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Faithlife Corporation

Politically Incorrect Christianity: Living the Truth--Walking in Love

Notes & Transcripts

I don’t watch it every week, but I’m becoming a fan of the Antiques Road Show. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a show in which antiques appraisers travel to various cities of the United States to appraise antiques brought in by local people. Sometime the finds are spectacular and people discover that they have real treasures in their attic.

Sometime, however, people hear those fateful words, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s a reproduction!” Which is a nice way of saying, “This thing you thought was a family heirloom or a fabulous buy, is fake.” The experts can tell because on genuine pieces of art or furniture or jewelry there are often certain marks which brand the item as authentic or genuine. So, there are ways to tell counterfeits and there are ways to tell what’s real and what’s true.

In the first century church, as we have already seen in our study of 1 John, there were Counterfeit Christians. There were people running around who talked a good story, who said the right things, and who said things that sounded awfully spiritual. However, these were people who were walking in darkness rather than walking in the light. The Apostle writes to his congregation to assure them that there are certain identifying marks that reveal the authenticity of a person’s faith.

We’ve already looked at several of these authenticating marks:

    • A genuine Christian must believe that Jesus is the Christ who has eternally existed with the Father.
    • A genuine Christian must believe that the Christ came in the flesh.
    • A genuine Christian must regularly confess sin and seek God’s cleansing.
    • A genuine Christian must obey God’s commandments.
    • A genuine Christian must walk as Jesus walked.

This morning we’re going to concentrate on 1 John 2:7-11 where the Apostle lays out another authenticating mark—A Genuine Christian will walk in loving fellowship with other Christians.

As we saw last week, John spoke of obedience to the commandments of God in general as the way we test ourselves. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” (1 John 2:3, NIV84)

This week he speaks of the commandment to Godly love in particular as a way we test ourselves. “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 John 2:10, NIV84)

I. A NEW COMMANDMENT THAT IS AN OLD COMMANDMENT

    • “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:7–8, NIV84)
            1. in a play on words, extended into verse 8, John wrote that the commandment to love was not a new commandment, but actually an old commandment
                1. it had been taught throughout the biblical text
                2. whether they were Jews or Gentiles, John’s readers would have heard from the Old Testament about the need for God’s people to love, not only one another, but the stranger and even the enemy
                  • “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18, NIV84)
                    1. and, of course, Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan forever ends the question, And just who is my neighbor?
                3. instructing the Church at Rome concerning brotherly love, the Apostle Paul quoted both the Ten Commandments and this passage from Leviticus
                  • “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8–10, NIV84)
                    1. sooo .... it’s an old commandment in many ways
                    2. the Apostle is not springing something new on his Congregation whereby they’ll react, “Wow, we didn’t know that!”
            2. but how is this commandment to “love the brethren” a new commandment?
                1. it new in it’s intensity and example and emphasis
                  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35, NIV84)
                    1. it is new in it’s emphasis—The popular sentiment in Jesus’ day was love your neighbor and hate your enemy (Matt. 5:43)
                        1. Jesus stands that platitude on it’s head when he insists ... “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:44–47, NIV84)
                        2. it is new in it’s emphasis
                    2. it is new in its example—When Jesus tells his disciples to love one another he tells them that this will be one of the marks of authenticity of those who are his disciples
                        1. all men will know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another
                        2. it is new in its example
                    3. it is new in its intensity—Jesus is clear, the authentic believer loves other believers in the same manner in which he loved us
                        1. how did Christ love us?
                          • “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NIV84)
                          • “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12–13, NIV84)
                          • “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16, NIV84)
                        2. it is new in its intensity

