Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #271 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 John 2 today and our focus is on How Do We Really and Truly KNOW God? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Hamburg, Germany, Bahrain, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Parts unknown Russia, Italy and France, Karnataka, India, Kigali, Rwanda, British Columbia, Canada, Chicago, Illinois, Montgomery, Alabama, Los Angeles, California, Tallahassee, Florida, Fresno, California, and Kansas City, Missouri. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Today’s question is going to take us down a different trail than you might think at first. How do we get to KNOW God? Like – how do we really get to know Him? John is going to give us an answer today, and it is probably not the answer you are expecting.
3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: 6 The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked. 1 John 2:3-6
Here’s the thing about John: He is direct and to the point – he does not mince words and does not really pull his punches. John says the truth flatly – we know God by keeping His Word – obeying His commands. Lest we misunderstand this principle, John is going to go for the jugular, so to speak: If anybody says they KNOW God, and yet they live a life of disregarding His commands and His Word – that person is lying. And this is another example of a dynamic we talked about a few weeks ago – labeling yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you are a Christian – here we see that the one who KNOWS God will KEEP His commands. (Remembering our discussion yesterday about confession and forgiveness and how we will all sin and fall short of keeping God’s commands.)
And this raises an issue for us: Where is the line between keeping God’s commands and not keeping God’s commands? John told us in chapter one yesterday that if anybody claims to not sin, they are a liar, and that those who do sin can be declared righteous by a faithful and just God who cleanses those who sin and confess their sin. Doesn’t sinning mean you aren’t keeping God’s commands? The answer here is complex, but I believe that the key is the promise in 1 John 1:9:
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
Those who genuinely confess their sins to God will be forgiven AND they will be cleansed – in other words, it will be like they are keeping God’s commands, because they are cleansed from all unrighteousness. Is it possible to take advantage of this, like it is some sort of of loophole – in other words, to sin it up everyday, and then confess your sins every night and be good with God? I don’t think it is possible to fool or trick God in any way, shape or form. If we live an unrepentant lifestyle of continual and habitual sin with no genuine confession and repentance, then it is clear that we aren’t keeping God’s commands, and therefore we don’t know Him.
Is this the only place in the Bible where knowing God is tied to keeping His commandments? No – Jesus Himself makes this dynamic quite clear in a conversation with His disciples:
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too.20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.21 The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it you’re going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.24 The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me. John 14:15-24
Notice how the phrases “keeping my word,” and “keeping my commands” are used pretty synonymously by Jesus. Notice also that Jesus indicates that the sign of LOVING Him and KNOWING Him are both pretty much the same: Keeping His Word/commands. John is going to unpack this dynamic more for us in 1 John chapter 4, which we will get to in a few days.
One last question: How is it that keeping God’s commands allows us to KNOW God better? It turns out that there is a very strong connection between obedience and relationship, and Jesus shows us exactly why:
21 The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him…“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
So- keeping God’s commands and the commands of Jesus is equated to loving them and knowing them, and when we live a life of following God’s commands and Jesus’ commands, then Jesus says at least twice in this passage that He will reveal Himself to us and the Father and He will come and make their home in us. So – obedience leads to God the Father and God the Son drawing near to us, and leads to them revealing their character, presence and personality to us. By the way, the Holy Spirit is involved in this dynamic also, as we see in 1 John 3:
23 Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us. 1 John 3:23-24
When we KEEP God’s commands, we remain in Him relationally, and HE REMAINS IN US relationally- and we know He is with us relationally by the Work of the Holy Spirit He has given us.
So, there you see a pretty mind-blowing truth of God’s Word – knowing God and keeping His commands are inextricably bound – if we want to know God and love God then we must keep His commands. Let’s read our passage.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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