Marks of True Christian Fellowship: 2:1-6.
Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. John shows that the mark of everyone who truly saved is that they obey the commandments of the Lord. They will have a desire to do what pleases the Lord. If someone claims “I know the Lord” and live in sin, he is a liar. Those who have true knowledge of God obey the word of God and the love of God is perfected in them. The secret of obedience is the love for God. They live just as the Lord Jesus lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who do not obey the Word of God are blind and do not know where they are going (2 Pet 1:9). John addresses believers "Little children" It shows his endearment toward believers. He assumes that believers may be influenced by false teachers to sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. They are cleansed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He has forever removed God's wrath from us because Jesus already endured it on our behalf. Christ is the propitiation for our sins. The word "propitiation refers to a sacrifice that satisfies wrath of God against sinners. Only those who believe in Christ is rescued from the wrath of God (5:12). Those who truly believe demonstrate their faith by obedience of Christ's commands. They obey the Lord out of their love for the Lord. This is a mark of genuine believers who are transformed by the Holy Spirit. Our obedience is the evidence of our salvation. Disobedience weakens our sense of assurance of salvation. Professing Christians receive the grace of God in vain and show no evidence of salvation.
Another mark of true believer is the love for the brethren.2:7-11.
John now highlights Christ's command to love one another (2:9-11). This is not a new teaching as the false teachers claim. In believer’s life, love and light cannot be separated. We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). John is known as the apostle of love. Once he was known as son of thunder, which simply means hot temper. He wanted to call down fire to destroy the villagers who did not receive Christ (Luke 9:53, 54). When John was transformed by the love of Christ, he was willing to call believers “beloved” (2:7). God’s love is the agape love which carries the idea of self sacrificing love. The highest expression of divine love is revealed on the cross (Rom 5:8). There is no love like the love of dying Savior. There is a friendship love (Philia) and a sensual love (Eros). The word for sensual love is not used in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, God gives the commandment to love God and his neighbor (Deut 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:28-34). Love is the fulfillment of God’s Law (Rom 13:8-10). It is the proof that we have passed from death to life (1 John 3:14). Jesus said to disciples "By love all men will know that you are the Disciples" (John 13:35). The Holy Spirit sheds abroad God’s love in our hearts (Rom 5:5). Jesus is the example of sacrificial love. He loved the world and gave himself for it. He loved the lowest and the highest, the oldest and the youngest. He comforted the sick and the hungry, Loved the foes and the friends. Jesus said “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15: 13). A person who claims to be saved and continues to hate his brother is still in darkness. It is impossible to be in fellowship with God and out of fellowship with fellow brothers at the same time. When we practice Christian love, we find life getting better and brighter and there is no cause for stumbling. The best way not to become a stumbling stone is to love the brethren. Love thinks no evil, covers multitudes of sins and expels all fear (1 Cor 13:5; 1 Pet 4: 8; 1 John 4:18). When we abide in love, we will be filled with joy, peace and rest of fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23). Those who do not love the brethren are spiritually blind and barren.
Hindrances of Fellowship: 2:12-17.
John speaks to the various levels of spiritual maturity in the church. He calls believers “little children, fathers and young men". These are word pictures used to show the various levels of spiritual maturity among believers. They enjoy forgiveness, fellowship and victory in Christ. In one sense all believers are little children to God (1 John 3:1). John also assures them of his confidence in them that their sins have been forgiven through Jesus Christ. Little children are babes in the faith. Young men are strong in the faith and they overcome Satan. Fathers are the spiritually matured in knowledge and experience. John addresses the hindrances of fellowship in these verses. Christians are in the world but not of this world. They are warned not to love the world system. Satan is the prince of this world (John 12:31). World refers to the invisible spiritual system under Satan that opposes the work of God. Unsaved are the sons of this world (Luke 16:8). World hates believers because they do not belong to this world (John 15:18). The believer’s citizenship is in heaven and they should not love the world (Phil 3:20). The lust of physical pleasures, the pride in our possessions and the lust for everything we see come from the devil (2:15). We are called to turn away from worldliness and materialism. One who continues to love the world is not of the Father (1 John 2:16). This world is passing away but whoever does the will of God abides forever (2:17).
Warning against False Teachers: 2:18-29.
John presents another proof of genuine faith. It is not enough to be sincere in loving God but we must also know the truth. Believers were warned against false teachers by Christ and apostles (Matt 7:15; 1 Tim 4:1). Last hour has arrived with the person and work of Jesus Christ. False teachers are influenced by the spirit of Satan. Satan is the father of all lies and counterfeit of truth (John 8:44). False teachers deny the deity of Jesus and work against Him. They associate with the believers but they are not born again (Jude 19). If they were true believers, they would not have left the church (2:19). One of the proofs of true Christian is a desire to be in fellowship with the people of God. True believers agree on the doctrines of the Bible and they are in fellowship with the other believers. False teachers deceive believers by claiming that they have special anointing to know the truth. If false teachers had the anointing they would not have denied the deity of Jesus. John encourages the readers that they have the anointing from the Holy Spirit to know the truth about Christ (2:27; Rom 8:9; 2 Cor 1:21; John 14:26). False teachers deny that Jesus is the Son of God. In this context the false teachers are called "antichrists" (2:18). They do not know the truth because they do not have the Holy Spirit (Jude:19). Believers have no need to listen the false teachers because they have the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth. To deny the Son means to deny the Father also. Jesus said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). He who honors not the Son honors not the Father who has sent Him (John 5:23). Whoever has the Son has eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). Pray that your life would be characterized with righteousness and devotion to Christ.