The Spirit, God’s Gift
23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 3:23-24
When John writes about obeying God's commandment, it's easy to start to feel that salvation is earned through obedience. Like you'll only feel confident about your status with God if you can be “good enough.”
The final verses of chapter 3 reminds us, instead, that a relationship with God is a gift of God's grace. Obeying God doesn't create the relationship, but it is evidence of the relationship. The relationship goes both ways: God is in the believer, and the believer is in God. John calls this “abiding.” Abiding means “living in”; other bible translations use the word “dwelling.” The idea is that God will never leave and neither will the believer.
We know God abides in us if we have the Holy Spirit, and this is where John emphasizes God's gift of grace. He calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit whom [God] has given us.” The Spirit was sent after Jesus left to be with Christians, and one of the Spirit's roles is to be evidence of God's presence with believers. Having the Spirit shows us that God is with us, just as having obedient hearts toward God shows that God abides with us.
Questions for reflection and discussion
1. Are you “good enough” for God?
2. Do you have the Holy Spirit?
Dear God, thank You for living in us and for giving us the grace to live in You. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit. Help us to live every day in the knowledge that You are always with us. Amen.