Genuine Believers Obey God – June 17, 2022

Growing up, we had a plant in our back yard that looked like a cross between a tree and a bush. For years we wondered what sort of plant this could be. Then one year, we discovered the truth. The bush tree was an apple tree (it had not been cared for after the previous owner had planted it). We found that it was an apple tree because one summer day, we noticed that something was growing on it, apples.

When Christ walked the earth, he stated that just as we can identify trees by their fruit, we can recognize people by their fruit. Men can claim what they are all they want, but their fruit tells the true story. As a result, John states in 1 John 2:3-6 that genuine believers obey God. Your view of God dictates your view of life. So, if you are a genuine believer (thus possessing a proper view of God), you will seek to obey God out of gratefulness for all that God has done for you in salvation. So, John states that you can have confidence in your relationship with God if you obey Him. Genuine believers obey God. John illustrates this obedience in three areas.

First, John states that those who know God keep his commandments. The “knowledge” of God describe throughout the text of Scripture is not only intellectual but also experiential and dynamic. John further explains that this personal knowledge of God is not devoid of action. Those that know God keep his commandments.

Yet there is one more essential facet to this phrase. This verb, keep, means more than the observance of the command. It implies duration and perseverance: to observe diligently, guard carefully, and suddenly realize a truth. In other words, “to keep God’s word” goes far beyond mere conformity to law. It expresses a zealous desire to adhere to God’s will.

Christ illustrated what this looks like in the Semon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In this text, Christ examined the ten commandments and revealed that keeping those commandments went well beyond the letter of the law. For instance, although one might refrain from actual murder, if one becomes angry with another, he murders his heart. The heart action is the same as the physical action. When the believer seeks to obey God’s command, he is not simply content with outward conformity but with inward change.

This mark of a believer raises an essential question for each of us. Do we seek to surrender or accomplish the bare minimum for God or willingly submit entirely to God’s commands? When you serve, do you serve only when convenient, or do you serve wholeheartedly and sacrificially? When you give, do you count down to the exact 10% tithe, or do you give sacrificially out of the abundance of grace God has given you? Genuine believers obey God’s commands, all the way down to the heart behind the command.