ROBERT >> We are considering 10 questions for testing your connection with God from 1 John. This test is different from most. You have to get all the questions on this test right to stay connected. A wrong answer on any of the 10 questions will cause you to break your connection with God. Already we’ve discussed the first three questions: What do you think about Jesus? Are you honest about your sin problem? And, Do you keep the commandments of Christ? Today we ask, Do you love your brother?

SINGING >> Blessed be the Lord God Almighty who reigns for evermore.

ROBERT >> The question, Do you love your brother?

comes from 1 John 2:7-11. Let’s read it together. “ 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. 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.”

Love is an interesting word, isn’t it?

We use it a lot of different ways. I tell my wife I love her, but I also love hamburgers.

When you hear the word love, what do you think of?

There are several different words in the Greek in which the New Testament was written, different words for love. One speaks of erotic love, one of affection.

But John uses the Greek word agape, which speaks of good will towards your brother. If you love, if you agape your brother, you’ll only want what is best for him. There’s a couple of things I want you to notice about the passage this morning as we consider this question about loving our brother.

The first thing I want you to notice is this, that this idea of loving your brother is a matter both old and new.

Look again at chapter 2 verse 7. “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you 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.”

So John, is it an old commandment or is it a new commandment?

Well, in Leviticus 19:18 Moses commanded Israel to love your neighbor as yourself. That was a long time ago. God’s people were familiar with the idea of loving your brother long before Christ ever came to the earth. So in one sense, it’s an old commandment.

But notice that with the coming of Christ it took on new dimensions. Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians in chapter 3 verses 17 through 19 “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.”

So you see, Jesus Christ took that old commandment, and he made it new. And I want us to think about some ways that Jesus makes love new.

First of all, Jesus makes love new in emphasis. In the law of Moses, it was just one of many laws. It was not explicitly given in the 10 commandments, for example, but it was hidden amidst numerous other miscellaneous laws there in Leviticus chapter 19. But Christ tells us that to love God and to love your neighbor are the two greatest commandments upon which all the law hangs, Matthew 22:37-40.

And the apostle Paul, he said it’s the sum and the fulfillment of the law, Romans 13:8-10. And so you see how Jesus and Paul were both giving new emphasis to this commandment about love.

Let’s go to 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Many of you probably were thinking about this as we began talking about love today, because this is known as the love chapter. Many of you could probably quote some of the verses out of this chapter. Because of the emphasis that it’s given in the New Testament, we’re mostly familiar with it. Here’s what Paul wrote here at the beginning of this chapter.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging symbol. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

You see, the apostle Paul understood the importance of love. It didn’t matter if he could speak like angels. It didn’t matter if he could prophesy, if he had great understanding, if he had all faith. If he did not have love, he said I’m nothing. I’m just a big, fat, spiritual zero. It profits me nothing. And thus we see again that great emphasis given to love in the New Testament.

In Colossians 3:14 the Bible says, But above all these things, talking about the great characteristics of Christianity, he said, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

1 Peter 4:8, Peter said,” And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.”

So you see how Jesus Christ gave a new dimension by giving a new emphasis to love. You see it in his teachings and the teachings of his apostles, of his followers as they recorded these things in the New Testament.

But think about another way that Jesus has made love new. Jesus has made love new in example. There are many examples of love from the Bible, but none are greater than the example of Jesus.

The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:2 that Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. That unselfish, sacrificial love is the greatest example of all. You know how he emptied himself, having been on an equality with God, in the form of God, there with God in the heavenlies, in the glory of God, he emptied himself. He became one of us, human beings. Born of the virgin Mary, begotten by the power of the Holy Spirit, he dwelt among us in the flesh according to John 1:14.

He lived among us in teaching, healing, helping, loving everybody. He loved his apostles. He was so patient with them. Though they were so slow to learn from him, they would argue about who was the greatest when he was trying to teach them humility, you remember how on one occasion he took the towel, put it around his waist and began to wash their feet?

Or out in the garden that night when he was arrested, how they all fell asleep?

And then when they came to arrest him, they forsook him in the night?

And though one would betray him, another deny him three times, and all would refuse to believe in his resurrection until they saw him, still he loved them.

Jesus loved the tax collectors, so despised in that day. He loved the harlots, the sinners. He loved the little children.

