Yesterday we continued our series through 1 John and I was privileged to preach from 1 John 2:7-11. As previously stated in this series, John the apostle is passionate that his readers know some things about God, about themselves, and about their faith. John does not focus on the “gray” areas or the “muddy middle”—he is interested in light or darkness.
The Light of the World
John begins this paragraph by pointing out an old command and then following it up by restating it as a new command. John was not seeking ambiguity or self-contradiction. Instead, he was pointing out that the Light of the world—Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the entire law and has certainly demonstrated light and love to a fallen world.
In addition, John points out that those who have been saved by Christ are also shining this light of the gospel into the world. In verse 8, John writes, “At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” Notice the phrase, “in him and in you” in the middle of this verse. The new command was shining in Christ as he perfectly fulfilled God’s law. In addition, John points to the fact that the gospel light is shining in the lives of those who follow Jesus. This is essential to remember, just as we see in Matthew 5:14-16.
Last of all, it’s essential to notice that John claims that the Christians had been taught this truth from the beginning. Apparently they were not accustomed to attracting unbelievers into their churches with gimmicks and trickery only to unveil the deeper doctrine later on in hopes that they would not be offended or leave. Apparently the early church embraced an approach to preaching and teaching that insisted on people counting the cost up front before they commit to following Christ.
The Test of Light and Love
In verses 9-11, John alternates from negative to positive and back to negative again as he brings his thought to a close. The statements are pointed, and intended for self examination. John is not interested in allowing people to remain confused about the state of their own soul. He desires for true believes to possess assurance of their salvation and he likewise desires for unbelievers to know they are in need of salvation.
John uses the contrast of light and darkness and love and hatred through these verses to reveal the lifestyle and pattern of a person’s life. He insists that where there is hatred for brothers and sisters in Christ, such a person is living in darkness. Darkness is a symbol for spiritual death. It may be the opposite of the culture, but as John points out, Christians are to love one another. Notice what John said in his Gospel:
John 12:46 – I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
John insists that no true believer abide in darkness. He goes on to explain the true Christian life as a life of light and love. “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:10). The person who claims to be a Christian but harbors hatred in his heart for others in the church (or outside the church) is a hypocrite who abides in spiritual death and will become a stumbling block—a hurdle for the gospel of Jesus. The world has seen enough hypocrites, as John demands, it’s time for the world to see real Christianity on display.
John concludes with a terrifying statement about the one who lives in darkness and has been blinded spiritually. John says that such a person “does not know where he is going” (1 John 2:11). What a terrifying position for a person to abide in spiritually. Such a person is on a broken road headed to an eternal hell and he has no idea where he is going because the god of this world has blinded his mind. Spiritually, he cannot see (2 Cor. 4:4).
Such a person needs Jesus and John’s goal is for you to know if this is where you are today. Do you stand in need of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ? Are you full of religion, but lost and on a broken road to eternal destruction? Keep in mind, no amount of religion is capable of saving your soul. Only Jesus Christ can save a sinner. Don’t be one of those described by Jesus who will try to offer up their spiritual resume on the day of judgment. God isn’t impressed by anyone’s spiritual resume. The only means whereby God will be satisfied is the substitutionary death of Jesus.
Matthew 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’