“If You Keep You Keep My Commandments” – 1 John 2:3, We Will See Today This is About LOVE, not LAWS

In 1 John chapter 2 we read about keeping commandments, but what exactly are those commands? Religion tells us they are about being obedient to the law, but that contradicts other verses such as you are free from the law (Gal 5:1), no longer under the law (Rom 6:14), redeemed from the law (Gal 3:13), and Christ is the end of the law for all who believe (Rom 10:4)

Let’s check out John’s letter a little closer and discover what these commands from Jesus are really about.

[1 John 2:3-6] 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. 4 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; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Let me be very pointed here….Every Christian on planet earth sins. We all fail to keep the law. So if we are going to take the legalist view of these verses then we when you sin (and you will) according to this verse, you are a liar, and the truth is not in you. Scripture is very clear that the truth is in the believer, so this poor view of 1 John 2:2-6 would imply that if you sin you are not saved. Hell bound. Which would mean every human that ever lived.

Our Anchor is Jesus_ Not Performance Branded

Do me a favor and also keep in mind that this verse also says “by this we know we are IN HIM”. You’ll see why this is important in a few minutes.

So what if I told you that the commandments referred to by Jesus were all about love and faith? And “walking in the same manner” was about walking in love. God is love. Hang tight and you will see that’s what’s really going on in these verses.

We are going to get the full answer after we read further into the author’s letter, but first, let’s rewind and look at verses 1 and 2 and get the context of this passage. We’re going to see that while the author does not condone sin, and in fact encourages us to avoid sin, we still have a powerful advocate in case we do, and that advocate is full propitiation for our sins. Propitiation means to satisfy a deity.

[1 John 2:1-2] My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

So the chapter begins by essentially saying don’t sin, but if you do Jesus is the full payment. In other words, you’re not, and you can’t do anything to fix it. Jesus is your righteousness. He is the propitiation.

So in verse 3 when he says “by this we know we have come to know Him” the author is referring to what he just wrote in the first two verses. This is not about law keeping, but about knowing who is the actual propitiation for our sins. Still not convinced? We get a much clearer picture as we continue reading the letter. Same author, same letter, we are clearly told what these commandments are, and news flash, these commandments don’t contradict verses about being free from law.

[1 John 3:22-24] 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

So the commandments, as laid out very plainly here are to believe in Jesus and to love one another. Do you see it? This is not about behavior improvement programs. That’s religion. What God cares about is our faith and when His Spirit lives in us then love for one another exudes from us.

Do you remember at the beginning I asked you to remember that 1 John 2:5 said “by this we know we are IN HIM”? Did you notice that 1 John 3:24 made clear we are on the same subject when it said “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him”. To “abide in” simply means to live in. Christ lives in you. Christ is love. Love is in you.

Here are your commandments. Believe in Jesus and love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Religion’s core presentation wants you to work and focus on how well you perform, and ultimately that becomes our measuring stick for how close we are to God. What God wants is your heart. He wants you to believe Him. Jesus was the only payment for our sins. He made us clean and He paid it all. Rest in Him. Jesus. Without Religion.

It’s All About Love!

Having a commandment to believe in Jesus and love one another in no way implies that we should just go break world records for sin. We are free in Christ, and the real question we need to be asking is what we really want to do with that freedom. The truth is believers are born again, have new hearts, and new desires, and because of this we don’t need the law to guide us. The love of God has been poured out into our hearts (Rom 5:5) and love is IN US, and it’s enough.

The grace message will always require us to defend the Gospel. This is why we used clear verses from the same letter and the same author to explain what he was referring to when he spoke about keeping commandments.

1 John 2:7 reads “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.”

The old commandment is to love God with all your heart.

1 John 2:7 reads “On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you

By “new” He is saying the one you have not heard this one before. In other words, He is saying I’m not getting this commandment from the law! This one is new.

Here’s a mistake we make too often. We see the word “commandments” and we jump to the conclusion that it means “law”. However, the word law is not even used in this chapter. There’s not a single reference to lying, adultery, murder, coveting, etc.

1 John 2:12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

So if we interpret “commandment” as meaning “the law” we’d be saying (as seen in vs 12) we are forgiven of sins unless we sin (break a command). What kind of logic is in that? That’s a works-based salvation and it’s not the gospel.

