“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
if we keep
This phrase indicates the test for fellowshipping with God – a believer who desires fellowship with the Lord keeps His divine imperatives.
The word “keep” signifies to watch, preserve, guard, watch over. The idea is to give careful attention to something to keep it in the same state. God wants us to pay full attention to the principles of the Word for our lives. Note that the emphasis is on the exercise of the heart and mind (“keep”), not on the execution (“do”).
If we do not keep watch over those principles then we will falter in the Christian life. We must hold the Word of God as if we hold someone in custody – we need to stand guard over it. We make it real in our lives.
Response to the revealed will of God is a sign of intimate fellowship with God. Experiential knowledge is the test of knowing God. Every true believer knows God to some degree but the issue here is knowing God more fully. We actualize God’s knowledge by engaging with Him.
The Greek indicates that habitual and continuing fellowship by responding to the Word of God is the issue. A believer in fellowship keeps constant care to respond to God.
Standing guard over our fellowship with God demonstrates the reality of fellowship with Him.
If we fellowship with God, God will change us. Those who say they fellowship with God but continue in unconfessed sin, just kid themselves.
Some people think that they can continue in willful sin without repercussions. This is a mistake because mercy is no catalyst for sin. God’s grace is no excuse for sin. Liberty is no ground for license. John’s appeal is that “you may not sin” (2:1).
Ro 6: 1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
God does not base the true test of fellowship with Him on a negative: “I do not cheat on my wife. I do not lie.” That is like saying, “I do not jump out of an airplane without a parachute.” The true test of fellowship is that we apply the principles of the Word of God to our experience because we appreciate God’s grace toward us (Ro 6).
We cannot validate ourselves by a negative test but by a positive test. It is possible not to be negative without being positive but we cannot be positive without impacting the negative. If we appropriate God’s Word to experience, it will change the negatives of our lives.
Just as we need both a negative and a positive pole in a battery, so we need both positive and negatives modes of operation in the Christian life. If we only have a negative pole then we have no spark. With both we have electricity. If we put in positive response to God’s will in our lives then we have restraint from evil. It always begins with positive volition to God’s Word.
The child of God delights to do God’s will. This is corroborative evidence that he is a child of God. He proves his genuineness as a child of God by his response to the Word. His new desire to do the will of God is not from his natural self but from his new life in Christ. We desire by our natural nature to do our own will, “I did it my way”. It also demonstrates willingness to fellowship with God.
To obey the Word is simply to live in submission to Scripture. The child of God accepts the Word of God as his infallible rule of faith and practice. If God says it, that settles it. There is no argument from the believer who wants to walk in the light. Whether we like it or not is totally irrelevant.