A. THERE IS AN INSEPARABLE LINK BETWEEN CHRISTIAN ASSURANCE AND LOVING OTHERS

            1. assurance that we are walking in the light comes from loving the brethren
                1. throughout this book, the Apostle John is dealing with a central issue of the Christian experience: How can we know that we are in a genuine relationship with God?
                    1. how do you know that you are walking in the light and not walking in darkness?
                    2. how do you know that you are a stalk of wheat and not a tare among the wheat?
                    3. how do you know that you are a sheep and not a goat?
                    4. how do you know that you are a child of God and not a child of the Devil?
                2. one of the identifying marks of being a Christian is that we love other Christians and walk in fellowship with them
                  • “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 John 2:9–10, NIV84)
                3. the truth that they were to love one another was something his readers would have heard from the beginning
                    1. the beginning in view here is not the creation of the world or God’s giving of the Law to Moses
                    2. the beginning the Apostle refers to is the beginning of their new life in Christ
                        1. the message to love the brethren would have been taught to them from the moment of their conversion
                4. loving the brethren is not some new innovation that the Apostle has come up with
                    1. it is a message taught to them by Christ Himself that is being passed on from one generation of believers to the next
                      • “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34–40, NIV84)
                5. when John’s readers became Christians, they would have committed themselves to
                    1. loving God—which translates into loving His commands—and ...
                    2. loving God’s people—which translates into living in fellowship with them
                6. our loving, however, cannot end with the brethren
            2. assurance that we are walking in the light comes from loving the stranger and even the enemy
                1. while the Apostle doesn’t directly address the issue of loving the stranger or one’s enemies in this passage, we cannot ignore the whole council of New Testament teaching on the subject of loving
                  • ILLUS. You need to think of the Christian community as the school in which we learn how to love as Christ loved. Like great musicians who practice tedious drills for long hours that they may perform flawlessly in public, Christians practice their loving in the Body of Christ in order to perform flawlessly in public. This is where we perfect how to love others.
                2. in the Community of Believers, love is commanded and modeled, and it is here where it must be lived out and practiced
                3. but loving cannot be merely confined to the brethren
                    1. Jesus speaks plainly: If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
                4. John writes in v. 8, that the truth of this commandment is seen in Him
                    1. it is in the person of Jesus that loving others is most clearly revealed
                    2. he is our model to emulate
            3. the commandment to love is old, but it’s intensity and example and emphasis are new

II. A NEW COMMANDMENT THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

    • ILLUS. An anonymous poet once wrote: To dwell in love with the saints above, O! that will be glory! To dwell below with the saints we know—Ah! that’s a different story!
    • “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” (1 John 2:9–11, NIV84)
            1. to answer the question, What does God want of us? we also have to answer the question, What do we owe each other?
                1. although response to God is a personal matter, it is not merely a private or internal matter
                2. John made this explicit in talking about the obligation of love that we owe to each other in obedience to Christ’s command
            2. A Genuine Christian will walk in loving fellowship with other Christians
                1. loving other Christians, and walking in fellowship with them gives us assurance of salvation
                    1. John is clear—whoever loves his brother lives in the light
                    2. however, the one who hates his brother is still in the darkness
                        1. to hate a brother or sister in Christ is not a trifling matter
                        2. if you do hate another Christian, it means there is something radically wrong with your confession of faith
                2. but this immediately begs two questions: What does it mean to ‘love the brethren’ vs. ‘hating the brethren’?
                    1. the word hate is a powerful term
                    2. it’s a word that conjures up feelings of animosity, animus, bad blood and even hostile intentions
                    3. as long as we don’t have such feelings, we assume we’re not hating
                3. but just how does the Apostle John understand hate?
                    1. undoubtedly the answer for him lies primarily in what one does
                    2. to walk in the light is to love one’s brother and God’s love will always express itself in concrete actions
            3. in line with these thoughts, let me make to observations:
                1. 1st, Love Cannot Be Neutral
                2. 2nd, Hatred May Not Always Be Overt

