Statistics
1457 sermons as of October 15, 2017.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
 send email...
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:He who knows God keeps His commandments
Text:1 John 2:3-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Added:2014-03-01
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Old BoP:

Ps. 104: 1, 8

Ps. 105: 1 – 3

Ps. 1: 1 – 3

Ps. 119: 24, 42, 43, 63, 66

Ps. 133: 1, 2

 

Scripture reading:          1 John 1: 1 – 2: 17

Text:                            1 John 2: 3 – 11

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


He who knows God keeps His commandments

Ps. 104: 1, 8

Ps. 105: 1 – 3

Ps. 1: 1 – 3

Ps. 119: 24, 42, 43, 63, 66

Ps. 133: 1, 2

 

Scripture reading:          1 John 1: 1 – 2: 17

Text:                            1 John 2: 3 – 11

 

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

The apostle John writes this letter, among other reasons, that those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, may be assured that they have eternal life, and may continue to believe in His name (5: 13).   He wants us to have full assurance of faith.   He wants us to be assured that by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ we certainly have eternal life.  

It is important that we have this assurance of faith.

 

But there is also such a thing as false assurance.   And that is very dangerous!   A false assurance based on a false gospel will confirm men in their error, and keep them from the true life that is in Jesus Christ.

Now, the apostle, here in our text, writes against such a false assurance based on a false gospel.

 

What exactly, then, is the error which he exposes?

He exposes the vain confession of those who say that they know God, but do not keep His commandments.

 

The epistle of James speaks about the same error.   

We read in James 2: 26 that faith without works is dead.

We read in that passage of someone who “says he has faith”, but does not have works.   And then James labours to prove that such a man has no true faith.   Such a faith is dead.   It cannot save.

True faith always bears the fruit of obedience to God’s commandments.

 

And now, here in our text, the apostle John is saying the same:

 

 “…by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.   He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.   But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.   By this we know that we are in Him.”

 

So then, true faith can be verified by its fruits.   

Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ is also raised with Him to a new life of obedience.   Our new life in and through Christ becomes evident, and is manifested in obeying God’s commandments.

Our obedience to God’s commandments is not the cause of our salvation, but the sure fruit of our salvation.

 

Therefore, if anyone does not keep God’s commandments, it is evident that he does not know God.   He who does not keep God’s commandments is still dead in his sins – no matter what his pretence or confession may be.

 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ we have covenant communion with the holy God, and where this communion with God exists, sanctification is present.   As we saw in the previous sermon, we all still stumble often and need constantly to repent of our sins and to confess our sins and to seek daily forgiveness of our sins; and we need to continue to seek the cleansing of our sins in the blood of Christ.   We have not yet arrived or reached perfection.   Far from it!

But we are no longer dead in sin.   We are alive in Christ to live unto God; a new life in obedience to His commandments.

 

Dear congregation, we need to hear this message also in our day. 

I proclaim this gospel to you with the theme…

He who knows God keeps His commandments

 

We will note…

  1. That true knowledge of God is proven by obedience to His commandments
  2. The oldness and the newness of God’s law
  3. That if you love God then you also love your brother

 

In the first place we note that…

True knowledge of God is proven by obedience to His commandments

 

In chapter 1 verses 5 and 6 the apostle said:

 

“…God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all.   If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.   But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”

 

Here in our text the apostle now returns to that theme of true fellowship with God.

He speaks about knowing God.

When Scripture speaks of a man having intercourse with his wife it often describes this intimate relationship with the words “he knew her”.

 

            “…Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” - Gen. 4: 1

 

Or when Scripture describes a virgin it says, “no man had known her” (e.g. Gen. 24: 16).

We see this more often in Scripture that to know someone also involves an intimate relationship with the person. 

It applies also here in this text.   True knowledge of God includes fellowship with God.   When we know God we live with Him in an intimate relationship of love.

 

Our knowledge of God has an effect on our lives.   The knowledge of God transforms our life.   If we know Him we also love and obey Him.

 

Love for God always leads to obedience.

Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

 

            “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” – John 14: 15

 

And again the Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

 

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” – John 14: 21

 

Our love for God is proven by obedience to His commandments.

And the apostle John repeats this many times over.   He says it a few times here in chapter 2, and then in chapter 3 he says again:

 

“…he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him…” – 3: 24

 

And again in chapter 5:

 

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.” – 5: 2

 

It is a refrain throughout the epistle.

 

So then, what does it mean to keep God’s commandments?

To keep God’s commandments means to obey it.   And true obedience is always from the heart.   We keep His commandments when we delight ourselves in it.   If we obey it at all, we obey it with heart and soul.   We keep His commandments when we desire what He commands, when we take pleasure in doing His will, and when we constantly correct ourselves with the instruction of His law.   We keep His commandments when we make it the rule of our life, and submit ourselves to it, and shun all deviation.

 

You will note that the apostle speaks of God’s commandments in the plural.   That is God’s law in all its parts.   To keep God’s law means in practice that we obey all His specific and detailed commandments. 

