“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” - 1 John 2:3
One of the main purposes of the first letter of the Apostle John is to give Christians a series of tests by which they may know that they have eternal life. The reason for these tests is simply that there are some people who claim to be Christians, but who really are not. The core of these tests is glad obedience to the commands of the eternal God. This is stated in many different ways throughout this brief letter, culminating in John’s statement linking love and obedience in 1 John 5:3, “This is love for God; to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” Though at times, the unchanging commands of God may seem burdensome, a child of God comes to realize that the real burdens in life come from disobedience to God (that is, sin), not from the protective and loving commands of our heavenly Father. What man, having lost everything in life of value to him because he broke God’s commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” would not, if given the chance to do it all over again, run to that commandment, embrace it and kiss it as his best friend in the world? God’s commands are not burdensome… no, it’s sin that brings the crushing burdens of life. The better we know our heavenly Father and trust the righteousness of His ways with us, the more we embrace His commands gladly. To know God is to trust Him, and to trust Him is to obey Him.
Yet at a deeper level, the issue really comes down to love. Jesus said very plainly, “If you love me, you’ll obey my commands” (John 14:15). What love do we have for Jesus if we do not obey Him? Don’t we really betray the fact that, at the moment of disobedience, we are loving ourselves more than Christ? Love puts the other before the self… that it the essence of love. Even more, love finds its own pleasure in the pleasure of the other. To put it plainly, Jesus is our King and our Redeemer, and therefore has every right to give us commands. To disobey the commands of Christ means we have neither known Him properly, nor have we loved Him.
"To know God is to trust Him, and to trust Him is to obey Him."
Thankfully, God has provided for us an atoning sacrifice for all our disobedience (1 John 2:2). Though we turn away from His commands, yet He never turns away from us, but remains faithful. Yet through the Holy Spirit He communicates His grief at our waywardness directly to our hearts, speaking the language of love, “If you loved me, you would obey me.” Today, let this word call you back to a life of knowing, of loving, and therefore, of obeying our eternal God.