The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: 1 John 2:7-11, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 1 John 2:7-11. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

1 John 2:7-11, The Assurance of God’s Light:
• One author said that John is good at simplifying the Christian life. Basically he says to know Jesus, obey God, and love others is the Christian life. Now last time in 1 John, from verses 2-6, we learnt it is all about our love for God. If we love Him, we obey Him.
• Now in verses 7–11, John addresses our love for others as it is an evidence of our salvation. John begins with an affirmation of his love for those to whom he is writing. He calls them “dear friends” or “beloved.” It is a term of endearment, of heart-felt love and concern.

• Therefore, John narrows focus to one specific command: the command to love. My dear friends, this is an obligation for us as Christians. See love is elevated above everything else in the Scripture. And loving God is elevated above everything else in terms of a person’s relationship to God.
• So love is the supreme commandment, the supreme test of our salvation. Let’s read together. So light refers to possessing eternal life and darkness refers to eternal death. In fact verse 10 says “The one who loves his brother abides in the light.” That’s the key here.

• So this morning, we’re looking at love as an old and new commandment, and dealing with love as the Christian’s way of life which gives us the assurance of God’s light. So the first assurance is,

  1. Love is An Old Commandment:
    • Text – 1 John 2:7
    • Explanation – From the outset of their Christian life, John’s readers had been taught the importance of love for one another. It was not something they had never heard before. John was not telling them some new truth or something he had invented as the Gnostics did in their day.
    • See when one is born again, at the beginning, “the love of God” is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who is given to us.” (Ro 5:5) and we are enabled to bear “the fruit of the Spirit” which “is love.” (Gal 5:22).

• Only God can love that way. Wiersbe said, “God does not have to give a new believer a long lecture about love!” 1 Thessalonians 4:9 rightly says, “concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.”

• Illustration – Let’s take the author of this letter for example. John is the apostle of love. He has a tenderness about him that causes him to express his affections for others. John has that kind of love. He loves those who are in Christ. He loves those to whom he writes.
• But John wasn’t always known as a man of love. Jesus called Him a Son of Thunder. Scripture tells us that John wanted to call down fire from heaven to incinerate a whole village of people because they didn’t comply with what he thought they should.

• John was not by nature a tender-hearted man, but he had been seriously tenderized by the mighty work of God in His life, and so he becomes known to us as the apostle of love by the fact that he writes so much about it.
• And so as he introduces this subject to his people, saying “Beloved, I’m not writing a new commandment to you but an old commandment which you’ve had from the beginning.” So John says I’m not inventing something new.

• Application – Perhaps we can go way back into the Old Testament. One aspect of this being an old commandment was the fact that love was commanded in the Old Covenant. Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not 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.”
• Another aspect of the commandment being old is that Jesus had repeatedly quoted from the Old Testament in regarding the importance of the need to love one another… In Mark 12:28 when the scribe questioned Jesus about what’s the greatest commandment? Jesus said to love God and neighbour.
• In addition, the Mosaic law also taught love for one’s neighbours and Christ taught love even of enemies. In Matthew 5 we read “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

• Conclusion – So what is this Old Command? John says you have had since the beginning. This first thing John told His readers was the Gospel. He says, it is the message you have heard.
• It was the command to believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and, as we learn later in the letter, that included the obligation to do what Jesus commanded. So to John’s readers, it appears that the love command was given alongside the gospel message itself.

• Bridge – In 1 John 3:11, he says, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” If you want to know how God’s light is piercing through you? Look at how you love those around you, which raises the next concern, isn’t…

  1. Love is a New Commandment:
    • Text – 1 John 2:8
    • Explanation – Why is it “new” if it is really an “old”? We get a clue if we compares this to Jesus’ teaching to the disciples in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Again in John 15:12, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
    • So what is the “qualifier” that Jesus adds to the command in Lev 19:18? “As I have loved you.” What was Jesus’ example? He emptied Himself of His divine and yielded His will to the will of God, trusting in the Holy Spirit to enable Him.

• Illustration – so we can say that the commandment of love was new because Jesus personified love in a fresh, new way and it was shed abroad in believers’ hearts (Ro 5:5) and energized by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22; 1Th 4:9). Jesus raised love to a higher standard for the church and commanded His disciples to imitate His love!
• Never has the world seen this perfect love until Jesus showed it to them. We never can find that perfect love toward others until we see it in Jesus. The newness isn’t in the essential command, the newness is in the display of its perfect glory in the person of Jesus Christ.

• Application – Perhaps John 13:1, is the best example of this. The feast of the Passover was coming, and Jesus is in the upper room. We read, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
• And what does it really mean? He had loved His disciples to perfection. It unfolds even in this upper room event because He begins to make promises to them which demonstrate His love, that He’s going to send the Holy Spirit.

