I. Introduction

A. A great deal of this epistle is accompanied by a warning or a rebuke

1. When we are warning people or rebuking them it is so easy to become coldly critical - its so easy to begin scolding them

a. it is even possible to take pleasure in seeing people wince under our verbal lash

b. yet when John has some hard things to say, the accent of his voice is love

c. he had learned the lesson which every parent, preacher and teacher must learn; he had learned to speak the truth with love

B. John now speaks of a commandment that is both old and new (John 13:34)

1. In what sense is it old and yet new?

II. It is an Old Commandment (Lev. 19:18)

A. It was old in the sense that it was not the first time John's hearers had heard it

1. From the first day of their entry into the Christian life they had been taught that the law of love must be the law of their lives

B. It was a New Commandment

1. It was new in that it had been raised to a completely new standard in the life of Jesus

2. It could well be said that humanity did not really know what love was until they saw it in him

a. something can be old in that it existed a long time and yet reach a completely new standard in someone's performance of it

b. a game may become a new game to a person when he has seen some master play it

c. a piece of music may become a new thing to a man when he has heard a great orchestra play it

d. even food can become a new thing to our taste when some great chef prepares it

e. in Jesus- love becomes new in two directions

3. It became new in the extent to which it reached

a. in Jesus love reached out to the sinner

b. to an orthodox Jewish Rabbi the sinner was the person God wished to destroy

c. they said, "There is joy in heaven when one sinner is obliterated from the earth"

4. In Jesus, love reached out to the Gentile

a. as the Rabbis saw it, the Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell

b. but in Jesus, God so loved the world that He gave His Son

c. love became new in Christ because He widened its boundaries until there was none outside of it's embrace

5. It became new in the lengths to which it would go

a. no lack of response, no amount of rejection, could turn His love to hate

b. he could even pray for God's mercy on those who were nailing Him to the Cross

c. the commandment to love was old in the sense that men had known it for a long time

d. it was new because in Jesus Christ, love had reached a standard which it had never reached before

e. it is by that standard we are bidden to love

C. To John, truth was not only something to be grasped with the mind, it was something to be done, to be practiced by the person who knew the truth

1. It is obvious, that to John, loving one another is the highest truth

2. To John being a Christian meant a progress in love

a. he will go on to tell us in the later verses how to make practical application of that love

b. to give one example turn to I John 3:16 & 17

D. Keep in mind that the first measurement of a true Christian faith is a positive one and not a negative one

1. It concludes that the proof of loving God is not that we omit what is evil but rather we do what is good

2. Many justify their Christian lives by a negative test

a. I don't lie, cheat, or steal

b. these do not constitute a true test of our faith

c. it would be~just as sensible to test life by saying, I do not drink poison, cut my throat or gouge out my eyes

d. faith is no more tested by negatives than life

3. A person can be negative without being positive but he cannot be positive without reflecting some degree of the negative

a. as we keep God's commandments we certainly cannot lie, cheat and steal

b. keeping God's commandments proves obedience and obedience proves the reality of our faith.