- Statistics indicate that in 2012, 22.5 people out of every 1,000 will be a victim of an assault this year.
Sadly, this struggle to love each other has crept into the church, and yes, it’s probably even in our youth group right now.People are engaged in “church-hopping” at a rate unprecedented in recent years, as they choose to flee from their problems instead of rectifying issues that they have with other believers. People struggle to love each other. Christian teens confess their love for their parents, teachers, and authorities, but see no problem with bashing them when their backs are turned.You might even erect barriers around who you will associate with, the friends that you will hand out with, or even the people that you feel have wronged you.
The unloving attitude that pervades our society, and has sadly seemed to creep into our churches is an attitude that the apostle John clearly wants nothing to do with.
People struggle to love each other. Even though this sad truth is a reality, John’s argument in I John 2:7-11 is very clear, and it is incredibly strong.
Proposition: Because true Christians are identified by love, you must love others.
Because true Christians are identified love, and must love others, John draws the attention of his audience to three distinct places that you must look to when it comes to a consideration of love.
I. Because true Christians are identified by love, you must look to the Scriptures and see the mandate for Christian love (v. 7).
A. Christian love is enduring (It has always been).
John wants it to be clear to the people that he is not asking them to do anything that they should not know to do!
- Secassionalists are arguing that John is adding to the gospel by requiring love. Further, they are clearly not practicing love since they think that their pre-gnostic achievement of higher knowledge makes them better than everyone.
- We have to go all the way to verse 9 & 10 to establish that this new commandment has to do with love.
- This is also an “old commandment,” because it is a commandment that Jesus brought up when he was on earth in John 13:34.
- It’s also “old,” because the concept of loving others in the community of faith has its roots all the way back in the Torah, or the Old Testament.
Have you ever had an expectation placed upon you that was forgotten and then reiterated? That’s the idea of the passage. Just because you forgot it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold true, or that it’s “new.”
As we consider this topic of love, some of you need to pick up your Bibles and understand that nothing we’re saying today is new! Love is enduring and it has always been expected that followers of Christ would love one another.
B. Biblical love is important (it is completely natural)
So how do we know that Biblical love is important from this text? Well, John says that this is a love that you have had “from the beginning.”
- This is the 3rd time that he has used that phrase in this book (1:1, 2:24, 3:11) and every time, he is referring to when you first heard and received the gospel message.
- John’s argument is that this is not only nothing new, it is also something that everyone who hears the gospel must assume as his responsibility!
- John’s opponents had minimized the importance of loving each other, and John says that a true Christian would never do that! The command to love each other has it’s roots in the law and it is something that is give to all believers at the start of eternal life.
- This love does not add to the gospel, it stands at the heart of the gospel!!!
When people start to act in weird ways, it freaks us out! If cats barked, if dogs meowed, if fish ran on the ground, it would be weird. All the same, if people started to claim Christ but didn’t love, it would be weird.
Guys, Biblical love is important, because it identifies you as a follower of Christ who has agreed to the claims of the gospel! As you look to the Scriptures for your mandate, you encounter the undeniable truth that true followers of Christ love others. It’s something that you have understood from the beginning! And yet some of you would rather do anything other than show real biblical love towards each other. John would caution you to be careful. He points you to the Scriptures and shows you the mandate for biblical love which proves that this is nothing new, and it is assumed upon recognition of the gospel.
II. Because true Christians are identified by love, you must look to Jesus, and see the example of perfect love (v. 8).
Even though the OT taught the primacy of love, never before had love been perfectly displayed as it was in Jesus. John 13:1 – “Now before the Passover when Jesus knew His hour had come, having loved His own He loved them until the end.”John writes that this kind of love is new in Jesus, and that as a follower of Jesus it must be new in you! How did Jesus display this perfect love in His life?
- He gave it a new emphasis – He brought the 2 love commandments (Duet. 6:5 & Lev. 19:18) together, and insisted that the whole law and prophets hung on them.
- He gave it a new quality – A disciple is to love others as Jesus loved him. That means being wiling to die!
- He gave it a new extension – The point of the Good Samaritan parable is that we are to love anyone who needs help, regardless of rank!
In John 13, Jesus knows that his time to die has come. He gets together with his disciples for dinner, and begins to do something completely weird to them! He washes their feet! Remember how Peter protests? What does Jesus say? “If I, being your Lord, wash your feet, then you ought also to wash each other’s feet.”
Jesus says the same thing to the disciples that John is saying here when he says that the new commandment is in Jesus and in you. You are to love with the same love that Jesus loved you with. Are you doing that?
