Pet Peeves. I have a lot of them. I am a quirky guy by nature, and there are just some things in life that just annoy me and get under my skin. There are just some things that frustrate me like when people squeeze toothpaste from the middle. One big pet peeve I have is when Christians go nuts any time a celebrity mentions anything spiritual or about their religion.
Now I am not saying I am against celebrities getting saved or following God. That is ridiculous. There are celebrities that are serving God like Kirk Cameron or the boys from Duck Dynasty. But these people have fruit to back it up. You know they aren’t just wearing the name of Christ in order to get the money from Christians and then in turn will turn around and have their next project be utter filth and sleaze.
What I mean are the ones who talk about religion one minute, and then the next minute support or do things that are unbiblical or ungodly. For example, recently I saw a Facebook post where someone was gushing because a celebrity singer sang a hymn during a concert. They gushed, “You have to see this clip, you can just sense the anointing of the Holy Spirit fill the room.” The sarcastic thought that immediately went through my mind was “Hmm, I wonder if the Holy Spirit stuck around for the other popular, currently released songs the artist is known for that range on topics such as lust, sex, murder, revenge, and a host of other ungodly, worldly topics.”
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Jamie you can’t say stuff like that! You have to accept and embrace anything that shines light in a dark world.” My reply would be “Says who!!” It certainly wasn’t the Apostle John. Let’s look at our next section of first John to see what he has to say about it.
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Our man John clearly identifies how we judge the real deal when it comes to who follows God and who is playing games, whether they be a celebrity or a normal person like you or me. His teaching gives some good guidelines to help determine if someone is really serving God or not. His guidelines are good not just to examine the lives of others like celebrities. They are excellent ways for us to examine ourselves to see if we are really living our lives for God. What are these guidelines?
1. Do they keep God’s commandments?
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
Someone who is following God does what God tells them to do. If someone claims to be serving God but doesn’t do what He commands or lives their lives in an ungodly way, than they are not really believers. They may be fans of God, but they are not true followers of God. We need to make sure our lives line up with the commands of God found in His word.
2. Do you see God’s love in EVERY area of their life?
5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.
One way to look at this verse is to say that when we are true followers of God, we love God and living in His kingdom ALL the time, not part time. God will do a work inside of us that every area of our lives exudes God’s presence in our lives. If someone looks spiritual on Sunday but lives like everyone else the rest of the week, then something is seriously wrong. If they live according to the Bible in one area of their lives, but live in ways that the Bible condemns in all other areas of their lives, something is messed up. A true believer loves God all the time and lives to bring Him glory and honor in every circumstance of their lives.
3. Are they living a sanctified life?
This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
The goal of every believer is to daily become sanctified, or to become more like Jesus. We are to daily become less like the world and more like Jesus. That is the sign of a true believer, spiritual growth and becoming more like Jesus and less like the world.
Take for instance my earlier example of the singer who sang a hymn. It is great to sing a hymn, but does their entire life show similarity to Jesus?
If they sing a song about 2 unmarried people having an affair, does it line up with Jesus’ teaching that sex is reserved for husbands and wives only? If they sing about taking revenge on someone, how does this line up with Jesus’ words to turn the other cheek? If they sing about killing their enemy, how does this line up with Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies? Do you see what I mean?
John got it. He understood that we have to be able to identify true believers from false. Just like we have people today who say they follow God but live their lives in a totally different way and cause believers to stumble, John had the same type of people in His day and age. He constantly faced people known as Gnostics who felt they were Christians, but threw a lot of the world and wrong teaching into the church. As a result, people followed their example and the church slowly became worldlier and worldier. That is why he felt the need to teach in this passage how to identify a true believer.
He basically summed up Jesus’ teaching about knowing true believers by their fruit by saying, “Hey, if it don’t look like a Christian, act like a Christian, or do the things Christ did, than it isn’t the real deal. Beware!” We would do well to examine our own lives and the lives of those we allow to influence us in the same way. This teaching from John is real meat for real men. The question is, will you accept His teaching and apply it to your own life?
Will you begin to examine your own life and the lives of those you allow to influence you to see if there is spiritual fruit being produced? Will you look and see if you and others are following God’s commands? Will you search for signs of sanctification? John’s words can’t just be read, they need to be applied to our daily lives. The question we all face is, will we do it?