“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:24)
We have been examining several cause and effect statements Jesus made to His disciples in the upper room hours before His crucifixion. Today, we look at another such cause and effect statement but one with negative overtones. It stands to reason that if obedience to Christ is the primary evidence of a believer’s conversion and love for Christ, then a lack of love for Christ is evidenced by an individual’s disobedience to the Word of God.
“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” There you have it. A simple but significant statement of evidence for the lack of authentic saving faith. How do we really know if someone is a true believer in Christ or one who simply pretends to be? Jesus made it very clear. The person who does not consistently obey the Word of God, or God’s commandments, is not a true believer. Therefore, the individual in question, in spite of protests to the contrary, is not converted.
Jesus said something similar in Matthew 7:15-20 by using the image of good or bad fruit to illustrate the discernment between true and false teachers. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
What Jesus meant was that an unconverted individual will be recognized by their lack of obedience to God’s Word. They may pretend to be a believer, even a spiritual leader, but their true nature will eventually be evident.
Following this illustration, Jesus then stated the matter most forcefully and directly when He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23).
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “The barrenness of this sort of faith demonstrates its real character (cf. v. 20)—the faith that says but does not do is really unbelief. Jesus was not suggesting that works are meritorious for salvation, but that true faith will not fail to produce the fruit of good works. This is precisely the point of James 1:22–25 and 2:26.”
Jesus’ words in John 14, as well as in Matthew 7, are not just His alone but also God the Father’s. There is harmony between the Father and the Son.
True followers of Christ not only meditate upon God’s commandments, but also endeavor to live by them. They do so because they truly love Christ and this is because God the Father truly first loved them (I John 4:7-11).
May people see our love for Christ as we obey Christ.
Soli deo Gloria!