1Jn 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1 John 2:3 tells us, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” John tells us later in this short book of the Bible that he has two commandments specifically in mind: (1) that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and (2) love one another, as he gave us commandment.
To “believe on the name” is an idiom which means believe in the person and character of Jesus Christ as it is revealed and displayed to us in the New Testament. We need to believe all that the New Testament declares about Jesus Christ. John mentions as of first importance that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. John already gave his full witness and testimony to this fact when he wrote the Gospel of John. Anyone or any group or religion that does not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is therefore mistaken in belief, and will not be accepted by God. If you are not sure whether or not you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I would encourage you to carefully read and re-read the Gospel of John and even the other Gospel accounts until you reach this point in your spiritual life.
The second commandment John draws attention to is the command that we “love one another” (also found in John 13:34). This commandment is broad-based, and covers many things God wants of and for us.
John’s statement of these two commandments may well relate to the answer Jesus gave when asked which is the greatest commandment of all (Mark 12:30, Mark 12:31). Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then Jesus added further that the second greatest commandment was like to that one, namely, to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said the whole of God’s law, God’s commandments, are based upon and summed up in these two great principles. In context, the scribe who had asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment then responded that Jesus was correct. Jesus responded to the scribe by saying that the scribe “was not far from the kingdom of God.” Notice, therefore, that to fulfill these two great commandments, even if that were possible, would not qualify you to inherit the kingdom of God. To qualify for that, you must also fully and truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as John specified in 1 John 3:23.
Notice in particular, that being a church member, or being baptized, does not make you a Christian. To be saved, to be a Christian, you must have come to the place in your life where you have received Jesus Christ as both your Lord and your Savior (John 1:12; Acts 10:36; Romans 10:9, Romans 10:10, Romans 10:13) and have followed the example Jesus gave in Luke 18:13. Once you have taken Christ into your life and have experienced what it means to be born again or born from above by faith (see John 3:7 and context), the Holy Spirit will work in you to literally transform your life: 2 Corinthians 5:17 speaks of this as having all the old things pass away, such that all things in your life have become new. There is no salvation without this transformation. This cannot be “worked up” on our own; it is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives (Galatians 5:22, 23) as we continue to carefully read and study the Bible which alone is capable to work in us to make us what God wants us to become (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
A most important verse to keep in mind is Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” This verse asserts that holiness is the most important issue possible to address, for without it, we shall never see the Lord. That is a strong statement: one of the strongest statements in the Bible.
Holiness is but little understood, rarely addressed, and generally not practiced today, far as I read and what I see going on in my limited view of the world at large. It surely seems to be of no concern to most people, even those who would identify themselves as Christians. So kindly permit me to step on toes and become very brutal in how I address this topic.
On Facebook I have a number of friends, and am thankful for each one, and try to keep them specifically in my prayers. Some friends are my former public school students. Some friends are friends of those students, but were never in any of my classes. Some friends are members or otherwise associated with the ministry of one of my former students. I am most thankful for any influence for good I may have had upon my former students. I will say that I can discern quite a difference between those who have been students of mine and those who have not, speaking of my former students who are now my friends on Facebook compared to some of my friends on Facebook who were never students of mine but who are friends of my former students. I hope what I write here will be a blessing to them (and everyone else who may read here) and an encouragement to move in the right direction spiritually. What follows is based upon a comment I wrote on Facebook last night that directly addresses the matter of holiness:
Young ladies need to get right with God and stay close to Him by keeping in His Word, the Bible. There should be no single mothers, except if the husband has died.
Single women must seek God’s guidance in finding a husband before doing anything that could bring about a so-called unplanned pregnancy.
But all the burden cannot be placed on women. Men need to get right with God and stay close to Him by reading the Bible, by learning how to study the Bible, and by preparing to be the spiritual leader in the home.
Find a husband or a wife by looking in the right place to meet him or her. Bars, clubs, and other worldly settings (1 John 2:15, 16, 17) are not where Christians should be finding the person God would have them marry.
Get right with God. Live a life of holiness (Hebrews 12:14). The Bible directs us not to drink alcoholic beverages at all.
[This is a truth that is not evident in most English Bible translations. The Lavender New Testament more closely follows the original Greek text and has helpful notes. At Titus 2:2 where the King James Version reads “be sober,” the LNT more accurately reads “to be without wine.” Footnote c explains: “Without wine from nephalios, meaning abstinence from wine or alcohol. Friberg says ‘…strictly holding no wine, without wine; of persons sober…abstinent.‘ Cf. Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:2, 11. These passages are normally translated that the use of alcoholic beverages in moderate drinking is acceptable. But moderate drinking does not accord with the meaning of this word as used in the New Testament, or with circumspect living as a Christian.” Friberg is the author of an important Greek lexicon. There is much more to be found in the other helpful notes on pages 368 and 369 of the Lavender New Testament].
The Bible also commands us not to get drunk (Proverbs 20:1 and cross references; Ephesians 5:18) . It also tells us that those who are drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, 11).
I have told Christian young ladies in the past (in the Bible Discussion Club at Cass Technical High School as well as in my high school Sunday school class and Bible studies) that if their supposed boyfriend won’t take an interest in attending Bible studies and prayer meetings with them then that is a good indication that he is not the right person for a young lady who wants to follow the Lord in all things.
Christians are to marry Christians, not unbelievers (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15, 16). All these things need to be explicitly taught in the home, in Sunday school, in church so that our young people don’t lose out on the best God would have for them.
Does all this sound a bit old-fashioned to you? Guess what. The Bible tells us not to get rid of the old landmarks (Proverbs 22:28). The old days may not have been perfect, but they were much better than the trends we see now.