I love that BSF took us from our study in John 15 to this letter in 1 John. At the last supper, as we’ve been reading and studying, Jesus over and over again encouraged His disciples to “keep my commands.”
Keeping the commands of Jesus is challenging. It is something that we all struggle with, not because we don’t want to, but because we are sinners.
As a writer/blogger, I know I often am prompted to write about the things that I’m struggling with and working through. I think it is a way that the Holy Spirit works in me as I try to put these challenges and struggles into words. It is not that I have the answers, but that I have the questions. And, I think this letter of John is, in a way, his blog post along the same lines.
He writes it to sons and to fathers and to fathers and to sons and to young men. But, in part, I think he also writes it to himself. What does it mean to keep Jesus’ commands? How do you go about doing it?
First, and foremost, he explains we haven’t arrived yet, we are still on the journey. If anyone says they haven’t sinned or don’t sin, they are a liar and they call God a liar. We fall short of keeping the commands every single day.
Second, we cannot just throw up our hands and say “this is impossible” and go on not keeping the commands. Instead, we are to “not sin”. It isn’t a “try not to sin”, but just simply, don’t sin.
But, how? Here, John includes the most important part… It is not on our own and not by our own efforts, but by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. There is no quick and easy path. No lies by false teachers that we can say some word or follow some practice. It is purely by the purifying and sanctifying work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This takes us directly back to John 15. The Father is the gardener, snipping off the sucker distractions in our life that take away time and energy from producing fruit. But as we live and grow, these side branches, the lusts and prides, need to continue to be pruned back as our branches are trained as we mature. We are nourished by the connection to Jesus and fed and supported by the Holy Spirit inside and out.
We don’t “try” to not sin. We don’t “try” to be holy. We just follow. We just put our faith in God. We just stay, remain, abide, walk, in the light, the love of God. We don’t try, we do. You don’t try to love God. You love God and let that love grow every day.
It’s not easy and it is a struggle, but it is not a mystery and it is not impossible, not by our strength but because of “The Righteous One.”
We know we have come to know him if we keep his commands. By observing whether or not we are keeping his commands. Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Lust of the flesh – sexual immorality, gluttony, desires only for self gratification
Lust of the eyes – pornography, consumerism, constantly desiring more and different
Pride of life – self centeredness, self righteousness, self absorption, Existentialism: my will and my choice is paramount
False teachers are real and prevalent. They try to lead others astray by calling the truth lies and lies the truth. Hold to what is known. hold to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, hold to the fact that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the true Father.