As you and I study the epistle which we know as 1 John, it is apparent that some of the first-century Christians to whom John wrote had come in contact with untruthful messages about fellowship, love, and sin. What about the concept of knowing God? That, too, was a matter about which the saints needed clarity. Hear the message of 1 John 2:3-6:
(3) Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (4) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (6) He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Some questions are in order. First of all, in the context of 1 John 2:3-6, who is the one (“Him”) that John speaks about knowing? In verse five, we read about “the love of God,” so God is in the picture. Also, when we follow the pronoun “Him” from verse three back to the opening statements of the chapter, what we see is a reference to the Father and the Christ (2:1), followed by a reference to Jesus being the` propitiation for our sins (2:2). So, in this context, knowing “Him” refers to knowing the Lord.
Is it possible for humans to know God? John’s inspired message gives an affirmative answer, as he spoke of those who legitimately “know Him” (2:3). Paul expressed his personal desire to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). In this case, the word “Him” refers to the Christ. At the time Paul wrote that statement, he already had been in the Lord over two decades. The apostle certainly knew the fact that He had risen from the dead and that His resurrection showed Him to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4).
What Paul longed for was to know the Lord personally and intimately, being able to understand and appreciate as much as humanly possible everything about His Savior.
Is it possible for humans to know that they know God? Yes. Look again at 1 John 2:3: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if . . .” John went on to declare, “By this we know that we are in Him” (2:5). Thus, it is possible for one to know “where he is” in his spiritual life. A child of God can know Him (2:3), know that he is in Him (2:5), and know that he has eternal life (5:13).
Why is knowing the Lord such an important matter? When Jesus prayed to the Father about His authority to grant eternal life to those whom the Father gave Him, He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:2,3).
So, a person being granted eternal life is predicated upon that person knowing the Lord. Therefore, knowing or not knowing the Lord will determine a person’s eternal destiny (whether he will receive eternal life or not).
Is there a difference between knowing about God and knowing God? There is a huge difference. Many people believe in God, accepting the evidence for His existence. Yet, some of those folks have no interest in learning or doing God’s will. Such people do not know the Lord in a biblical sense. Even among those who pronounce themselves as believers in Jesus, there are many who do not know the Lord in the way that the Bible describes knowing Him. Paul used strong language to warn Titus about certain individuals, saying: “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him . . .” (Titus 1:16).
What if I claim to know God but do not submit to His instructions? Here is the Bible’s answer: “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him” (1 John 2:4). Obviously, knowing the Lord involves more than thinking and talking about it. It requires action on our part – action that conforms to His will.
Who is the one who knows God? Here are three Bible descriptions of a God-knowing person:
- He keeps God’s commandments. How do we know this is the case? The Bible says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).
- He “keeps His word,” and in him God’s love is perfected (1 John 2:5).
- He abides in the Lord (1 John 2:5,6).
For one to know the Lord, he does not have to be well-known, well-educated in secular matters, or wealthy in a material sense. What he does have to do is possess a humble heart that is in love with the Lord. If one is going to know the Lord in the way that the Scriptures portray knowing Him, then he will need to prepare his heart to study and learn what God desires, accept what the Lord says, and submit courageously to what the Lord commands. Such a conclusion may not sit well with some folks, but it is a sound conclusion drawn from the clear teachings of 1 John 2:3-6. My friend, do You know the Lord?
— Roger D. Campbell