1 John 2:7-11
 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.  On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.  The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.  The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.  But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The last session was finished while I was explaining about the old commandments and new commandments in 1 John 2:7-8.
Whether in old commandments of the Old Testament or in new commandments of the New Testament, the original heart of God in the commandments is love.
He wants us to love Him with all our heart and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
So, the Apostle John did not say what he is writing is not a completely new commandment but it’s the old commandment that they had from the beginning.
But without the works of the Holy Spirit, it’s difficult for men to either understand the love of God or practice it with a true heart.
For this reason for the people in the Old Testament times, they needed the Law of the deeds.
In the last session, I gave you the example of the Law that says ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.
Originally, what God wants from us is to act without any evil towards our neighbors. Even if they do something evil to us, we are not supposed to repay the evil with evil.
God wants us to forgive, understand, and love others.
But even though God has made this will of God known to people, they could not understand it or obey it without the works of the Holy Spirit.
This is the reason why God had to tell them to pay back only an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
He wanted people to refrain from doing evil to others for fear of being punished themselves.
Also, to those who suffered evil from others and desire to pay back the evil, God put certain limits and restrictions on what they could do.
Let me give you another example.
According to the Law of the Old Testament, if a man found fault with his wife, he was allowed to divorce her by giving her a certificate of divorce.
But the original will of God is not whether to give a certificate of divorce or not, but not to get divorced at all.
Malachi 2:15 says, “Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.”
But in reality, many people do not keep their marriage holy but change their mind following after their lusts.
In this case, if the husband just deserts his wife just because he doesn’t like her, she has to worry about making her living.
But then, if divorce had been strictly prohibited, then women would have been put into a more serious situation.
What if the husband does not care about his wife at all, even though they are not divorced?
She cannot even meet another man, and it would be a great trouble for her.
So, telling the husbands to give a certificate of divorce is the minimum safeguard for a woman.
It’s the Law that reflects the heart of God who doesn’t want the husbands to act in dissipation and who wants the women to be protected.
But many people misunderstood this law and just stuck to the deeds, thereby applying the law contrary to the actual will of God.
They repeated taking and deserting wives according to their lust, and they thought they were justified because they gave their wives a certificate of divorce.
Jesus stated the true will of God about this commandment.
Matthew 19:8-9 says, “He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'”
Likewise, the new commandments state more clearly the will of God that is contained in the old commandments.
Now, Jesus did not command the giving of a certificate of divorce. He clearly told us, “Getting a divorce is not the will of God. Cast away lust and changing of minds, and keep your marriage with a true heart.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as explained new commandments are not something completely different from old commandments. You can understand it as being the “old commandments” to which love has been applied.
But today’s reading passage 1 John 2:8 says, “On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”
The ‘darkness passing away and the true Light already shining’ means that Jesus broke the authority of death.
When Jesus died on the cross and resurrected He broke the authority of death.
Those believers who believe in this can be set free from the authority of death and gain life, and we can walk in the light by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit helps us, we can understand the heart of God, and we can change our heart with the truth.
We can obey from the depth of our heart by realizing the love of God contained in the Law.
That is why John says this new commandment that he is writing again is true in Him and in you.
Namely, it’s not only Jesus who did the true will of God but also we believers can follow the true will of God and practice the truth.
Brothers and sisters, today, in our Christian lives, we do not keep all the Law of the Old Testament in deeds.
However, it doesn’t mean that we abolished the Old Testament. It means that we understand the spiritual meaning, and keep it.
Though we don’t keep the old commandments literally, we still have to apply them with spiritual understanding.
For example, let me talk about the Sabbath for a moment.
In the Old Testament, God prohibited working, merchandising, and entertainment on the Sabbath.
In the New Testament, too, we have to understand the meaning of the Sabbath and keep the Lord’s Day holy.
But we do not unconditionally prohibit working and business transactions on the Lord’s Day.
The true meaning of God prohibiting working and merchandising on the Sabbath is for our souls to get a rest in God on that day.
Jesus said the Son of Man is the lord of the Sabbath, and He said good works that give life in the Lord are allowed.
If you pay for public transportation when you come to church to attend worship service, we don’t say you had a business transaction.