And lastly, by faith in Christ, we either have or have not “overcome the evil one”. We either do or do not “know God”. You’re not in and out based on when you are stumbling, as some might teach. Vs 13-14 states believers have OVERCOME the evil one and on three occurrences it says “you KNOW God”. How can anyone know someone and then unknow them? The answer is simple. They can’t.

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.


  • Amos Haire Posted July 6, 2022 10:28 pm

    Your contradicting the Bible. The Bible means just what it says. If you sin your hot Christlike. You can resist committing wilfull sins. If you sin that means you don’t know Him. If it wasn’t possible to keep from committing wilfull sin then the Bible wouldn’t tell you not to sin. The Bible says that he that sinneth is of the devil so you can’t sin and be saved. There’ no getting around it, period. Your risking your soul on something that’s not even Biblical. Scripture means just what it says and you sh0uldn’t try to twist it around to mean what you want it to mean. You better do what scripture says in this life because their’s no coming back to redo it after the judgement. Everyone makes mistakes, but that is not sin. A sin is when you know something is wrong and you do it anyway with God telling you not to. The ten commandments are God’s word. 1 John 2:1 says My little children I write to you that ye sin not. You can keep from sinning wilfully. The Bible says that when we are tempted He will make a way of escape. How can you say that everbody when the Bible tells us not to. The Bible says that if you sin you don’t know Him, but you say that you can sin and still be saved. Whose right you or the Bible. You better leave scripture alone and do what it says.

    • Mike C Posted July 7, 2022 9:28 am

      Amos – You have a lot to say, but there’s a certain place I can’t find most of it. And that would be in the Scriptures.

      You Wrote: If you sin that means you don’t know Him.

      You got it close, but I believe you’re referring to a verse that says “if we say we are without sin we are a liar and the truth is not in us” – 1 John 1:8,10

      If the shoe fits.

      What is sin? Anything apart from faith is sin – Romans 14:23

      No one implied it was never possible to avoid willfully sinning. But I am implying that no one, including you my friend, fully avoids willful sin.

      The Bible would have no purpose of encouraging us to avoid sin if it were not possible for Christians to stumble.

      The apostle James said we all stumble in many ways. Corinthians reveals a group of Christians that were I’m eating all kinds of sin. So you can pretend like you are without sin and do not stumble, but if you’re going to make that claim you are making God a liar and the truth is not in you.

      YOU WROTE: he that sinneth is of the devil so you can’t sin and be saved

      You quoted 1 John 3:8……. Only you added the part that he can’t be saved. That’s YOUR words, not God’s.

      Anyone who sins can be saved if they put their faith in Jesus. Exactly why do you think Jesus went to a cross if our sins cannot be forgiven? Jesus came while we were STILL sinners.

      Now I will concede that verse 4 does say that “everyone who sends breaks the law”.

      But are you actually implying that everyone on the planet doesn’t break the law? Apostle Paul tells us that no one will be found righteous through the law – Rom 3:20, Gal 3:11. The Apostle James has “cursed is anyone who is under the law because whoever keeps the entire law but stumbles adjust one point has become guilty of it all” – James 2:10.

      In other words, only a fool would be chasing after the law as a means of righteousness. Only a fool pushes no sin as a means of salvation. In fact, when I read your words what I see is a prideful arrogant man pounding his chest and bragging about his performance. Well, I’m not reading is any affection and trust in the one who made you perfect. Jesus. The one who took your sins away.

      And be honest you clearly do not understand the context that John was leading us to. He’s talking about INWARD sin. Specifically, the sin of UNBELIEF. And this is why if we just simply continue reading the letter we see this command that will rescue us ALL:

      [1 John 3:23-24] And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

      Next, I see you pushing the 10 Commandments. But the apostle Paul tells us that the 10 Commandments are a ministry of condemnation and death – 2 Cor 3:7-8.

      So to be clear, what you were bringing today is not Jesus. You’re trying to strap a ministry of condemnation and death around the necks of God’s children.

      Then you quote 1 John 2:1 which says “My little children I write to you that ye sin not.” And I find it very interesting that you don’t complete the verse and leave half of it off. Because the other half tells us what happens if we do sin. And apparently, it’s not death or loss of salvation but rather this is what it says:

      [1 John 2:1] But if anybody does sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

      The Bible is the inerrant word of God. The Bible is not a problem. The problem is you’re deep misunderstanding of the promises of God and the work of Jesus.

