And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 1 John 2:3
Although John’s writings (his gospel, Revelation) are often focused on the spiritual things above nevertheless he is very practical in his epistles to the church. I get the impression from his letters that John is the type of person who is concerned about the real world application of the gospel. Missouri is the “show me” state; John is the “show me” apostle. If he were alive today I think he would love the saying, “the proof is in the pudding.” In this passage John gives us three tests which determine whether we know and love God.
Knowing God is not a matter of acquiring information but of obedience. We do not come to know God by reading the bible, studying theology, or memorizing scripture. We do it by putting Jesus’ teachings into practice. I like this because it is practical and straightforward, not some esoteric mystery. It requires us to have an attitude that sees Jesus as our Lord, that is, our superior who commands us in all things. Jesus said that it is the doer of the word that loves Him. If you believe that Jesus is Lord and His commands are binding on you then you know that you know God.
Anyone who claims to know God must follow Jesus’ example as the model for his life. In verse 6 we read, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” The Christian’s mandate is to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus commissioned His disciples to make disciples of all the nations. Disciples reflect their masters like children resemble their parents. A disciple wants to be like his master. He follows the same thought process and has the same priorities. Those who think that Jesus’ example is irrelevant today are not His disciples and it is no surprise that they bear no resemblance to Him. If you are seeking to emulate Jesus’ life then you know that you know God.
You cannot know God if you do not love His people, your brethren. Gandhi said that he likes Christ but not Christians. He was clearly clueless about Christ because you cannot separate the two. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who share a similar sentiment. They claim to love God but they have no love for the church. The problem with this attitude is that it fails to understand an important part of God’s character. He loved us first when we were still His enemies. If we want that love to abide in us then we have to begin to see people the way God sees them. It shows that we appreciate and thank God for His grace and mercy towards us. You love much when you know you’ve been forgiven much. In John 13:35 Jesus said that our love for each other would be the defining characteristic of the church and mark us as His disciples. If you love the church, for whom Christ died with all its imperfections, then you know that you know God.
This passage has a very encouraging message that gives hope to everyone and reveals God’s wisdom and glory. It teaches that God is not known only to the priest and theologian, or even the literate. He is known by those who obey Him, follow His example, and love the brethren. The Lord makes us equal in that He reveals Himself to all, rich and poor, strong and weak, famous and anonymous, male and female, old and young, healthy and sick, Jew and gentile, clergy and layman, without distinction or favoritism. We have hope in that we know now what we must do to know God. We know the way and we can walk in it and be assured of success. There is no excuse for not knowing God.