Genuine or Nominal Believer? 1 John 2:3-11

1 John 2:3-11 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
1 Giovanni 2:3-11 «Da questo sappiamo che l’abbiamo conosciuto: se osserviamo i suoi comandamenti. Chi dice: «Io l’ho conosciuto», e non osserva i suoi comandamenti, è bugiardo e la verità non è in lui; ma chi osserva la sua parola, in lui l’amore di Dio è veramente completo. Da questo conosciamo che siamo in lui: chi dice di rimanere in lui, deve camminare come egli camminò. Carissimi, non vi scrivo un comandamento nuovo, ma un comandamento vecchio che avevate fin da principio: il comandamento vecchio è la parola che avete udita. E tuttavia è un comandamento nuovo che io vi scrivo, il che è vero in lui e in voi; perché le tenebre stanno passando, e già risplende la vera luce. Chi dice di essere nella luce e odia suo fratello, è ancora nelle tenebre. 10 Chi ama suo fratello rimane nella luce e non c’è nulla in lui che lo faccia inciampare. 11 Ma chi odia suo fratello è nelle tenebre, cammina nelle tenebre e non sa dove va, perché le tenebre hanno accecato i suoi occhi.” 
    
     At the time of this writing, John is an elderly man full of wisdom and has observed Christians for decades; he writes a series of sharp messages calling those who profess faith but have no evidence to show for it, liars, untruthful, haters and living in darkness. These four adjectives are very straightforward. Most of us would have to admit that we have not acted like Jesus in all situations in our life. 1 John speaks of two categories of people: the genuine believer and the nominal. 1 John 1:8 states that if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves. He then gives the solution for the genuine believer: “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  
     The other category is the nominal (in name only). John now refers to the category of people who believe that having the Christian label is sufficient. These are not people ignorant of the Scriptures. John says they know the “old commands” (v. 7) but over time have become lax and their love for God is a lie exemplified by their inability to even love their brothers.
     Most of us reading this would probably think of ourselves as genuine believers but we need to be reminded that people of the second group were also genuine believers at one time. No one moves into the second category overnight. Time, cares of the world, difficulties and lack of spiritual care in our lives all contribute to a nominal spirituality which John calls darkness. Search your heart this day: if there is hatred against your brother or sister, the light has gone out of your life and you are walking in darkness. If you are striving to walk in the light with Christ, 1 John says “there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  
Pray with me: Lord, I take seriously the message I read today. Help me to be vigilant and keep me centered on You so that the darkness will never blind me and cause me to stumble.   


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