Sunday, 15 February 2009 00:00

A Confirmation of Grace: Obedience

I John 2:3-6 (ESV)

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

There's the possibility that some who profess to know God have never experienced Him. It's possible to give mental assent to the existence of God but never experience His work of grace in the heart. This is true of the demons (James 2:19) and also to those whom Jesus will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23). How can we have assurance?

  1. Obedience to His word... "By this we know that we have come to know him" (v.3).
    The commandments of Christ are summed up in "loving God, loving one another and bearing one another's burdens," which are commandments called the Law of Christ. But what does this obedience look like? The answer is found in Matthew 7:21-27.
    1. Obedience to His word involves looking at the heart.
      The law says "Don't murder," but believers are bothered by anger (Matthew 5:22). The law says "Don't commit adultery," but believers spurn lust (Matthew 5:28). The law says "Don't steal," but Christ gives us the grace to give (Matthew 5:40). Whereas civilization must codify law in order to punish lawbreakers, the real evidence that we have become known by God is a transformation of our hearts.
    2. Obedience to His word involves humility in the heart.
      There are times when we as Jesus' followers will see things that go on within us that cause us concern. We see our attitude of bitterness, or the ease with which our hearts get angry, or the greed that captures us, and we hurt inside. "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar..." (I John 2:10). Have you ever considered that the lack of humility is the reason for moral failure? Confession of sins in the heart prevents transgressions of life in the world.
  2. Faith in His work... "But if anyone does sin... He is the propitiation for our sins" (v.2).
    Sins of the heart, jealousy, envy, pride, fear, anxiety, bitterness, anger, selfishness, and pride are already forgiven, and can be confessed, because of Jesus the righteous. "He is the propitiation for our sins." He became a Substitute for His people. "For our sake he made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Corinthians 5:21). I call this the great exchange. Do you know Jesus became sin for you? The evidence is His just life within you.
  3. Love for His walk... "We ought to walk in the same way in which he walked" (v.6). It's a little like saying, "What would Jesus do?" or "What would Jesus desire" "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires" (II Peter 1:3-4).

    When we keep his word, when we obey His commandments, His love is perfected.

    1. It is seen in our attitude, which translates into our actions.
    2. It is seen in our transparency, which supersedes our religious activity.
    3. It is seen in our relationships, which mirror our relationship with Him.

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