God’s law is then not a mystic concept beyond our understanding, but clear instructions, clear commandments, which regulates every aspect of our life.

 

To keep His commandments does not mean that we obey it accidently, or automatically, without effort, but that we intentionally and with determined aim and purpose seek to obey it.   To keep His commandments is to treasure it, to seek it with all your heart and soul and mind, and to delight yourself in doing what God has commanded us in His law.

That is how love for God finds expression in our lives.

 

“He who says, ‘I know Him’, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” – verse 4

 

Someone may be very religious, and boast that he has the Spirit, and that he knows God, that he has an intimate relationship with God, and that he loves God, etcetera, but if he does not keep God’s commandments, he is a liar.   Then the truth of the gospel is not in him.   Then he has no communion with God.   If someone does not keep God’s commandments then he is obviously still dead in sin.  

For: the knowledge of God through our Lord Jesus Christ makes us alive unto God to serve Him – not our own way – but as He has commanded in His Word.

 

Dear congregation, there are in our day many who profess that they believe in the Lord Jesus, and many of them show great religious zeal, and many make a great display of their own “kingdom activities”, but they pull a sour face when you mention God’s commandments. 

They don’t want to hear about God’s commandments.

It is a man-made religion which seems to be very Christ centered, for they boast about salvation in Christ alone by grace alone, but while they boast of their love for Christ they don’t want to hear about His commandments.

 

Or they try to invent a new law, where they place Christ over against God, as if Christ taught us a different law than what God has taught us.   They despise God’s covenant law which has been summarised for us in the Ten Commandments, and view it as being out dated and irrelevant for us in the New Testament.  

“Now, in the New Testament”, they say, “we have a new and different law.   We are no longer called to live according to fixed commandments; we simply have to follow Christ’s example of self-sacrificing love”.  

But in this way they place Christ’s example over against obedience to God’s commandments, as if Christ’s example was not a life in complete obedience to God’s commandments!

 

But the moment you mention to these men Christ’s obedience to the commandments, they say: “Yes, Christ fulfilled God’s law, He obeyed the commandments on our behalf, therefore we don’t have to obey it anymore!”

As if fulfil means abolish!

And as if He fulfilled it so that we may break it!

 

Dear congregation, this is not a new heresy.   The apostle John warns us against such people, and says: Look, don’t make it complicated; if someone does not keep God’s commandments, then he simply does not know God – no matter what his confession may be.    If he then still persist to call himself a Christian, and tell you about the new Christian ethics of the New Testament, and about Christian liberty, and about the new style of the kingdom, and about the wise approach of congregational ethics, or whatever – don’t believe him!

If he does not keep God’s commandments, his confession is a lie.

He does not know God.

 

          “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” – verse 6

 

There you have the example of Christ in its Biblical perspective.   To follow Christ’s example is not to walk according to a mystic and vague new style without instructions – a vague feeling and mystic guidance worked by the Spirit in your private religious heart.   No, Christ kept the commandments of God which has been clearly revealed in His Word.   To follow His example means, first of all, that we keep the same commandments that He kept.  

 

            “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

 

Is there then no new commandment?  

The apostle does speak of an old commandment and a new commandment, doesn’t he?

 

We note this in the second place…

The oldness and the newness of God’s law

 

“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.   The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.” – verse 7

 

What commandment is he speaking about?

He is referring back to his words in verse 6, where he said:

 

            “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

 

The “Him” and the “He” refers to Christ.   He left us an example which we have to follow.   His life on earth, and His walk of life, is described to us in the Gospels.  

And now we are commanded to walk just as He walked.

That is the commandment which the apostle now commands us to obey.

That is the old commandment which the congregation had from the beginning.

 

But this command to follow Christ’s example does not come as a replacement of the law.    God’s covenant law is summarised for us in the Ten Commandments.   That is the law which Christ obeyed.   And we obey the same law, when we follow His example.

It is the same law which has been from the beginning.

When we follow Christ’s example we are not following a different rule of life or a different kind of righteousness, but obey the very same commandments which He obeyed.

 

I am not teaching you a new law, he says.   It is an old commandment, the same commandment which you had from the beginning.

God’s law, His holy will for our lives, does not change.   It remains eternally the same.   He does not have one law for this age and a different law for the next generation.   He only has one eternal law – the one which has been revealed from the beginning.

All the saints throughout all the ages have walked accordingly.

 

But, this old commandment which has been revealed from the beginning does come to us in the New Testament with greater clarity.   In Christ we see its perfect fulfilment, so that the same law comes to us with new clarity and splendour as we behold Christ’s perfect obedience to all God’s commandments.

When we follow His example, it is with a better understanding of what has been commanded from the beginning.   And thus the command to follow Christ’s example is old and at the same time also new.

Let us note the apostle’s exact words, when he says:

 

“Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” – verse 8

 

The old commandment is in a sense also new, not because it has a different content, but because the same content is now further unfolded to us and has come to its full revelation in Christ.  

 

Love is the fulfilment of the law (Rom. 13: 10). 

