These studies look at the overwhelming goodness of the Triune God. Depicted by Andrei Rublev's icon of The Holy Trinity.
 

1 John 2:7-9

7 "Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. "

John has been telling his readers that to know this God, who is all light and no darkness, is to lovingly obey Him. And of course, this obedience can be summed up as loving God and living as if He truly is light, He truly is the One who can be trusted to never deceive and betray us and that it is in His light that we can come more and more to see ourselves as we really were created to be--those who are becoming in Him, and are sharing in His light. John encourages His readers, to abide in Jesus, to "walk in the same way in which he walked."(2:6) Jesus lived His human life in the Spirit, counting on the Father to be the Father, participating in all He saw His Father doing and rejoicing in the doing because He knows the Father's heart. When we love God obey out of a trust in His faithfulness and light, we grow to know more and more our Father's heart and in our loving His heart more--we see and experience more and more His goodness and so are able to trust Him even more.

Up until now, I haven't pointed out the way John addresses his readers. In 2:1, he calls them "my little children" and here he says "beloved". Don't jump over this word too fast! John is telling them that this is the truth of who they are. It is not spoken of as a potential or a goal, but a reality. We are beloved...by God!!! This is the good news. The God who is light loves us, we are His beloved. We begin here, we are not trying to arrive there.

John is helping his beloved readers to see how what he is writing relates to the revelations of God that went before. First he points out that this is not new. The commandment to trustfully obey God is an old commandment. Remember, Abraham obeyed by faith. He makes two more points about this old commandment. First he reminds them that they had it "from the beginning." God has not changed in His love for us. His character, and His desire for us to count on Him and live out of that trust is constant. From the beginning, God has intended that His creatures have intimate fellowship with Him--a fellowship in the truth and therefore free of deceit. Secondly, John says that this old commandment is "the word which you have heard." So it is from the beginning and they have heard this in His word. It is God's eternal purpose and it is God's self revelation to them in His word. It's not a secret, at least anymore.

"Yet," John goes on, "I am writing you a new commandment." It is what they have heard before and yet what John is writing them about also is new. How can that be?

Again John makes two points. It is new because this commandment "is true in him and in you." Here is that word "in" again and this is an amazing phrase. The reason this is new is because it is now true in Christ and in us! Something has happened in Christ, the one who was from the beginning and yet John saw, heard, and touched Him. He is the life that has been made manifest to us, but it goes beyond that. Christ by His life, death, and resurrection, has made this commandment a living reality both in Him and in us. It is no longer a command outside of us, hanging over our heads, something we strive on our own to accomplish but always fail at. Jesus becomes human, grabs a hold of our humanity and makes this trusting, abiding, obedient relationship with His heavenly Father a reality in human flesh. And not just a reality for Himself, He makes it a reality in us. I find this so overwhelming that it is hard to feel that I can articulate adequately what this means. Actually I don't yet know all that this means. But I do know that it means that God has done something real in my life by uniting Himself to me in His Son. I forget this so easily and turn again to seeing God as external to me, watching and waiting to see if I am going to come through in my attempt to follow His example. But whether I always feel this is true John is saying that in objective reality, God has made this true in Christ and in me.

John goes on to say that this is a new commandment because "the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining." Again John is saying that the reason for the newness is because something has changed in reality. The triune God has already done something and it is continuing to have real effect. God didn't just change the rules, or decide to forgive us now. God did something--in Christ in us, and now John speaks on a larger scale of the darkness and the true light. The darkness that surrounds us and is in us in actually passing away--not because of us but because of God. It may appear quite immovable and all encompassing. There are times when I look around and I see incredible amounts of darkness. It can be so overwhelming. But John is telling us the truth. Actually the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

So this commandment to live in Christ is one we can participate in in a new and wonderful way because Christ has already made it real in my life. And I can trust this because I know the character of God is that He is all light and no darkness. This good news is hard to hold onto, isn't it? It is always amazing to me, no matter how many times I hear it. It was hard I am sure for John's first readers as well. We can abide in Christ, live in Christ, know the truth about ourselves and our complete inadequacy to save ourselves and yet not be crushed by it, because Christ has done all that is necessary to truly abide with us and share His life with us and make us more and more able to receive that life. Why wouldn't I then want to turn and abide in Him when He is working to accomplish His purposes for me? To resist His work, to not strive to get every obstacle to receiving His peace and life out of the way, seems ridiculous when I read John's words. But God desires to remind us of this truth again and again. Darkness deceives us. We can get entangled over and over in questioning whether God can be trusted. We easily forget not just His goodness, but His accomplishing a new intimacy with us in Christ which He is making manifest over time. As long as we are on this dark planet, we will still struggle with the darkness--in our relationships with God and each other, and in our lives. But John reminds His readers that the darkness is passing away, and we are made alive in Him--this is what God has accomplished and we can trust Him to go on being the light that is already shining.

My prayer for you is that you will see more clearly the truth that you are His beloved and will find strength in Him to turn to Him throughout the day for the trust and strength you need to obey in whatever He is leading you to do.

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