It’s the same with using accommodations and restaurants on a Sunday while you are on a missionary trip.
If it is not for your personal benefit or to enjoy worldly entertainment, but necessary for the kingdom of God, God does not say we violated the Lord’s Day.
But you should apply the commandment not just on these different occasions but also according to the measure of faith.
For example, suppose a new believer wants to attend Sunday morning service and open his shop in the afternoon.
If you just tell him that he can’t do that because he has to keep the Lord’s Day Holy, he might just give up attending church.
For those who do not have sufficient faith, as in this case, you should let him attend just the morning service.
Commandments are given to save life, namely to save the souls.
We cannot make a soul completely set himself apart from life by forcing him to keep the commandments.
In the beginning you can let him attend morning service, but you have to keep on planting faith in him so that he can willfully keep the whole Lord’s Day.
You have to wait for him to grow up in faith and to keep the commandments completely through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Here, you should be careful about the fact that God sees the heart of men.
Even though two different people buy something on the Lord’s Day, it might be a violation of commandment for one, and the other might receive the mercy of God according to each one’s heart.
For example, a new believer might dine-out on a Sunday, but leaders in church must prepare for meals before Sunday.
Also, if you are not a new believer and have faith to keep the Lord’s Day completely, and still buy something using the excuse that it is for the church, then it is a violation of the commandment.
Also, it is also a violation of the commandment for those who have experienced the Holy Spirit and the grace of God to work on Sundays for personal gain.
Let me give you some more examples.
First, let’s say that the church is building a sanctuary and a company that is run by unbelievers is building it.
Here, suppose they inquire whether or not they can continue their construction on Sundays.
The church needs to finish the construction as quickly as possible for the current building is too small.
If the construction is delayed because they have to stop on Sundays, it will cause the church members to have difficulties.
Also, suppose that since those who are doing the work are unbelievers and even if they don’t work, they will not go to church.
In this kind of a case, it is OK to continue the construction on Sundays to finish it quickly.
It’s not for a personal benefit but for the life of so many souls and for the work of God.
The same goes with military or the police who are working for the country and having to work on a Sunday shift. We don’t say they violated the Lord’s Day.
It’s allowed because they are not working for their personal benefit, but they are bound by the country.
In this kind of a case, they can attend worship services by other means as I explained before.
Of course, if possible, it’s better that they change the shift and completely keep the Lord’s Day holy.
There are also national exams given on Sundays.
We have some national exams given on Sundays since it’s not a Christian country.
Suppose those who want to become lawyers cannot avoid taking the exam because it is held only on Sundays.
Here, what is important is their willingness to keep the Lord’s Day holy having reverence for God.
They can attend the worship service as best as they can and spend the rest of the day with a godly mind.
But if you think, “I have to prepare for the bar exam, so I will just attend the morning service and go home to study,” it means you really have no desire to keep the commandments.
If you do not keep the Lord’s Day holy by seeking after personal benefit and making various excuses, it means you don’t have reverence for God.
Let me give you another example. It’s not about a commandment written in the Bible, but sometimes the church sets some rules.
For example, when you dispose of some holy materials or the properties of the church, it is announced that you have to do that through those workers in charge in a particular department.
The church has not made such rules to cause you inconvenience.
It is to let you understand about the reverent attitude that we should have towards God.
In fact, before the church made such rules, many church members had wondered just how such things were to be disposed of properly.
Because you have reverent fear of God, you did not feel comfortable to just go ahead and dispose of holy materials along with other garbage.
But because the church established a set of rules for it, you gained comfort in carrying out such a task.
The church did not say you have to bring everything to the church. You are just given a set of guidelines.
The properties of the church and such things as the prayer handkerchief will be disposed of by the church, but you are not supposed to bring towels just because they have the name of the church on them.
Whatever way you dispose of them, what you have to remember is that you must have reverent fear and respect for God in dealing with the things that are related to God.
If you do have reverent fear and love for God, it is not something difficult to keep His commandments.
On the other hand, you might feel you are bound and burdened by the commandments to the same extent that you do not revere or love God.
I hope you will love God with all your hearts so you will easily be able to keep all the commandments.
Let us now look into the following verses from 1 John 2:9-11.
