“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 but still hates his fellow Christian is still in the darkness. The one who loves his fellow Christian resides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 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”.
In 2.7, John spoke of this old commandment, something that God has always asked of His people. Here in vv.8-11, he unpacks and explains it a little.
So, on the one hand it’s not new at all and John says the people have already heard it (v.7). Here though, John says that on the other hand, there are new elements and facets to it. Perhaps the people lacked a true and consistent example of what this commandment to love God and one another looked like in action.
This example came in the person of Jesus. This new commandment…is true in him, and now in you. John writes, essentially, that those claiming to be Christians cannot hate his fellow Christian. This is self-deception of the highest order: claiming to be following and living in the light but actually living in the darkness.
The command to love God and one another (Matthew 22.37-40) was exemplified and personified in Jesus. This was the old commandment of v.7, and is also the new commandment of vv.8-11. Old in that this has been a constant command, new in that it has now been fleshed out, personified, and exemplified in Jesus. No longer do we need to wonder how to love God and one another, no longer do we need to wrestle with the practicalities of how to go about this.
So, when you are confronted with a situation wherein you don’t inherently know how to put the old commandment into action, think about the new commandment…which is true in him and you. When you don’t know how to act or react, think about the true light. When you don’t know what to do today, think about Jesus.