We’ve all heard the question, “If you were on trial as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Convicting evidence is plainly put forth in Scripture.
Jesus, in the conversation in the Upper Room with His disciples, laid down the two principles of evidence for the case.
- If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). He that has My Commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me (John 14:21). If a man loves Me, he will keep My words (John 14:23). He that loves Me not, keeps not My sayings (John 14:24).
- Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another (John 13:34&35). Love one another (John 15:17).
The first evidence required to show that we are Christians is obedience to the known will of God – all He has made known to us in regard to Christian conduct for living holy lives. We can examine and judge ourselves by this evidence. The proof is in my keeping of His commandments.
And this is the foundation for being able to know other Christians by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-21) – one’s profession of Christianity is proved by obedience. Matthew is here giving us a means of protection against false teachers, false doctrines, or false professors of Christianity. “There is no true relationship with Christ without obedience to Christ,” Albert Barnes stated.
Love is made complete, matured, perfected, through obedience. When we love Him, we obey Him. By our obedience we reveal our love. Love and obedience manifest each other. We live up to our claim to be Christians and the evidence is evident to all.
These are not new precepts – to obey God or to love the saints. Old Testament law required both. They’re the same laws with new power. New is the grace through the indwelling Spirit to keep the commandments. He gives His power for our powerlessness; His strength for our weakness. The great power of grace is its ability to enable saints to obey God’s commands, to live up to our claim to be Christian by being Christlike. To walk and talk as He did and as He directs with no need of stumbling.
But have we ever struggled to obey the Lord’s command? To overcome temptation? To love a brother or sister in Christ? Of course we have. Temptations come. But they can’t overwhelm us. Grace gives us the strength to withstand temptation. Love for the Lord is a powerful purpose for standing strong. His unmerited love for you and me is a powerful incentive for our showing love to one another. We can obey His commands. He gives the orders, and He has in place the means for our obeying His commands.
Can there be obedience without love? Yes. We obey the speed limits without love for them. We are smart enough to obey the laws of gravity and appreciate them without any real love.
Can there be love without obedience? Yes. Many of us love our country but are willing to disobey its laws in order to stay true to the Lord.
But for the Christian, love and obedience are the evidence of our claim to belong to Christ, of our right standing in the sight of God.
Verifying evidence of whether or not you and I are truly Christian is obedience. Are you guilty? “I have made my choice forever ‘twixt this world and God’s dear Son.” Guilty as charged. And with honor.
1 Timothy 1:17