Christ: The Light of Love

SUNLIGHT

1 John 2:7-14

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. (8) Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (9) He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. (10) He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (11) But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (12) I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (13) I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. (14) I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

INTRODUCTION

The Apostle John is dealing with multiple issues in this portion of his epistle. He continues to teach against those who challenge that Christ has come in the flesh, reminding the congregation that the Gospel of their salvation is the still the Gospel that keeps them in the hands of God. At the same time, however, John teaches the church concerning the primacy of Christian love. Christ illuminstates our darkness and forgives us by free and sovereign grace. He is the light of love who frees His people, unleashing us from the chains of unforgiveness, bitterness, and wrath, empowering us to love one another for His name’s sake.

KEY THOUGHT: Our righteousness is in Christ alone. He has forgiven us for His Name’s sake, having illuminated the darkness of our hearts. Christ, the Light of Love, motivates His people to love and care for our brothers and sisters.

OUTLINE

(7) Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

The “commandment” is not new revelation. John had already shared the commandment from the very beginning of his ministry with them. The first portion of 1 John 3:23 explains the “old” commandment in question: “And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” The commandment is the call to faith in Christ, to assent to the true testimony, the purpose and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The “word which ye have heard from the beginning” is the Gospel call unto salvation through Christ Jesus and His righteousness imputed by grace through faith. In fact, “that which was from the beginning” is Christ Himself, as 1 John 1:1 clearly specifies. Christ is the Word we have heard from the beginning, the very “Word of life.”

(8) Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

A play on words, John is simply continuing his line of thought concerning the light of the Gospel shed abroad in the hearts of the faithful. Darkness is passing away and Christ light shines in the lives of those who have come to faith in His Name.

Christ is the “true light.” Just as sunlight makes life flourish over all the world, so too does the light of Christ bring forth life! The Psalmist recorded as much in Psalm 36:9, writing, “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”

Isaiah echoes this truth as well, writing of the Christ: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.(2) For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (3) And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

In John’s own Gospel, he records the very words of Christ Jesus declaring, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

While darkness is passing away, the light of Christ now shines and will continue to do so for eternity!

(9) He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. (10) He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (11) But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

Christ is the light who brings eternal life to the elect of God. Being made partakers of this light of life, John writes that this light is “in Christ and in you.” And it is because of the abiding presence of Christ in our lives that we are made free to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Because of God’s grace in Christ, because of God’s love shed abroad in our hearts, believers in the one true Gospel are free to lay aside rivalries and contentions, gladly putting on the mantle of Christian and brotherly love. This is the expectation of how forgiven, Gospel-believing people live! Brotherly love for one another is not our righteousness before God. But, our righteousness before God, Christ the Lord, frees us to love our brothers as unto the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Those who harbor contentious feelings against fellow Christians are opening themselves up to stumble. The Apostle John writes of those believers who push back against God’s call to love one another as no better off than those who continue in darkness. The call is clear to God’s people: Love one another as Christ loves you! Christ’s light begets love!

(12) I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (13) I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. (14) I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

John writes to remind them of their only source of righteousness. It flows from Christ alone! Understand, beloved, that “Our sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” David declared this truth in Psalm 23 when he wrote, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake!” Christ is our only righteous claim before Almighty God.

John speaks to the various groups in the church, the old, the young, the children. All of the various groups in the church, no matter their spiritual maturity, knew the true and saving Gospel, having no need to pay attention to the various false gospels already being preached around them.

Notice also the past-tense usage in this passage. They “have known” the Gospel, “ye have overcome the wicked one,” “ye have known the Father.” The saving work of Christ was well established in the lives of this congregation.

In light of the past-tense working of Christ in the Gospel, notice also the present-tense realties of the passage: “Ye are strong,” “the word of God abideth in you.” Christ’s saving work had taken strong root in this congregation and no one would be able to take them from the Father’s hands! Praise the Lord forevermore!

CONCLUSION

The light of Christ is shining! Your sins are forgiven for His Name’s sake! You are an  overcomer  by His righteousness alone! In light of the mighty work of God wrought on your behalf, you are now free to love your brothers and sisters! You are now free to forgive and forebear! You are loosed to love and tend, to nurture and protect those God places in your path, especially the household of faith.

May we seek to follow Christ’s example as He graciously illuminates our path with the light of love! – Amen.


Jason K. Boothe serves as Pastor of Horizons Baptist Church of Piketon, Ohio. For more information concerning the ministries of the church, please visit www.horizonsbaptist.org

 photo credit: Vigil Photography Foggy Sunlight via photopin (license)

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