The Fellowship of God 2: Walk In Love
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1 John 2:7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
Theme/ purpose – John writes this letter to show the true
fellowship and the family of God and counter the false fellowship of
Gnosticism. One is a fellowship base on the new birth and can be seen in
doctrine and in action, the other false fellowship is based on an appeal to
some higher esoteric mystical knowledge and shows no evidence of light, love or
John is establishing who is the Family of God, the Gnostics are trying to enter the family without being born into it or exhibiting any of the characteristics of God’s family.
Introduction: The Person of Christ and the Purpose of the Letter 1:1-4
Walk In The Light, Stay in the Light by confession of sin 1:5-2:2
Walk In Obedience, keep His commandments 2:3-6
Walk In Love, the superseding commandment 2:7-17
Fellowships Creed, Walk In the Truth Jesus is the Christ 2:18-19.
Fellowship's characteristics. 3:1-24.
Fellowship's cautions. 4:1-21.
Fellowship's cause. 5:1-21.
- Modified from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
The Fiat of God’s Love – 1 John 2:7-11
7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
The Foundational Commandment
No, we’re not talking about a little car from Italy. A fiat is a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort. An authoritative determination, an authoritative order.
In the previous paragraph (1 John 2:3–6), John has been talking about keeping the Lord’s commandments, if we know Him and if we love Him then we will obey Him. Now he focuses on “The Commandment,” the identifying commandment of the New Testament believer and disciple, the commandment that Jesus said was His new commandment. This new commandment is the foundation upon which all the New Testament is based. This command took Christ to the cross, forgave our sin, and now extends the Gospel to the entire world. This commandment supersedes all the Old Testament law that we could not keep and replaces it with just one command that we can keep because it has been given to us in our union with Christ.
That commandment is love and specifically that we love one another. At the end of his earthly ministry as He is preparing his disciples to carry on the work of the Gospel without His physical presence, Jesus tells his disciples, John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
And He repeats it again John 15:12 This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”
John begins by telling the Christian, “I’m not giving you a new commandment.” The Gnostics were trying to convince the Christians of how exciting their new knowledge and way of seeing religion was, but John says you don’t need something new. You already have something greater than new knowledge, you have an old commandment, given to you from the beginning of your walk with the Lord, and it goes back to the time the Lord walked upon earth. Then he says in vs. 8 “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in him and in you, because the darkness is past and the true light now shines.”
What John is emphasizing is that this command is not new in the sense of never heard before but it is new because of the change it has brought and will always bring, “the darkness is past and the true light now shines.” The newness of Christ’s command to love was just as fresh and powerful as it was when Jesus first uttered it. John says, it is yet still new because it changed and renewed everything about us and relationship to God and our relationship to one another.
This commandment overpowers and supersedes all others because it was meant to be the fulfillment of all that had gone before. Love is the fulfillment of God’s Law, the finality of all previous commands.
Romans 13:8–10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
“Love one another” is forever new because it supersedes and replaces the old. Paul’s great chapter on Agape love ends with this truth, “1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
So foundational to the life of the church and the life of the believer was this old but always new command that John says 1 John 2:9–11 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
The Power of Loving One Another
The “new commandment” of Christ is vital to our walk as followers of Christ, if we can’t obey it then John says we are in stumbling in the darkness and don’t know where we are going.
Loving one another is vital within the church and in our own life, but its effect is not limited to just the family of God. It is not only vital for our own ability to stay and walk in the light, but it is also essential if we are to show a lost world the light of Jesus’ love. The love of Christ is just four words to the lost until they can experience it and often the first way they experience it is by seeing it in us, in the church, between brothers and sister in the Lord’s family.
This should be the easiest command to keep for us who have known the love of the Lord and yet it is often neglected and ignored. You don’t have to be a Christian very long before you realize, Christians can be unloving, unforgiving and even vicious toward one another. Nor is this reality something new.
Paul talking about the same thing we are talking about this morning told the Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Now let me be honest with you as my church, you folks are easy to love. You really are and we all know I am probably one of the most lovable people you’ll ever meet. My wife has made sure of that by getting rid of all my negative characteristics over the years. And though you and I find it easy to love one another right now, at other times it can be heartbreakingly difficult. Nothing has left me more devastated as a pastor than seeing church members I loved walk away in hate, of me or of someone else in the church they once loved. It is easier to let them go, to ignore and disobey the Lord’s command, but it is His foundational, New Testament command, “Love one another.”
We must obey it, no matter how difficult, because our Lord has commanded us, His love compels us and because we will cease to walk in the light if we quit loving one another. And because the world will never believe that God loves them, if they don’t believe we love them, and they won’t believe we love them if they don’t see that we truly love one another.
Illustration: Gandhi rejects Christianity because of what he say in Christians
Next flowing from the command of loving one another as the
family of God, John begins to address the members of that family.
The Family Of God’s Love – 1 John 2:12-14
12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
The Faithful Family
John writes to the family of God and calls them by group, the little children, the fathers and the young men and then repeats that some way of addressing them. Some have said that this was based on their ages and that is possible, but to John they were all little children and he uses that term more later in the epistle. It could be that John is addressing all of them with all of these terms as a way of reminding them who they all were as the family of God and the experience that he attributes to them fits the label at different times in their growing Christian life.
They had all experienced the forgiveness of sin as become as “little children” As “fathers,” or parents they had known the One that is from the beginning. And as “young men,” they had experienced spiritual warfare and by faith had overcome the wicked one. John repeats and adds to these groups and experiences and in this we see that this is a form of poetry or prose based on the Jewish form of poetry that repeats a thought or an idea, adding to it to give it emphasis. It would be written like this:
John's Hymn To the Family of God
I write unto you, little children,because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.
