We Have Come To Know Him - 1 John 2:3-6

J. I. Packer, an Anglican theologian, wrote a book titled Knowing God in the early 1970’s. He was convinced that ignorance of God was the reason why the church of his day was weak. Packer identified two trends that produced that weakness—minds conformed to the modern spirit and minds confused by modern skepticism. His goal was to help readers of his book to know God himself better.

The apostle John wrote to a group of believers about knowing God two thousand years before Packer. He wrote, “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, truly in Him the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6). John’s purpose for writing about knowing God was twofold. First, he wanted believers to know that their conduct may not match their claim. And, second, he wanted his readers to have a clear understanding about what it means to know God.

What does it mean to know God? That is what some were claiming (1 John 2:4a). Knowledge of God involves more than just knowing facts about Him. Knowing God involves fellowship with Him. However, it is possible for our claim of fellowship with God to be inconsistent with our conduct. The proof of knowing God can be observed in our actions. Colin G. Kruse observes that John is concerned about unpacking “the moral commitments” of knowing God. What conduct or moral commitments did John have in mind? He identified keeping “His commandments,” keeping “His word,” and walking “as He walked” as evidence of knowing God. Our conduct must be consistent with our claim.

Claiming to know God and to abide in Him are just claims. John wanted believers to have a clear understanding about what it means to know God. Fellowship with God cannot be achieved without imitating Jesus. If our daily conduct (public and private) does not conform to the way Jesus lived, then we have no right to claim that we know God or abide in Him. Likewise, we cannot benefit from the blessings of fellowship if our conduct does not resemble that of Jesus.

Claiming to know God and living in ways that are inconsistent with that claim place us in the same category as the devil. He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). That is what John states about those who claim to know God but fail to keep His commandments.  We can journey through life making false claims or we can know God. Which choice are we making?