1 John 2:3 NRSV
Now by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we obey His commandments.
I’m spending my summer in Clarksville, Tennessee, with my son and daughter-in-law (they’re expecting our first grandchild). Prior to coming, I spent some time looking at maps to acquaint myself with the general area. I also spent some time online learning a little about the town and the nearby Army base, Fort Campbell. But, I have to admit, that I didn’t know anything about Clarksville until I came here. And even now, I know very little (except how to get from home to the Wal-Mart). Why? Because I haven’t lived here; I haven’t become a citizen.
One can know of the Lord Jesus, even be an expert on the Bible and other historical documents that tell of Him, without knowing Him. There is knowledge and then there is knowledge. The apostle Paul taught that knowing Christ was essential for salvation:
I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings by becoming like Him in His death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead Philippians 3:8-11 NRSV.
The apostle John isn’t saying that we are saved by obedience, but that we can be sure of our salvation. In other words, while obeying the Lord’s commandments isn’t how we’re saved, it is the evidence of being saved.
Two people plan to get married. They schedule the wedding, arrange for a minister, hire a hall. They invite all of their friends. The bride purchases a beautiful gown. The groom rents a fine tux. The day comes. They walk down the aisle and, in front of all their friends, pledge their love for each other. The minister pronounces them husband and wife. Once they walk out the church, they both go their separate ways, never to be together again.
Are they really married? Even in the eyes of the law, a marriage that isn’t consummated may not be a real marriage. The evidence of a marriage is, once marital vows are taken, that the husband and wife live together, creating a home and family
It is the same with being saved. We can “take the vows” of salvation, but the evidence of true salvation is whether or not we are obedient to Christ’s commandments. I think that we often make the evidence of salvation so esoteric: “the power of the Spirit” or “the evidence of the fruit.” And yet, really what are these things? They are simply obeying God’s Word in every way. Choosing to be obedient.
That first means that we learn what the commandments are! In order to obey them, we need to know what it is we should obey. Before getting our first driver’s licenses, it was important to study the driving laws and to know those laws by putting them into practice as we drove. We learned and then implemented what we knew. As Christians, we need to learn what the commandments are and then implement them in our lives. And the willingness to do this may be the first indication that the Spirit actually lives within us. We know that the Lord Jesus is the Word (John 1:1). We truly know Him when we are living out His will and wishes in our lives.