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The Hear Of Works: I John 2:3-6

I John: LIGHT/LOVE
The Hear Of Works: I John 2:3-6
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday January 9, 2022

Last week on Verses 1-2, of chapter 2, Pastor John Nicholas noted that:
 
We learned three things that have a great effect on our lives as Christ-followers:
 

  1. Because of the holy nature of God, we should seek to imitate Him and walk in the light. 
  2. If we sin and stumble, we have an advocate, Jesus, our helper. 
  3. Jesus atones for our sin and restores our relationship to the Godhead. 
     
    Knowing these things should give us great confidence as it is not by the filthy rags of our works that we are saved but through Jesus, our advocate.
     
    In today’s study, we’ll move through these things that have a significant impact on our lives into a vision for abiding that brings fruit and assurance of our salvation (which will be a growing theme in John from here). 
     
    With that noted, let’s continue to explore 1 John 2.

Let’s first read the entire section in the context of verses 1-6:
 
1 John 2:1–6 (ESV)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this, we may know that we are in him:
6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
 
 
To pastor John’s points last week, The Apostle John writes us about “these things,” the Holy nature of God that we desire to imitate, why – so that we’d NOT be in sin. 
 
Romans 6:6–7 (ESV)
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
 
The Psalmist in
 
Psalm 119:32 (ESV)
32    I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!
 
However, immediately fighting against any potential that we’d see the filthy rags of our personally generated works, John writes:
 
But if anyone does sin He Jesus is the one who is our Sin’s payment.  Not simply that up-to-the-time of our salvation, Jesus is our whole propitious offering for the sum of our days, however many they are.  Jesus, not our works, is our sinless life before God.  Then we come to verse 3:
 
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments.
 
Consider Jesus’ own words in Luke 6:46:
Luke 6:46 (ESV)
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
 
 
What Jesus gives them isn’t a path to salvation but a litmus test for faith.  If my faith is in the truth of Jesus’ teachings, and my hope/trust and way to God are found in Him, I’d be found following His teachings and His commandments.  Some people follow Dave Ramsey’s teachings more than Jesus’. What does that say – certainly, it says they believe Dave can help them with Money, so they trust His teaching to shape their actions. 
 
So, John says – we know, we’ve come to know Him, meaning we’ve come to saving faith when we keep His Commands.  Does this mean perfectly – no, he covered that in verse 1, two verses ago, when we fail, we remember that Jesus is the fullness of our offering – but we desire for the Holiness of God, our deeds demonstrate that as we go after being found in Christ.  Certainly, you’re not IN CHRIST if you’re found in rampant sin living in open, flagrant patterned violation of His teaching. That’s what Jesus said clearly in Luke 6:46.  If I said, I follow Dave’s principles wholly, we go out, and you see me use a credit card to buy stuff all day long, you keep a running tally and think I’ve spent $10,000 on that credit card, you may question whether or not I DO follow Dave’s principals you may conclude that I don’t.  Certainly, they’ve not had a real deep-seated impact. My behaviors bear that out. 
 The same is true of Christ.  If I claim to have seen the holiness of God in Him and find my salvation in Him, but willingly, knowingly, frequently live in open opposition to Him; this comes to mind:
 
Matthew 3:8 (ESV)
8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
 
James 3:11–13 (ESV)
11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Wisdom from Above
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
 
John, in verse 3, is taking Jesus own words about His commandments:
 
John 14:15 (ESV)
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
 
John 15:10 (ESV)
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
 
Matthew 28:20 (ESV)
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
Earlier in 1 John 1:10 we read,
 
1 John 1:10 (ESV)
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
 
When we abide in Christ, we learn His commandments and begin living like Him and His word, He being the living Word, lives in and through us – understating we have sinned brings His word, His commands His revelation of truth alive in us.

Later 2 John 9-10 would say:
 
2 John 9–10 (ESV)
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
 
John continues, and remember as we go, he opened this up to “my little children” this is loving, Pastoral, and TO believers.  That is important.

1 John 2:3-4 (ESV)
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

There are nuances in language.  Today everyone thinks of themselves as grammarian.  Their, There, They’re – we know (right) the differences.  There is something very important in verse 4 that misses us but that John’s reader would catch. 
 
Whoever says, “I know Him.” 
 
Knowing here is ginosko – this is knowledge by experience. 
 
Consider the relationship flowing in the opposite order, not the individual to Christ but Christ to the individual:
 
Matthew 7:23 (ESV)
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
 
I never knew you and a meaningful way.  Certainly, Jesus knew, academically, these people, but not in a meaningful way; they were strangers, unconnected by the truth of God’s holiness in Him as evidenced by their works. 
 
