A New Commandment - 1 John 2:7-11

The apostle John’s first letter was written to a community of believers who were plagued by some who claimed to know God. John challenged their profession by stating, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 Jn. 2:6). John R. W. Stott summarized John’s point. He wrote, “We cannot claim to live in him unless we behave like him.” Christ-like conduct is a key piece of evidence that we know God, and John highlights one specific action that demonstrates that we are walking like He walked—love.

John wrote, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining” (1 Jn. 2:7-8). John’s little children were familiar with the Old Testament’s teaching about love (Lev. 19:18) and Jesus’s teaching about love (Jn. 13:33-34). In what sense is the command to love new? The self-giving love that Jesus demonstrated can now be realized among his followers. That love was evidenced in Him and can now be evidenced in us. Loving like Jesus demonstrates that we are walking like He walked.

Hate is a threat to walking like Jesus walked. Frederick Danker defines hate as a “strong dislike for” some person or thing, and it can manifest itself in thought and action. John warned his little children about the inconsistency of hatred in the life of the believer and revealed the reality of the one who hates his brother. He wrote, “But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness blinded his eyes” (1 Jn. 2:11). This describes the morality of this individual and their relationship with the Father. They are living in darkness and separated from the Father.

The one who loves like Jesus is in a far better position. He abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him (1 Jn. 2:10). This individual is in fellowship with the Father, and his path leads somewhere. David Jackman comments, “Those who live in the light, loving their fellow Christians , find no ‘stumbling-block’ hidden in their pathway. The idea is of hidden danger which ensnare and destroy the unwary, especially if they are travelling in the dark. The only remedy is to keep walking in the light.”

Are we walking like Jesus walked? Self-giving love demonstrates that we are learning from Him and following His example. Let’s be active in following John’s old but new commandment.