1 John 2:3-5
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.…
I. THE KNOWING OF CHRIST. To "know" is a word used in Scripture in several senses.
1. Sometimes it means to acknowledge. Christ says that His sheep "know" His voice. They acknowledge His voice as being the voice of their Shepherd, and cheerfully follow where their Shepherd leads. Now, it is a matter of the first necessity to acknowledge Christ, that He is God, that He is the Son of the Father, that He is the Saviour of His people, and the rightful Monarch of the world — to acknowledge more, that you accept Him as your Saviour, as your King, as your Prophet, as your Priest.
2. The word "know" means, in the next place, to believe; as in that passage, "By his knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many"; where it is evidently meant that by the knowledge of Him, that is to say, by faith in Christ Jesus, he would justify many.
3. The word to "know" often means experience. It is said of our Lord that "He knew no sin"; that is to say, He never experienced sin; He never became a sinner. To know Christ, then, we must feel and prove His power, His pardoning power, His power of love over the heart, His reigning power in subduing our passions, His comforting power, His enlightening power, His elevating power, and all those other blessed influences which through the Holy Spirit proceed from Christ.
4. And once more, to "know" in Scripture often means to commune. Eliphaz says, "Acquaint thyself with God, be at peace with Him"; that is to say, commune with Him, get into friendship and fellowship with Him. So it is needful that every believer should know Christ by having an acquaintance with Him, by speaking with Him in prayer and praise; by laying bare one's heart to His heart; receiving from Him the Divine secret, and imparting to Him the full confession of all our sins and griefs.
II. THE TWO CHARACTERS THAT ARE PORTRAYED IN THE TEXT. With respect to the one — those who know that they know Him. Oh, it is very urgent that we should know that we know Him! Dost thou ask what service it would render thee?
1. It would give thee such comfort as nothing else could. If I know that I know Christ, then all things are mine. Things present and things to come are alike in the covenant of grace.
2. Nor is it joy alone you would find from this knowledge; it would no less certainly bring you confidence. When a man knows that he knows Christ what confidence he has in meeting temptations! "Shall such a man as I flee?" What confidence in prayer! he asks believingly, as children beloved ask of a generous parent. And what a confident air this assurance before God would give us with the sons of men! Our courage would no more fail us in the pestilential swamps of the world than our enthusiasm would Subside in the fertile garden of the Church, knowing that we shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
3. And this certainty that you know Christ would kindle in you the very highest degree of love. Observe the prescription, "Hereby we know that we do know Him if we keep His commandments." It is in the keeping of His commandments that this sound state of the soul's health is enjoyed.Do you ask for further explanation?
1. It means to keep His commandments in our minds and hold them fast in our memory with devout reverence. If Christ hath said it I dare not cavil, argue, or question, much less rebel.
2. But to keep them in our hearts we must earnestly desire to fulfil them. By reason of the fall we cannot perfectly keep the commands of Christ, but the heart keeps them as the standard of purity, and it would be perfect if it could. The Christian's only desire is to be exactly like Christ.
III. A MOMENTOUS CHARGE AGAINST DISSEMBLERS. There is such a thing as saying that we know Christ; but if any man say that he knows Christ, and keeps not His commandments, such a man is a liar — plain speech this. Point out some of those characters upon which the brand must be fixed — they are liars. There have been persons who have professed their faith in Christ, but who have been in the habit of acting dishonestly. They have been negotiating fictitious bills, they have been purloining small articles out of shops, they have been dealing with short weights, and selling wares with wrong marks, and all this time they have said that they knew Christ. Now, one of His commandments is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," and another one is, "Thou shalt not steal," and in not keeping these they have proved themselves to be liars, though they called themselves Christians. Some who have professed faith in Christ have been drunkards. And what shall we say of those who, while making a profession of religion, have been addicted to uncleanness? The covetous! the grasping! those who see their brethren have need, and shut up the bowels of their compassion! to each of you the Master's words are very strong: "How dwelleth the love of God in him?" And are there not others, whose tongue is perverse and unruly and their conversation often far from pure?
(C. H. Spurgeon)
Parallel VersesKJV: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.