Thursday, 19 March 2020
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 1 John 2:5
John made a statement in verse 2:3, the antithesis of which was stated in 2:4, he now returns to the idea of 2:3 and builds upon it. This is the same thing which he had done in 1:8 through 1:10. Laid out, this can be more clearly seen –
2:3. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
2:4. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
2:5. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
As can be seen, John reverses the order of verse 2:3 as well – “we know him/keep His commandments” becomes “keep His word/we know that we are in Him.”
The word “But” is given to contrast the previous verse. In this contrast, he says, “But whoever keeps His word.” The “word” is given to parallel “commandments,” and yet its meaning is fuller. The “word” speaks of the entire body of God’s revelation, whereas “commandments” speaks of those things which immediately apply in any given context.
In other words, there are commandments in the Law of Moses which no longer apply. And so, to keep His word is to do so in the way intended for the dispensation in which we currently live – that of the grace of God in Christ. In keeping His word, John says, “truly the love of God is perfected in him.”
Notice the difference between 2:4 and 2:5 in these words. In 2:4, it says if someone doesn’t keep His commandments, he is a liar. However, here it now says that for the one who keeps His word, the love of God is perfected in Him. In not keeping his commandments, there is a product which rises out of self – “he is a liar.” But in keeping His word, there is a product which is derived from God – “the love of God is perfected in Him.”
One can see that the evil which springs up in man is of personal origin, but the good which is found in man stems from God. It goes along well with Paul’s words of Romans 3, and which is cited from the psalms –
“They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:12
Apart from God, and His word, we cannot rightly seek after God. But with God’s intervention, we can seek after God in a right manner, and God can produce in us that which is pleasing to Him. This then forms “the love of God” which is perfected in us.
It is debated what “the love of God” means. Is it God’s love towards us, is it our love towards God, or is it the state of love which is found in God and of which we participate in once we are found in Christ? The answer is probably “all of these.” We learn to love God rightly when we know Christ and call on Him. God can fully demonstrate His love towards us only in Christ. And the state of love, which God is, is extended to us because we are found in Christ.
Understanding this, John then says, “By this we know that we are in Him.” The words “in Him” must be speaking of Christ Jesus. He is the one who allows us to be partakers in the goodness of God, and apart from Him, this is impossible. In keeping the word of God, as revealed through Jesus Christ, God’s love is perfected in us, and we can know that we are in Him.
The union of God and Christ Jesus in John’s words demonstrates that not only is Jesus God, but without the revelation of this aspect of God – meaning Christ Jesus – that nothing of what John is conveying to us could even be possible. This will continue to be revealed in the next verse.
Life application: This is the first of many times that the word “love” is used in this epistle. John will deal with the subject of love on many levels as he progresses. Here it is tied in with the perfection of God’s love in us through keeping His commandments.
As noted above, although the “love of God” may mean from God to us, it is also probably as much indicating the love we show for Him. Our love is imperfect at best, but the Greek word used here for “is perfected” is teleioó. This word conveys the meaning of completeness in love rather than absolute perfection.
So, by keeping the word of the Lord – by obeying His commandments as set forth for us – we are demonstrating an action that loves God for who He is and what He expects of us. When we do these things and act in this manner, we know that we are in Him.
If someone calls on Jesus, he becomes a saved believer. However, when he doesn’t follow what God has given us as proper direction in life, there is always that nagging sense that maybe he isn’t in the Lord – both in his own mind and in the minds of others as they see his conduct. Such thoughts shouldn’t exist, but they do because we are prone to not keeping His commandments.
This is the case with even the strongest Christians with the deepest of faith. How much more so is this the case when people carelessly fail to follow the Bible. The case for “ignorance is bliss” can be made at this point.
If we don’t know everything the Lord expects, then we won’t feel bad when we transgress His wishes for us. But this approach lacks commitment, fails to regard the Person and work of Jesus, and puts us in the sad position of facing the Lord’s judgment seat with nothing to offer Him in exchange for the salvation He has provided us. This will lead to loss. It is a sad exchange for a life led in the bliss of ignorance.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for not pursuing You and the knowledge of Your word more. Give us a strong desire and a great hunger to know You more with each passing day. Grant us the wisdom to set aside time each day to read Your word, study what You desire for us, and then apply those things to our lives. Forgive us for past failings and set us on a new and straight course as we continue our walk in You. Amen.