Our study of John’s first letter has been helpful and timely. Our world is lost and angry, with no sign of changing anytime soon. As Christians, we are called to be difference-makers in the world, but it must start with us first!
As false teaching and half-truths are being spread, John has been driving at important questions like, “Is your relationship with God genuine”, and “how do you know if someone is a real Christian?” Jesus warns in Matthew 7 about a lot of people who will say to Him, “Lord, Lord” and expect to be received into heaven, only to be turned away with the terrifying words, “depart from Me, I never knew you.” They’ll say, “but Lord, we knew lots about the Bible… I went to church twice as much as my friends... I was really moral... I prayed the sinner's prayer… but He’ll say, “Yes, but I never knew you.”
How do you know if someone is really a genuine believer? Is it the fish sticker on the car, or Bible on the desk? Is it that they don't use bad words, or that they go to church a lot? The problem is, lots of people don't swear, and lots of people go to church. Are they all Christians? Jesus said that people will know we're disciples by our love. But again, lots of people love.
John has given us three tests:
1.The Doctrinal Test – What do you believe about Jesus Christ? We must believe: Jesus is God! That He was sinless, that He alone can forgive sin. That He accomplished what no one else could through His death and resurrection. That He is the only way to God. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
2. The Ethical Test – How do you live? – “If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth” (1 John 1:6).
3. The Relational Test – How do you love? If God demonstrated His unconditional love toward us in Christ, then He expects us to show unconditional love toward others.
John says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.” It is inconceivable that you could encounter the power of God’s love and grace and not be filled with love yourself. If we can’t love that brother or sister in Christ that God has placed right in front of us, how can we seriously claim to have a genuine love for the invisible God?