Sunday Sermon Notes: February 10, 2019

Title: Love, Hate… and a New Beginning

Text: 1 John 2:7-14

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 in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

1 John 2:7-11

In these verses, John gives one more comparison and contrast: This time it is love and hate; light and darkness. If we are in Christ, then we must love our brother and sister.  If we claim to be in Christ, yet we hate our brother or sister, then we cannot be in Christ; I think this is a fair summary of John’s point.

You will recall that John previously made the point that if we are in Christ, we must live our lives like Christ. In fact, he has made this point several times in various ways, but recall in particular 2:3-6.  Where in the Gospels can we find any indication whatsoever that Jesus ever hated anyone? Far from it!  We see Him showing love in all cases, even when He let the Pharisees have it with the seven woes.  Remember, right after that, Jesus is lamenting the fact that despite all that God has done, they insisted on turning against Him; Jesus was clearly grieved by this.  (Matt. 23:37 ff.)  When you reduce the Christian faith down to its simplest form, and I am a fan of doing this, its central idea is love God− love your neighbor. There is no room for hate in that formula.

Our brother may irritate us now and then, he may also let us down.  In truth, our brother may well be every bit as imperfect as we are, but we are to love him anyway, just as he is to love us anyway, just as Jesus loves all of us anyway. Remember that love means that we put the interests of the other person ahead of our own.

To this message from John, I’d like to add my own observation:  How much damage do you suppose has been done over the years to the Gospel by people calling themselves Christians, who fail to demonstrate His love to others? How many thousands have said “no” to Christ because of some so-called believers, who show an attitude of hatred for other people? How many have left the faith because of this behavior in the church?

Those who hate rather than love can call themselves whatever they like, they may fool many people, but they cannot fool God, and I would respectfully suggest they repent, and do so quickly.

Today, we have an amazing text, one that should be a real “Wow” text for us.

This is a transitional passage between John’s introductory section and the rest of the letter.  In verses 1:1-2:11, John has been going through this comparison and contrast that shows his readers who is, and who is not in Christ. Now, he is giving the reasons he has written the letter, and after this he gets into some very deep thoughts.  We often just blow by this little transition and wade into the content that begins in verse 15, but hold on a minute; the transition is amazing!

I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.

I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:12-14

Do you see what this is?  It isn’t so much the “who” John is addressing, it’s the “why” that is important, contrary to so much that has been written and discussed over the years.  Let’s restructure these verses:

If you are in Christ, John is writing to you BECAUSE:

  1. YOUR sins have been forgiven on account of His name.
  2. YOU know Him who is from the beginning.
  3. YOU HAVE OVERCOME THE EVIL ONE.
  4. YOU know the Father.
  5. YOU know Him who is from the beginning.
  6. YOU are strong.
  7. The Word of God lives in YOU.
  8. YOU HAVE OVERCOME THE EVIL ONE.

Did you notice the tense used here?  Each of these “because” statements is in the present tense, indicating that they are facts at this very moment, not something to come in the future. I’m sure that I need not mention that there are no “buts” in any of these statements. Now, as for the “who,” there are three “who’s” in the passage, “dear children,” “fathers” and “young men.”

“Dear children” as we have already seen is one of the ways that John addressed the community of believers; it is an inclusive term.  “Fathers” can either be literally a father of children, or it can refer to the head of the household, and in Scripture this is often the case; certainly, it is when referring to a patriarch.  In those cases, something that is true of the father is true of the household.  It seems to me that here, because of the inclusive reference at the beginning, the inclusive meaning is also true of “fathers”, particularly since there is nothing in the text that would indicate specificity of intent.  “Young men” are the heads of households yet to be born, and I think we can take this reference to mean that not only are these things true in believing households of today, but they will also be true of future generations of believing households.  You might wonder about a household of one, but remember that in John’s day, households of one were extremely unusual if not non-existent; they are actually quite a modern development. Looking at the list of statements again, it seems that we can take them to refer to all of us who are in Christ. That is also the context of the previous and following sections…

Notice that there is some repetition.  Numbers 2 and 5 are the same, but 2 comes after a reference to the Son, while 5 comes after a reference to the Father.  If you know Jesus, then you also know the Father.  Having overcome the evil one is mentioned twice also, numbers 3 and 8. Both are directed to young men, and it seems to me interesting that it is repeated the second time in a series of three statements made to young men.  Now if we have an accurate understanding of “young men,” then let’s consider these future heads of household.  They are the future, but they are also young.  They are the ones who need encouragement and the mentoring of the Elder Apostle the most, and so they, who will bear the spiritual battle in the future, need a little more instruction than those who are experienced, the veterans we might say.  Here, John gives an extra assurance that they are strong, filled with the Word, and have overcome.  I would guess that this is as much comfort to John’s “young men” in their day, as this whole list should be to us in our day. This is particularly true when we get into the rest of this letter; John is getting his readers prepared for what is coming.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to Sunday Sermon Notes: February 10, 2019

  1. We sometimes wonder what the last advice we would give people just before we died. I guess this is it: Be strong. Look where you are now. Stay there. Stay strong. Or something like that.

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