John Desires That the Christian Examine Himself
John does a marvelous job of writing words found in the book of 1 John that convict the hearts of many. His black-and-white style of writing leaves no room for the Christian to convince himself that he is better than he really is. John paints a wonderful portrait of what the Christian life must look like. He makes it painfully obvious that the Christian must do certain things and his life must look a certain way. He does not make it an option within Christianity to pick and choose with God.
When John speaks, he speaks with a firm conviction of the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. John does not believe that the Holy Spirit is a weak, impersonal force that brings about little to no change in the life of the Christian. He believes that if someone is truly born again, it will be obvious. Those who are born again will think differently, act differently, and have new-found desires and loves.
Time and time again, Christians down through the ages have returned to the book of 1 John to be reminded of the high calling to which they have been called. The book of 1 John is rarely discouraging to the Christian. Rather, the Christian is graciously convicted by God, brought into God’s presence, and reminded yet again of the wonderful and matchless grace of Jesus.
First John 2:3-6 is one of those portions of Scripture that leaves the Christian feeling conscious of his conduct before God. John writes this portion of Scripture with a firm desire that people would examine themselves. Even though the charge to examine oneself is not specifically mentioned, John’s intent is clear.
If the Christian is to examine himself, he must be prepared to ask himself questions. Examining oneself is more than simply reading the Bible. It is more than praying that God would reveal an answer. Deep meditation on the Word and inquiry into one’s own soul must take place.
John desires that the Christian ask himself four questions, all of which are brought about by the question, “Are you obeying God’s commands?”
Do you know Christ?
Scripture says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4). The question is, “Do you know Christ?” The question is not, “Do you know of Christ,” or, “Have you heard of Christ?” Rather, it is, “Do you know Christ?” Do you have a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ?
When someone sees or hears about the President, it should still be obvious to that person that he does not actually know the President. He may be able to say that he knows things about the President. He could surely say that he knows of the President. But you would be hard pressed to find someone saying that he knows the President simply because he has heard about him.
However, within the realm of Christianity, there is a problem. People can begin to equate knowing Jesus with knowing things about Jesus. Knowing that Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of sin, was buried in a tomb, and was raised on the third day is not enough. Yes, that is the Gospel. Nevertheless, it can also be mental assent to facts without a true change of heart.
John challenges the Christian in 1 John 2:3-6. He is the real voice behind the statement that was just made about mental assent not being enough. John says that if someone really “knows” Jesus, he will obey the commands of Christ.
Is the truth in you?
John knows that the Christian is up against a great foe: the enemy of the church, the accuser of the brethren, Satan, the deceiving angel that deceived himself and a third of the angels. He seeks to deceive you, too. He is the Father of lies; therefore, in a sense, all lies find their origin in him.
John says, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). The question is this: “Is the truth in you?” The question is not, “Is the truth outside of you?” If the truth is not in a person, then what is in a person is a lie. In 1 John 1:5-10, John speaks out against the way in which people can be deceived into thinking that they are what they are not.
He tells of the way that those who walk in darkness are living a lie. In contrast to this, he tells of those who walk in the light. He speaks of these people as those who are walking in the truth. John wants the believer to know that he must love and that he must obey God’s Word if he is truly a Christian. This will be the mark of his life and the desire of his heart. However, he also includes this statement: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). John wants the believer to know that a part of the Christian life will, in fact, be identifying personal sin, confessing personal sin, and forsaking personal sin.
But is the truth in you? Yet again, the truth resides in the heart of one who is obedient to God’s revealed will.
Is the love of God perfected in you?
Scripture goes on to say, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby we know that we are in him” (1 John 2:5). Is the love of God perfected in you? Do you realize how much God loves you? John tells the reader that when a believer keeps the Word of God, he will come to a greater realization of the many ways in which God loves him.
John recorded the words of Jesus in John 14:21-23, and in 1 John 2:5, he briefly touches upon them again. In John 14:21-23, Jesus told His disciples that when someone knows the commandments of God and then applies them to his life, it is because that same person loves God. Jesus went on to say that when someone expresses his love toward God through obedience to God’s Word, both Jesus and the Father will love him. Jesus and the Father will also manifest their presence in the life of the believer. Jesus even said that He and the Father will take up residence in (make Their home with) the believer. This experiential and heightened awareness of God’s love is what John had in mind when he wrote 1 John 2:5.
So the question is this… Are you experiencing the love of God in your life? Do you know the Father? Do you know Jesus? It is important to always remember that you are in a grace-based relationship with God. However, the Christian must never forget the implications of walking with the Lord.
Are you abiding in Christ?
The final portion of Scripture says this: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Are you abiding in Christ? The word “abideth” is the Greek word “meno.” It carries the meaning of continuing with, enduring with, remaining with, and being present. It also bears the meaning of living with.
In the previous section of this article, it was stated that when the Christian keeps the commandments of God, God takes up residence in the life of that individual. The Christian life is sometimes referred to as a walk. Elsewhere, Jesus referred to two paths and two gates. The two paths are the hard path and the easy path. The two gates are the broad gate and the narrow gate. The easy path and the broad gate speak of the same journey. Those who travel down this path will not find God on it.
The other way consists of a hard path with a narrow gate. Those who walk this path will have sweet fellowship with God as they walk this path with Him. They will abide with one another, and the believer will have assurance of his salvation.
Father, I thank You for the writings of John. Help me to honor You in my walk with You. Teach me Your Word. Help me to trust in Jesus through it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.