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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

What Is Essential

versus what is flavoring.

1 John 3:22–24

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

This passage starts out sounding like the key to answered prayer is obeying the Ten Commandments.

But John immediately clarifies what he means by His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.

This is not about works; it’s about faith. Believing in Jesus Christ and loving one another are the key characteristics of a Christian. Doing these things is not only possible (unlike obeying the Ten Commandments) but they come naturally to the regenerate person.

And this is because the regenerate person abides in Him, and He in him. Jesus takes His seat on the throne of Lordship in the Christian.

And that’s in the form of the Spirit whom He has given us.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, — Ephesians 1:13

That Holy Spirit of promise is how we know that He abides in us.

This passage sets up the spiritual descriptions in tomorrow’s DEEP. We know first-hand what the Spirit of God is like. This will prove useful.

There’s another piece to this that’s subtle but important. Some things vary from Christian to Christian and some things don’t. It’s important to know which things are essentials of the Christian faith and which things just denote different “flavors” of Christianity.

This passage notes three things that are essential: belief in Christ, love, and the abiding Spirit. Some references, such as Romans 10:9, add a public confession of faith to this list of essentials.

…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. — Romans 10:9

Everything else is just flavoring.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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