1 John 3:23-24, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
In concluding this section of his letter, the Beloved Apostle seems to be summing up ALL the commandments of the New Testament with the this statement, “we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ AND love one another!” (Emphasis added by me). Notice how John is now speaking of obedience in the life of the believer. It is our duty, to God and to our neighbor to believe in the Son Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent, AND to love one another. The Apostle is not speaking so much of works rather as we have often stated in past articles, he is expounding on actions.
Believing in Christ Jesus, the Son, is not some ethereal imagining, but rather an active and ongoing acknowledgement of the TRUTH of Christ’s deity. I have always stated this concerning believing in the spiritual sense; when we mature in Christ and in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, believing actually transforms into KNOWING! We start out with something new, by believing in the truth of it, but, as we continue in ACTING upon our belief, we mature to the point of actually KNOWING something or someone. I truly believe that the sign of a mature follower and disciple of Christ Jesus, is the knowledge and the authority behind that knowledge in what they speak of or acknowledge.
I was “born-again,” (saved) just before my seventeenth birthday; I am at this present time, just past my sixty-seventh birthday. I no longer believe that Christ Jesus is the risen Son of God and my Redeemer, but due to time and experience I KNOW that Christ Jesus has taken away my sins and has opened the door for me to experience and INTIMATE relationship with our Heavenly Father. I can truly say this with all confidence!
Now this is the first part of John’s exhortation to the believers. The second part is equally important for it goes hand-in-hand with the first part of the commandment; we MUST love one another. The Beloved Apostle is reiterating a truth that he first heard the Lord Jesus Himself state when the Pharisees thought they could cause Jesus to stumble:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him,” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40.
You see that John is confirming that this commandment still stands even though we are now, not under the Law and Prophets but under the Law of Grace. I want to explain something here as I have run across a teaching that since Jesus was expounding to the Pharisees, that He was teaching on the basis of the Law and that because we are no longer under the Law, this does NOT apply to us.
When I first read the explanation behind this, I was astounded by this “preacher’s” attempt to explain this away. It just does NOT stand up to the context of the Scriptures AS A WHOLE! John’s statement in verse 23 bears fruit of that, for certainly John is speaking long after Christ Jesus arose! The Church, the Body of Christ was already in the process of being established and built within the hearts of true followers of Christ Jesus!
We need to remember something else that Jesus stated while amongst His disciples; “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-20.
So, in the light of this “new” theory, since Jesus was speaking while still UNDER the Law, His teachings are no longer relevant in this age of Grace?! I mean, if you are going to come up with a new theory or principle, at least carry the thought of it out to its possible conclusions!
With John’s exhortation in mind then, understand that in Christ Jesus IS the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets and if He commands to Love God with all you are and Love your neighbor as yourself, and ALL of the other commandments fall under this, it stands to reason and just plain common sense, that if we are abiding in Christ and Christ in us, we fulfill the Law and the Prophets AND any New Testament commandment by walking in Him!
Remember this; loving God and loving our neighbor does NOT save or redeem us! Please get this clear in your mind. Not by these mere actions, for our WORKS do NOT save or redeem us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10.
Notice what the Apostle Paul is stating when he wrote this to the Ephesians; “we ARE His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand that we SHOULD walk in them (In what? In good works!).” (Emphasis added is mine for clarity). So we are God’s handiwork, and we were created to abide in Christ Jesus for a purpose; that purpose, which God the Father prepared us for ahead of time, is to accomplish good works while in Christ Jesus! The works do not get us into the Grace of Christ Jesus, rather, when we ABIDE in Christ Jesus, the works are the outward sign of the Grace given us to abide in Christ Jesus and thus, He abiding in us!
The Apostle John is reiterating this in summary and it does not contradict any other Scripture but rather reinforces the inspired writings of others! Notice also the order with which John writes, “believe on Christ Jesus (first and foremost), then love one another!”
You can’t love, as we are truly meant to love, actively in a spiritual sense, without first abiding in Christ and having Christ abide in us. We cannot naturally do it. This is why the enemies of our soul has twisted the concept of love. The devil and the world would have you thinking you can accomplish it on your own. It is the same old lie the serpent spun in the Garden of Eden. “You can do it on your own and be just like God!” Sadly, just like Eve, the world is also blinded into believing this lie and thus true love has become a perverted, misshapen form of what God, Who IS Love, intended it to be within our hearts. Only by abiding in Christ Jesus, the Son and allowing Him to abide in us, is the true form of Godly Love able to be displayed as it should and was meant to be.
Now you may have noticed that we segued right into verse 24 and that is because you cannot follow the commands of Christ Jesus without also abiding in Him and He abiding in you. But there is an assurance that John reminds us of that we ARE abiding in Christ and Christ in us, the promised Comforter and Counselor, the Helper, The Paraclete, our Intercessor and Advocate that Jesus Christ promised and guaranteed to each believer.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” – John 15:26.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” – John 16:13.
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” – 1 John 2:27.
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:6-8.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.
The Holy Spirit is a promise to every believer who chooses to accept the Gift that Christ Jesus offers freely. It is not just a promise of salvation and redemption, a freedom from the penalties of our sins, but a new liberty to walk in Christ Jesus and thus be one with the Father, just as Christ Himself is One with the Father!
The Holy Spirit doesn’t just guide and lead us, He seals us as one of Christ’s. He empowers us to accomplish those spiritual things that without Christ would could never hope to do. He softens a hardened heart and molds us into the vessels worthy of honor and use by the Lord. He is the same power that quickened Christ’s mortal body and is promised to do the same for each of us who abides in Christ Jesus.
“And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:10-11.
In closing I want to give you some further encouragement that the Apostle John is hinting at when stating that the Holy Spirit is given to us to testify of the truth of Christ’s presence in us. This encouragement comes from the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Ephesians is a direct confirmation to John:
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14.
Those of us who have believed and thus have come to know intimately the Father through Christ Jesus, do not just have the proof of the Holy Spirit residing within each of us, but we are also guaranteed with a promise and we are sealed by that same Holy Spirit unto the day of our final redemption!