"And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." (1 John 2:3)
Jesus once said, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Poignant question. A familiar complaint of those who despise Christian teaching is that "Christians" don't act like Christians! It is a sad commentary on the condition of the Lord's family when the ungodly are more aware of the expected behavior of God's people than the Christians are.
Of course, the issue is not unique to the New Testament times. Israel's historical saga is replete with seasons of rebellion and repentance—so much so that the psalmist prayed:
That the generation to come. . . .might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God. (Psalm 78:6-8)
The emphasis by John in his first epistle, however, is not on the reasons for willful disobedience, but on the results of willing obedience.
- Walking in the "light" ensures fellowship (1 John 1:7).
- Constant and willing obedience produces an effective prayer life (1 John 3:22).
- A lifestyle of obedience brings an awareness of the Holy Spirit's indwelling (1 John 3:24).
- Loving God produces obedience, which in turn brings joy in that obedience (1 John 5:3).