Are you a “name dropper?” Do you know any name droppers? You know the kind. They are always bringing up who they went to school with or who they recently met for lunch. In the course of normal conversation, a name dropper will find a way to share something they said to or did with a person of notoriety. Sometimes you may wonder if the name dropper really knows the person whose name they dropped.
The first century gnostics were name droppers of sorts. They claimed to know God and talked often of knowing God. The problem, however, was that the gnostics didn’t really know God. Even worse, they were leading people in the church astray. (To read a brief explanation of first century gnosticism, click this link to Theopedia).
One of John’s objectives in writing his first epistle is to counter the claims of Gnosticism. He intentionally uses the word “know” (gnosis) to help his readers understand how to know if they really know God. In the following passage, he provided three tests that give evidence of really knowing God.
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.
If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister,a that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sisterb is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness (1 John 2:3-11, NLT).
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll start unpacking the three tests John offered.