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1 John 2:3-6: It’s Not What you Know, it’s Whom you Know

There is a mountain of spiritual truth in this pebble of worldly wisdom. Nothing is more important in life than knowing the One who made you. Of all the relationships in your life, your relationship with your Creator is most critical.” –Don Willeman,

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6 NKJV).

“And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6 NLT).

Verse 3a: “Now by this…”

By what? “By this” tells us to examine the context, either by going back to what was written before or looking forward to what is coming next. Here, I believe, it “points to what follows, if we keep His commandments, but it also gives a reminder of the previous words concerning fellowship with God and walking in the light.

Verse 3b: “we know that we know Him…”

The Greek word for “know” is ginosko (used 25 times in this epistle), meaning “to know by experience.” It is absolute, immediate, experiential knowledge of a fact once for all. Nothing is more important in life than knowing God!

Philippians 3:8, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…”

And you can only know God through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Do you know God? I mean personally know Him? Have you come into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior?

According to the latest surveys, approximately ninety-five percent of Americans believe in God. But believing in God isn’t the same as knowing Him. I have to wonder how many people surveyed perceive God to be an awesome and holy Savior. I have to wonder how many have ever heard God calling their names. I wonder how many of them felt the touch of His Spirit. God reveals Himself through His Word and His Spirit. He doesn’t reveal Himself to only a special few. He is calling out to all of us, wanting us to awaken Him. And you know what? Our spirits cry out to know Him.

The fundamental difference between knowing about God and knowing God is about personal relationships. Because God is a person, you can know about Him but you don’t really know Him until you have a personal relationship with him. One of the fundamental differences between Christianity and other religions is that we can know God as a person. How do we know that God is a person? –Adapted from

We all were created to know God personally, to have a relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is nothing more important in life than knowing God! And it not just knowing about Him, it is knowing Him!

John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Philippians 3:10.”That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection…”

Jeremiah 9:23,24, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.”

Ephesians 1:17-19, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

Verse 3c: “if we keep His commandments (His Word).”

This is not referring to the Ten Commandments, even though they are the law of the universe, but they were our teacher, pointing us to God (Galatians 3:24).

“Throughout Jesus' life on earth, He obeyed God's law explicitly and perfectly—and He was the only One who ever truly did! Why is this significant? The law required a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins: ‘And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22). Thus, by being born under the law and obeying it completely, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament types as laid out in Leviticus and Numbers: Jesus was the perfect, spotless Passover Lamb, the Scapegoat. The law —as far as the individual is concerned—was never meant to make one righteous. It was given to show us that we could never be righteous in our own ability or works. The law shuts our mouths but opens our eyes. It condemns, but does not convert; It challenges, but does not change; It points the finger, but it does not give mercy; It leaves us without excuse, but it drives us to Jesus.” –

Basically the law was given to show us that we could not keep it, but it was given to point us to the One who did keep it, Jesus Christ!

Now back to our text: “if we keep His commandments.:

“Keep” in Greek is tereo it means “to keep an eye on, to keep something in view, to hold firmly, to attend carefully or to watch over.” Tereo speaks of guarding something which is in one’s possession. It means to watch as one would some precious thing. The idea is to observe attentively, to heed, to keep watch over and to retain in custody.

What are His commandments?

Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said…‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”

John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

John 15:10, “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.”

John 15:12, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Romans 13:9, “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ “You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

1 John 5:2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.”

2 John 1:5,6, “Not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.”

“Commandment in Greek is entole, and it refers, not to the Mosaic law, but to the precepts and directives of Christ (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). But of course the moral and spiritual precepts the Lord taught were consistent with those revealed to Moses (cf. Matthew 5:17-18; John 5:46), all reflective of God’s immutable nature.” –John MacArthur

Verse 4a: “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

This passage is so clear, it does not need much comment. It simply needs to be read and heeded! When you say, “I know Him,” it had better show in your lifestyle. In other words, If you talk the talk, you had better walk the walk! I know that you have heard, “I don’t go to church, there are too many hypocrites there!” I always agree with them. What is a hypocrite? One who pretends, so as to deceive, a liar, one who preaches one thing, and does another.

“The word hypocrite is rooted in the Greek word hypokrites, which means ‘stage actor, pretender, dissembler.’ So think of a hypocrite as a person who pretends to be a certain way, but really acts and believes the total opposite. Hypocrites usually talk a big talk but fail to follow their own rules — like an outspoken vegetarian who secretly eats bacon.” –

Note that “liar” is present tense indicating that lying is their lifestyle!

“Do distinguish, however, between knowing about Christ and knowing Christ. We may know very much about many of our great men, though we do not know them. Now, it will never save a soul to know about Christ. The only saving knowledge is to know him, his very self, and to trust him, the living Savior, who is now at the right hand of God.”–Charles Spurgeon

Verse 4b: “The truth is not in him.”

Not only is this person a “liar,” John goes on to say, “The truth is not in him.” Truth is more than just facts. It’s not just something we act upon, Truth acts upon us. We can’t change the truth, but the truth can change us. It sets us apart from the falsehoods woven into our sin natures. We are set apart by the Truth! John 17:17, “Sanctify (set apart) them by the Truth; Your word is Truth.”

