Ok by now you should be picking up on some themes of this book of light and dark and the comparison of those that are truly Christian compared to those that just say that they are. There is a direct
link between last Sunday night’s message and today’s text. In verse 2:4 John said, He who says I know him but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Today in 2:9
John says, He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light.
In other words, last week John spoke of obedience to the commandments in general as the way we test ourselves. This week he speaks of obedience to the love commandment in particular as the way we test ourselves.
Our passage today is broken into three parts.
1. How The Light Shines in God’s Law (v.7-8)
2. How The Light Shines in Christians’ Love (v. 9-11)
3. How The Light Shines in Christians’ Convictions (v. 12-14)
First, we will discuss “How the Light Shines in God’s Law. Today in America, the word “law” has an impersonal inflexible connotation. However, the laws of the Bible are not there to restrict us, but to free us. God’s law is the personal loving instructions of our omniscient Father, telling his children how to live their lives for maximum fulfillment. Instead of the impersonal laws of the government that are there just to keep order. (Jackman, 1988, p. 52)
There are four questions that we should ask when reading verses 7-8:
- 1. What is the commandment referred to in both
Love one another as I have loved you. And Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
- 2. In what sense is it old?
It is old in the since that they received this message when God gave Moses the 10 commandments. Jesus summed all of the 10 commandments into two when he said to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
It is also old in the since that John is not giving them new knowledge, but reaffirming what he taught them from the beginning. He is not giving them step 2 on how to become a Christian, but pointing them back to the foundation of faith.
- 3. In what sense is it new?
It is new in the sense that more has been revealed. The love of God that empowers us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, has been revealed to us more clearly by the way that Christ loved us. In other words, although it is an old commandment, Jesus Christ came and shined more light on what it means to love one another by dying on a cross for sinners like you and me.
- Why does John go out of his way to stress its oldness and newness? (Piper, 1985)
This is most likely because many people during the time that this letter was written had grown tired of the old teaching and believed that more had been revealed to them. However, anytime you hear Jesus + something = salvation you should know that it is a false doctrine. Jesus only saves. Two popular false doctrines then and now are Legalism and License.
Legalism is essentially Jesus + Law = salvation. Although it is true that if we are truly believers then we will follow God’s commandments and love His law because we understand it to be there for
our good. However, it is legalism when it is believed that you have to do certain things in order to gain a right standing with God. Legalism places a heavy burden on believers that they feel like they have to do, where the law was designed to set us free instead of hold us in bondage. For example, having strict rules for what you can do and cannot do on the Sabbath.
License is essentially Jesus + freedom = salvation. Again, although God has come to set us free from sin and forgave us of our sins, we still cannot continue to sin realizing the great sacrifice that
Christ paid to forgive us for our sins. In addition, since our sins have been paid for we should want to become more like Christ and walk in the light than to continue to stumble around in the darkness with our sins.