The Expository Files


“I Have Come To Know Him”

1 John 2:3-6

I know the Houston Astros. They are my team. I recognize their uniforms. I recognize many of their players by face and/or uniform number. I can tell you who plays what position, who gets more playing time, who the manager is likely to trust in a crucial situation, and who is likely to ground into a double play with the bases loaded. But I have not met any of the players personally.

I knew the late Homer Hailey. I have read many of his books. I have heard him preach the gospel on multiple occasions. I am well acquainted with his doctrinal positions — most of which I share, a few noteworthy ones I don’t. One night in Pasadena, Texas, in 1988, I shook his hand and introduced myself. But I would by no means say we had any sort of a personal relationship.

I know my friend Ty. I went to school with him. He was a groomsman at my wedding. We have spent long, quality hours discussing all sorts of subjects — crucial, situational, trivial. I know that at any time I can call on him and he will be there for me — the bigger the favor, the quicker he will respond. But we are separated geographically now, and we have been for a long time. I doubt I’ve had five conversations of any sort with him in the last ten years.

I know my wife. I know what she likes, what she hates, her favorite foods, her favorite TV programs, her favorite books, her favorite pastimes. I can tell from a quick glance if she is sick, worried, angry, excited or tired. I am fully apprised of virtually every minute detail of her life at all times.

Clearly “knowing” someone is a relative concept. And knowing Jesus is no different. Plenty of “Christians” are content to have a passing relationship with Him, with little or no real foundation. Some are willing to take His side when convenient, go their own way when inclined. Some consider themselves true followers but do not pursue any sort of ongoing connection.

Jesus offers more than that, and He requires us to want more.

And Jesus has never been vague about how He defines this kind of “knowledge”, whether it be our knowledge of Him or His knowledge of us. As John writes in verse 4 of our text, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.” John, who knew Jesus in the flesh better than anyone, writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to tell us that someone who takes a haphazard approach toward obedience, who considers His instruction to be anything less than vital to his spiritual livelihood, obviously has no idea of who Jesus is and what He is about. He Himself said as much on numerous occasions. Luke 6:46 comes to mind — “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Even nominal, partial service may be rejected as having not been grounded in a true relationship with Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Surely the concept of “Preach the Man, not the plan!” does not have its origin in Jesus!

Many so-called Christians base their confidence in their own perception of their relationship with the Lord. A so-called “better felt than told” intuition is considered all the proof that is necessary to instill full confidence. But even the shallowest objective inspection shows the flaws in this philosophy. I may “feel” I have cancer, or “feel” my team will win the championship, or “feel” my car can travel another 50 miles without stopping for fuel. I may even have facts at my disposal that can be used to support these “feelings”. But that is hardly the same as conclusive proof.

The same is true with our relationship with Jesus. He does not ask us to base our confidence in our feelings, which is basically basing our confidence in ourselves. He wants us to trust Him, not our feelings. That is why he has given us objective truth in His word. We can measure our actions by His requirements and know for certain we are in compliance with His expectations.

And it’s not like Jesus is requiring some onerous task of us. John says our obedience is a natural result of having the love of God in our hearts (v.5) and modeling ourselves after the Lord Himself (v.6). It is our privilege and honor to seek out His commandments and spend our lives pursuing full and complete compliance.

By Hal Hammons
From Expository Files 17.7; June 2010