Throughout our series in 1 John, we’ve been trying to answer the question ‘How can I know my relationship with God is real’. John wrote his letter to a church that was starting to worry about that question, describing for them the signs of a real relationship with God. The three main ones have been faith in Jesus, obedience to God’s commandments, and love for other Christians. Today we see that these three signs form an organic whole – you can’t have one without the others.
That may be a bit unsettling to us – what if I feel like I’ve failed the test? It’s important to remember two things when we feel this way. John wrote his letter to encourage. He wants you to ‘know that you have eternal life’ (5:13). Until we have confidence in our relationship with God, the letter hasn’t finished doing its work in us. The other is John’s core Gospel message outlined at the very start (1:5-2:2). As we become aware of our sins before the God who is light, we can turn and be forgiven, because he is also the God who is love, who gave his Son so that we could live through him.