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A New Command

by David Johnson

Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

      It is wonderful to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is “A New Command.” And our text is taken from the New Testament First John chapter 2 verses 7 through 11. Please listen to the Word of God.

      “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing, and the true light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

This is the Word of God.

    Love as an unself-centered, unselfish love is the preeminent mark of a genuine Christian. Love, expressed outwardly in obedience is the benchmark of a Christian’s relationship to God, and love for other people is the pinnacle of human relationships.

      Genuine love of others is the Christian’s highest social and moral duty. Therefore, evidenced love is the ultimate mark of genuine salvation and also further provides assurance of salvation.  Love in action is that pivotal and visual hallmark in the life of a believer.

     Sadly, often the word ‘love’ is thrown around like a cheap toy without real concern. In describing first century Christians to the Roman emperor Hadrian, Aristides said “They love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who will hurt them. If they have something, they give freely to the man who has nothing…They don’t consider themselves brothers and sisters in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God.” A beautiful testimony of the Christian whether in the first century or the 21st century.

     Let’s look at our text and better understand and apply to our lives John’s inspired words about true love especially for one another.

     First John chapter 2 verse 7 “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.”

     Throughout the centuries commentators have labeled John “the apostle of love.”  Our passage, written by the apostle John, could begin with his first word translated as “beloved,” in addressing fellow Christians. Such was the heart of John, a prime example to each of us. I remember a dear brother often referring to fellow believers as ‘beloved.’

     Genuine love for one another is an old commandment: Leviticus chapter 19 verse 18 which says “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people but love your neighbors as yourself.  I am the Lord.”

     The apostle Paul, who is sometimes criticized for being insensitive, wrote in Romans chapter 13 verse 8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”

It’s not just how much we do, but better yet how much love we put into what we do.

     Early ‘Church Father’ Chrysostom which literally means ‘golden-mouthed’ in Greek, denoting his celebrated preaching with eloquence, stated “Heat makes all things expand.  And the warmth of love will always expand a person’s heart.”

     First John chapter 2 verse 8 “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing, and the true light is already shining.” This is not a contradiction of what John wrote in the preceding verse – “I am not writing you a new command but an old one.”  What John is teaching is clarification of how the old commandment to love is at the same time new. Meaning new not necessarily chronologically new but instead new in the sense of fresh in essence and quality. This commandment’s newness is not in the words, but in the illustration of love detailed by John in: “its truth is seen in him” meaning that it is in Jesus Christ that we find true and perfect love.

     The Old Testament command in the book of Leviticus taught the moral obligation of love. However, the newness is in the sterling example of love by our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One in whom we need “to follow in His steps” with love toward God and all others.

     This is what perfect love looks like: Philippians chapter 2 verses 6 through 8 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death —even death on a cross!” That is sacrificial love. Christ manifested His love not just offering himself as an atoning sacrifice for believers – but in fact for the sin of the world. According to John chapter 1 verse 29 He loved us while we were yet sinners.

     “The darkness is passing, and the true light is already shining” is Jesus Christ. Yes, it is true that today light and darkness (the Evil One) coexist – separately however, consider Colossians chapter 1 verses 13 through 14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

     The true church today reflects the light of Christ in a dark world. Our light must shine – in large measure by the love we manifest toward others.

     Consider the words of Jesus as recorded in: John chapter 13 verses 34 through 35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

     Then the apostle of love lays out the imperative of true love as a way of life. First John chapter 2 verses 9 through 11 “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. He does not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. “

     This part of John’s passage applies the test of Christ like love to those who claim to be Christians. I had a man, many years ago in another state from where I am now, sincerely confessing to me that he could not be a Christian because he hated a certain minority group – all of them!  At least he was honest, but so sad and so unnecessary. Hate is an awful master which must be rejected and repented of.

     A person who truly loves others (especially in the church) as a reflection of his love for Christ, will not cause him to sin.  Genuine love for all, in Christ, is yet another proof of our salvation. Unrepentant hatred is proof of darkness.

     A commentator writes “This love John is writing about is not claiming that we need to be especially fond of every other Christian (We all have different personalities), or that we need to be emotionally bonded to all believers. It does, however, mean that this love for one another can be understood as the steady direction of the will for the good of all others. We are not commanded to just emotionally “feel” a certain way towards others, as it is that we need to “act” properly toward all others. Yet that does not mean we just tolerate others but again that we indeed desire and do for others to their good. That is agape love, a caring and unselfish love, even sacrificial love.”

     It is said of the sixteenth President of the United States Abraham Lincoln that he never forgot a kindness, but that he had no room in his mind for the memory of a wrong. There is a morality of memory, and love keeps positive memories alive and disposes of the negative memories.

     Amy Carmichael was a missionary in the nation of India many years ago, who served there 55 years manifesting her love to the impoverished and orphans in the  nation of India. She wrote a short piece entitled “If.”

     “If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast, perhaps, with what I think of as my strong points; If I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting ‘Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou have not received?’ then I know nothing of Calvary love.

     If I take offense easily; if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

     If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself, they will condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

    So, dear listener how are our, your “Ifs”?

     “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The words of Jesus.

     May that be our mindset, and way of life expressed in attitude and action in genuine love for God and for one another

-David Johnson is the minister for the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN




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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8