July 11 2021
Today, Sunday July 11
The Old Becomes New
1 John 2:7-8 “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”
John, in these verses calls the “old commandment” a “new commandment.” In a sense it is the same commandment but now it takes on a new meaning in several ways. First, it is new in emphasis. In the previous paragraph (1 John 2:3-6), John has been talking about "the commandments" in general, but now he narrows his focus down to one single commandment. In the Old Testament, the command that God's people love one another was only one of many, but now this old commandment is lifted out and given a place of preeminence.
How is it possible for one commandment to stand head and shoulders above all the others? This is explained by the fact that love is the fulfillment of God's Law (Romans 13:8-10). It is a crime to neglect or abuse our children, but parents that love their children are not motivated by the “law” to love and care for them. The commandment "Love one another" is the fulfillment of God's Law in the same way. When you love people, you do not lie about them or steal from them. You have no desire to kill them.
Love for God and love for others motivates a person to obey God's commandments without even thinking about them! When a person acts out of Christian love he obeys God and serves others—not because of fear, but because of his love. This is why John says that "Love one another" is a new commandment—it is new in emphasis. It is not simply one of many commandments. No, it stands at the top of the list!
But it is new in emphasis in another way too. It stands at the very beginning of the Christian life. In 1John 2:7, the subject is the beginning of the Christian life. The commandment to love one another is not an appendix to our Christian experience, as though God had an afterthought. No! It is in our hearts from the very beginning of our faith in Jesus Christ. If this were not so, John could not have written, "We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). And Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
By nature, an unsaved person may be selfish and even hateful. As much as we love a newborn baby, we must confess that the infant is self-centered and thinks the whole world revolves around his crib. The child is typical of an unsaved person. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3). This unretouched photo of the unbeliever may not be beautiful, but it is certainly accurate!
When a sinner trusts Christ, he receives a new life and a new nature. The Holy Spirit of God comes to live in him and the love of God is "shed abroad in our heart" by the Spirit (Romans 5:5). God does not have to give a new believer a long lecture about love! "For you yourselves are taught of God to love one another" (1 Thessalonians 4:9). A new believer discovers that he now hates what he used to love, and that he loves what he used to hate!
It is important that we understand the meaning of Christian love (1 Corinthians 13). It is not a shallow sentimental emotion that Christians try to "work up" so they can get along with each other. It is a matter of the will rather than an emotion—an affection for and attraction to certain persons. It is a matter of determining—of making up your mind—that you will allow God's love to reach others through you, and then of acting toward them in loving ways. You are not to act "as if you loved them," but because you do love them with God’s love.
This is not hypocrisy—it is obedience to God.