In contrast with Oida, which is knowing too.  But it is cognitive knowledge, facts we learn:
 
Hebrews 12:17 (ESV)
17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

Our works help us know, experientially, where our heart is, one bearing the fruit of repentance and desiring for know experiential knowledge of life lived in Christ or bearing the fruit of following after sinful self-satisfying lust first. 

5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
 
We have in verse 5 another litmus test element.  Read the second half, “by this we may know that we are in Him.”   Does that get exciting for you?  I mean, I want to know if I’m, in Christ – don’t you?
 
“Whoever keeps his word.”  Now, remember, a lot of what John is writing against is gnosticism of their day, a presentation that there is some secret that you can find in another group that really really helps you know God.  So, John is laying out the case that to really-really see that you are in Christ, be about a way of living that follows Jesus’ commandments (Commandments being Jesus example of living, and verbal teachings).
 
So, if verse 4 says,
 
1 John 2:4
4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
 
Wouldn’t we think the one how says I know him, but doesn’t hold to Jesus’ teachings is a liar that those who keep the commandments is not a liar but of the truth and that the truth is in him – instead, what we see is something else, reread it, and this is hugely important:
 
1 John 2:5 (ESV)
5 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 keeps his word in him is… “the love of God, perfected.”
 
The person who has seen the holiness of God, the outworking of God’s character in Christ, who is (as John couches this entire message, little children) or a repentant believer knowing gains assurance of their faith in Christ through practice and experience.  They don’t know themselves as children of God because they’re enabled to be sinless, but rather because of seeing the reflection of the Love of God working out through them. They’re bearing the fruits of, not strength of conviction, but instead recognizing their weakness of ability are imitators of Christ learning more as they go.  They are working out their salvation in fear and trembling, growing closer through daily experience, being refined, and walking in the works God prepared beforehand to get to see the love of God perfected. 
 
Not get to see some flat evidence of obedience.  No, we get to see God’s love through our following and aligning to Christ. 
 
Consider John 15:9 as we turn to John’s local conclusion in verse 6:
 
John 15:9 (ESV)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
 
With this reflection from Jesus after the foot-washing, Judas leaving and explaining existing on the vine which is Christ, those who abide (live following his commands (sound familiar) seeking Jesus’ father’s kingdom goals not their own end like Judas) are true vines. They’re abiding, and through their abiding, they aren’t just following rules and winning. They’re perfecting the love of God by spreading/shining it into the world they live in.  Verse 10 continues in John 15. It’s like the template John follows in 1 John:
 
John 15:10 (ESV)
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
 
So back to 1 John, remember verse 5 said:
 
1 John 2:5 (ESV)
5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
 
Perhaps this feels strange. It doesn’t sit right – the love of God is being perfected.  But let’s go back to the Dave Ramsey example.  If you feel that Dave’s teaching on revolving credit and paying off debt are inherently, right – then living counter to that while deeply in debited does nothing.  You aren’t following His teachings in any substantive way.  Your knowledge of what Dave teaches is academic only.  It’s the Oida knowledge we found in Hebrews 12:17
 
Hebrews 12:17 (ESV)
17 For you know that afterward when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
 
Not the Matthew 7:23 ginosko
 
Matthew 7:23 (ESV)
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
 
To perfect Dave’s teachings or bring them fully to bear on the issue of my indebtedness, I need to practice what he teaches.  His teaching then is perfected in that it accomplishes what it was aimed to achieve.  Therefore, God’s love is reflected in us because we’re walking in Jesus’ commandments/teachings perfects the aim of God’s love.  The Gnostic taught that the purpose of knowing God was to live sinlessly and with the proper knowledge you could. Scripture teaches that if you say you’re without sin, you’re a liar. Jesus’ commands aren’t in you. 
 
John says to the little children, perfect the love of God by living like Christ, in His commandments, if you sin, Christ is your perfection to live freely in and for Christ.

We know we are in Him because our fruits flow the love of God, so John continues in verse 6:
 
 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
 
John comes full circle.  If we say we abide, then we should abide.  And here is the question people have all the time:
 
How do I know I’m a believer?
How do I know I’m in Him?
How do I know I’m saved?
 
Abide in Christ – desire His commands imitate Him.

To walk like Christ, we need to know how He walked.  How do we know that?
 

 
Scripture records all that we need to abide, to imitate, everything that we need for life and godliness, so let’s abide in Christ in attitude, indeed, in devotion, and prayer.  Let those desires mark your day – and see if you don’t find the love of God flowing through you as fruits of repentant living.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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