By Stan Brown
I John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
OK, I think I get it. Loving God and loving His children are eternally and intricately intertwined. You can’t have one without the other. When we love God, we will love His children. We know we love God’s children because we keep His commandments; that is, we will do what He says. John uses the word commandment(s) fourteen times in these epistles. Sometimes he uses the singular and sometimes the plural. There are subtle differences in the way he uses them. Today we are going to look at his use of the plural commandments.
The first two times it is used it has to do with knowing Him. Remember that to John knowing Him designates a significantly more intimate relationship with the Father than does just possessing eternal life. He uses the word twice in the following verses, By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 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 (1John 2:3-4 ). Knowing God and doing what He says are forever intertwined.
The next use relates to the requests we make from Him, and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight (1John 3:22). When we love Him and love each other we receive what we ask as we do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (we know that loving Him and loving each other are the essence of his commandments. Might we also recognize how intricately His holiness is interwoven with love throughout His commandments.)
The fourth use speaks of the concept of the mutually abiding relationship we have with our God who is ultimately holy (He is light) and loving (He is love). The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1John 3:24).
The fifth use of the plural is found in the current verse as it conveys the love of God. When we obey God’s commandments which are tailored for our benefit (1) we know Him in a way that has no parallel; (2) whatever we ask we receive from Him; (3) we abide in Him and He in us; (4) we both experience God’s love and become the message of God’s love.
It is breathtaking to realize that God not only gives us commandments that are beneficial to us but also gives to us the wherewithal to keep them. He has provided for us the sin cleansing blood of His Son. This results in our entering His family as we accept Him through faith. This results in our walking in His light and His love as we confess our sins and continue to walk in His light and His love.