Ever since the fall man has had a desire to be God. The serpent told Eve “hath God said” (Gen 3:1) and then quickly said, with reference to eating the fruit that was forbidden, “ye shall be as gods.” This was all done to play on Eve’s desire to be as God, a desire we also struggle with. The truth is that to be like God is not in and of itself wrong if our intention is to walk as He walks (1 John 2:6). The issue comes when we simply want to be God, when we want to walk as we desire and in the process reveal our desire to be God. That was Eve’s error, as she wanted to not just be like God but wanted to be as God and thus be autonomous.
This error of autonomy has not been diminished by time. We constantly hear how man has progressed, evolved, and is improving but a look at the world will reveal something much different. Man still has a desire to be as God and create his own world and man sees no reason to seek after God for His guidance and direction. This is expected from the world as it walks in darkness, and loves it (John 3:19), but for those professing Christ to seek to live by their own standards and desires is to deny ones profession. This desire for autonomy is what John deals with in his letter of 1 John and what our flesh fights against.
Far too many professing believers seem to seek after ways to avoid God’s law rather than scour scripture for how we are to follow it. We need to, instead, dig deeply into the entirety of God’s word to find what God desires, what He commands, so that we may walk by those commands. John is clear that how we walk does not save us but he is equally clear that how we walk does reflect whose we are. We must take verses such as those in John 14 seriously when they speak to reflecting our love for God by our affection for His commands:
John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
John 14:23 Jesus answered him, "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 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
John 14:31 is for all those that claim to want to walk as Jesus walked but struggle with a call to obey the law; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
When these verses are seen in light of 1 John, as if they were not enough on their own, we should not come to any conclusion but that God desires those that are His to walk by His word, and His word alone. What is so liberating about 1 John is that John ties Christ’s work to our ability to live as most glorifies God. This is not about God setting before us an impossible command but instead reveals that God’s call is not simply to a place with Him in the future but to a life lived for Him now. A life lived according to His word and by His power. We must always remember that our call to God is not about us, even though that is the focus of much so-called evangelism, but about Him. It is about living a life focused on glorifying Him above all things as our worship of Him This may be difficult and at times unpleasant but it is not burdensome (1 John 5:3) as God empowers us to worship Him with our lives and that is to be our focus.
To some that have been raised on the pablum of the church of today this call may sound like legalism. But the issue is that the term legalism is often bandied about in such a way to label anything that steps on our autonomy as such. Many throw out the word legalism anytime they are called to action, called to live in a manner decreed by God’s word. Often when one calls for a change in the actions of the church they are equated to Pharisees but this misses one of the issues with the Pharisees, their heart. Jesus in Matt 23:27 spoke of the Pharisees as whitewashed tombs which we need to see does not denigrate what they did but spoke to the heart behind their actions. We are to live by God’s word empowered by God given affections for his law, affections that move us to live in a manner that glorifies Him and not us.
The issue is that scripture clearly calls us to live by His commands and this, for those that are truly His, should drive us to His word to find out what this living is to look like. Let us live by His word, and by His word I mean all of it, and thus show our love for God. John did not say we would achieve perfection but he did call us to desire perfection (1 John 2:1) in how we live. Should we fail we have an advocate in Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1). What a joy it is to know that we are not seeking to live according to His word by our power but by His.
Let us seek to glorify God in all we do and in the process our walk will reveal whose we are.