1 John 2:3-5
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.…
I. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. "Hereby know we that we know (i.e., have fellowship with) Him, if we keep His commandments." A commandment is an order, a charge, a definite and authoritative expression of a superior will concerning some particular detail of duty. There must be no ambiguity in a commandment no room for misunderstanding. Well, God has expressed Himself so about ninny things. Now let us try our religion by these commandments. How do these fare at our hands? Do we keep them, i.e., watch, observe, take steps to carry out, God's orders? If so, then we know that we know Him. These commandments are not arbitrary edicts of capricious power. They are the spontaneous growths of immaculate holiness and eternal love. If the commandments are no longer mere bundles of dry roots packed away in some dark corner, but are beginning to grow in your life, that is a proof that you have passed into a new climate of being, and that God's own life has entered yours. You are a partaker of the Divine nature. "But he that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments" — who treats these clear, authoritative declarations of God's sovereign will as mere nothing — "he is a liar, and the truth is not in him" — not in him anywhere — not in him at all.
II. THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, WHICH ARE SO MANY AND SO VARIOUS, ARE ALL GATHERED UP INTO ONE WORD. "Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected." "His word" is the inner spiritual unity of all His commandments. There are many commandments, but one spirit. I once Saw two pieces of sculpture in a cathedral. One was the figure of the Virgin Mary, with the child Jesus in her arms, therefore a professedly sacred subject. And yet there was nothing sacred about it — it was simply a piece of stone; and looking at it, one felt nothing more sacred than a shudder at the coldness, deadness, stoniness of the thing. The other was the figure of a young mother asleep with her firstborn on her breast in a little side chapel. It was not a conventionally sacred piece — merely a figure on the tomb of a dead young wife and her babe; yet love had so informed the sculptor's skill that every line of the figure seemed to live. There was heart in it. The work had not been done to order, nor for a price. The man who did it was first a husband and father, and then a sculptor. Well, there is a Christianity with and a Christianity without the heart of Jesus Christ. Christianity without the heart of Jesus is the coldest, stoniest thing that ever came into this poor world. Truth is means to an end. The end itself is love, and whoso keepeth not only His commandments in their multitude, but also His word in its spiritual unity, in him only hath the love of God been perfected.
III. Again, as the many commandments are one word in their spirit, so THE WORD BECAME A LIFE IN CHRIST'S EXAMPLE. That Life Beautiful is not placed before us in the gospel to be admired and worshipped but to be imitated and reproduced in our own lives. That Life is our standard.
IV. Finally, as the commandments are all summed up in the life of Christ, SO THAT LIFE IS SUMMED UP IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST. "Beloved, no new commandment write I unto you...again a new commandment write I unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you." The mark he sets before us is not ordinary love, everyday benevolence; but this — this love that summed up and crowned the life of Christ.
(J. M. Gibbon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.