An Old and New Command: Love
1 John 2:7-14

1 John 2:7-14

An Old and New Command: Love

Big Idea:

God commands us to love! Love brings clarity and maturity into our lives.

Introduction

Good morning! We’ve been working our way through 1 John the past several weeks. The three things we’re going to see over and over again throughout this book are:

  • Helping us learn what it means to love
  • Bring clarity about what it means to follow Jesus
  • Bring encouragement and Assurance about our salvation

In chapter one we saw the reality of Jesus incarnation. John emphasizes that he saw, heard, and felt Jesus. He also affirms that this Jesus who was physical was also eternal and the word of life. The way we pursue joy is through fellowship with the Trinity and the Church. This fellowship means we walk in confession and transparency. We acknowledge our brokenness rather than hiding it. If we deny our sin we remain in our sick state and deny  God’s word. In chapter 2 we’ve seen that Jesus is our advocate, our defender. He stands as our defense attorney before God the Father when we sin. He’s also our propitiation, which means he satisfies the Father’s anger and justice against our sin. How? Through paying the debt we owe, our lives. He gave His life that we might have new life through Him. In view of Jesus our Defender and Propitiation we live as Jesus lived. We aren’t Jesus, but we follow His footsteps. We trust God and obey His leading in our life, that His plans are better than our own.

Today we’re going to be in 1 John 2:7-14. If you’ll open your bibles there with me and read along.

Text

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. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Big Idea

God commands us to love! Love brings clarity and maturity into our lives.

Outline

7-11 The Light of Love

12-14 The Process of Maturity

The Light of Love (7-11)

This whole paragraph is informed by John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus says it again in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Love is kind of important to Jesus. It’s one of the main lessons He came to manifest about God’s character. This has captured John, the beloved disciple or the one whom Jesus loved. We use the word love frequently, but often we don’t think clearly about what it is or what it means. The English language doesn’t help us very much either. We can say I love Ice cream, I love my mom, and I love my wife. While all of those may be true, they mean very different things. Greek, the language most of the N.T. was written in, has 4 words for love: Phileo or brotherly/ friendship love-Storge or familial love Eros is erotic and passionate love Agape or divine love. God’s love is a passionate commitment to uphold His glory for our good. God is committed to you. God is passionate about you. God will uphold and gain glory in your life. God’s plan for your life is good. God’s love for us is the means through which we love one another. He is the source of love, as its creator and first one to show and partake of it. He invented love. He was the first one to love another. He was the first one to receive love. It’s foolish and just plain dumb for us not to receive His love and learn from Him how to love others! The whole book of 1 John is shouting to you that God passionately loves you. Believe it. Receive it. Stand in it. Bathe your life in its truth. Allow God’s love to light up your life.

John did. It’s why he can say he’s the beloved disciple. His identity, who He is, has been marked most deeply and profoundly by God’s love for him. This is what John desires to impart to his listeners. He calls them “Beloved”. God’s love for John has so saturated and filled his life that he can’t help but see others as God sees him, as Beloved. How do you believe God see’s you? What do you think God see’s when you peers into your life? If we truly know ourselves, we see our sin and brokenness vividly. We see the darkness inside. If this is all we see, our inability, we will live out of that reality. We’ve shifted our focus from God’s love unto our inability. Our gaze mustn’t settle upon our sin, but God’s grace and love. We live out of our identity. The beautiful thing is that when we trust in Jesus, God sees His Son in us. When you trust in Jesus, He becomes your new identity marker. God loves His Son and when the Son lives in us we are God’s beloved.

John is emphasizing in this paragraph that the truth about our reception of God’s love is demonstrated in our love towards one another. How do you know if people are genuinely Christians? Do they genuinely love and care about other believers? You hear and see it a lot. People claim Christ but yet show no signs of love towards others. I find it ironic how many people claim to be Christians yet can’t stand to gather together with them. Part of loving someone is being near them, having relationship with them. I love that group of people but oh no I don’t want to actually hang out with them. You can’t separate your love for God and your love for His church. Jesus didn’t give us that option. How you love other people matters. John used terms of endearment for those under his care. He wanted them to always be thinking and remembering their primary identity as those beloved of God. Do you love others? How do you speak to them and of them? Early on in my relationship with Emily, while we were still dating I began calling her beautiful. I felt the Lord’s leading to always be reminding her of how I see her. That is who she is to me. Years of telling her that has brought encouragement and confidence that she knows I see her as beautiful. How we love others can be seen in how we speak to them. Are you using your words to affirm God’s love for those around you? Who can you build up today, who can you remind of God’s love?

