But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 2:6 The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.
John’s attention in unpacking the Word of Life (1:1) now turns to verifying the reality of that eternal life in the believer. What the apostles have declared from the beginning, John now diagnoses in the believer.
There are two foundational truths in John’s apostolic doctrine that cannot be missed:
1. We can know God in this life.
2. The reality of our fellowship with God will be evident in the life that we live.
These two foundational truths express the great theological truth of faith: knowing God is the antecedent to our obedience that produces the fruit of life.
We come to personally know God through the atoning sacrifice and heavenly advocacy of Christ, and this personal relationship with God produces real obedience in our life.
We personally know Christ in these manners:
1. As our savior that rescues us from the power of darkness and transfers us into his kingdom
2. As our atoning sacrifice that makes us righteous
3. As our heavenly mediator that makes us clean and holy
4. As our instructor that makes us wise and true
5. As our shepherd that refreshes our souls with the waters of life
The believer’s relationship with Christ daily grows in each of these areas of life. We become more and more intimately familiar with the saving power of Christ, with the righteousness of his blood, with his heavenly sanctification that cleanses and makes us pure, with his wisdom, and with his guidance that continually fills our souls with everlasting life.
THE REALITY OF FELLOWSHIP
John’s gospel isn’t one that merely impacts the mind or manipulates the heart; it changes the believer’s whole life!
I’ve given this point as one of the two founding principles of John’s first apostolic epistle because everything John writes stands on the reality that knowing Jesus is a life-changing event. Knowing Christ changes the life of the believer so much so that we can know for certain that those who remain unchanged do so precisely because they do not know Christ.
John’s epistemology (doctrine of “knowledge”) tells us that divine truth transforms life and leads us to the conclusion that we must reject any understanding of “truth” that doesn’t lead to transformed human life as being thoroughly unchristian.