First John 2:7-17
The New Commandment

Authored By Rev. Shigeru Matsubara, Assistant Pastor, Osaka Nozomi Church, Osaka, Japan

1.  Today we are studying from chapter two and verse seven.  At the last session the bible verse we had emphasized said,  "But, if we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and are cleansed from every sin by the blood of his son Jesus," (1:7).

2.  If we respond with an Amen to the second half of this verse that "[we] are cleansed from every sin by
the blood of his son Jesus," but won't listen to the first part of it that "if we walk in the light," then the truth is though we say "our sins are cleansed" we have ended up "walking in darkness."  It seems this verse reveals Jesus Christ and God the Father with a combo of the easy and the strict.

3.  John wrote the old commandment as a new commandment.  We do truly know God [through this].  Having a relationship with God is ascertained by our daily observance of God's commands and happily hearkening unto his word.  Thus, those made one body with Christ "must walk their very own selves in the light as Christ walked."

4.  The Lord Jesus cleansed the feet of his disciples and stated to them that "Just as I showed you first hand, you must wash each others feet as well," (John 13:14-15).

5.  Imitating Christ means to have a walk where we give up our lives for our friends just as Christ redeemed the sins of others and fulfilled the love of God and the righteousness of God.

6.  The source of this new commandment lies in Jesus Christ.  "I am giving you a new commandment.  Love one another.  As I have loved you, you too, please love each other, (John 13:34).  The order "please love" was stated long ago in Leviticus chapter nineteen and verse eighteen.  Christ added to this a new and much more deeper meaning, (Luke 10:30-3).  We hear it told in the illustration of The Good Samaritan.  In [this text from First John] there is a truth that says, "it is true for both Jesus and you," (2:8), and in reality it is really true.  [I am writing a new commandment again to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shinning.]  The darkness was broken up by Jesus Christ.  Now the true light was shinning.  The rule of Christ, which is the true light, began with the preaching of the gospel.

7.  The person who has a relationship with God who is the light, and knows God and is in the light will get the love of God perfected and ought to become a person who loves his or her brothers and sisters [in the Lord].  However, "the person who hates the brethren is still even now in darkness," (2:8).  Those who hate their brothers and sisters [in the Lord] are in the opposite condition of what they say with their mouths and "are in darkness."  "Hate" is not a mere lack of love, but means the existence of feelings of strong dislike for another.  Those who love God and walk in the light keep God's orders and love the brethren.  "While the one who hates the brethren says, 'I am in the light,' he is still even now in darkness," (2:9).  Hatred and darkness, love and light are in the same groups respectively.

8.  "He who loves the brethren is always in the light ...," (2:10).  Love seeks good for someone else.  Love was shown when God sent forth his son (4:10), and love was demonstrated when God's son gave up his own life (3:16).  The person who loves like Christ continues to "abide (or remain)" in Christ the light.  "Love" is not lip service.

9.  "There is no stumbling in that person," (2:10), which means that "he does not give someone else grounds for stumbling."  It also means that he himself is one who walks in the light and has never stumbled himself.

10.  "Your word is the light of my way and is the lamp that lights my walk," (Psalm 119:105).  The person who is in Christ is illuminated by his word and will not make an error on the road of faith.

11.  "However, he who hates the brethren is in darkness and walks in the darkness, and he does not know where he himself is going," (2:11).  He points out that even more than the fact of being controlled by darkness hatred is produced.  Also, as a person walks in pitch darkness he or she has no idea of the destination where he or she is heading towards.  The dreadfulness of hating the brethren is shown.  "Because the darkness has blinded the eyes of this person," (2:11).  He who hates a person may say that he knows his life, and he may say he can see, but he is walking in darkness and is going on the road of complete ignorance before God.

O Children

12.  "O children, I am writing to you because your sins have been forgiven through the name of Jesus," (2:12).

13.  The recipients of John's epistle, the fathers, and the youths already "know the Father" of Jesus Christ and "know him who existed since the beginning" and were given "power to overcome the evil one."

14.  That is because they have taken part in the grace of the gospel in which "your sins have been forgiven through the name of Jesus."  [That is] because the motivating power in the two thousand year history of the Christian church [has been] the love of Jesus Christ which has been filling up within each Christian one by one through his word.  Because they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Even though the apostles beginning with Paul endured persecution and left traces in the entire world of the work of gospel preaching, it was indeed because of the work of God's love from Jesus Christ the only son.  How grateful we ought to be for the gracious gift of the gospel that "your sins have been forgiven through the name of Jesus!"

15.  Well, when the apostle Paul had not yet understood the grace of Christ he had consented to the murder of the pioneer of us believers Stephen, threatened the disciples of the Lord and was enthused about killing them and went near to Damascus.  But then suddenly, a light from heaven shone in on Paul's perimeter.  Paul came in contact with the voice of Jesus from heaven and followed the Lord's instructions and had Ananias pray for him.  What happened next?  He was chosen as a vessel to proclaim  "To the gentiles, kings, and children of Israel that through the name of Jesus your sins have been forgiven."  Paul had no way of knowing at that time the fact that "Paul must suffer so much for my name."

16.  He, [then named] Saul, got up, received baptism, ate a meal and recovered his health.  Filled with the Holy Spirit it was the birth of the missionary Paul.

17.  The following piece jumped at me [while reading devotions] in this month's daily scriptural lesson for the sixteenth on Second Corinthians 11:16ff (An Osaka Nozomi Church Publication For Daily Scriptural Lessons To Read Through The Bible).