By the way, love is not the replacement of the law, but the fulfilment of the law.   That means: love causes us to do what the law prescribes.  

But how we are to love God and how we are to love our neighbour is spelled out in the various commandments.   Love is not a new commandment, or a replacement of the law, but the attribute that causes us to keep all the commandments. 

 

But now, in the example of Christ, we see the depth and the width and the height of this commandment when we note the way in which Christ has loved us, giving Himself for us, suffering and dying for us.   He loved God and His neighbour with a perfect love, and thus He obeyed God’s commandments perfectly.

 

So then, this old commandment, which at the same time is new in its clarity and extent of revelation, does not prescribe a different rule of life, but the same rule of life which was given to all the saints in all ages.  

 

In the same way Scripture speaks about the old covenant and the new covenant.   The old covenant and the new covenant is in essence one covenant.   The new covenant is not called new because of a different content or a different doctrine.   The new covenant has the same content as the old covenant; it contains the same promises, the same law, the same doctrine, the same gospel, one Lord, one faith.   But it is called new because the old covenant has now come to its fullness in Christ.   The same gospel is now proclaimed in the New Testament, but with greater clarity and glory as we now see its fullness clearly revealed in Christ.

 

Thus also the old commandment which has been from the beginning now comes to us with the newness of Christ’s glory which shines like a light in the midst of the darkness of this world.

 

What then is the practical application of this doctrine?

Well, the apostle himself proceeds to give a practical example.   In the verses 9 – 11 he applies this teaching to brotherly love in the congregation.  

He turns to the second table of the law: the love which we owe our neighbour.  

More specifically: he focuses in on brotherly love within the communion of saints.  

 

We note this in the third place, that…

If you love God then you also love your brother

 

“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.  

He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.   But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

 

The apostle is not jumping from the one topic to the other.  

He simply applies the doctrine that has now been set out in the previous verses.  

He who knows God keeps His commandments.

Thus it also follows that he who knows God loves his brother, as prescribed in the second table of the law.

 

There are only two ways: on the one hand the way of life in communion with God; on the other hand the way of sin and death.   The two ways are here described as walking either in the light or in darkness.   If you love your brother then it is clear that you know God and live in communion with Him, but if you hate your brother you are dead in your sins.  

 

We may also compare chapter 3 where he says:

 

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.  He who does not love his brother abides in death.  

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” – 3: 14, 15

 

He who hates his brother abides in death; he has no communion with God.

 

If we love the brethren, then we know by this very fact that we have passed from death to life.   Brothers and sisters, if we love one another, then it is clear that we have been raised with Christ to a new life.  

 

He who hates his brother is still dead in sin.   He who hates his brother or sister walks in darkness and is blinded by sin.

 

There are only two possibilities: love or hatred.   There is nothing in between.  

If you don’t love your brother, then you hate him.

If love is absent, the powers of hell are present.

 

The apostle puts it in absolute terms, black and white.

 

We either love each other, or we hate each other.

We are either alive in Christ, or dead in sins.

 

And again he uses the words: “He who says…”

 

            “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.”

 

He refutes the vain confession of those who says that they know God while they do not keep his commandments.   They may be very religious in many respects, they may be active members of the congregation, they may have great zeal and do many things, but if they do not show love to their brother, they are still controlled by the darkness of sin and death.

 

But how does love for the brethren look like?

 

Your love for the brethren can be seen when you respect those who are placed in authority over you – the 5th commandment.

 

Love for your brother can be seen when you do not seek to injure him, or to take revenge, but when you forgive and be reconciled to him – the 6th commandment.

 

Love for your brother can be seen when you uphold the holy institution of marriage – the 7th commandment.

 

Love for your brother can be seen in honest labour whereby you seek to serve and to give, rather than to enrich yourself – the 8th commandment.

 

Love for your brother in the congregation can be seen if you do not gossip about him or twist his words or speak evil of him, but protect his reputation – the 9th commandment.

 

Love for your brother includes that you do not covet what belongs to him – the 10th commandment.

 

Yes, love for your brother is not just a mystic feeling; it finds concrete expression in obedience to God’s commandments.  

Such love for your brother is proof that you have been raised with Christ to a new life in communion with God.

 

Dear congregation, the apostle says this to guard and uphold the true gospel over against a false gospel.   Let no one deceive you.   This is the hallmark of the true and authentic gospel: a new life in obedience to God’s commandments.

 

Obedience to God’s commandments is not the cause of our salvation, but the sure fruit of our salvation.   If we know God, we keep His commandments.

If we are united to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ, if we through faith in Christ have been raised from the dead, then we also love the others who are born of Him (5: 1).

 

Brothers and sisters, as we saw in the previous sermon, we cannot keep God’s commandments perfectly in this life.   We stumble often, and daily we have to repent and ask forgiveness, and constantly we have to seek our cleansing in the blood of Christ.   But we are no longer dead in sin.   Through our Lord Jesus Christ we were raised to a new life in communion with God – a holy communion whereby we are changed into His image so that His will become our will, and His commandments our delight.   

 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner