1 John is an irritating book. It’s all about testing whether you are saved or not. John uses very basic language and a repetitive style to get his point across. This is a real bummer because to ignore his case you cannot pretend his meaning is hidden in complex Greek language structures.
No, John says very black and white things showing the sincere believer whether he is saved or not. Here’s a doozy:
“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”
One way to know you are saved, or that you are born again, is whether you do righteousness. Notice he didn’t say whether you feel righteous, or whether you claim to be righteous, but whether you do righteousness.
Perhaps he means it more floaty though, can’t we get around this somehow, isn’t saying we’ve been declared righteous enough? He eliminates all doubt about what he means by “do righteousness” when he says in the next chapter:
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”
Being declared righteous by faith results in doing righteousness. John knows there will be a debate over his words so he even includes a warning about people deceiving you that doing righteousness isn’t a part of being righteous.
You can take their word for it, or you can take God’s Word for it. Inconvenient? Yes, but isn’t having the truth a beneficial thing?
John says we are only saved if we do righteousness and Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?
No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without doing righteousness is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear God’s righteous words and doing righteousness is the result of hearing–you do what you’re told.
If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. Tomorrow I dig the hole deeper.