“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.  The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.  But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Previously, I said that the original heart of God in both the old commandment and the new commandment is the same.
The commandment in other words is ‘love’.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.’
Also, Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”
Mark 12:29-31 also says, “Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;  and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The second of the two foremost commandments is that we have to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
But some people say they love God but they do not love their neighbors or brothers.
Because they love God, they attend all worship services and meetings and work faithfully for God’s kingdom taking up many duties.
But when they deal with others, they act with jealousy, begrudging, hating, and quarrelling.
They pass judgment and gossip, and they even scheme to harm others.
They seem to be leading a diligent life in faith, but as long as they don’t love their brothers, they are walking in darkness.
The sinful nature of hatred is planted by Satan, and it belongs to darkness.
Envy, jealousy, arrogance, greed, pride, and other natures of darkness are related with hatred.
If you love, you will not be jealous, and you will not try to lift yourself up in pride before others.
If you love others, you wouldn’t try to have more than them, and you wouldn’t insist on your pride.
You hate because you are jealous. You hate because others have more than you do.
People do not enjoy peace of mind because of this ‘hatred’.
In many cases, they say they want to go into spirit so much, but they stay at the same spot because they do not cast away the root of hatred.
They hate their colleagues or neighbors.
If they have to meet with those whom they hate everyday, how agonizing it will be for them!
Sometimes, they hate their spouses, children, or parents, and cause pains to themselves dwelling in darkness.
Of course, they must have their own reasons.
Others may have done something that you cannot understand at all. They may have acted with great evil to you, and they always seem to give you such a hard time.
But in today’s reading passage, it says that the eyes of those who hate others are blinded by darkness.
They are blinded and cannot see from the other’s viewpoints. They just think from their own standpoint because they cannot understand others.
They are blinded in the sense that they cannot seek others’ benefits and they can only seek their own benefit.
If you think in goodness in all things and understand others from their points of view, you will never hate anybody.
Before I came to believe in God, I was despised by my wife’s family so much because I was suffering from many diseases.
I had to suffer a great pain from them because I couldn’t work and I made my wife suffer a lot.
I didn’t want to become sick, but I had to suffer great pain in heart because of that. This led me to hold grudges in my heart.
I wanted to pay them back thinking that I would take some kind of revenge through my success, that is, if I could get well.
At that time, I was thinking only my side of the argument, and I felt it was natural that I had such grudges.
But after meeting God and I came to know the truth, all this hatred just melted away.
I came to see from the viewpoint of others.
I didn’t intend to do wrong, but from their stand point, they must have been disappointed and sad, and that is why they acted that way toward me.
Instead of feeling the hatred, I felt sad for them and they also seemed lovely to me.
I hope your eyes will be wide open that you will be able to see from the viewpoint of others.
Even though they are acting in evil, please understand their hearts.
If you can understand them thinking, “He couldn’t help it. His situation forced him to do that. He had to act like that for he inherited such heart and he was raised in such circumstances,” then you will have comfort.
Sometimes, even though you treat others with goodness, they keep on acting with evil towards you.
But in fact, those who hold evil in their heart will suffer the most.
They do not have peace. They are trapped in their ill-feelings and how unhappy they are!
Thinking of these things, even though others act evil towards you, you can have mercy on them rather than feeling bad about it.
I hope all of you here will love, understand, accept, and serve any kind of soul.
In doing so, I hope you will cultivate the love of the Lord in you completely.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s reading passage, 1 John 1:10 says, “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
‘There is no cause for stumbling in him’ means he can be spiritually confident before God.
If we love our brothers and walk in the light, we can confidently say that we love God.
We can ask of God boldly when we pray.
Even your children, if they are obedient to you and have peace with you, can ask you anything confidently when they need something.
On the other hand, if they are not obedient and if they are trouble makers, they will not be able to ask anything boldly.
In spirit also, those children who walk in the light and become joy to the Father will be assured of the love of God, and they can confidently ask whatever they need.
They can receive whatever they ask and they will prosper in all things.
I hope all of you will be confident before God and have no cause for you to stumble.
In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord, that you will be full of testimonies to the receiving answers to prayers and blessings from God.