1 John is a brief but marvelously rich letter. But when you first get into it, there’s a good possibility it will overwhelm you with its repetition of a cluster of words. In its 105 verses, “know” is used 32 x’s, “love” is used 27 x’s, “sin” is used 20 x’s, “life” and “brother” are used 12 x’s, and “truth” is used 10 x’s. It’s like an explosion at a word factory! But if you’ll hang in there, you’ll start to see how all of these fit together.
John has told us in the first chapter that we can know we know in regard to the incarnation of Jesus (v. 1-4). Contrary to the Gnostic influencers, Christ was not an apparition or phantom—He was flesh and blood. John and the other apostles were eyewitnesses who spent three years with Jesus, so the good news is firmly rooted in reality unlike the speculations of the Gnostics.
In chapter two, John unpacks “knowing” a little more as he moves us from knowing we can know about Jesus to knowing we know Him. This happens when we follow in His steps (v. 6) and obey His commands (v. 3). He is emphatic about this, twice mentioning that this is how we know Him (v. 3, 5). He explains that obedience to His word means “the love of God is truly made complete in them,” (v. 5). Our love for God completes its circuit. We’re not just loving in words and speech, but with actions and truth (3:18). Obedience then is not only how we know we know God, it is also how we love Him!
This resulting assurance of knowing we know Him is fruit that comes from walking in the light. We have fellowship with Him. We are allowing Him work in our lives to produce fruit to His glory (John 15:5-8). In Paul’s words, we are working out our salvation with awe and reverence knowing “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).
Jesus told His disciples:
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.John 15:10-11
What joy it is to know God is working in our lives! Don’t let anyone tell you different—there is JOY in obeying God!