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.
– 1 John 2:3-6

In Jesus’ final discourse to His disciples, before His death and resurrection, Jesus charged His disciples with these weighty and unforgettable words: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). In these nine words, Jesus both echoes the oft repeated Old Testament refrain about being Lord along with the importance of obeying Him, as well as clearly connecting love for God and obedience to Him. In essence, Jesus affirms His Lordship and clearly calls His disciples to faithful obedience to His commandments, precisely as evidence of their love for Him. 

To love Jesus, as in to be in a personal relationship with Him as Lord and Savior, clinging only to Christ by faith, must necessarily be demonstrated in obedience to Him. In other words, one’s love for God is demonstrated in obedience to God’s commands. Our Christian confession and commitment then, can in fact be discerned or judged accurately by this test of obedience. 

John the apostle who penned his namesake gospel writes again sometime later affirming this same truth in his own words. John tells us in verse 3 that we can have assurance of salvation, in that we can know that we are in a personal relationship with God and that God has saved us by grace, by seeing that we are in fact keeping His commandments. John’s point in this passage is that knowing and loving God are inseparable from obedience to God’s word in our lives. 

In fact, John gives us the counterfactual argument in the following verse when he writes: “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” This posture stands in direct contrast to many today in American Christianity who would say things like: ‘Only God can judge me; You don’t know my heart; It’s all about my intentions; I prayed the prayer; Don’t be a legalist and focus on behavior.’ I can imagine John responding to many today who would call themselves Christians or say they love God but are not living lives of obedience to God’s revealed will in His Word and calling them liars, as he does in this scripture.

On day 4 of our fast today, the Lord would have us be reminded of the truth that when we receive God’s love in our hearts, it always leads to a change that begins in our hearts but which also affects our behavior. The way we conduct ourselves continues to grow and sanctify as we keep walking with Jesus, giving our utmost for his highest, and striving to please him with our lives in how we obey his word. If we claim to be in Christ then let us also walk in the way Christ walked. Let us walk in the way of obedience and love because to know and love God is to obey him.

In the spirit of the old adage that says “delayed obedience is disobedience,” I want to encourage you to take a moment in reflection and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you ask yourself: Is there any delayed obedience in my life? What area in my life am I getting cold-feet in following Jesus? What is the next right thing God is calling me to do? What command in God’s word am I not fully embracing and obeying in this season? 

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die for my sin and in my place. Thank You that You have saved me by Your grace and mercy. Holy Spirit, fill me with the boldness and courage I need to do what is right, to walk in obedience and to honor Your word by applying it to my life. Help me honor Christ in all my ways, words, thoughts and actions. Let Your love be perfected in me as I seek You wholeheartedly and walk with You daily. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Fady Ghobrial
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union Gloria (Harvard College)

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