And perhaps what is seemingly most profound about his love is how he loved even his enemies. On the cross he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

He gave himself an offering for the sins of the whole world. There’s no greater love than that.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.

Thank God that Jesus was a friend to the world. Yes, Jesus made love new. He made love new in its emphasis.

He made love new in his example.

But Jesus also makes love new in experience. You see, to be loved by Christ was something new, never experienced by those in the past; but all of us who are Christians have known this love from the beginning of our new life in Christ.

And that’s why John would say you’ve known this from the beginning. This is why Jesus says, A new commandment I give to you, “that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:34-35.

You see, they had been taught to love, but Jesus now had loved them. And knowing his love, they ought to show that love to one another. And then others could see that they truly were the followers of Jesus Christ.

It’s as Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:9, “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.”

It is true as John says,”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,” 1 John 3:16.

You see, the command to love your brother is both old and new. It’s been around a long time, but Jesus made it new.

Now there is something else I want us to notice from our text here in 1 John chapter 2. Not only is it a matter of both old and new, but this is also a matter of light and darkness.

Notice at the end of verse 8, “Because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 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.”

We have seen how that John uses these terms of light and darkness to speak of God’s righteousness and man’s sinfulness.

You remember back in chapter 1 and verses 5 through 7 “how God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, and that if we say we have fellowship with God and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of His Son cleanses us from all sins.”

Yes, according to John, the light is shining in those who love their brother, and the darkness is passing away. But if you hate your brother, John says, you’re still in the darkness. Look at what a difference this makes. In the light, John says, there’s no cause for stumbling.

Have you ever been visiting with somebody and you had to get up in the night and find your way around the house in the dark?

If so, you probably ran into the furniture or tripped on something in the floor.

It’s dangerous, isn’t it?

You can hurt yourself. But how much more dangerous and hurtful is it to hate your brother?

In the darkness, John said you don’t know where you’re going. You may be trying to find a bathroom and end up the closet. That would be bad, wouldn’t it?

But how much worse if you get lost trying to find your way to heaven. Love your brother so that you do not stumble nor cause your brother to stumble.

Love your brother so that neither you nor he lose your way to God. This commandment to love your brother is both old and new, but it’s also a matter of light and darkness.

So let me ask you this morning, what is your answer?

Do you love your brother?

Let’s go back to that love chapter, 1 Corinthians chapter 13, and let’s see what love really is supposed to look like so that we can compare it to our own life and see can we honestly say I really do love my brother? Here’s how Paul defines it.

1 Corinthians chapter 13 beginning in verse 4, he says, “Love suffers long.”

You see, what Paul is telling us here is that love is patient. We saw that with Jesus and his disciples and how patient he was with them. And we must be as patient with one another. If the Lord has been patient with us, and surely he has, we know how that we have disappointed him and discouraged him and failed him time and time again, and yet he still loves us. That’s the kind of longsuffering, that’s the kind of patience that must be seen in our life towards one another.

Paul goes on. He says not only love is patient, but he says love is kind.

When’s the last time you did an act of kindness for somebody?

When you saw your brother in need, when you saw your brother needed a word of encouragement, when you saw that maybe you could just help them out maybe with their children or maybe with something around the house, whatever it is, are you kind towards one another as Christians?

Or are we mean?

It seems like sometimes in the family, those that are closest to us, we’re most familiar with we take for granted, and we’re not as kind as we really ought to be. But this is the kind of love that God wants of us and will tell us whether or not we’re really connected with him.

Paul goes on, Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy. So many times it’s this ill attitude of the heart that causes brothers to be separated from one another. We envy. We want what they have. We wish we had what they have, and that causes us not to love them, but to hate them.

So Paul says if we really love our brother, we’re going to be patient, we’re going to be kind, we’re not going to envy.

But then he says, Love does not parade itself; it’s not puffed up. Pride often stands between us and our brother.

There’s no place for pride in that relationship or any other. We ought to relate with one another in humility, to serve one another just as Christ humbled himself and came to this earth and served us. The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.

Paul says this ought to be seen in how we treat one another, with love. Love is not proud. It’s not puffed up. It’s not about me. It’s about that other person, how I can help him, just as Christ has helped me.

Paul goes on, Love does not behave rudely. Oh, how many times we’re flippant, we’re careless, we’re not very thoughtful, and we say and we do things that are so rude towards one another.