I write unto you, fathers,because ye have known him that is from the beginning.
I write unto you, young men,because ye have overcome the wicked one.
I write unto you, little children,because ye have known the Father.
I have written unto you, fathers,because ye have known him that is from the beginning.
I have written unto you, young men,because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
Understood in this way, the sequence and repetition of “children,” “fathers,” and “young men” has greater meaning. They knew their sins were forgiven, they knew they walked and had fellowship with the Eternal One, and now like strong, young warriors who had overcome Satan’s attacks they were ready for the next fight.
John Hymn has the same inspiration as us singing the hymn “Onward Christian Soldier”
1 Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see his banner go!
2 At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise
Refrain: Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
The Power of God’s Family
One of the wonderful things about reading and preaching from the New Testament is how easy it is to apply the verses to our lives. No need to look up Old Testament customs and manner or explain foreshadowing or types. You just have to read it, understand that it was meant for us today and then apply it. And what a great application John gives us.
This is who we are, the family of God and this is the power that we have as a part of that family, the most powerful family in all the universe. There is power in knowing we have been forgiven and are now eternally safe in the grace and love of our Lord. There is power in knowing the One who created the universe and holds time and eternity in His hands. There is power in the family of God and in that power of forgiveness, grace and faith, I can overcome. I need not be a victim of Satan and his host, because I am a member of the most powerful family of all. I will win the battle of faith. I will be strong in the race of life and yes, I will overcome the wicked one. God’s word has told me, it is so.
Later in this same letter John write once more about this truth and gives it a powerful retelling, 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
After John encourages the family of God in their strength
then he turns to the battle they must face against the false love of this
The Failure Of No God’s Love - 1 John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
The False Love
Now after John has encourage and inspired his family in the Lord, he gives a warning. A warning of a battle they must be aware that they are fighting every day they are on this earth. A battle against the world false love. He warns them, “Do not love the world or anything that is a part of this world.
He is using the word, world (kosmos), in a spiritual sense, as the realm that is under the power of the prince of this world, Satan. This “world” is a direct contradiction of God’s love and it is in conflict with heaven. As Christians, as God’s family we are not fighting sinners, those are the people we are to win through our love, but we are fighting the world, the kingdom that holds them bound in it’s sin and false love.
This love of the world is seductive and appealing to the lost who don’t know anything else but John’s warning here is to the believer, “Love not the world.” The same world that holds the lost prisoner, can often seduce and bewitch us and pull us back into its influence. It will act as though it loves you but in truth it wants to destroy you.
Jesus warned his disciple on the last night of his life, John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
James the brother of Jesus was adamant, James 4:4 … know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Vs. 16. The reason the love of this world is false and incompatible with the true love of God is all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. It is a counterfeit love, it is the bait of a sinful, dangerous trap, used by this world, this anti-God system of values, goals and desires to lure the Christian away from God, away from His love, away from His light away from His truth and plunge us into stumbling darkness.
The word lust is epithymia in the Greek and it means to have a craving, a longing, a desire for something that is forbidden, something that is wrong.
John is telling his readers to understand the battle, understand what is at stake. The world and its lust, its desires, its hope and dreams are temporary, they all will pass away, but the one who fights the battle, stands in the light, knows the true love of Jesus and does God’s will, that one will live forever. And the accomplishments, the work, the spiritual investments of that person are deposited in heaven and also are eternal.
John is just restating what His master once told him, Matthew 6:19-2119 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The Power of Resistance
I’ve always found it interesting that the three lusts John mentions here, seem to be an echo of the original temptation in the Garden and of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. This battle against the false love of the world has been going on since the beginning of this world.
Genesis 3:6 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, (lust of the flesh) and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise, (pride of life) she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Matthew 4:3-9 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (lust of the flesh) …5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (pride of life)… 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (lust of the eyes)
You can see it is the same battle, but can you also see the difference? Eve and the first Adam, lost the battle and gave into the love of the world and it destroyed them. But Jesus, the second Adam, our Lord and Savior won the battle, overcame the temptation and with His sinless life and sacrificial death, He saved us from that destruction.
Jesus later when he was teaching his followers put it this way, in John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
The lesson should be clear for us, love this world and it will destroy you but turn your eyes upon Jesus, the one who truly loves us and we will overcome this world. Instead of everything we worked for just turning to dust, we have a reward that waits for us eternal in heaven.
Illustration: Paul’s last eternal words
The apostle Paul lived his whole life after salvation in this truth, rejecting the love, honors and glory of the world he knew, he fought for and in the love he found on the Damascus Road. From that moment on it was only about the love of Jesus Christ, the power of the Gospel and the hope of eternity. Do you remember almost the last words Paul wrote while waiting to be offered up from a Roman prison cell? As he waited for Nero’s final judgment and the sword that would take his life, he wrote to his son in the faith Timothy. These verses were his final life’s declaration that we know. From that dark, despairing cell he wrote…
In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Written to us
….not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing. Paul wrote those words to us. John wrote to us, “He that does the will of God lives forever!” Put an exclamation point on the end of that statement because it is a statement that should be amplified and then codified in our life on this earth.
Only the love of God, experienced through the family of God, gives us the power of God to resist the lust of this world and realize the promise of eternal life. Put an exclamation point on the second chapter of John by living, walking and fighting in the light of its wonderful truth.