Are we in Christ?
The epistle of 1 John was specifically written so the believer/pseudo believer could evaluate themselves to know if they were truly “in Christ” or not.
“These things [the first 4 chapters] have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
1 John 5:13 KJV
To understand this we have to understand that John constantly makes reference back to his gospel and the words of Jesus. Many of the keys to unlocking John’s epistle are found there. For this study I’m looking at only the rest of commandments and abiding. But John gives 4 chapters worth of tests to use.
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
1 John 2:3-4 KJV
What are his commandments? In our Christianese culture when we hear commandments our minds immediately go to the 10 Commandments, or maybe the Mosaic Covenant as a whole. But Jesus was specific here. He said “His commandments”. In other words, the things Jesus commanded of his disciples, and by proxy, us. This doesn’t abolish the 10 Commandments, but we’ll address that further down.
“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
1 John 3:23 KJV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
John 15:1-2 KJV
We are commanded to believe and bearing fruit is an essential byproduct of salvation.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
John 15:5 KJV
But we cannot produce fruit of ourselves. It’s not a work we can do. It comes as a consequence of abiding. Another command. The word abiding means to continue, to remain steadfast.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.”
John 15:10 KJV
Jesus says that keeping his commandments is how we go about abiding in him.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
John 15:12 KJV
And he says that his commandment is to love one another. One another is referring to each other as believers.
“These things I command you, that ye love one another.”
John 15:17 KJV
Jesus reiterates his command again, to love one another. So to summarize: we must bear fruit, and bearing fruit is a byproduct of abiding in Jesus. We abide in Jesus by keeping his commandments. His commandments are to love one another.
Jesus said the whole law could be summed up in two commandments, love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
The commandments of Moses then are in essence examples of how we do this. Not a list to be achieved.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.”
1 John 5:2 KJV
How do we show love to others by showing love to God?
We do this by being obedient in other areas. For instance in confronting one another, or confessing to one another.
We have a tendency to place the love of men above that of the love of God. In doing so we actually show that we love neither but rather ourselves. Because we value more what people think about us than we do what God thinks about us. And He has their well being in mind.
For instance: a brother involved in willful sin we might be accused of being unloving or legalistic in confronting them. But we are commanded to do so.
“Open rebuke is better Than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Proverbs 27:5-6 KJV
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
Matthew 18:15 KJV
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”
Luke 17:3 KJV
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:1-2 KJV
We fulfill the law of Christ by holding each other accountable and encouraging one another to stay the course. We might be fearful of not confronting them for the sake of the relationship. But to do so is to put their opinion of us above their overall well-being and the command of God. This is not love.
We see an example of this in 1 Samuel 2 where the priest Eli knows his sons are doing evil in the temple. He rebukes them but takes no action to remove them from their position... a position whereby the people see the priests as a representative of God. As such God says in vs 29 “why do you honor your sons more than me?”
We show love to others by being honest in the sight of God. The word used for love in all these instances is the word agape. We know this to be unconditional love but sometimes that definition gets lost is our christianese language. The unconditional part means that we love whether it’s reciprocated or not, whether it’s well received or not. We love others by loving God first. And we abide in God by loving others.