How can you tell a true disciple of Jesus from a mere professing one? Watch what they do, not just what they say. Obedience in our lives is the ultimate proof of our love for God. Jesus said as much in John 14:15. It is at last, the action and direction of our lives that will show the depth of our love for Christ.
In John’s powerful heart-felt letter of 1st John, he gives 3 test for the genuineness of Christian faith.
The first is a ‘moral test’ (1 John 2:3-4) i.e. are we obeying what God has commanded?
The second is a ‘social test’ (1 John 2:9) i.e. are we truly loving each other?
The third is a ‘truth test’ (1 John 4:2) i.e. are we proclaiming all that the Scriptures reveal to us of Jesus and the Gospel?
Together, these tests will show in the way we talk and walk after Christ and our proclamation of the Gospel.
D.L. Moody, the great evangelist, was once accosted on a Chicago street by a drunk who exclaimed, “Aren’t you Mr. Moody? Why, I’m one of your converts.” Said Moody in reply, “That must be true, for you definitely aren’t one of God’s converts!” If you are truly saved, it will show. Not only will you receive forgiveness, but you will live differently.
And it will take commitment and determination on our part to keep in step with Him.
In 1 John 2:5, John says that if we keep God’s word, God’s love is perfected in him. The word ‘keep’ is the Greek word ‘tēreō’. It was used of guards standing watch at their post, shepherds watching over their sheep and bankers watching over their money. It means to keep a careful watch.
This is no casual obedience – but a watchful care given to make sure we stay true to the words and will of God in our lives.
John goes on in the next verse to say, ‘…whoever says he abides in him (Jesus) ought to walk in the same way Jesus walked.’ We must follow in his footsteps!
Paul often used the same metaphor of ‘walking’ for the Christian life (see Ephesians 2:10, 4:1,17, 5:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).
Walking is not as fast as running or as spectacular as flying, but is steady, consistent movement in one direction. It takes time to progress bit by bit to a goal. It is made up of many steps, one foot placed after another for a distance, not simply a quick dash.
So, like Jesus, we will walk constantly towards God, in ways that please God.
Jesus said in John 5:19: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
The point and goal of discipleship is that in every way, we become like our Master and Lord Jesus. As Jesus did all His Father desired, we will begin to do and live the same. John Stott argues, ‘We cannot claim to abide in Him unless we are like Him.’
Disciples need to be getting somewhere with Christ. We are all a work in progress, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or anyone else yet. Therefore forgive and seek forgiveness often. But do expect progress and change.
Let there be no confusion: abiding in Christ will lead to genuine obedience in our lives – reflected in our words, works and way.
 John Stott, The Letters of John TNTC Vol 19, (IVP), pg. 97