Who Really Knows The Lord?
Reading: 1 John 2
How can you tell when a person is a genuine believer?
We all have our criteria, sometimes formed by what we want to believe about a person. This is especially true when it comes to those we love the most.
John is fairly blunt about what the standard is, as was Jesus. He doesn’t claim that genuine believers are perfect. After all, he has just finished telling them that when they sin they can be assured that God will forgive when that sin is confessed (1 John 1:9). He begins chapter 2 with the same kind of idea. He acknowledges that believers sin, but the way he expresses himself leaves us with the feeling that he isn’t talking about habitual, deliberate sin. John writes: “But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (2:1, NIV).
John’s criteria for a true believer is obedience. If you believe in Jesus, you will try to place your feet in the marks left by His footprints. “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (2:6, NIV).
That’s a high standard which John has already acknowledged won’t be perfectly followed—but it will be followed as perfectly as possible. But how is that standard maintained? The truth is that it is not in us to keep our feet on God’s path. But John also give us the key to the solution of the weakness of will that dogs our steps.
Several times toward the end of this chapter he mentions the word, “remain”.
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father” (2:24, NIV).
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you…” (2:27, NIV).
“…—just as it has been taught you, remain in him” (2:27, NIV).
Slightly different wording but the same idea: “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (2:28, NIV).
Is John remembering those final instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples just before he went to the cross? Probably—after all, he recorded the words. “Remain in me” Jesus said, “and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:4, 5, 8, NIV).
Just how close to the vine does a branch remain? REALLY close. The two parts are always touching, never disconnected, the branch feeding from the vine, and dying when separated from it.
What separates the branches from the vine and causes the footsteps to falter as they seek to walk as Jesus walked? John covers that territory as he warns his listeners: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17, NIV).
What does a true believer look like? He’s the one who “remains.” He's the one who does the will of God, obediently and carefully stepping in the marks left by Jesus.