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2 John 1:5-6 by Robert Dean
Series:2nd John (2002)
Duration:56 mins 22 secs

The Love Commandment Updated; 2 John 5-6

2 John 1:5 NASB "Now I ask you, lady, not as though {I were} writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. [6] And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it."

What is the measuring rod, the barometer? How do we evaluate ourselves to see if our lives are characterised by love? 1 John 3:16 gives us the starting point for understanding love NASB "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." When God talks about love it is grounded in character, the character of the one who loves which is God Himself. So love cannot be discussed apart from the virtue of God's integrity.

We see here is verse 6 that love is also consistently associated with the concept of keeping God's commandments. That means there is an objective standard that goes along with love. Exodus 20:6 NASB "but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." Loving God is related to keeping His commandments. Deuteronomy 5:10 NASB "but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." Love is related to obedience. Deuteronomy 7:9 NASB "Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments." Part of God's love is that He keeps promises; that is part of love. Deuteronomy 11:13 NASB "It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul…" Serving Him is tantamount to keeping His commandments. Other passages are Deuteronomy 11:22; 19:9; Nehemiah 1:5. Throughout the Old Testament there is this connection of love to serving God and keeping His commandments.

We don't lose that in the New Testament at all. John 14:15 NASB "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." [15:10] "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." This is walking consistent with that code of conduct for the believer. 1 John 5:2, 3 NASB "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." So what we see is that love is related to and measured by obedience to God's commandments. But to keep His commandments we have to know His commandments, and to know His commandments means that we have to make the knowledge of His Word a priority in our lives so that we can understand everything that God has to say and what those mandates and prohibitions are.

When we look at the Old Testament we sometimes think that it is a little different from the New Testament, but when Jesus was asked to summarise the Mosaic Law in Matthew 22:36 He answered in v. 37 NASB "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. [38] This is the great and foremost commandment. [39] The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' [40] On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." In other words, Jesus is going to summarise all the mandates, all the prohibitions in the Old Testament under two general commands. They are either commands of prohibition that are related to our relationship directly to God or our relationship directly to other human beings, and all those commandments that describe our relationship with other human beings fall under the category of loving one another as we love ourselves.

The apostle Paul makes the same kind of summary in Romans 13:9 NASB "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'." So what Paul is saying is, if you want to understand the Mosaic Law it is summarised in one word, and that is love.

1.  Scripture states that God is love. 1 John 4:8 NASB "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." [16] "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."

2.  1 John 1:5 NASB "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." Light is a metaphor for God's holiness or His purity. His holiness is comprised of two attributes: righteousness and justice. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament the same word group is used to describe both of these concepts in English. In Hebrew we have tsadiq for righteousness, and in the Greek it is based on the root dike [dikh], from which we get words like dikaiosune [dikaiosunh] for righteousness, dikaioo [dikaiow] for to justify or make righteous, dikaios [dikaioj] for justification. In terms of righteousness the emphasis is on the absolute standard of perfection. Justice refers to the application of that standard. There are many other attributes of God that are mentioned in Scripture but righteousness and love summarise all of God's character.

3.  When we look at these various attributes we discover again and again in the Scriptures that certain attributes seem to be linked together. Four attributes seem to be linked together as if they form an integral relationship, and that we call the integrity of God. These are the elements: righteousness, love, justice and truth. They are interrelated and interdependent. Actually, all of the attributes of God are interrelated and interdependent, we only break this apart and talk about ten attributes (essence box) for academic reasons, just to understand the different components that make up God. But they all function together. But these four are linked together again and again in the Old Testament. For example, Psalm 33:5 NASB "He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD." Here we see that love, righteousness and justice are linked together. Psalm 85:10 NASB "Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Psalm 89:14 NASB "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You." Jeremiah 9:24 NASB "but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD." Truth is one other aspect of righteousness. In many ways we can take any one of those three and extrapolate those and use them to describe the rest of them. This is done under a figure of speech where you use a part of something to refer to the whole. When we talk about the love of God sometimes we talk about all of God's character.

4.  Examples: The Hebrew word for love, ahab, is used 22 times in Deuteronomy, so it is a key theme in the book of Deuteronomy which is a restatement of the Mosaic Law. Deuteronomy 11:1 NASB "You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments." 11:13 NASB "it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." From this we draw a couple of extreme examples of love. Because it is included in the Law it is part of what God means to love your neighbour as yourself. These are harsh examples and if we haven't been under doctrine for very long then we are going to have problems with these. First example: Deuteronomy 21:18 NASB "If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, [19] then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. [20] They shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' [22] Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear {of it} and fear." This was written by God because He is looking at preserving the national entity. He understands what happens once authority begins to break down in a national entity and it is allowed permissively to go unchecked or unrestrained. The focus is not on, Oh this poor child! The focus is on the community as a whole, on the victims, not on the person who is committing evil; and the focus, of course, of recognition that man is inherently evil and all are born sinners, and it is the purpose of parents to teach children to control their sinful inclinations. If the child does not learn that, then what can happen as an adult is extremely dangerous to society as a whole. The second example of God's love for mankind is the example of holy war which only existed for a short time in the period Israel's early conquest of the Canaanites. This is exemplified in the commandment that was given to the Jews to go in and destroy everything in the land. Joshua 6:21 NASB "They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword." That sounds awfully harsh. We have to remember and look at this is a broader context. When God promised Abraham that land about 600 years earlier he told Abraham that at that time He wasn't going to destroy the Canaanites because their evil wasn't ripe yet. God gave them another 600 years of grace to turn to Him. Instead they rejected Him again and again and again, became more and more enmeshed in evil, and it was the Canaanites who took perversion to its greatest extremes in the ancient world. God knew in terms of the broad picture of humanity that if they were to continue, like a cancer this would infect and destroy the entire human race. It was now time, authorised by God, to surgically remove the cancer, the Canaanites from the body of the human race. We think that is harsh but that is because we bring into it totally false ideas of what love is and what justice is. The last example of where this holy war application was applied is in 1 Samuel 15. This is the operation of the justice of God. Love that doesn't operate on an absolute standard of right and wrong is not love. Righteousness that doesn't operate in a consistent manner with love is no longer righteousness, it is arrogance. When love is divorced from righteousness it becomes emotion. When righteousness is divorced from love it becomes arrogance. When justice is divorced from love it becomes tyranny.

5.  Love must operate on the basis of the totality of integrity and real love must operate on the basis of God's character. Love looks at events in terms of their long-term effects and consequences and is based on an understanding of absolutes which can be got only from the Scriptures. Love is not thought of in terms of personal or emotional characteristics. The result of this is that when we have this kind of love, when we understand what biblical love is, then we are able to handle rejection, disappointment, hostility, and antagonism, without succumbing to mental attitude sins.