“OLD & NEW COMMANDMENTS” 1 John 2:7-14
INTRO – (Show Lucy & Linus cartoon) – “I love mankind. It’s PEOPLE I can’t stand! (Linus) Anybody feel like Linus sometimes? Of course, we all do in some ways. When our imperfect lives rub up against the imperfect lives of others, there’s bound to be some sparks that will fly.
We are looking at a subject today that we have discussed many times before. It’s the subject of love. The danger is that we may feel like we already have this figured out. It’s so basic. It’s Christianity 101. It’s foundational.
“Love” is a word that we used a lot in a lot of different ways about a lot of different things. In my own life, I have used it in a multitude of ways. Here’s a sampling of how I would use the word “love”:
- I love my wife, kids, & grandkids; coffee; collecting coffee mugs; dogs; Cleveland, MS; my family; Lake Tiak-O’Khata; Thanksgiving; pizza; Sonic tater tots; the MS State Bulldogs; gardenias; deer hunting w/ my buddy, David Martin, in Lawrence County; going on mission trips; preaching; being a firefighter; vacations at the beach; all types of music; &, of course, Country Woods Baptist Church!
- What’s on your list of “loves”? Turn to person next to you & tell them.
Before we focus on the old & new commandments that John wrote about, let me give you a quick overview outline of this passage. 4 main points:
- Love is commanded by God & is an indication that we are living in His light. Brotherly love is the essential markof the Christian life – v. 7-8
- Hatred is an indication that we are NOT living in the light of God. It causes us to stumblebecause we are in the darkness. – v. 9,11
- When we are obeying God & living in the light of His love, we will not stumble – v. 10
- There are various levelsof maturity in the Christian life. – v. 12-14
- Children know the Fatherand their sins are forgiven.
- Young men are strongin the Word so they can stand against the evil one.
- Fathers have an intimateknowledge of God.
Our main focus in this sermon – v. 7-11 – the old & new commandments.
Jesus had a lot to say about love in His teachings & dealings w/ His disciples.
- John 15:13
- John 3:16
- Matthew 5:43-44
“Yeah, well I love them, but I don’t have to like them!” Where did we get the false idea that it’s easier to like someone than it is to love them? If Jesus is our perfect example of how we are to love others, then:
- Love means sacrifice for them
- …their interests over ours
- …forgive at all costs
- …go to the cross for them
Kinda changes your perspective on loving someone, doesn’t it? We must remember that loving others, even those who are our enemies, is an essential peculiarity of a Christ-follower.
Looking at our passage today, there are 2 marks of love that we find here:
LOVE = OBEDIENCE – v. 7-8 – You might say, “I don’t see the word ‘obey’ or ‘obedience’ here.” That’s true, but you DO see the word “commandment” used 4 times in the ESV. What did Jesus expect us to do w/ His commandments? OBEY THEM! And what is this old/new commandment from Jesus that we are to obey? He stated it in John 13:34-35 – “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (HCSB)
- This was an “old” commandment in two senses (borrowed material from Pastor Steven Cole):
- First, it was old in that Moses taught it in the Law, “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself” ( 19:18). Jesus identified this as the second greatest commandment, after the command to love God with all your being (Matt. 22:37-40). So in that sense, this command had been with God’s people for 1,400 years
- But the main sense in which this was an old commandment is that these believers had heard it from the very earliest days of their Christian experience (2:7): “… which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” John uses the phrase, “from the beginning,” in the same way in 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (also, 2 John 5). (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-7-old-new-commandment-1-john-27-11)
But it’s also a “new” commandment in these ways:
- It’s new b/c it is CONCLUSIVE – It is the summation of all the commandments of the OT. As Jesus said in Matt. 23:35-40, ALL of the Law & prophets depend on, or hang on, these 2 commandments. They give us the final word on how to live an obedient life as a Christ-follower. H
- It’s new b/c it is COMPREHENSIVE – There is no one who is outside the scope or the boundaries of our love. Jesus taught by example (Zacchaeus, the Rich Young Ruler – “Jesus looked at him & loved him” [Mk. 10:21], lepers, prostitutes, outcasts, unclean, scorned) & by word (Good Samaritan) of the importance of having a comprehensive love for all people.
- It’s an all-encompassing love.
- It’s a global love.
- It’s a broad love. As Paul wrote in Eph. 2:18-19, it’s a “wide, long, high, & deep” love that goes beyond our knowledge & comprehension.
- It’s new b/c it is CONTINUING – The love of Jesus on the cross is inexhaustible. There’s no end to it. It continues even to this day. As we grow in our understanding of His love, we will grow in our application of His love, & we will find that there is no way that we cannot NOT love someone. As Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:8, “Love never fails” or “never ends.” Greek word – never be destroyed, never cease.
So, we love as we obey, and we obey as we love.
- We need to let His love transform the way we think.
- …the words we say
- …the walk we walk
LOVE = LIGHT – v. 9-11 – Walking in obedience is walking in the light. Walking in love is walking in the light. Pretty straightforward!
John probably directing some of this comments here to the false teachers who were “saying” that they loved others, but were hating others. That’s a pretty clear sign that they were still in the darkness of their sin & lost condition.
But I love what Pastor Steven Cole says about these verses: “But we should not only use John’s words to identify false teachers. We should also apply them honestly to our own lives. Sadly, there are many that profess to know Christ, but in their marriages and towards their children they do not practice biblical love. Many evangelical churches are torn apart by conflict because certain powerful members did not get their own way. Rather than acting in love, they viciously attack those who don’t agree with them. So John shows that love is inseparable from the light, just as hatred invariably is bound up with darkness. He does not allow for any middle ground, where you can be sort of loving, but sort of cantankerous, too!” (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-7-old-new-commandment-1-john-27-11)
It’s clear: Love = light, & hate = darkness. You are one or the other. “But, hate is such a strong word. I don’t really hate that person. I just don’t like them.”
We love to split hairs over the words of Scripture to water them down some. “Love” & “hate” are 2 of the words that we try to redefine. Makes it so much easier for us to live a watered-down version of the Christian life, which really is not a valid version of the Christian life at all.
Whether we like it or not, or whether we are comfortable w/ it or not, the Scriptures are clear. We either love or hate. We either live in the light, or live in the darkness. It’s the classic battle between light & darkness. And it has eternal implications.
- Your profession of faith in Jesus is questionable if you hate someone – v. 9 – Plain & simple, you’re still in the darkness of your lostness.
- Your pathway will be lit up w/ the light of Christ when you love others – v. 10 – The fruit of your life will show that you truly know Christ, & that you’re following Him on HIS pathway that leads to heaven.
- Your eyes will be blinded by the darkness if you hate others – v. 11 – You’ll stumble around in the darkness, causing others to stumble as well. You won’t know where you are going. You won’t know how to live your life. You will bring pain to yourself & others. And you may not even be saved.
CONCLUSION – None of us will love perfectly. Only Jesus did that. But the call on our lives is to grow in this absolutely essential area of our lives. If you’re struggling in this area, repent today! Get to work obeying this old/new commandment. It’s not an optional commandment for us.