Let us learn again to be kind, to be patient, to be those that are always looking for an encouraging word from one another, to try to overlook the faults of others, because none of us are perfect.

Help them where we can help them, do what we can to encourage them in the Lord.

Love does not seek its own. The idea here is again it’s not about me. It’s not what I want or what I think. It doesn’t have to be my way all the time. I need to put others first, consider them before myself and what they would want and what they think and what they care about, what their interests are.

Paul goes on, Is not provoked. Love is not something that is angered so easily. Sometimes many of us, we blow up at almost anything, and it’s almost impossible then to have a real relationship with somebody else. And so he’s telling us to take control of ourselves and to see what we can do to use that passion, that emotion to help others and not to turn against them.

Love does not think evil. It thinks no evil. It’s not about how I can get back or retaliate or what evil things I might be able to do towards somebody else, but again what can I do to help them, to truly love them, to bring them towards heaven.

Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Yes, if we really love our brother, we want them to know the truth, we want to show them the truth, we want to be genuine and sincere towards them, we want to be real Christians and have genuine love in our hearts for our brothers.

And I love these last words of Paul’s definition of love. As he describes it, he says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails.”

Yes, love is a powerful thing. Love bears all things. It’ll put up with whatever it has to put up with to accomplish the will and the purposes of God. In those marriages that are difficult, in those relationships in the home with brothers and sisters or parents and children, in our relationships in the church, as we think about loving our brother, let’s learn to be those that would bear with one another, that would not just put up with them, but put up with them because we love them and we really care for them.

Love believes all things. Let’s give our brother the benefit of the doubt. Let’s try to help him along his way and not try to tear him down the first sign of maybe making a fault of slipping or doing something wrong. But let’s try to see the good in our brother and the potential in our brother and to encourage him in that way.

Love hopes all things. Love is positive about the future. It’s positive about our brother. It says hey, something good can come out of this.

It endures all things. The idea is that we’re never going to quit loving. Whatever the trial, whatever the affliction, whatever the suffering or the sorrow, we’re going to get through it together, because love never fails.

Yes, it’s love that will bind us together in the Lord and truly help us to help one another towards heaven. This is the love that God has given to us through Jesus Christ.

This is the love that he expects us to give one another if we want to stay in the light where we’ll not stumble and lose our souls and so we can stay connected with him.

Oh, if you’ve never made this connection with God, if you’ve never heard his love but now you’ve heard it, if you’ve never responded to that love, loving God, giving yourself to him, trusting him with your soul, come to him today.

Turn away from your sin, confess Jesus as the Son of God, confess him as your Lord and your savior, being baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins.

Become a Christian today. God will add you to his church. And we as God’s people want to help you to come to Christ and to be a Christian, to help you on your way home to God.

If you’ve lost that connection you once had, come back to God, come back to his church. Let us pray with you. Let us do what we can to encourage you.

Please let us know here at The Truth In Love what we can do to help you towards heaven today.

SINGING >> No tears in heaven, no sorrows given,
all will be glory in that land.
There’ll be no sadness,
all will be gladness when we shall join that happy band.

No tears in heaven fair,
no tears, no tears up there.
Sorrow and pain will all have flown.
No tears in heaven fair,
no tears, no tears up there.
No tears in heaven will be known.

Glory is waiting,
waiting up yonder where we shall spend an endless day.
There with our savior we’ll be forever,
where no more sorrow can dismay.

No tears in heaven fair,
no tears, no tears up there.
Sorrow and pain will all have flown.
No tears in heaven fair,
no tears, no tears up there.
No tears in heaven will be known.

Some morning yonder we’ll cease to ponder
o’er things this life has brought to view.
All will be clearer,
loved ones be dearer
in heaven where all will be made new.

No tears in heaven fair, no tears, no tears up there.
Sorrow and pain will all have flown.
No tears in heaven fair,
no tears, no tears up there. No tears in heaven will be known.

ROBERT >> I’m so glad that you joined us today, and I hope you found today’s lesson helpful.

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SINGING >> The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord lift his countenance upon you,
and give you peace, and give you peace,
and give you peace, and give you peace;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you, and be gracious;
the Lord be gracious, gracious unto you. Amen, amen, amen, amen.

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