how we know that we know him

This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived. (1 John 2:3-6 CEB)

We ask ourselves the wrong questions and so, formulate inadequate answers.

We ask ourselves: “Am I a Christian?’ And we tell ourselves: “Just like my parents and grandparents before me.”

We ask ourselves: “Do I believe?” And we quickly reply: “Why, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t.”

We ask ourselves: “How do I feel about my faith?” And we assure ourselves: “I’m like anyone else, I’ve got some questions here and there, but sure, I feel good about religion.”

We ask ourselves: “Have I been baptized into Christ?” And we say to ourselves: “Good Brother So-and-So baptized me back in _____ (fill in the year).”

We ask ourselves: “Am I a member of the church?” And the thought immediately bubbles up in our head: “Sure, I’m a part of XYZ Church.”

We ask ourselves: “Am I faithful?” And our response is immediate: “I go to church when I can, I take communion, I give some, say grace sometimes, and I don’t plan to quit. Yea, I’m faithful.”

Why do we talk so when Scripture speaks so differently? Do we dodge shouldering the weight of our load as people of the Lord because we want his blessings without our responsibilities? Do we set the bar low so we can deceive ourselves by easily clearing it? Do we honestly believe we can be content to bathe in the shallow end of the Sprit’s pool and still come to know the deep things of God’s Spirit? Do we simply never give it any thought and so, come to know no better?

John, this inspired messenger of God to us, this apostle of love, will not let us off the hook so easily. He does much more than “suggest” that we ask ourselves more challenging questions. His instruction to us is taut and tight. Hearing this passage alone ought to make us ask ourself:

  • Do I keep my word to God that I will keep his word?
  • Do I occupy myself with keeping his commandments because I remember who truly is Lord, and it’s not me?
  • Do I seek to know God by living the way Jesus lived?

To ask ourselves questions such as the former and not regularly ask ourselves questions such these latter, is to choose a path that can all too easily lead to self-deception and dishonesty with God.

This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived. (1 John 2:3-6 CEB)

We should pray.

Holy Father in heaven, I want to live after you and not lie to myself or anyone else. Set my feet on the way that is good, the way with you, and strengthen my hands to do your will, I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.