Torah-Observance is evidence of the love of God being Perfected in Us

     I’ve always believed that the only lawful observance of Torah is when it is motivated out of a love for God. Anything else is either works based theology or futile attempts at self-righteousness. Furthermore, this love of God that desires to express itself in obedience to the commandments is evidence of something that is happening on the inside of each Christian who has chosen this path. The answer to what this “something” is, I found in I John 2: 3-6.

I’ve recently developed a deeper understanding of these scriptures. I’ve been taking a Greek course and part of our homework has been to translate I John. When I came to chapter 2, I found some remarkable things that I would like to share. Here are the verses in the New Kings James Translation: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, I know Him and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love fo God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as he walked.” Let us break this down.

To begin with, John tells us that the evidence that we know Jesus, is obedience to the Torah. The Greek word for commandments here is “”. It is the same Greek word that the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) used to describe the commandments of God. When we know Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural bi-product of this knowledge is a desire to walk in His Commandments. The next verse can be a little confusing. “He who says, “I know Him and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.” Ouch for all those still steeped in the pagan side of Christianity. On the other hand, I would not be so bold as to say that all who keep Sunday, Christmas, and Easter don’t know Jesus. I think that many, if not most, have real spiritual relationships with God and they have a desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him. This is really what John is talking about here. They just haven’t yet received the revelation of keeping all the commandments. They are wonderful Born-again, Spirit-filled, Christian people who would agree with us that the commandments of God should dictate our lives, they are just a little confused about what that really encompasses. But, they do know Messiah and He knows them.

Verse 5 is the one that is difficult to translate but it a very powerful verse. “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” What we want to focus on here is the word “perfected.” It is the Greek word, “” which has the meaning of to complete, to accomplish, to carry through to the end. This is easy enough to translate but what is difficult is the tense that this is written in. It is written in the perfect tense. The Perfect tense is the present state resultant upon a past action. Basically, something has happened in the past that has a present time ramification. For example, when Jesus is tempted by the devil, He responds with, “It is written…” this phrase is written in the perfect tense. Meaning, that what was written long ago still has a direct impact on the present reality. As I pondered this in the present verse. I began to understand. Jesus has purchased our sanctification and our perfection. It is already paid for although it may not be acquired yet. Nevertheless, I think John is saying that our desire to keep Torah because we know God and love Him, is the evidence that what Jesus purchased for us long ago is becoming a present day reality in our lives. The love of God is being perfected in us as we walk with Him in obedience to what he says, not because we either need to be good enough or merit favor with God, but because we desire to live a life pleasing to Him because we love Him. The presence of this in our souls is the evidence of the love of God coming to perfection in us and driving us toward sanctification, and ultimately perfection. This tense is difficult to translate but this is the essence of the verse. Really good stuff. The last verse of this section just fits nicely with the position and drives home the point.

John writes, “he who says that he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as he walked.” If we really abide in Christ we ought or we owe it to Him to live a life that looks like that of Jesus. He was obedient to every commandment that applied to Him. Never missed a one and never sinned. In this, He is our role model, completely obedient to the Torah. If we say we are in Him, we ought to live just as he lived. Amen

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