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Reading: 1 John 2:7-11
a new, old commandment
My husband recently learned that in the state of Tennessee, if your car front tires are over the white lines when a light turns yellow that you are free to go through the light without getting a speeding ticket. Needless to say, every time the light turns yellow and our car tires are over the lines we both get excited! Every teenage driver learns that a yellow light signifies the car should slow down to a stop. However, this new law now allows people to avoid the risk of slamming on their brakes at the last minute and allowing another car to rear end yours. The “new” updated law will essentially save many people trouble from a last minute decision.
In 1 John 2:7-8, John reminds the believers of the old law that is at the same time a new law to them. What is this new, old commandment he speaks of in these verse? It is the law of loving one another. Turn with me to one of the Old Testament books of the law, Leviticus 19:18. This verse is a summary of what John is referring to:
“You shall now 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.”
Did you get that? The command in this law is to love. The word used to describe love here is “ahab”, and it refers to God’s love for His people as well as a humans love for God and for one another. In John 3:16, we can see the evidence of God’s love for His people, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son; that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The love that the people of God were commanded to exemplify in the Old Testament was fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament law, including the law to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
John is also referring back to Jesus’ “new” commandment that was recorded in his Gospel: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are go love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The summation of the law of Chris is love. He fulfilled love, sacrificed His life because of love and now gives us new life in Him because of love.
Love = Jesus.
In the same sentence, John refers to the darkness of hate. Love abides in the Light of the Gospel, but hate abides in the darkness of sin. We can’t truly love one another as God commands us to and as Jesus showed us how to if we live in the shadows. Love comes naturally when the light of God’s grace is shining in us and through us. We can love our sinful neighbor because we too know that we were once sinners but have now been saved by grace. We love one another because Christ loved us first (1 John 4:19).
Love = Light = Jesus.
Have you ever harbored bitterness and resentment in your heart? It is a heavy, dark burden to carry. Bitterness and resentment are rooted in the weed of hate. And hate can only grow in darkness. In order to overcome a dark overshadowing of the soul like this, we must immerse ourselves in the Word of God that is full of Light! (Remember what we learned in chapter 1? Jesus is the Word of God and the Light of the world.) Bitterness and hate cannot dwell in the same heart that Christ dwells in. We must do everything to literally abide, or dwell, in Light.
Bitterness cannot dwell with Light.
Are you living in the Light of Christ and loving one another as He modeled for you? Or has the root of bitterness clouded the light in your life and caused you to stumble in the darkness? My husband and I recently had a new water heater put into our home and had to take everything out of our storage closet to allow the area to be cleaned. All of our luggage and extra boxes are now stuffed into our tiny bedroom. The other night when I was going to the bathroom I tripped over one of the boxes and bumped into the wall. When we walk in darkness, we walk in fear of the unknown and stumble over what could have easily been avoided in the light.
Sisters, have you stumbled into the path of darkness? Are your “toes” aching because you’ve tripped over your own pride, resentment or lack of love? I urge you to shine the Light of God’s Word onto those shadows and reveal their roots. There is freedom in the power of the Light! Let us abide in the light of God’s unending love.
This day, commit your hands, your heart and your mind to loving your neighbor as yourself. Do not do this in your own strength, but look to Jesus to love through you. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, including love with a sacrificial, Gospel-exalting love. (John 15:5) However, with Him, we can do everything! (Philippians 4:13)
- In what areas of your heart do you need the love of Christ to shine?
- How are you loving your neighbor as yourself?
- What does sacrificial love look like? Read 1 Corinthians 13. How did Jesus fulfill the law of love?
May the world look at us and know we are His disciples because of our love for one another.
abiding in the Light of Jesus,