May 7 – 1 John 2:1-6


Main focus: Walking with Jesus means knowing and keeping his commandments.

Last week we read about how the goodness of God draws us into confession, and community groups elaborated on that by discussing how that leads to the confession of sins to one another. Now, as we read the promptings of John this week, he writes that “whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (v5).

Seeing the word “perfect” in there might be daunting, but throughout 1 John (and the Bible) we are taught that obedience to God’s commands are not the means of salvation but the proof and an outward sign of salvation. The entirety of Scripture tells us that God’s grace and mercy saves, not anything that we can or can’t do. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that it’s “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Scripture continually tells us that salvation in Christ, and Christ’s work, is a gift to us, not anything we deserve or earn by doing (John 3:16, Act. 4:12, Rom. 6:23).

So if there’s nothing we can or can’t do to earn salvation, where does that leave our daily actions? Because we’ve been saved, does that mean we’re exempt from obeying God and free to sin? “By no means!” Paul tells us. “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” he continues (Rom. 6:1-2). This is what John is getting at when he says that we “ought to walk in the same way in which [Jesus] walked” (v6). Christ called us to pick up our cross and follow him (Matt. 8:34), and this is exactly what that means: to deny ourselves and seek to live like Jesus.

This is where walking as Jesus did and obeying his commands intersect. Christ called us to follow and remain in step with him. The primary part of following Christ is believing in him and his working power to save and redeem the lost, and the rest of following Christ is acting in loving obedience to his commands, as “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

It is not enough to only believe in God, James continues. Even the demons believe in God and fear him, but this does not pardon them (James 2:19). This is why John says that “whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn 2:4). Your profession of faith and relationship with Christ is a sham if there’s no genuine heart change and, in turn, actions that are an overflow.

But if we quickly go back to verse 1, we see that John tells us these things not to scare us or cause us to fear but to warn us from habitual sin. John says that “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” John tells us here that God, our advocate, presented Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. How beautiful is it that we don’t worship a God that uses fear to keep us in line but love and encouragement? 

In discussion, we’ll talk about how we rebel against Christ and his sacrifice and how God offers grace and mercy. This doesn’t mean that we have a license to sin; it means that followers of Jesus walk in obedience, an external glimpse of an inward transformation. More than that, obedience is an overflow from our relationship with Jesus and happens out of love and gratitude for him.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read 1 John 2:1-6 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• What does this passage say about walking with Jesus?

• Read verse 4 again. What do you think John is trying to tell us here?

• In what ways are you prone to rebel against Jesus?

• What do these passages say about God’s response to our sinful nature?

• How might this change how you live in light of God’s response to sin?