He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
James now begins to confront the first of three false claims to spirituality. This set of claims is different from the set of claims in chapter one. The issue here revolves around the idea of present willingness to respond to fellowship with God with positive volition. Present willingness to respond to God is a demonstration of present valid fellowship.
He who says,
Just as in 1:6,8,10, John addresses those who make claims to which they do not fulfill. He brands these people as “liars” later in this verse. They are all profession but no application.
Usually, these are the legalistic types. Legalists of the first century thought they could live up to God’s standards by operation bootstraps. However, in the Christian life, the Holy Spirit executes fellowship with God when He fills us or controls us.
“I know Him,”
This phrase “I know Him” is the pious platitude of the believer who claims fellowship with God but does not respond to God. Pseudo spirituality always makes false contentions about spirituality. They think that they know what spirituality is, but they do not. Religion by taboos is not spirituality.
and does not keep His commandments,
It is possible to obey rules and not fellowship with God but keeping His commandments demonstrates the reality of that fellowship.
Pretension and fellowship with God cannot coexist.
How do we know that we know Him? How do we know whether we are in fellowship with God? There is a test for determining this. That test is whether we have a genuine and continual walk with God.
To “keep His commandments” is to live in submission to Scripture. It is not a matter of doing what the preacher says or what the church says, but what the Word of God says.
Obeying Scripture is not legalism but responding to the known will of God to please Him. “If God says it; that settles it.” There is no argument from the believer in fellowship, “Whether I like it or not is irrelevant.”
God holds us accountable for what we know about Him. He holds us accountable to the truth. The more we know, the more responsibility we have to translate that knowledge into experience.