We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
1 John 2:3-6
What is the best proof that you know Christ? We often rely on a decision we made way back when we were a child or teenager. For some it was going through a church process of religious teachings and confirmation. For others, their own feelings and convictions become the best encouragement for their faith. Some made a commitment of faith after a service while others made a decision to follow Jesus at summer camp. Our greatest struggles with these decisions are shattered on the rocks of real life. Immoral choices throw our confidence into the cesspool of self-condemnation while others dry up because of spiritual indifference. Life will provide innumerable reasons to doubt the validity of our claims.
The irrefutable evidence you belong to Christ is keeping his commands. Those who claim to know Christ but do not obey His Word are liars. The evidence that assures us that we truly know him rests on obeying his truth. This may, at first, sound legalistic. I thought we were under grace and not law, but obeying Christ’s commands is not the same as keeping a list of laws. There is no greater privilege than to honor the one who died for us by following Him unconditionally. John explains the attitude of a true believer in 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” The true believer never finds it tedious to abandon his inclinations to trust the prodding’s of God’s Spirit. He willingly relinquishes what he thought was important to embrace the values of his new king. He surrenders his beliefs to allow eternal values to forge a new set of principles that shapes the priorities of life. He implicitly follows the one who gave His life for his debt.
God’s love is the force that compels obedience. “Duty” is never again to be the catalyst of honoring Christ. Conforming to a set of imposed moral standards can never sustain a true follower of Christ. Appeasing the community of believers is a false temptation. Only pure love for God cultivates an enduring faithfulness to Christ. The energizing purity of God’s love is the foundation of providing hope in the face of human brokenness. Obedience energizes love and love embraces faithfulness. The perfect transforming element of life is obedience motivated by God’s love.
The greatest assurance of the authenticity of our relationship with Christ is loving obedience to His truth. Nothing could be simpler and yet nothing could be more challenging. Knowing truth is not the same as obeying truth. We live in a context of life that makes it very easy to agree with truth and ignore the implications of obeying that truth. The temptation to affirm principles from God while ignoring obedience to that same truth is very real. Knowing truth does not equal being changed by that same truth. There are few riskier challenges than committing to obedience of Christ’s commands. There are fewer ventures more transforming than obeying the principles of God’s Word. This is the journey of eternal life change.