Summary: Being a real deal Christian means loving others.
The New Old Commandment
Copyright November 12, 2006 Rev. Bruce Goettsche THE REAL DEAL: A Study in 1 John
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “love makes the world go around.” It’s a nice thought but you have to admit we have reason to question whether it is true. The world we live in seems to be fueled not by love but animosity. There are wars, terrorists, and violence it seems, on every side. Every election year we have to endure political ads that are fueled more by attacks than by ideas. Businesses initiate hostile takeovers to eliminate their competition. Even churches seem to market themselves as “better than” the other guys. It doesn’t sound like love to me.
In our study of 1 John we are being taught that a true believer is someone who is different from the crowd. John has been painting for us a series of contrasts
· The true believer holds to concrete truth rather than philosophical theories
· The genuine follower tries to build their life on Christ rather than simply fitting God into their schedule.
· The true believer is honest about sin rather excusing it.
· The true believer seeks to honor God by diligently seeking to obey God’s Word instead of presuming upon God’s grace.
This morning we add another dimension to the description of a true believer. We will see that a true believer loves others. John begins this section with a rather confusing statement,
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. [1 John 2:7-8]
It sounds a little like doubletalk, doesn’t it? The command that John is talking about is the command to love. In Leviticus 19:18 the Israelites were told, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” It’s a command that had been around for a long time.
It is an old commandment, why does John focus on it? I can think of two reasons. Perhaps John simply wanted to underline the importance of love. He had just told us about the importance of obeying the commands of God. Since there are hundreds of commands in the Bible, it’s possible that John wanted to say, in essence, “Start here”.
It’s also possible that John focused on this command because this old command had been given a new dimension. A musician will hear a piece of music in a whole new way when they hear it played by a great orchestra. A food dish you’ve eaten for years bursts with new flavor when prepared by a master chef. When you play a sport with a professional you redefine what it means to be “good”. In any field when you are around someone who excels you find that the bar is raised and your perspective is altered.
Have you ever seen the Magic Eye books? They look like a meaningless mess of color on a piece of paper. Hidden in that mess of color is actually a cool 3D picture. The picture is always there but you have to learn how to see it. You have to look at the picture in a different way than you are used to looking at it.
John is trying to help us to see what was previously unseen. He wants us to understand love in a whole new way because of Jesus. He says the light is seen “in him and in you”. Christ opens up a whole new understanding of love. He helps us see what we could not see before. Let me list some of the new dimensions of love because of Jesus.
The Bible tells us that the natural man (those who do not trust and follow Christ) CANNOT understand the things of the Spirit.
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
Think about it this way. It is a very difficult thing for a deaf person to learn to talk because we learn to talk largely through imitation. If you can’t hear sounds, you can’t refine the sounds you make so they are intelligible to another. However, if that same person is given an implant, a hearing aid or is able to have some other kind of surgery that restores all or part of their hearing, they can learn to speak clearly.