Love Knows (1 John 2:3-17)
The question gnaws at us, “How can we be sure?” How can we be sure we are in fellowship with God?” Knowing God produces true fellowship with Him (1:6-7). John concludes his test of righteousness by assuring us we know God when we keep His commandments (2:3-4). It is not enough to say we know them, we must put them it into practice. What makes an artist? Not merely learning the rules about mixing colors, but putting ones hand to the canvas with brush in hand. First attempts may prove miserable but skill comes by practice.
Further, John introduces an even richer thought. “Whoever keeps His word in him the love of God is perfected (2:5). By cultivating a love like His we know we know Him and He abides in us. Therefore, we walk as He walks” (2:6). We have same the purpose. We become like Him.
Following the test of righteousness John moves to the test of love (1 John 2:6-17). One born of God can be certain of fellowship with God by the test of love. John uses a sense of rhetoric to whet their appetite. He announces his subject only by suggesting there is no need to announce it. “No new commandment write I unto you, but an old commandment” (1 John 2:7). Christ demonstrated His love by laying down of His life. The love of Calvary is ever flowing, but also in us. It is old, heard from the beginning, but it is also new, fresh with each demonstration. This love is new in kind, not new in time. New in recognition and realization in us. His love is self-sacrificing. His love gives itself for the well-being of those in fellowship with Him.
This new commandment brings the true light and causes the darkness to pass away (2:8-11). Darkness is passing away as a parade goes by on the street. Every parade has an end. True light, the light of Son, is now shining forth as never before. Even though the gospel light is now shinning he who hates his brother walks in darkness. Ultimately, there is no fellowship with God. One who loves his brother and abides in the light has nothing in him that will block the light from his brethren.
Love is an infallible guide in all our complex relationship to men. He who hates his brother is ignorant of the stumbling blocks that are in him. Without love he does not perceive the true character of his own actions. He walks in darkness. He does not even know where he goes. He does not perceive the true character of his own actions. Darkness has blinded his eyes. Hating, he is bent on dragging others into the darkness, into the same darkness he is in, in which he walks. Hate has made his own eyes blind.
John writes as a venerable old father. Take this to heart little children. “Little children” is a term of affection, of kinship. It is not used with reference to age but a generalization. John is really preparing them in order to better stress the more stringent demands of loving the world vs. loving the Father (vs. 15-17). Having tasted the heavenly gift, they know the Father. They have overcome the wicked one and will not allow themselves to be ensnared by lust of flesh, lust of eyes or pride of life.
Also, he speaks to fathers. “Fathers” is a reference to older men. Men who have gained much personal knowledge and who are ripe in development having lived in fellowship with the Lord. They are mature believers with long and deep experience. We often look to mature experience for an experienced point of view, a calm untroubled depth of conviction and a clear eyed judgement upon life which youth cannot have.
Additionally, he speaks to “young men” who are the strong who have fought and conquered. Who have learned to say “No” to sin. Their having waged a good warfare is proof of their strength. They are strong because the word of God abides in them.
Therefore, while the privilege of age is knowledge, the task of youth is conflict. It is in the experience of development when the most critical decisions of life are made. There is a knowing characteristic of children which must precede the fight; and, there is a knowing of the fathers that comes after the fight. We take as a starting point the gift of God in Christ, the forgiveness of sins and the knowledge of the Father. Then we advance with full assurance of everlasting life and union with the Father.
Furthermore, it is useless to urge those who are still of the world not to love the world (vs. 15). Only when people have overcome the wicked one, know the Father, know the Son, have the remission of sins, can we admonish them as John does here.
The world is wherever the kingdom of the carnal mind reigns. The world is ruled by the wicked One. “If anyone loves the world, the Father is not in him” (2:15). The love of God does not dwell in him as the ruling principle. The love of the world and the love of the Father are not compatible. Not even just a little bit, but absolutely incompatible. “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life – is not of the Father but of the world” (2:16).
Lust of the flesh is a sensuous, passionate desire for the gratification of all that the flesh craves. Appetites of the flesh are wholesome. Nothing can be more innocent than the pleasure that accompanies their legitimate satisfaction. Their degradation comes not from the soul but from the will. Degradation comes because their will is not dominated by the ruling love of the Father.
Lust of the eyes is simply covetousness or love for the material. All that God made is good. But if the light of God is shut out the desire for and delight in the beauty of all God has made is merely lust of eyes. That is merely the love which leads to greater avarice. A craving love of beauty divorced from the love of goodness.
There is a vain sense of security that comes from the pride of life. The pride of life moves one to trust in his own power. It brings an empty sense of assurance. The pride of life enables man to shamefully despise and violate divine law and human rights. It is living without looking up to God with a heart of dependence and submission.
The lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life are not of the Father and do not originated from His will. They have no affinity with His nature. In fact, they are directly antagonistic to Him. They are part of life without the need of God.
“He who walks as He walks in him the love of God is perfected.” “He that does the will of God abides forever.” He who loves his brother walks in the light.” “He who loves the Father abides forever.” “By this we know that we are in Him.”
“The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one but, the kingdom of heaven remains. It is built on a rock and the Lord is its King, and forever and ever He reigns. It shall stand, it shall stand. For ever and ever, it shall stand.”
By Rickie Jenkins