What John has in mind is a steady, ongoing, determined life of obedience to God’s commandments from the heart. Sometimes, when believers are informed of this description, they become apprehensive because they imagine that they will never be able to keep God’s commandments. Therefore it is important for them to remind themselves of what happened within them when they came to know God.
The most common way by which the Bible describes the relationship between God and his people is through the idea of covenant. The covenant that believers should keep in mind for guidance as far as obedience to God’s commandments is concerned is the new covenant, the details of which are stated in Hebrews 8:10-12: ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one to his neighbour and each one to his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”’
God says that he will perform two things in their hearts in order to ensure that they will know him: first, he promises to inform them of his commandments (write them on their minds) and, second, he promises to ensure that they will love his commandments (write them on their hearts). All each of us needs to do is to ask ourselves, ‘Do I love the commandments of God?’ If the answer is yes, then we know that God is at work within us and that he is also instructing us concerning our obedience.
One may respond, however, by saying, ‘I understand what God wants me to do and I love what he asks me to do, but I find myself so weak in a spiritual sense that I am afraid I will not have the ability or power to keep his commandments.’ God has provided an answer to this dilemma – the Holy Spirit, who came to indwell believers when they commenced their personal relationship with God.
Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome when he reminded them of how the Holy Spirit enables believers to keep God’s law: ‘…the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:4). Therefore it is good for us to remind ourselves that the loyal Holy Spirit is always working within his people on earth, enabling them to keep God’s commandments in a measure.