Chapter 1:4-6 (ESV) - I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
Question to consider: What do we mean by our “walk” with Christ?
Just like in 1 John, John emphasized the command given to us by God to love one another. In John’s gospel account, we learned from Jesus that not only should we love one another as we love ourselves but as Jesus loved them and laid down His life for them. We walk in truth and love when we seek to obey God’s commands.
We do not do this to earn God’s favor. Christ has already given to us His righteousness and taken on the burden of our sin debt. In doing so, Christ has set us free from sin. The world thinks of sin as freedom from the dictates of God. Christians are viewed as the one enslaved to the commands of God. However, Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”
You may struggle to agree with Jesus’ statement, but even though we know that sin leads to our undoing and even death, we engage in it anyway. Why would we knowingly do something that eventually destroys our bodies if we were not under its control? Yet people spend money they don’t have, ingest substances that poison their body, and say things they know are untrue or hurtful to someone they love. Jesus set us free to be able to do the things that please God and give us and those around us life instead of death. God’s commands are not mean-spirited but designed to keep us in a close relationship with Him and point other people to Him. The one who tempts us to sin is the mean-spirited one who would rather see us destroy ourselves and ultimately wants to separate us from our creator forever.
We still battle with the flesh and fall short of God’s glory, but John has given use the reassurance that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) This process of receiving forgiveness and walking in faith is the mark of a believer in Christ, and we cannot do it alone. We need other Christians to walk alongside us to help us grow and keep us accountable to it. For this, God has given us the church, and Jesus comes to us in His word and His sacraments, and He has given us passions and gifts and abilities to serve others in the church and help them with their faith. This is why we are the living, breathing body of Christ advancing God’s kingdom in the world.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for the apostle John who has continued to remind us that our faith is founded and sustained by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and walking in the truth given to us in Your word. Please help us to find joy in serving others and in doing Your commands. Amen.