      You are clearly wildly obsessed with your performance and have very little faith in what Jesus did for you.

      I don’t know your heart but it honestly sounds like you do not know Jesus.

      Take a look at your entire comment and ask yourself what’s missing. We’re talking about the gospel and the scriptures and you left out the most important word and made absolutely no reference to it. The word you never mentioned even one time in all of your rhetoric was JESUS.

      Whatever church it is you’re attending apparently is obsessing with the problem (sin) it doesn’t seem to give much confidence at all to the solution (Jesus).

      I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but it honestly sounds like you’re part of the cult. Sure, it has the appearance of wisdom, but it lacks any value at reading people Jesus. I generally will not take any instruction from people who can’t even mention his name, but are wildly obsessed with sin almost completely ignoring what Jesus did on the cross.

      Also, if your takeaway from this study was that we should all just go out and live ungodly lives, and you missed it. The teaching here it’s not condoning a lifestyle of ungodly mess, but rather recognizing who Jesus is for us.

      • Sylvia Posted July 28, 2022 7:38 pm

        Hello Mike,
        Thanks for this great response. It just amazes how christian actually believe they can be pure and Holy like God without Jesus. It then begs the question, why did Jesus even bothered to pour out His precious blood for us? His Father could have picked somebody or a set of people who considers themselves qualified to carry the cross. I say this out of Love. Obedience prescribed in the Bible comes by understanding and embracing what Jesus did for you at the cross which was borne out of Love. God bless

        • Mike C Posted July 29, 2022 9:42 am

          Amen, Sylvia

      • Aric Stradtmann Posted July 16, 2023 2:55 pm

        Just to be clear you aren’t saying the 10 commandments are not important if you believe in Jesus right because you still should have no other god and stealing is still wrong and so is murder and lieing but you are right through Christ we are saved but that isn’t excuse to go steal all you want or worship false idols all you want it is saying yes the 10 commandments are very much important but through faith in Christ if and when you lie or steal or put something or someone above me (Christ) or bare false witness or have sex before marriage or look at a woman lust fully i (Christ) am more than willing to forgive you. But you still need to be a true Christian and read the Bible and pray

        • Mike C Posted July 16, 2023 11:41 pm

          I’m going try to respond, but honestly, I think your grammar and punctuation’s were very difficult to follow.

          First of all, you’re asking me if I think the 10 Commandments are not important. To be clear, the 10 Commandments are perfect. Holy. In fact, they are so perfect and so holy that even on your best day, you could never measure up. Nor could the Pope, and nor could I.

          I am not teaching that the 10 Commandments are not perfect. They ARE. I am not saying or teaching that we should violate them. What I’m saying is:

          -Jesus is the end of the 10 Commandments for all who believe – Rom 10:4

          -You are not under the 10 Commandments, but under grace – Rom 6:14

          -The 10 Commandments are a ministry of condemnation and death – 2 Cor 3:9

          -Whoever keeps all of the 10 Commandments, but stumbles at one point is guilty of violating them all – James 2:10

          Now we, being completely free from the law, not under the law, etc. in no way implies that we are teaching we should go out and murder, lie, and steal. That’s crazy talk. But let me be very clear. If you are a Christian, and you go out and tell a lie, or steal something, regardless of violating the 10 commandments, you are still completely forgiven. And dare I say it, if you were to murder someone, assuming that you were a Christian, you would still be fully forgiven. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s highly unlikely that someone who is a born-again Christian, has the Holy Spirit living in them, would actually got murder someone. But we lie to ourselves if we don’t think Christians are capable of telling a lie, or even stealing (cheating on taxes, etc). That’s not to say all Christians do that, but no doubt some do.

          As far as reading the Bible, amen, I love reading the Bible and I do it every chance I get. I am a huge advocate of reading the Bible. But this idea that you need to read the Bible is nonsense. For the first 1000 years, no Christian ever had a Bible. The bible did not exist. And Christians were perfectly fine and able to know and love Jesus. Logging hours in a book doesn’t make you more godly. That includes the Bible that came long after Jesus was resurrected.

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