Tom: We are continuing with the gospel. We’re in the Gospel of John—we’re in chapter 13, and we will pick up with verse 34, Dave: “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Dave, how is this a new commandment?
Dave: Well, it’s a…He explains why it’s a new commandment. We are told in the Old Testament…well, “The first and great commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy might,” and “thy neighbor as thyself” is the second—that’s the summation of the other ones.
Tom: Although its been known to be turned into three commandments, if you believe in teaching self-love and all that, but it only says two.
Dave: Okay. But now Jesus is defining this love. He has come to this earth; He has given us an example. Peter said, “He left an example that we should follow his steps.” So, now we have a qualifier, or you could say, a standard, for this love: “As I have loved you that you also love one another.” So this is a new commandment. We never had the example of Christ before, but He has come into the world, He has set the example. So now, Tom, we are free from the law. We’re not under the law anymore; we are not under the Ten Commandments—but we have a higher standard, and that is Christ.
Tom: Now Dave, when people hear you say that: “We’re not under the Ten Commandments,” you mean we can just kind of blow those off and not even worry about them?
Dave: We have a higher law, a higher standard, even more stringent, and this is what Jesus is saying here. Now He has become the standard for keeping all of the commandments of God. It must be as He would do. That can only be if Christ has come to live in me. So, now Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ is living in me,” okay? And He fulfills the law in me, but it is a higher standard.
Remember He said, in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard it said of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery. I say to you, he who looks upon a woman to lust after her in his heart has committed adultery with her in his heart.” So now we have God himself has come to this earth to explain what He means, and really, Tom, it relates to, you know, what we were talking about at the beginning of the program, the testing of our works with fire. God’s standard will be the judge, and so now we have a new standard. Christ has come to this earth, the second Man, the last Adam—He has demonstrated the perfect fulfillment of the law, and He says, “Now that’s how you are supposed to live.” So, it’s not the letter of the law anymore that I go by, but I go by the standard that Jesus Christ has set, which is far higher.
Tom: Dave, isn’t another difference here, the law—the Scriptures talk about it being our schoolmaster—in other words, it was there to convict us of sin…
Tom: …but the higher law—not only has Jesus raised the bar, the standard. Dave, you referred to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is saying that committing adultery, or fornication—it’s not just the physical act, but if you look upon a woman with lust in your heart—if a man looks upon a woman with lust in his heart, now that deals with the heart of man, and it’s only through Jesus. This is what I am saying—it’s something even better. I mean it’s so unlike the law because now Jesus not only brings conviction of those things, but He enables us to deal with them. But the law couldn’t do that. The law couldn’t save you from anything.
Dave: So it’s a matter of the heart, and that’s a good study. That kind of relates to what we were talking about, the will. Is this just God doing it all? No, when you study the word “heart” all through Scripture: “If thou shalt believe in thine heart…My son, give me thine heart….” You bring an offering in the Old Testament to the tabernacle from a willing heart, and Jesus is saying you must love one another, but this must be from your heart, not just words. So, it’s easy to say, “I love you.” In fact, James talks about that, remember? He says someone comes in, he is destitute, he needs food, and you say, “Be ye warmed and filled, depart in peace”; but you don’t give him what he needs—what good does it do?
So, Jesus, then, is saying, “This must be genuine, it must be from your heart. It must be as I have loved you, and therefore I am going to have to love through you. I am going to have to come and live in your hearts and become your very life.”
And then, John:13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Not just ordinary love but Christ-like love. Tom, I think this is one of the great lacks in the church today. People that really love one another in a fellowship, really care for one another, are willing to go out of their way, are willing to give of their time. There are people that have deep hurts, probably in every church out there. But so many people have their little clique of friends, you know, only concerned about their own little circle, but there are people that need help. You know one of my dear friends, blind from the age of eighteen when he took a shotgun blast in his face. I took him to what I thought was really a good, loving fellowship of Christians, a church. He stood there after the service, blind—he can’t approach anybody—nobody comes up to him, nobody greets him, nobody wishes him well, nobody called him on the phone during the week and invited him for dinner to talk with him, to give him some companionship. No one offered a ride, can you believe it! The man was going across Los Angeles with his cane, totally blind, changing buses, and walking across busy streets, finally to get to this, supposed fellowship of believers with loving compassionate people. They may have showed some love to one another—“You love those who love you? what thank have ye,” Jesus said. “Even the publicans, the sinners, do the same.” So, I’ve…
Tom: Dave, a major part of the problem here—you’re referring to the church—we have a church, almost a full generation of church, that’s been taught to love themselves. Why would you expect anything different when the focus is not to others? This is an oldtime thing, self-denial, selflessness, but we’re in a generation of self and self-love and self-esteem. Why would we act any different?
Dave: It’s not only taught, as you said, in the world, but the church—I find that incredible—has taken up the philosophy of these selfist psychologists.
Tom: And it’s preached from pulpits. So, you have not only a mixture of concepts and ideas totally out of the world. Look, the church turns to somebody like Erich Fromm to learn about love? A godless anti-Christian? It just boggles the mind. So we’ve got to get back to this. We’ve got to get back to what the Word says.
Dave: So when Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we have the teaching in the church today that that means you must first love yourself before you can love your neighbor.
Tom: So now it’s three commandments, as I said earlier.
Dave: Right. And Jesus is saying, “Look, your problem is you love yourself too much. Give a little of the love that you are bestowing on yourself, how about giving some of that to your neighbor?” John:13:36-38, “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” What a shock! And Peter could not believe it. And in another gospel, he insists, No, he is going to lay down his life.
We have to remember, it wasn’t just Peter—we focus on Peter—it wasn’t just Peter who denied Jesus, who forsook Him, but it says, “Then they all forsook him and fled.” And this is the very love that Christ is talking about: “I want you to love one another with the love that I have loved you, with the love wherewith I have loved you,” and they can’t even love their Lord. They are turning to themselves, and when He is taken, they can’t believe it. This is the man who stilled the waves, He walked on water, He raised the dead, and suddenly He seems helpless and they haul Him off? Well, they turned tail, each one thinking only of himself—self-preservation. What a tragedy!
And Peter says, “Oh, I’m okay,” and they all find out they’re not. And, “You can’t follow me to the Cross. I’m going to have to die in your place, and then I will rise again, and I will live in you.”