• Conclusion – So we can say that there are four ways in which the commandment to love was new. First, it was new in the emphasis to how Jesus gave it, bringing the love commands of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 together and declaring that the whole teaching of the Law and the Prophets hung upon them.
• Secondly, it was new in the quality Jesus gave it. A disciple was to love others not just as he loved himself but in the same measure as Christ had loved him, with selfless self-sacrifice even unto death. Thirdly, it was new in the extent he gave it, showing in the parable of the Good Samaritan that the ‘neighbour’ we must love is anyone who needs our compassion and help, irrespective of race and rank, and includes our ‘enemy’

• Bridge – It was also, fourthly, to continue new by our fresh apprehension of it. In these ways it was ‘a new command’, and will always remain new.
• So love is an old commandment but it’s also new because it belongs to us, the church, and we need to the ongoing agents of its reflection.

  1. Love is a New Way of Life:
    • Text – 1 John 2:9-11
    • Explanation – Being in the light means being in fellowship with both God and other believers. It is a condition made possible by the nature of God, who is light. So if you hate your brother, no matter what you profess, you are still in darkness.
    • John isn’t saying that you may be a real Christian who has fallen into darkness; he said, if you hate your brother you are “in darkness even until now.” You have never been anywhere else. You have never been in the light at all. You cannot have the light or the Holy Spirit or the love of God dwelling in you, and still hate your brother. And yet we often see people professing the name of Christ while showing hatred toward others.

• Illustration – But you might say, ‘not that all our brothers in Christ are lovable!’ sure, we all know some who have crossed us or criticized us, and some even who have done us harm. Others, by nature, we tend to dislike for no apparent reason at all. As the old rhyme puts it, “I do not like thee, Dr. Fell, The reason why, I cannot tell; But this I know, and know full well, I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.”
• I think there are two reasons for this. One, we dislike some people, for instance, because they are know-it-alls. No matter how fine a sermon you preach, they find something to criticize. No matter how many people applaud your work, they pick it to pieces with smug satisfaction and personal bias.

• Second, and even more troubling, is our dislike of those whom we dislike without reason. Nonetheless, the Lord did not allow preference or prejudice to make a difference in His heart, never allowing human feelings to motivate Him to the extent that He attracted this one and repelled that one. Jesus loved Pilate as much as He loved Peter and would have saved Caiaphas as gladly as He saved Nicodemus.
• That is what John remembered about Christ’s love. This love means to love unconditionally and sacrificially as God Himself loves sinful men (John 3:16), the way He loves the Son. In fact, John writes ‘loves’ which is in the present tense which identifies this love as one’s lifestyle! It is not an emotion but is an action initiated by a choice.

• Application – Yet the one who loves his brother, on the other hand, abides in the light. John adds, “There’s no cause for stumbling in him.” Listen, if you’re walking in the light, you’re not going to trip over something. You’re not like somebody groping in the darkness. When you love and obey God, and express the love of God to others, you’re walking in the light; you’re not going to stumble, you’re not going to fall. And what does that mean?
• To stumble is a way of expressing sin against others. Stumbling in the Scripture is sinning, and in this environment, what John saying is, if you love people, you’re not going to stumble into sins against them. You’re not going to violate them.

• So the contrast is pretty clear. John says if you’re a true Christian, you’re going to love people, and you’re not going to sin against them as a pattern of life. So there is a new commandment to love, added to an old commandment to love, and then he talks about the life of love.
• But John closes in verse 11 with a comment on the absence of love. The one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness – doesn’t know where he’s going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

• Conclusion – That’s exactly the way it is with people outside the kingdom. They are known because they hate their brothers. They don’t walk in the light. They don’t have any spiritual life. And that kind of person doesn’t know where he’s going, and so he just stumbles all over the place.
• He sins against himself and against people and mostly, of course, against God. And the proof of their condition is they don’t love. And they move, as Jude puts it, to the blackness of darkness, which is eternal judgment.

• Bridge – In fact, the plain meaning of verse 11 is that if you live for yourself with no regard for others, no self-sacrifice or willingness to be inconvenienced to meet others’ needs, then you are not saved. John is not talking about occasional lapses into selfishness. We all fail in that at times. Rather, he’s talking about a lifestyle.
• The person who lives for himself and is indifferent towards others “does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” They do not practice biblical love, which is an essential mark of every true Christian.

• Again, none of us loves perfectly. When we fail, we need to repent and ask forgiveness of the one we wronged. It is a lifelong process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. But those who have met Him at the cross will be growing in love for others. But that love for others is a commandment, not a warm, gushy feeling. It’s not optional for the follower of Christ. It’s essential