It is imperative for us to realize that context is the most important thing in scripture understanding.
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
The question that haunts is this ‘what happens if we can’t keep the commandments?’
Is the truth therefore no longer in us?
The problem is made worst because the Christian thinks these are the 10 commandments.
This is because in 2 John, John talks about that which was given from the beginning.
5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
The problem here is this, the commandments that John is referring to are NOT the 10 commandments. It is Jesus’ new commandment. Love one another!
You may ask why?
Well let’s read in context shall we?
John in his 1st letter did make reference to this commandment.
11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Now how do we love one another? Isn’t love the summary of the 10 commandments?
No. They are not. The 1st 5 is about loving God. The 2nd about loving man.
But listen to what Jesus is saying, he did not love one another. He said, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ Honestly, can you love me the way Jesus loves me?
No. John tells we love because he first loved us. This is then made possible by the sheding of his love through the giving of the Holy Spirit.
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Now how do we do this?
I just thank God that John gives us the answer here.
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.
So what is the commandment John wants us to obey?
This is why John says the commands are easy.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:and his commandments are not grievous.
How hard it is to just believe Jesus?
Look at what is says in verse 24.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
You begin to understand now? This commandment of ‘believing in Jesus and loving one another’ is the commandment from the beginning because only those whom have the Spirit can follow it.
We are now new creations. We are no longer under the law.
We are led by the Spirit.
Therefore John is not referring to the 10 commandments.
Let me just end with Abraham.
In Genesis 26:5 God told Isaac that his father obeyed his laws fully.
We all know about how he sell his wife short as a sister and of course the Hagar crisis. How then did Abraham fully kept all his commandments?
People argue that Abraham followed the Law and say “Genesis 26:5 …..’Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.’ ….. What did Abraham do (before Sinai)? He KEPT GOD’s COMMANDMENTS!! So how can anyone say the law of God didn’t exist before Sinai, when Abraham KEPT God’s law?”
Let’s look at this passage very carefully. Look at verse 3 onwards:
“3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
Look at the context of the statement. Abraham’s so called obedience to commandments, statues and laws is base on one event. Let’s look at the event.
15 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Many years later Paul speaks about this in Romans 4
King James Version (KJV)
4 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Paul is saying that Abraham was reckoned to be righteous because he believed God and God credited his righteousness to him.
Hence how did Abraham “obey my voice, and keep my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”?
By his belief. Abraham thus was deemed to have obeyed all these by his belief. He did not keep any Law. He was righteous by faith.
Abraham was righteous because of his belief, so are you.