NET: Dear friends, 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 that you have already heard. 2:8 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.2:9 The one who says he is in the light but still hates his fellow Christian is still in the darkness. 2:10 The one who loves his fellow Christian resides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.2:11 But the one who hates his fellow Christian is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
The reality of the old commandment was never fully experienced because of the weakness of human flesh, but now, because of the power of the Holy Spirit in the resurrection, the old commandment is made “new” in that it has become the reality of those who walk in the light of God. This revitalized old commandment is Christ’s love-commandment: we are commanded to “love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and to “love one another as Christ loved us”.
Everything that we saw in the Law is fulfilled by “love”.
John’s epistle makes “love” the indisputable evidence of light, and “hate” the indisputable evidence of darkness.
Anyone who claims to be in Christ and yet their disposition towards their brothers and sisters in Christ is one of “exclusion”, “slander”, “spite”, or “malice” has deceived themselves and is still captive to the darkness of sin.
Single acts of “love” or “hate” are not the evidence that John has in mind. “One” act of love does not mean you are in the light, nor does “one” act of hate indicate that you are in the darkness. The evidence of darkness is a disposition of hate and the evidence of light is a disposition of love. Long-term Christ-like “love” is the evidence of God’s light, and long-term “hate” is the evidence of sin.
One of John’s central concerns in this epistle is establishing the believer’s certainty that he or she is in the light and knows Christ. To that end, John offers two tests here: “love” and “hate” demonstrate “the light” and “darkness”. If someone says that they know Christ and walk in the fellowship of God’s light, but express darkness by hate, then they have deceived themselves and do not have the light within them. But even more than this, they are not only in the darkness of sin, but all their deeds are conceived and carried out in the darkness of sin as well.
The result of sin’s deception is that they cannot see the wrath of God that awaits them for their wickedness. Their sin has blinded their eyes and they are unable to accept the judgment of God that will recompense their lifestyle of darkness.
John’s urgent intent is that those who read this earnestly examine themselves to ensure that they are not walking in the darkness of sin, which ultimately expresses itself in hate, but that they verify that they are walking in the light by the Christ-like love being produced in their life by the Holy Spirit.