The Obligation to Our Claim

But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk just as he walked."—1 John 2:5–6 (NRSV)

Earlier this year, I was summoned to serve jury duty. And as much as I dreaded the idea of it, I actually found myself learning a few things! One of the things I found most interesting was the idea of the burden of proof.

According to the Legal Information Institute, the burden of proof “describes the standard that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must satisfy to have that fact legally established.” The burden of proof is often said to consist of two distinct but related concepts: the burden of production and the burden of persuasion.” As I sat there in a Broward County courtroom listening to a lawyer explain all this, all I could think about was this verse in 1 John . . .

In our passage today, the apostle John tells us what the burden of proof is in the case of our faith: “Whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk just as he walked.” The word for ought here is opheilei, which basically means, “being morally obligated (or legally required) to meet an obligation.” It speaks of one’s responsibility, something we are bound by duty or necessity to do. Basically, if we claim to be Christ-followers, we are obligated to follow Christ. 

So, the one who believes and obeys His Word, who lives as He lived, who loves as He loved, and who walks as He walked, he or she has satisfied the burden of proof! 

The two key components of the burden of proof are: 

•   Your burden of production: True and humble obedience (tērē: to hold firmly to; to keep intact) to His Word, which demonstrates the maturity of your love for Him (over your love for yourself). 

•   Your burden of persuasion: “This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived” (1 John 2:6 MSG).

We can know for certain in our hearts and show the world clearly with our walk that we are in Christ . . . by being obedient sons and daughters who listen to our Father and imitate our Lord and Savior. 

I pray as we approach the Christmas season, that we’ll be intentional about making sure the world sees the love of God through us as we walk in His light and shine it forth! When we do that, friends, when we radiate the love of Jesus and walk in true obedience, the proof of His work in us will draw people to Him. 

DIG: Why is obedience linked with maturity and fullness of love?

DISCOVER: Have there been people whose lives made it abundantly clear that they were Christ-followers? What stood out about them? How were they different than everyone else? Can people say the same about you?

DO: Examine the evidence of your life today. If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to satisfy the burden of proof? Consider what changes need to be made or what disciplines you can embrace to bring you to greater obedience and a closer walk with Jesus.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.