A new commandment for believers – Part 1
John the beloved was inspired to write to the church about a new commandment, which he and other apostles had “heard from the beginning.” The new commandment to all believers was to “love one another” and to love God with all their hearts, souls and minds. This is also captured in other gospels. Apostle John clarified that this commandment is not altogether new because it had been given by God right from the beginning.
Conversion to Christ affords the believer the privilege to hear this new commandment and have a new comprehension of it. This results in a new life, covenant, attitude, spirit, disposition and heart “because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.”
The old man, carnal-minded, dead spirit and uncircumcised heart cannot understand, fulfill or obey the new commandment. We need a new experience, heart, spirit, faith, self-forgetfulness, vision and focus to truly understand and obey it. The self-centred man cannot fulfill the new commandment until the darkness of ignorance and Satan’s nature are taken away from his heart.
Everyone who has experienced God’s grace and salvation is expected to love one another as Christ loved us. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that we are now God’s children. As the Spirit of love, He becomes more prominent in our lives when we are sanctified. And when we are baptised in the Holy Ghost, He sheds “the love of God … abroad in our hearts…”
The new covenant is rooted in divine love. The veil of the old covenant and hardness of heart associated with it have been removed by Christ’s death. He came to demonstrate the perfect love of God as a pattern for all to follow. Jesus said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.”
Under the new covenant, God implants Christ’s love in our hearts, so, it can be expressed through our lives. With His love in our hearts, we keep the law of love, think the thought of love, speak the language of love, offer the sacrifices of love, and commit ourselves only to actions of love. True believers live under the new covenant and obey the new commandment. Others may contradict, oppose and forget the law of love, but as believers, we must obey it.
Christ’s commandment to love others as He has loved us cannot be practised by people who are destitute of God’s grace. Judas could not practise it because he was self-centred, unrighteous, incorrigible and had superfluity of naughtiness in him. Transformation by grace makes believers to be “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind.” We are required to do nothing through strife or vainglory, but esteem others better than ourselves and help others to succeed and be happy.
Where there is love, we will not deliberately hurt others with words. Rather we will always “be kindly affectioned one to another, in honour preferring one another.” We must speak the language of love. The best we can do for others is to love them — desire their salvation, security, sincerity, steadfastness and sanctification. God expects all believers to walk and live by this new commandment.
• Further Reading (King James Version): 1 John 2:7,8; John 13:34,35; Romans 5:5; 1 John 2:7,8; John 13:30,34; Philippians 2:2-5; Romans 12:10; 1 Corinthians 10:24,33; 13:1-5; Galatians 6:2.