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"The Old/New Commandment"
1 John 2:7-11

Wednesday AM Bible Study
September 21, 2005

Jesus gives us His "new" commandment just before He went to the cross for us. It is found in John 13:34-35; the commandment to love. It was given to us in the context of His own great sacrifice of love for us on the cross.

The keeping of this "new" commandment is irrefutable proof of Christ in us. The world desperately needs to see us keeping it.

A. John says that he does not write of a "new" commandment; but of an old one that we've already heard.
1. It may be seen as "old" in the sense that it is distinguished from the "new" teachings of the false teachers that John opposes in this letter. In that case, "old" means "true".

2. It may also bee seen as "old" in the sense that it was taught in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). Jesus identified it as the sum of the law (Matthew 22:40).

3. It is most likely "old" in the sense that it is the commandment given by Jesus to His church at the very beginning (John 15:12, 17; see also 2 John 5-6). In this sense, "old" identifies the commandment as "foundational" - that is, basic to the faith from the very inception of the church.

4. Progress in the Christian faith isn't made by finding something new. Rather, progress is made by returning to that which is foundational (Jer. 6:16; Jude 3). We can only hope to see God work through us when we return to the foundational things - like the commandment to love.

B. But is is also "new". It is only "old" in the above senses; but never in the sense that it is stale and irrelevant.

1. It is experientially "new", because we have become new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Even the old commandment becomes "new" in us, because:
a. We have a new realization of Jesus' love for us.

b. We have a new power to love through the Holy Spirit in us through Christ.

c. We have a new relationship with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ

d. We have a new motivation of gratitude toward Christ because He first loved us.

2. What's more, this perpetually "new" old commandment is "new" both in us and in Christ. A glorious thing! - that what is new in Jesus is also new in us!

a. How is it new in Christ? It is not new in the sense that it was ever not new in Him. He never changes. What has changed is us; because we are joined to Him in faith.

b. What has changed is that we join in His eternal expression of love when we love each other. We are so joined to Him that when it becomes new in us by our expressing it to one another, it also becomes new in Him. His eternal love becomes complete when we share it with each other and keep His commandments toward one another (1 John 4:12).

3. This is "because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining."

a. We were in darkness because we were separated from God by sin. But Jesus came as "the light of men" (John 1:14, 9).

b. When we heard about Jesus' eternal love demonstrated on the cross, and believed in it, we stepped into the light (Eph. 5:8-14).


A. Its practice is proof of true character. It reveals whether or not we truly live in fellowship with Christ.
1. If we "say" that we are in the light, but live in habitual hatred of our others whom Jesus loves, we prove that we still live in "darkness" - that is, that we do not have fellowship with Jesus (1 John 1:5-7). Such a person has never been in the light; but has been walking in the darkness all along - even until now.

2. This is not a matter of keeping the commandment to love "perfectly"; because we cannot. Rather it's a matter of growing in obedience to Jesus' commandment. If we are in the light, we will progressively love as Jesus loves (1 John 4:20).

B. Its practice will also show itself in the effect it has on us morally. We will not "stumble".

1. If we keep Jesus' commandment as a habit of life, and progressively love others that He loves, we will "abide" (that is, "remain") in the light, and there will be "no cause for stumbling" in us.
a. There will be no need to "say" we're in the light (see v. 9). Our actions will prove it. Love is the only evidence needed.

b. There will be no "cause" for stumbling (Greek, "scandalon") in us - not that we will not cause another to stumble, but that we ourselves will not stumble in the dark. Love helps us know clearly where we're to go.

2. By contrast, the one who hates his brother stumbles.

a. Note their state: they are in darkness (morally).

b. Note their manner: they walk in darkness. They stumble around aimlessly.

c. Note their inner condition: they don't know where they're going because the darkness has blinded (spiritually) their eyes.

* * * * * * * * * *

If Christ has taken up residence in us, then His "old" commandment to love will be perpetually "new" in us. It will always be fresh, and a perpetual delight to keep. It will always grow in us; and it will always be relevant to the world.

Is this "old" commandment "new" in you? Its "newness" is only true in you if it is true - as John says - "in Him and in you."

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