No Christian is perfect, but there are certain things that believers should look for in their lives.
First John 1
The Book of 1 John may be one of the greatest self-diagnostic tools a believer has in their Bible. For example, it tells us what our relationship should look like with other believers and with the world. This book also tells us that “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6), however, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Another attribute or character trait of the believer is that they admit they sin and then confess it. The Word of God says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), so “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). John wouldn’t have told us to confess our sins to God if it weren’t necessary. Besides, it’s for our benefit because He will “forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9b), and that’s just what we need after we sin. Next, we look at 1 John 2 and some of the attributes of a child of God.
Jesus told His disciples that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10), so there is ample evidence that Jesus sees obedience as an expression of love toward Him. Someone who loves the Lord will naturally strive to please Him, and we please God by living in obedience to His Word. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and that love acts as an apologetics of sorts because all people will know whether we are His disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:34-35). To love God is to have a heart to obey God. “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him” (1 John 2:4-5), so you cannot say you “know the Lord” if you do not keep His Word, and while hating your brother or sister. God calls anyone that does this, a liar. The Bible says that many (not a few!) will claim to know Christ on the Day of Judgment, but these same many will be turned away because Christ did not know them (Matt 7:21-23). Its fine to say that you know the Lord, but your eternal destination depends on whether Jesus knows you!
Jesus once told the disciples that it would be by their love for one another that others would know who His disciples are, so love is an outward character trait or attribute of the believer. John writes that “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (1 John 2:9). This would be like saying, “I love God but I can’t stand to be around His children.” I don’t believe God is pleased by someone saying they love Him but being hateful toward their brothers and sisters. This is incompatible for the child of God. The person with the Spirit of God cannot love God and hate others. We might have moments of course, but the overriding attribute will be love, even toward our enemies (Luke 6:27-28). My fear is that many have deceived themselves into thinking they’re saved, because the truth is, “whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness” (1 John 2:11a).
I once challenged the congregation to inventory their time for the next week and try and keep track of how much time they spent on all the different activities and the time spent in prayer and Bible reading/study. And the results were: No one had time to do it! We can get so in love with the things of the world (and I say we), that the world can gobble up most of our free time. When we spend more time on Facebook than in the Book, we are dying of malnutrition from the daily Bread of Life. Posting and reading daily devotionals cannot take the place of regular Bible study and reading. In this light, John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Why would we love the things that are temporary because “the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17)?
From day one of Jesus’ resurrection, there have been skeptics about His being raised from the dead and even His existence, but that shouldn’t surprise us because much of the world denies that Jesus is the Messiah or the Savior, and fewer still that Jesus is God. That’s not good because the Word of God says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). This clearly means that “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23a), however “whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23b). Jesus said that “this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Our eternity depends on Who Jesus is to us. Many see Jesus as just a good man, a prophet, or a holy man, and some even as a created being, but that’s not entirely Who He is. To know Jesus means to know that He is God Who came to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), but for how many? The many (not all) are those who know Jesus Christ and the One Who sent Him (the Father). If you only have a created Jesus or only a human Jesus, you don‘t have the right Savior, and that means you will die in your sins.
Not every believer will always act in loving ways, nor will they always have a desire for the Word of God, but all believers will love their brothers, and true believers will strive to live in obedience to Christ’s commands (not perfectly of course). To say you love Jesus but don’t love obeying Him is to tell Jesus that you really don’t love Him. Again, Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23), and “if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51). That’s why it’s essential to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Cor 13:5). The Book of 1 John lets you test yourself to see if you genuinely are in the faith. That’d be a great thing to get settled today, while it’s still called today (2 Cor 6:2).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.