I am the Liar
I have some rather exciting news. After a year of extremely difficult work, many sleepless nights, many missed opportunities to spend time with friends, and the removal of any and all unnecessary merriment, I can finally say with great privilege and honor...I have successfully translated one chapter of the Greek New Testament.
Perhaps that was a bit overdramatic, but I am finding it difficult to contain my excitement at the prospect of being able to translate the New Testament from the original language and I thought I would share with you, the dedicated reader.
In all seriousness though, my Greek 301 class has been translating the book of 1st John for the past couple weeks and we just finished the first chapter. The relative ease of translating the Johannine epistles has been stated on numerous occasions by many of my Bible professors, some even joking that the book was originally written so that second-year Greek students would have something to translate. While this is most likely not true, it is a pretty momentous event in the life of the young Greek student. But my intention for writing is not to speak about the translating but the translation itself.
The portion we translated for our most recent homework assignment says this,
"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." 1 John 2:1-6
I read verse 4 and think, how many times have I not kept the commandments of God and still go about with the mask of religiousness firmly fixed to my face? All for the sake of self-preservation or the continuation of an expected persona of false-piety.
I am the liar.
I am the one who deceives myself and those around me into believing that which is not true, an appearance of holiness on the surface while the flesh is inhabited by unrighteousness. Do I really know Him? Can I really claim to be in relationship with Him if I do not literally, "cling to" His sanctifying Word as the will above all else? Will I instead seek my own will above His, elevating myself to the position I do not deserve? A position I was never meant to have?
We demonstrate our love for God by keeping His commandments. Obedience is that which God desires. I would not find it difficult to say that God does not even desire sacrifice, because sacrifice is simply a by-product of our obedience. He does not require our sacrifice because He is already satisfied in the sacrifice of His Son. If we observe, keep, hold onto, and put into practice God's commandments, we will become like Jesus because it is exactly what Jesus did while He walked the earth. Jesus followed God's will, submitting Himself, even to death, being obedient in all things to His Father. This obedience to the Father's will is seen in Luke 22:41-44:
"And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
Jesus began to pray what I think you or I would have prayed, "Father, remove this difficult season, this persecution, this hardship," but he did not conclude asking God to remove the bad. He concluded, "Not my will, but yours, be done," submitting himself to the will of His Father, the ultimate display of the love Jesus had for you and me.
God does not desire our sacrifice, the sacrifice has been paid in full through His Son. God desires that we be obedient to Him, never ceasing to keep His commandments, for this is the greatest display of love. To keep His commandments is to do as His Son did, and to claim the same status as Jesus when I am not keeping His commandments makes me a liar.
But we are not discouraged in our failure to keep God's commandments because we hope with full assurance that even if we do break His commandments, we have an advocate in Christ Jesus, the righteous one, that intercedes on our behalf. In our failures Jesus stands triumphant. In our faithlessness, He is faithful. You are never too far from the cross for God's love. You have never broken too many commandments to be unloved by God. Be obedient to His call.