A. HATRED MAY NOT ALWAYS BE OVERT

            1. sometimes it’s inverted, turned upside down
            2. we may not outwardly behave with hostility, but we may not be showing love or expressing love through the withholding of friendship, kindness, compassion, or even simple civility
              • ILLUS. In his book, “Letters to My Children,” Daniel Taylor describes an experience he had in the sixth grade. Periodically, he writes, the students were taught how to dance. The teacher would line up the boys and girls in the classroom and then let the boys choose their partners. One girl, Mary, was always chosen last. Because of a childhood illness, one of her arms was drawn up and she had a bad leg. She wasn’t very pretty, and she wasn’t very smart, and all the boys avoided her. Taylor writes that the assistant teacher of the class happened to attend his church. One day, she pulled Dan aside and said, “Dan, next time we have dancing, I want you to choose Mary.” Taylor writes, “I couldn’t believe it. Why would anyone pick Mary when there was Linda, Shelley, and even Doreen? My teacher told me it is what Jesus would have done, and deep inside, I knew she was right, which didn’t make it any easier. All I could hope for was that I would be last in line. That way, I could choose Mary, do the right thing, and no one would be wiser. Instead, I was first in line.” “The faces of the girls were turned toward me, some smiling. I looked at Mary and saw she was only half-turned, facing the back of the room. (She knew no one would pick her first.) … My teacher said, ‘Okay, Dan – choose your partner!’” “I heard my voice say, ‘I choose Mary.’ Never has reluctant virtue been so rewarded. I still see her face undimmed in my memory. She lifted her head, and on her face, reddened with pleasure and surprise and embarrassment all at once, was the most genuine look of delight and even pride that I have ever seen, before or since. It was so pure that I had to look away because I knew I didn’t deserve it. Mary came and took my arm, as we had been instructed, and she walked beside me, bad leg and all, just like a princess…” Daniel Taylor concludes the story, staying, “I never saw Mary after that year. I don’t know what her life’s been like or what she’s doing. But I’d like to think she has a fond memory of at least one day in the sixth grade. I know I do.”
                1. it’s easy to recognize hate when it’s a full-throated rage directed at another for whom we have a visceral dislike
                2. it’s much more subtle when, in the words of Gone With the Wind hero Brett Butler, “I just don’t give a damn”
                3. sadly, too many believers just don’t give a damn about other believers
                    1. it’s not that you feel any animosity or hostility toward them—you don’t
                    2. it’s not that they’ve offended or injured you in any way—they haven’t
                    3. but neither do you go out of your way to befriend them, or say a kind word to them, or minister to them or serve them
                4. the author of the Book of James gives us one of the clearest illustrations of this
                  • “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:15–18, NIV84)
            3. to not put the needs or interests of the brethren before our own is, very possibly, to walk in darkness
                1. in short, the Apostle John and other New Testament writers are not so much concerned with how we feel about other Christians as they are with our intentions and actions to live in peace and harmony and mutual service together
                2. unless our claims to love one another elicits concrete actions, then the claim to love each other—and to love God—rings false
                    1. this is, I think, the intent of John’s argument

B. LOVE CANNOT BE NEUTRAL

    • ILLUS. In his commentary on this passage, Glen Barker writes: “Love unexpressed is not love at all. Love has no neutral capabilities. When it is absent, hate is present.”
            1. in the context of New Testament theology, Love is not a feeling; Love is not an emotion; Love is an action. Love is not deserved. Love is a choice
                1. love says "I will choose to love you. I will choose to put your needs before mine."
            2. love has been best defined for us in the person and work action of the Lord Jesus Christ
                1. it’s an amazing ability to be free from the demands of self and give without thought of return
                2. it’s the toughest test of the Christian life and that’s why I believe we have redefined it as an emotion and diluted it to a feeling so that we believe we’re loving, when maybe we really aren’t
            3. true love demands our humble service for the sake of others
              • ILLUS. In John’s gospel, we have the clearest of illustrations of the kind of love the Apostle is referring to in his Epistle. As he pens the words “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light ... “ his mind goes racing back to an event that took place on the night Jesus celebrated his last Seder Meal with the disciples. After dinner was over, Jesus did something very unexpected, but very much in keeping with his character. He took off his robes and wrapped a towel around his waste. Then he took a basin of water and a towel and, one-by-one, began to wash the feet of the disciples. When he was finished, he donned his robes. We pick up the story in John 13:12 ...
              • “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:13–17, NIV84)
                1. he tells them I have set for you an example and there is no greater example of how we are to serve one another out of a heart of love
                    1. that’s what it means to love the brethren and if we love in like manner it gives us assurance that we are walking in the light

Non of us wants to stand before the one Who appraises all things in this universe and hear Him say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your salvation is a fake. It’s not genuine. There are no identifying marks that reveal its authenticity.

What are the authenticating marks of the faith that give us an assurance that we really can count ourselves among the Saints of God?

    • A genuine Christian must believe that Jesus is the Christ who has eternally existed with the Father.
    • A genuine Christian must believe that the Christ came in the flesh.
    • A genuine Christian must regularly confess sin and seek God’s cleansing.
    • A genuine Christian must obey God’s commandments.
    • A genuine Christian must walk as Jesus walked.

This morning we’re learned that A Genuine Christian will walk in loving fellowship with other Christians.

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