1 John 3:23-24
A Summary of the Tests
These last few verses of chapter three seem to summarize the letter up till now. We may have confidence before God and have what we wish from him if we pass these three tests, which John calls “commandments”:
1) That we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ.” Indeed, it all begins here. The Apostle has spoken much of loving one another and practicing righteousness, but never divorced from faith in Jesus Christ. The beginning of the letter stresses that the Son was made flesh and was seen and heard, that he is the only one who can cleanse us of all sin as the propitiation for the sins of the world, and that to confess him is to confess the Father and to deny him is to deny the Same. John never preaches a “works-righteousness” religion; Christianity all depends upon faith in the Son of God who is Savior and Lord.
2) That we love one another. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and have been born again of him love the brethren and practice love of neighbor. As we have said before, love is not a sentiment that we feel inside (though feelings are certainly not excluded) but an action that is committed towards someone else for their well-being. Jesus went about healing, ministering, and blessing people; that was how he loved them and how he wants us to love others.
3) That we keep his commandments—which is first and foremost that we love one another as was just stated, but also that we abide in Him by practicing righteousness, doing what pleases Him. Those who have been born again desire to walk as he walked. They hate sin. They loathe their sins and strive with might and main to put them to death. They strive to be so heavenly-minded that they may be of some earthly good. They hunger and thirst after righteousness and purity of heart.
The Apostle closes the passage with one last word which I decline to number among the “tests” or even call a “characteristic” because being born again completely depends on him—and that one is the Holy Spirit who births us anew unto salvation. Those who know God and are known by Him have this seal within them (Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14; 4:30). And because they have the Spirit within, theirs is a life of faith working through love (Galatians 5:6). These are the things Christians have (the Holy Spirit), believe (in Jesus Christ), and do (love others and do good).