1 John 2:7-8, “7 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. 8 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.”
Throughout our study of 1 John, we have learned that the Apostle John wrote this letter nearly two thousand years ago to deal with pressing issues related to false teachers who were troubling the flock of God. Thankfully his audience resisted the influence of these false teachers to the point where these teachers left the community of faith (1 John 2:19). Even so, their false teaching had consequences and many Christians in this community of faith began to doubt their salvation.
1 John 1:1-5 gives three tests by which true Christians can recognize false teaching and be assured of the salvation that is theirs now in Christ. These tests are a) belief in the incarnation (1 John 1:1-2), b) love for God and other Christians (1 John 1:3-4), and c) personal holiness (1 John 1:5). All three test exemplify authentic biblical Christianity. These false teachers claimed to have a superior knowledge than is contained in these three tests, but in denying, these tests revealed their ignorance of the character and nature of the God of the Bible.
John, so far, has highlighted personal holiness, instructing us to know God entails walking in the light of His commandments (1 John 1:6-7; 1 John 2:3-6). By teaching this, to be clear, John is not talking about sinlessness, only Jesus is sinless. Instead, John means we are to daily walk as Jesus walk by His grace. To that end, we are to be honest when we sin, keep short accounts with others, apologize quickly, and most importantly flee to the Lord Jesus when we disobey Him (1 John 1:8-10; 1 John 2:1-2). The true Christian has been justified and is forever secure in salvation, but will with that said, also is to continue to give evidence of salvation by turning from sin to Jesus, and persevere to the end because of the grace of God.
In 1 John 2:7-8, John writes about the commandment, that is both old and new, specifically referring to the commandment in which Christians will walk in and by since they believe in Jesus. The particular commandment that John is talking about here is the command to love our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:9-11).
Since this was an old command, no one hearing John should have been shocked by this teaching, since it was given from the beginning (1 John 2:8). Loving one’s neighbor has been essential to faithful living before the face of God in the Old and New Testaments (Lev 19:18; John 13:34). John tells God’s people that love is a new commandment in Jesus since darkness is passing away (1 John 2:8). This is not a contradiction; John means merely that the life and teaching of Jesus shows God’s people how to love in ways in which real Christians are to daily walk.
Love in 1 John is emphasized because a real love for God is demonstrated in loving others, especially other Christians. This is a practical love that shows itself in praying for others, asking how they genuinely are and more. Such a love shows Christians belong to God who sovereignly alone replaces our heart of stone and gives us a new heart with new desires and affections for Himself. While the needs of John’s audience required him to focus on love for fellow Christians, we would also be mistaken if in view isn’t also loving those outside of the church, who are our neighbors too. Tomorrow, we will focus on loving fellow Christians, today, I’d like you to prayerfully and thoughtfully think about a non-Christian who you have trouble loving and ask the Lord to help you love that particular person in word, deed, and thought.