To know the Truth is to know Jesus who is the Truth! John 14:6, “I AM the Truth…” and in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Then in Verse 36 He equates the Truth with the Son, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Verse 5a: “But whoever keeps His word…”

“Keeps” is in the present tense meaning "keeping on keeping God's word," or ongoing obedience. “Keeps,” to guard like a military sentinel. Jesus clearly links hearing and heeding (doing) of His Word. His half brother James issued a similar charge to his readers. ”Be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).

“Keeps His Word: John now equates Word with commandments.

“His Word (logos) is the whole, of which His commandments are the parts. It is the complete divine revelation. John like a patient father continues to belabor the point that a truly changed heart will inevitably result in a changed life.”–W.E. Vine

Verse 5b: “Truly the love of God is perfected in him…”

“A perfected (mature) love for God will show itself in obedience, and the presence of this obedience and love gives us assurance that we are in Jesus (By this we know we are in Him).

Mark it, when one becomes a Christian, there is a change in their relationship with sin. Sin is not eliminated in the believer until he comes to glory, but their relationship to sin is changed when they truly become a Christian.

“A Christian no longer loves sin as he once did. A Christian no longer brags about their sin as he once did. A Christian no longer plans to sin as he once did.
A Christian no longer fondly remembers his sin as he once did. A Christian never fully enjoys his sin as he once did. A Christian no longer is comfortable in habitual sin as he once was.” –Dave Guzik

“The Christian no longer loves sin; it is the object of his sternest horror: he no longer regards it as a mere trifle, plays with it, or talks of it with unconcern…Sin is dejected in the Christian’s heart, though it is not ejected. Sin may enter the heart, and fight for dominion, but it cannot sit upon the throne.” –Charles Spurgeon)

Verse 5c: “By this we know that we are in Him.”

“By this” can either refer back to, keeping His Word, or looking forward to what he is about to say in verse 6, John equates being in Him with abiding in Him. “Abiding” is John’s term for fellowship or a close, intimate relationship.

“We know” “We know experientially that we are in Him. Again know is in the present tense so the idea is that this "is simply a statement of a constantly enjoyed experience." –W.E. Vine

“Many Christians lack the joy and assurance of their salvation because they will not take God at His word. They do not accept at face value what He says, but rely on their personal feelings instead of on the Scriptures.” Dr. Harry. Ironside related a personal experience that helps us understand the importance of believing the Word of God. After he had read to a woman some passages about trusting Christ, she said, “Well, I am trying to believe.” “Trying to believe whom?” asked Ironside. “It is God who has spoken in His Word. Are you saying you’re trying to believe Him?” Immediately she saw the light and exclaimed, “Oh, I didn’t realize what I was saying. Yes, I do believe what God has declared.” At last her heart found rest. –From Our Daily Bread

If you have placed your trust in the Lord Jesus, stop worrying about your salvation. God has done His part. Believe what the Bible says, and claim as your very own the new life that has been given you through faith in Christ. John 1:12 promises, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Take God at His word. Then you will have a know-so salvation.

“In him” is one of the great central truths of Christianity! Paul uses the words, “In Christ” or its equivalent is found 35 times in Ephesians. John 14:20, “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

If you believe in Jesus, that He died for your sin, trusting in the promises of God, then you are “in Him” and all of this is true about you right now:

•You are “blessed with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3).

•You are seated in the “heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

•You are “chosen in Him” (Ephesians 1:4).

•You are “holy and without blame” (Ephesians 1:4).

•You have been “adopted as sons” (Ephesians 1:4).

•You are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).

•You are “redeemed” (Ephesians 1:7).

•You have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7).

•You know “the mystery of His will” (Ephesians 1:9).

•You have obtained an “inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11).

•You are “His glory” (Ephesians 1:12,14).

•You are sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).

•Your inheritance is guaranteed (Ephesians 1:14).

•You have been given “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17).

•Your “eyes understanding are being enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).

•You know “what is the hope of His calling” (Ephesians 1:18).

•You have “the exceeding greatness of His power” (Ephesians 1:19).

Verse 6a: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked”

“Abides” in Greek is meno. In simple terms meno means to remain in the same place or position over a period of time. In the present context, meno means more that simply remaining in a place. Meno is often used of persons abiding or dwelling in a home, which implies more than mere position, but rather fellowship, communion, dependence, harmony, friendship…To abide in the Lord Jesus therefore implies not only position, but relationship. It implies fellowship, friendship, dependence, harmony, communion.” –Wuest

Ephesians 3:17, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” or as it reads in the New Living Translation, “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him” This word, “dwell” is the Greek word katoikeó meaning, “to take up permanent residence” or “to make yourself at home, to settle in, and be established.” This reminds me of the word “abides” in our text. That Christ may settle in and feel at completely at home in us.

To abide in Christ is a loving, living and liberating experience, as we depend completely on Him for every need, as we live for Him and serve Him

Verse 6b: “Ought himself also to walk just as He walked”

If you are “in Christ” then you are able to follow His example and walk as He walked, as He lives His life through us, Colossians 3:4, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”.

•Walk in good works: Ephesians 2:10.

•Walk worthy: Ephesians 4:1

•Walk in love: Ephesians 5:2.

•Walk as children of light: Ephesians 5:8.

•Walk circumspectly (very carefully) Ephesians 5:15:

There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,

A peace it cannot take away;

Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,

I’ve a peace that has come here to stay!

Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;

Constantly abiding, rapture divine;

He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind:

“I will never leave thee”—Jesus is mine.

  • Anne S. Murphy–

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV) and The Living Bible (TLB).

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