This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on March 15 2015.
The short New Testament letter called First John gives a series of ‘tests’ by which Christians (real or professed) can check whether their faith is genuine, rather than sham or superficial. The first of these so-called ‘tests’ is that of Obedience. 1John 2:3-6 summarises it well: “We can be sure that we know him if we keep his commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God’ but doesn’t keep his commandments, that person is a liar…”
If you claim to know Christ, then your life must show it. If you claim to be a Christian but obedience to God’s word doesn’t have a place in your life (particularly where you don’t want it to be!), then your claim is false and you are lying. Christians are people who call Jesus ‘Lord’ and who are committed to him above all else. We must be found to be people who live up to our profession.
The measure of our obedience is a measure of the assurance we can have of eternal life. It is like a test to discern the quality of our professed faith in Christ. If we live in disobedience to our Lord, we fail the test and have zero assurance. If our lives are characterised by obedience (even if not perfect, cf. 1John 1:8-10), that is a pass and we can be confident of our good standing with God.
If we sit somewhere in the middle – professing Christ but caught in some disobedience and unable to untangle ourselves from it, then we cannot know if we pass or fail the ‘test’ of obedience. That is not a good place to be. If this is you, do what you must to sort it out so you can take hold of that blessed assurance that is there to be had by those who belong to Christ.