B. The love of Jesus defeats sin.
The second half of verse 8 provides the basis for the claim made in the first half of the verse. It should be read like this: “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is shining.” Here again, John is using the analogy of light and darkness to illustrate the two kingdoms that are at war.
- The darkness of the old age, in which men did not love properly, is passing away, and the light of a new age in which love is perfected is now shining!
We are in that “All ready, but not yet” phase that John is talking about. We’re already seeing the power of love over darkness, but we haven’t yet seen the total transformation. Some of you wonder why you fall to temptation so frequently. The answer is really quite simple. You must anchor yourself to the unchangeable love of Jesus that drives out darkness. Your lack of love effects more than just the people that you don’t love. It effects yourself as well. We look to Jesus and see our example of perfect love in his life that defeats sin!
We have seen first that you must look to the Scriptures and see a mandate for biblical love, and second that you must look to Jesus and find the example of perfect love, but John draws our attention to another place in the final three verses of this paragraph…
III. Because true Christians are identified by love, you must look at your life, and see if you possess Christian love (v. 9-11).
A. The presence of Christian love in your life is all or nothing (v. 9).
Here again, John is addressing directly a claim made by the secessionists – I can be in the light even while I don’t love people! John probably particularly felt this claim as it was levied against him! Specifically, John wants to make it clear that you CANNOT be a genuine member of the community of faith while hating others.
- So what is hate? Many of us think that there is some “neutral” category between love and hate – John wants none of that.
- Hate is the absence of the deeds of love. Love unexpressed is not love at all. Love has no neutral capabilities. There are no gray areas. When love is absent, hate is present.
Many times we try to categorize our relationships in the body of Christ. There are those that we feel free to show real love to, and those that we could care less about. We may not actively say that we hate them, but we don’t give a care at all about them. Take, for instance, the garbage man.
John’s point is clear – Even the garbage collector must be the object of your love! Listen, guys, there really can be no middle ground! Some of you have perfected the art of not caring about those round about you.
- At home – you could care less about your siblings
- At school – you could care less about investing in classmates who are different than you.
- With friends – you don’t even try to mend broken relationships.
- At church – there are some people you don’t associate with.
B. The presence of Christian love in your life will keep you grounded (v. 10).
You know the pattern by now. When John give a negative example, he is usually quick to follow up with a positive example. That’s exactly what he does in verse 10.
- The one that loves his brother abides in the kingdom of light which is characterized by the love of Jesus.
- Does it refer to causing others to stumble?
- Does it refer to causing yourself to stumble?
If the presence of Christian love will keep you grounded, it can be easily assumed that the absence of Christian love will make you easy prey for the devil. Some of you are really, really frustrated right now because you can’t understand why you fall all the time. – You don’t have love. Some of you are so unstable in your Christian life that you never stay consistent in your devotions, and you never find any real victory – You don’t have love. You must take a hard look at your own life and see if you have the Christian love that is promised to keep you grounded!
C. The absence of Christian love in your life brings great danger (v. 11).
John revisits the person who is in darkness by hating his brother, and he ups the ante a little bit.There is a big difference between being in darkness (v. 8), and walking in darkness (v. 11). Now, the person who possesses no love is living in danger and without any lasting satisfaction.Not loving your brother not only contradicts the true claims of Christianity, but it contributes to spiritual downfall. At the beginning of the book, John emphasized the presence or absence of sin when dealing with genuine conversion. Now he goes a step further to the presence or absence of love. The person who possesses no love is living in danger and without any lasting satisfaction.
THE GOSPEL IS FAITH EXPRESSED THROUGH LOVE
Have you ever seen anyone who is in great danger and they didn’t even know it? Stephen Davenport sent me a video of a guy who almost gets hit by a train – He didn’t even see it!
Spiritually speaking, that’s where some of you are today. You claim a cheap form of Christianity due to a supposed confession of faith as a child, but you’re Christianity is shallow, and your confession can’t save you. If you don’t love, you walk in darkness, and you are in danger of losing it all. Why? Because a true follower of Christ always expresses love towards others as a natural outflowing of his conversion.
People struggle to love each other. But because true Christians are identified by love, you must love others.
It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the hatred that fills our world. Events like yesterday’s leave us sad and speechless, and they should. But as sad as the events of yesterday’s are, they shouldn’t really surprise us. The kingdom of darkness is characterized by hatred.
We should, however, be surprised at the lack of love that is shown in the so called “church.”
The argument from this preacher this morning on the basis of John’s writings is this – If you don’t have love; active, growing, Christ-like love, then you don’t have Christ. True Christianity is always characterized by love.
- Look to the Scriptures and see the mandate for Biblical love.
- Look to Jesus, and see the example of Biblical love.
- Look at your own life, and see if you possess Biblical love.