Isn’t it an interesting statement that John makes? “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” At first glance it seems like a contradiction. Make up your mind John, is it old or new? How can it be old and new at the same time? Its’ old because God commanded this in Leviticus 19:18,” You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” God has always been one of love and He has always desired His people show love. The commandment is new however, in that God reveals His love in a deeper and fuller context through Jesus. God’s love is no longer up there, but rather came down in pursuit of us. God’s love took on concrete form and action through Jesus life and more importantly death on the cross. Love one another is new in it’s fullness, expression, and its experience. I believe we can also take away from this verse that there are times when we intellectually understand the command to love one another. We can recite love, we can talk about its emphasis, but it can still feel cold and distant from our heart. The understanding of love can be something old, but the experience of love can be something fresh and new. One of the things God does through His Spirit is revive what has been dead. The Spirit causes us to be born again. The Spirit also makes old truths fresh and new in our lives. I’ve experienced this many times. I’ve studied, comprehended, even preached a topic but felt that it was still distant or cold. Then through prayer, or being in community, or joining God in mission the Spirit takes that truth and brings it to vibrant experiential life. God wants to do this constantly in our life. He wants to do this with love. You might know what love ought to be or look like, will you open up to God and allow Him to make it a new and lifegiving experience?

When we do, when we begin to experience God’s love pouring through us into others it lights up life, both ours and those around us. This is why John says the true light is already shining. Love is conquering the hate. The light is overcoming the darkness. It is love, a passionate commitment to the good of others, that bring clarity into our lives. Clarity about what really matters. Clarity about where to spend our time. Clarity about how to use our giftings. Clarity about how to use our finances. Loving others begins to bring light into your life. John says there won’t be any room for stumbling. What does he mean by stumbling? When you’re walking in the darkness you don’t see things that are coming your way. Your run into things that hurt you, that hinder your progress, or even completely stop you. Hate causes you to stumble. It tears you up Spiritually, emotionally, and often times physically and physiologically. It hurts you. It hinders your growth to maturity in Christ. For some they haven’t moved past it. They’re still blinded by hate. Loving others does the opposite! It brings healing, it unlocks us from our past bondages, loving others moves us towards greater maturity in Christ. Loving others gives vision and sight in life. Is it easy? Don’t bet your life on it. Loving others cost Jesus His life. Loving other people will at times mean conflict, loss, frustration, and pain. Loving others is messy and sometimes complicated. It is worth it through! Love is the path to freedom. It is the way to joy. Love is the means of change. It is our hope.

The Process of Maturity (12-14)

John moves on in this next section to address 3 different groups of people: Little Children, Young Men, and Fathers.  Some have thought this refers to physical age, but most have correctly seen these 3 groups as varying degrees of spiritual maturity. Throughout the book John has called his audience “little children” as a term of endearment and care. John, at the ripe age of 70-80, sees himself as their spiritual father and the church as spiritual children he’s caring for. It’s interesting to note that John see’s relationships in the church more as a family than as a social group or a set of acquaintances. John also wants to ensure he’s not offending those who are spiritual mature by implying that they are like children. So, he writes this section to make mention of varying spiritual maturities. We can learn several things from this passage. Firstly, spiritual maturity doesn’t go along with our age. Its possible for those much older to be children in the faith while those younger can be mature, look at Timothy. Secondly, we learn that we are all in process of maturing. We can’t expect everyone to be at the same place at the same time. The church must be a place of truth and grace. Sin must be talked about but grace administered quickly. To expect little children in Christ to act like mature adults is foolish and damaging for those recently come to Christ. Thirdly, let us look at what is states about each of the groups: Children are learning about Christ’s forgiveness for His name sake. They are learning of their heavenly Father. This is the foundation of the Christian faith that all of us must constantly reaffirm. You can’t save yourself. You can’t fix what’s broken inside of you. Christ has come to forgive you so that He would be glorified through your life. It’s through trusting in His death for our forgiveness that we come back to our heavenly Father. Young Men are described as strong, the word of God abides in them, and they have overcome the evil one. The strength found in this process of maturity is through a growing hunger and understanding of God’s word. Their strength is found through zeal and passion to know and obey God’s word. The milk of God’s word is replaced for solid meat as the richness and beauty of Scripture comes to life. This passion and zeal brings momentum for overcoming temptation and sin placed by the evil one. They are overcoming by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. They don’t simply know the gospel, they are now applying it in specific ways to their life: sexuality, finances, relationships, emotions, workplace. The fullness of the good news about Jesus is seeping into every category of their life. Fathers is the last stage designated. John describes them as knowing Him who is from the beginning. These believers have had great life experience walking with the Lord. It seems like John is emphasizing both: the eternal nature of God and the duration of their relationship with the Lord. They know God’s character well and are able to look back upon a variety of seasons walking with the Lord. They know the Lord gives and takes away, but they still choose to say “Blessed be Your Name”. These Fathers are passionate about passing down their spiritual legacy to another generation. Where others might be pursuing leisure and hobbies, they’re pursuing relationship and opportunities where they can invest.

How do we mature? How do we grow from little children, to young men, to Fathers? John’s answer, love. Love is the means to maturity. We first receive the love of God and we in turn show the love towards others. Love is a passionate commitment of the will to the ultimate good of another. Who is God calling you to express love to? What does loving those God has placed right around you look like? Pray with me.