Picking up where I left off yesterday, John offered three tests in the second chapter of his first epistle that help us know whether or not we know God. The first test that John offers is a heartfelt desire to obey 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” (1 John 2:3-5, NLT). The obedience John is describing is more than rote obedience. It is the genuine desire to know and do God’s will. As we come to know and do God’s will, our love for God is matured, because we understand our relationship with God is based on love, not law.
Test number two is that we will walk as Jesus walked. “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6, NLT). When I was a kid, I used to get in trouble for mimicking my dad. I’d mimic his gestures and parrot his words back to him. Walking as Jesus walked is more that mimicking Jesus’ gestures and parroting his words. It is imitation. Imitation comes responsively and reflexively as we share in his divine nature. We can live as Jesus lived because the Spirit of Jesus lives within us. When I look at my kids, I can see how they imitate me or their mother. While the physical resemblances are somewhat obvious, the similarities in our personalities, mannerisms, phrasing of words, sense of humor, and decision making are also evident. Our children no longer mimic me as they did when they were little. They imitate me and their mother. I observe them as they make choices and think to myself, “That’s how I would have done that.” John’s vision for his readers lives is that we relate to God so closely that we become like him in word, thought and deed. We know that we know him because we act like him.
Tomorrow I’ll share the third test, that of loving our Christian brothers and sisters.