18.  "I will boast with the intention of being foolish.  I am a Hebrew among Hebrews, an Israelite among Israelites, a descendant of the promise of Abraham.  I am one who serves Christ more than anyone else, I have worked hard so many times, I have been imprisoned a lot, I have been whipped so many times beyond comparison, and there have been so many times that I came close to death.  Five times I have been whipped forty minus one lashes, three times beaten, once I was stoned, I encountered difficulties in rivers, difficulties with robbers, difficulties with my fellow countrymen, and difficulties with false brethren, I had hardships in work, I toiled at labor, I often went without sleep, I went hungry, I often went without eating, I froze in the cold, I have gone naked.  On top of this, the burden which has pressed upon me day after day is the worry I have for all the churches.  If anyone has been weakened, isn't it me?," he exclaimed.

19.  "Because your sins have been forgiven through the name of Jesus."  Because of the good news of the gospel all Christians have been made into chosen vessels in Christ Jesus.  I praise the name of Jesus Christ.

Don't Love The Temporary World

20.  "Do not love the world or what is in the world.  If there is a person who loves the world, a love for the Father is not within him," (2:15).

21.  "Do not love the world or what is in the world."  This is not telling us to not love "this world which God made" which expresses the glory of God the creator or as in Psalm 119:1-14 "the heavens reveal the glory of God, the firmament shows the art of his hands."  This "temporary world", of which the Bible speaks, the cosmos (First Corinthians 4:9, Galatians 6:14, John 8:23) points to this world of humanity which has been depraved in sin since Adam.

22.  [It is] a world that is separated from God, it exists for itself, its purpose is to do its thing, that alone is its salvation, and considers God's salvation completely unnecessary.  [It is] a  society that does everything against God, it rejects God, and it runs through and through with self.  John commands us "not to love" "the world" which lives in pursuit and fulfillment of desires centered on the self.  Because it is a "world" that the devil governs.  This is "the world" that lures the people of God's church and drags them under its control.  John warns Christians that they should not make an object of love out of the world and all that belongs to the world.

23.  John commands us not to love the perishing "world" as we have been forgiven of sin in Christ, know God the Father, and have been saved from such a passing world.  We should not love this world which is in opposition to God, and would try to achieve perfection without God.

24.  Thus, a love for the Father and a love for this passing world are incompatible.  "A love for the Father" is a love that loves God the Father and is a love that loves God the Father as the one and only God.

25.  The Lord Jesus stated that "no one can serve two masters.  It is either that you hate the one and love the other or you are friendly with the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and riches," (Matthew 6:24).  A person cannot live without loving [someone or something].  It is either that a person loves God or a person loves the fading world.

26.  A person who loves the world exposes the fact that there is no love for the Father within him or her by the very fact of his or her loving the world.  The reason John is saying these things is, as we might expect, because he had in mind the Gnostic idealists who tried to make these two loves, one for God and one for the world, into a compatible compromise.

27.  "O you rebels against God.  Don't you know that becoming friends with the world is to become enemies with God?  Anyone who wishes to become friends with the world becomes an enemy of God," warns James 4:4.  "If a person loves the world" "a love for the Father" is automatically "not in him [or her]."  This is the first reason we should not love the world.

28.  The second reason we should not love the world and the things in the world is because "the world and the things in the world do not come from the Father," (2:16).  John expanded on the meaning of the things in the world by the following three points.  "The lust of the flesh" means that "in trying to live comfortably at ease a person of the world only keeps in his or her mind his or her own happiness and advantages," (Calvin).  David sinned by taking the wife of his subordinate Uriah as his own wife (Galatians 5:12, 13; Ephesians 2:3).  "The lust of the eyes" is a craving through the eyes to satisfy carnal desires (Mark 9:47; Matthew 5:27ff).

29.  Next is "the pride of one's property."  "Aaah, I have prepared enough stock to go on living for many years from here after.  I will rest, I will take pleasure in eating and drinking," it says (Luke 12:16-21).  The pride of one's property (haughtiness over one's standard of living) is connected to forfeiture of life.  It is a "vain and empty pride," it is "putting up a show."  A christian cannot love "the things in the world."

30.  The third reason is "the world and the desires in the world are both passing away," (2:17).  The world and the things in the world are passing away because they do not have their roots in the eternal Father.  A christian should have nothing to do with this passing world.  Since this world does not come from God it will die off along with the desires thereof.  "But, he who practices the will of God will continue to live for ever," (2:17).  Salvation is just one thing, it is only to follow the will of God.  The person who follows His will has a future; for, he or she will remain on in eternity, (John 6:51, 58 etc.).

31.  The person promised joy in living eternally in Christ in a relationship with God is happy.  "Whoever does the will of God will live for ever and ever."  The person called to walk in the light will rely on God the Father and continue to walk in the way of the Lord.  Let's walk in the light aiming straight for Jesus Christ as we keep the new commandment, "As for this command it is to believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and to love one another as he has commanded us."

Prayer

32.  Paul came in contact with a heavenly voice and was called to world missions as he was filled over with conviction in the Lord Jesus Christ who was to come soon.  We, each and every one of us, [should] say yes to this.  By the leading of the gift of the Holy Spirit [we pray] please keep us in a walk that walks in the light as we keep your new command.  Amen.

 
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