WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JANUARY 16, 2023
TOPIC: OBEY THE NEW COMMANDMENT
BY T. O. BANSO
“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7-8 New King James Version).
The Apostle John, one of the sons of Zebedee, whose brother was James, wrote both the Gospel of John and the three Epistles of John. John and James were disciples of Jesus (Matthew 4:21-22, Matthew 10:1-2, Mark 1:19-20; Luke 5:9-11). Jesus gave the two brothers the name Boanerges, “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). But Herod killed James with the sword when he began to persecute some believers in the church (Acts 12:1-2).
In his pastoral letter, the First Epistle of John, John talked about not writing a new commandment and about writing a new commandment to the church, which was an old commandment. “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7-8 New King James Version).
John was talking about loving one another and said he wasn’t writing a new commandment, but also said he was writing a new commandment. Was he contradicting himself? No. The commandment is both old and new. John called it a new commandment, the same phrase Jesus used. The commandment is true and its truth is seen in Christ and those who believe in Him.
In the Gospel of John, which John wrote, he recorded Jesus as saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34 New King James Version). Jesus described loving one another as a new commandment. But was it really a new commandment? Wasn’t that commandment in the Old Testament before Jesus was born as a human being and started His ministry?
Doesn’t Leviticus 19:18 say, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD”? (New King James Version). Take note of the concluding part of this verse: but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. So why would Jesus say that He gave a new commandment to love one another? Indeed what Jesus gave was a new commandment. And Jesus told us why it was so immediately after commanding us to love one another. Look at the verse again: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34 New King James Version).
Jesus’ commandment to love one another was new because we are to love one another as “I have loved you” (as Jesus has loved us). This is beyond loving your neighbour as yourself, as Leviticus 19:18 says. Jesus, by saying we should love one another as He had loved us was referring to His sacrificial death on the cross, which at that time, was yet to take place. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us. He said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (New King James Version). He has given us a new commandment to have sacrificial love, which is to love others more than yourself.
Jesus raised the bar of love. He said elsewhere to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). This was contrary to the teaching in His days. He said in Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (New King James Version).
Jesus gave us a new commandment to love another, not as we love ourselves, but as He had loved us. Building on Jesus’ teaching, the Apostle John said as you have read in 1 John 2:7-8 that he was writing to the church no new commandment but an old commandment, which they heard from the beginning, but he also said he was writing a new commandment to them just as Jesus said He gave “a new commandment” to love one another as he had loved us.
See what John said that explains what he meant by “a new commandment”: “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11 New King James Version).
The new commandment is to love one another. And Jesus qualified it by saying we should love one another as He has loved us. Jesus laid down His life for us and we should do the same for another. John puts it this way in 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (New King James Version). But do we do this? Do we love one another as Christ loved us? This is the new commandment we are to obey.
John says further thus about this new commandment in 2 John 1:5: “And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another” (New King James Version).
Let us love one another. This is a new commandment but it is also an old commandment. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11 New King James Version). Verse 23 says that God’s commandment is that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another as He commanded us. Are you keeping this new but old commandment?
We should love one another as Christ loved us. Paul says to owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:10). Walk in love toward others. “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9 New King James Version). Love both Christians and non-Christians; love your friends and foes.
1 John 4:7 says we should love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love (verse 8). The Apostle John continues: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (verses 11-12 New King James Version). Let’s love one another fervently with a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22).
Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs or delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Walk in love. Obey the new commandment.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, help me to love my neighbour not just as myself but as Christ has loved me. Holy Spirit, help Christians to love one another and non-Christians as Christ has loved them. Let there be no hatred for one another.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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