Abiding in the Love of Christ (1 John 2:7-11)

I.) Sanctification, the Assurance of Justification

We are back to our study of 1 John, which measures the genuineness of one’s salvation. We are not to be people who just want to think that we have eternal life, or simply assume that we do, or merely hope that we do. We want to be people that know that we have eternal life, so that our inner joy may be made complete and overflowing from understanding that we know Him and He knows us. This is after all the purpose of John’s letter:

“These things we write so that our joy may be made complete…These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”[1]

We should recall that one of the most important questions people should seek to find the answer to is not whether they know Jesus Christ, but whether Jesus knows them. He is the One who said in Matthew 7:21-23:

21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

            There will be a day when multitudes will profess to know Christ as Lord, but He will declare that He never knew them and thrust them into eternal damnation to suffer under His wrath. The gravest question for every professing Christian, therefore, is not only “Does Christ know me?”, but “How can I be sure that He does?”

The Scripture says in 2 Peter 1:10, “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

Christians are commanded to be diligent to make certain of Christ’s calling and choosing them by testing themselves and examining themselves. How will you know that you passed the test? You will recognize Christ in you. How do you recognize Christ in you? You can examine the sanctifying work of the Spirit of Christ conforming you into His image. If you do not see this, you fail the test and are assured that you do not know God. Romans 8:9 says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

It is not mere profession of faith which assures a person of their salvation, but progressive sanctification. Christ makes new creatures, and He will perfect the work He began in them until He glorifies them.[2] We will gradually draw them to hate sin and love righteousness. The observable sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers is what provides one with a confidence of His indwelling assuring the believer they are sealed for the day of redemption.[3]

All whom Jesus knows He saves, and all whom Jesus saves He sanctifies without exception. God sanctifies the justified.  J.C. Ryle said:

“He who thinks that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people has much yet to learn. Whether he knows it or not, he is dishonoring our blessed Lord and making Him only a half Savior. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require – not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but also to deliver them from the dominion of their sins by placing the Holy Spirit in their hearts, not only to justify them, but to sanctify them as well. He is, thus, not only their righteousness, but their sanctification…The very idea of a person being sanctified while no holiness can be seen in his life is flat nonsense and is a misuse of words. Light may be very dim, but if there is only a spark in a dark room, it will be seen, Life may be very feeble, but if the pulse only beats a little, it will be felt. It is just the same with a sanctified person: his sanctification will be something felt and seen, though he himself may not understand it. A “saint” in whom nothing can be seen but worldliness or sin is a kind of beast not recognized in the Bible!”[4]

II.) Previous Measures of Sanctification

Remember that when we examine ourselves, we are not looking for sinless perfection, but holy affections. We are looking for an inclination to the things of God. A growing love for that which He loves, and a hatred for that which He hates. Our works do not earn our salvation, they evidence it![5]

These tests in 1 John are not measuring one time offenses, or seasonal ruts, but a manner of life since ones profession.

So far we have seen that genuine believers in the Person and work of Jesus Christ will:

  1. Walk in the light of God by desiring His truth and seeking to live holy lives:

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”[6]

  • Be sensitive to sin in their lives leading them to open confession with God:

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”[7]

  • Obey the commands of Christ:

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.”[8]

  • Desire to imitate Jesus:

“By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”[9]

III.) The Law of Love

Our test tonight is found in 1 John 2:7-11:

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. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 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 has blinded his eyes.”

            It certainly should not surprise us to see that love is a measure as to a person truly knows God. Not only is God light, but He is the epitome of love. 1 John 4:7-8 says:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

It is only natural that those who profess to know the God of love, and benefit from His gracious love demonstrated in Christ would extend such love to others, particularly other believers. This is exactly what this test is measuring, ones love for other Christians. Jesus said in John 13:35:

            “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Now John’s opening words may seem confusing and appear to be contradictory, but we will quickly see they are not at all. He says:

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.

            I believe we should understand that the Old Commandment, the word that his hearers had form the beginning, is the Law of God itself, which is a Law of love. All the commandments of God contained in the Law hang upon the two greatest commandments:

  1. You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.[11]
  2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.[12]

Leviticus 19:17-18 says:

“17 You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”

Under the Old Testament Law, God defined what love for your neighbor looked like and told them to do it. Love your neighbor as you would want to be loved because that is what God says to do. John is encouraging believers to continue to love their neighbors as themselves because that is what God desires, but he goes on to say:

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.

Now there is no commandment in this portion of Scripture, but what we do see is a description of what believers relationships will look like when they abide in the Light and obey the new commandment he is talking about. We read John 13:35, but read what Jesus says in verse 34:

“34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

God’s people are no called to love another as themselves. They are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved them. The locus of love for the Christian is God in Christ. Christ’s love defines what our love is to look like. 1 John 4:9-11 says:

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

            1 John 4:19-21 says:

19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

John, therefore, says:

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

The hatred that is being spoken of here is “malicious and unjustifiable feelings towards others, whether towards the innocent or by mutual animosity.”[13] Any person who claims to know God, but continually harbors such hatred towards brothers and sisters in Christ is in the darkness until now.They do not know God, because God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. They do not know God, because God is love and such love has been demonstrated in Christ to us while we were yet helpless and ungodly sinners at enmity with Him. Since God poured out His love on us while we were the subjects of His hatred, we ought to love those He has also loved, for we were no different.

We are to love what God loves and hates what God hates. God loves believers with the love He has for His Son. That is the power of the gospel. To be loved by God and untied to Him when we do not deserve it. The evidence that someone is truly in fellowship with God is that they will have a love for other believers. The Holy Spirit who was instrumental in the creation of everything out of nothing is capable of producing such fruit in the hearts of the people He regenerates and indwells and seals for the day of redemption for they are new creatures in Christ.

In John 15:7-14, Jesus says:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.”

IV.) The Measure of Ones Love

W.E. Vine says this:

“Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son. But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects. It was an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself. Love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ; Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian. Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments. Self-will, that is, self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God. Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.”

Genuine love is not left without definition in the Scripture. Romans 13:8-10 says:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

            Meaning that love does no ill towards others. Romans 15:2 says, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.” In other words, it seeks the wellbeing of others. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Love truly is an action. Genuine love does not merely refrain from doing evil, but strives to do good as well.

Through the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit has breathed out for us what love is, what love is not and does not do, and what genuine love does. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffereddoes not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

It is because of this that “love never fails.”[14]

The Scripture is abundantly clear that the fruit of the Spirit is love. Do we see in ourselves a growing love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, or are our lives continually ruled and marked by hatred?

[1] 1 John 1:4; 5:13

[2] Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13

[3] Ephesians 1:13-14

[4] Holiness, J.C. Ryle; Page 44-45,48

[5] Matthew 7:16-20; John 15:5; Acts 26:20; Ephesians 2:10; James 2:17-18

[6] 1 John 1:5-7

[7] 1 John 1:8-10

[8] 1 John 2:3-5a

[9] 1 John 2:5b-6

[11] Exodus 20:3-11; Mark 12:28-30

[12] Exodus 20:12-17; Mark 12:31

[13] Vines Expository Dictionary

[14] 1 Corinthians 13:8a

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