Keeping His Word

Saturday, November 22, 2014, 7:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 2:1-17 (ESV).

Light and Darkness

As is recorded in the first chapter of 1 John, John had just proclaimed the reality of Jesus Christ to his readers. He told them (or reminded them) that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. He said, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:6-7). He went on to say that if we say we have no sin that we are self-deceived, we are liars, and God’s word is not in us. Yet, if we confess our sins, Jesus Christ/God is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So, what can we glean from this? Well, first of all I believe we must understand light and darkness. They are polar opposites of each other, i.e. they are in direct opposition to and are conflicting with each other in character. Light is truth, darkness is lies; light is goodness, darkness is wickedness; light is love, darkness is hate; light is righteousness, darkness is sin; light is holy, darkness is unholy; and light is pure, and darkness is impure, etc.

As well, walking has to do with how we live our lives day in and day out, i.e. with our lifestyles. So, if we regularly and consistently give ourselves over to sin, which is the opposite of light, and we do not repent of our sin, and yet we claim to be either in relationship with God via faith in Jesus Christ or to be in regular communion with God in prayer, in his word and in obedience to his teachings, then we lie and we do not practice the truth. We cannot know God and yet live lifestyles of sin with no regard for him. We also cannot regularly be in the practice of willful sin against God, absent of repentance, and yet be in fellowship with him. The Word of God teaches us that there is no fellowship between light and darkness and that we cannot share in the Lord’s table and the table of demons, too (See: 1 Co. 10:14-22; 2 Co. 6:14). We must come out from the world and be separate!

Do Not Sin

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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 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. ~ vv. 1-6​

While it is true, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus by God’s grace through faith, that our sins are forgiven, atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus’ righteousness has now been credited to our accounts so that we are no longer condemned to eternal punishment, this fact should not invoke within us such an attitude to where we now take sin lightly. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, not just so we would escape hell and gain heaven, but so we would be FREE from the control of sin over our lives day by day. Amen! This is the message of grace! God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age while we wait for our Lord’s return. Jesus died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Co. 5:15; cf. 1 Pet. 2:24-25).

If we want to know if we are truly in Christ, by faith, then the book of 1 John lays it all out for us as to how we can know. It is not nearly as black and white as it may seem, though, for we do know that true believers in Jesus Christ still sin, though they should not willfully and regularly give in to sin so that it becomes a normal part of their daily lives. We know that we have come to know God/Christ if we keep his commandments. This is not legalism, and it is not works-based salvation, or else it would not be included in scripture. Also, the teachings of 1 John agree perfectly with the teachings of Christ and those of the other apostles, including the teachings of Paul (See: Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24).

God’s commandments are the teachings of Christ and of the apostles. They are the gospel of our salvation. If we do not obey the Word of God, as is applicable under the New Covenant, i.e. speaking of a lifestyle of disobedience and disregard for the Word of Truth, then we don’t truly know God. I believe this can speak of not knowing him at all, i.e. that we are truly not saved, and it can also speak of us not really knowing him intimately in a close fellowship and walk of faith with him. For instance, two people can be married to each other, so they are in union with one another, and yet they may not really know each other because they don’t take the time to get to know each other, and/or they are regularly and consistently sinning against each other by their actions, attitudes or words. If we want to really know God/Christ, we must be in prayer, in his Word, and walking in obedience to him.

Do Not Hate

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. ~ vv. 7-11​

I am no student of Greek, but I do try to understand, as best as I am able, the meanings and verb tenses of some of these words translated for us into English. I do know that the Greek has a verb tense which indicates continual action, such as in Ephesians 5:18 where it instructs us not to get drunk on wine but to be filled with the Spirit. The literal translation of “be filled” here should say, “Be ye being filled.” It denotes continuous action. Ok, with that said, the Greek word for “hate” literally means “hating,” which denotes action or process, i.e. something which is ongoing. It may not be “apples to apples” with the verb tense in the Greek, as noted in the Ephesians passage, but it appears to me that this hating has more to do with something which is ongoing and continuous. Hate is the opposite of love. The love of Christ cannot dwell in our hearts if we practice hating other people. We are not walking in the Light of truth if we continually pursue and practice hate. Our eyes are blinded so we cannot see the Light.

So, what is hate? To hate is to detest, persecute, and/or to denounce (Source: It is “to dislike somebody or something intensely, often in a way that evokes feelings of anger, hostility, or animosity” (Source: Encarta Dictionary). Jesus said the world would hate us as it hated him, and that is understandable, yet when those who claim to know Christ treat others, especially their fellow Christians, with such contempt, envy, and disdain, so as to reject, persecute, ostracize and cast aside one another, then that is not how it should be. Perhaps these professors of Christ don’t really know God at all.

Do Not Love the World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. ~ vv. 15-17​

What does it mean to love, in this context? Well, it is the opposite of hate, for one. This is where it is helpful to know a little Greek or to at least have Greek tools available, because there are multiple words in Greek which we translate as “love” in English, but which have different meanings. In this case “love” is “agapate,” which is to love with God-like love and/or to love like we love God. It means “wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem; to live through Christ, embracing God’s will, choosing his choices and obeying them through His power” (Source:

So, if we love the world of sin with this “agapate” love, what does that look like? Well, it means we take pleasure in and we long for the things of this world, for one. Yet, it also means that we embrace (welcome, accept, adopt and support) the things of this world, and that we choose what it chooses, i.e. we do what the world does, and we give our allegiance to and obey the philosophies, values, attitudes and behaviors of this sinful world. Wow! This is not light stuff! We cannot give our hearts, worship, adoration and allegiance to the things of this sinful world and have the love of the Father in us at the same time. This is not to say that true followers of Christ are never guilty of this. We sometimes are or have been, and that is called idolatry and spiritual adultery, and there are plenty of scriptures which call the church to come out of such situations, in repentance, and to return to their “first love.”

I believe what is being taught here is talking of both sinful lifestyles, in which we love the world with this “agapate” love, as well as it is addressing believers who are living in idolatry and in spiritual adultery. It serves as a warning to them to come out from that, because that is not of God, and they, if they are in Christ, are of God. In the one case, where it is lifestyle, I believe this is saying, again, that the person is not truly saved. In this instance where this is speaking to believers (See vv. 12-14), I would suggest that this is saying that if we are living in spiritual adultery, and we are loving the world in any sense like we are supposed to love God, then the Father’s love cannot have preeminence in the life of the believer, and thus the believer cannot truly walk in the love of God.

Jesus Christ delivered us out of bondage to sin and compliance with a sinful world. He came to set us free from all that. As Christians, we are to no longer live in sin, or live to please ourselves, or follow after the ways of this sinful world. Instead, we are to do the will of God.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.