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The New Commandment

The com­mand­ments to love God and neigh­bor are found in the law of Moses. They are not com­mand­ments for God’s peo­ple. They are the com­mand­ments “writ­ten on men’s hearts” and giv­en “by nature” itself. (Romans 2:14–15) They are the com­mand­ments giv­en by God in His Words to man “from the begin­ning.” (I John 2:7)

In the new covenant Church of Christ, how­ev­er, there is a “new com­mand­ment.” (I John 2:8) It is the “new com­mand­ment” giv­en by Jesus Him­self to those who believe in Him.

A new com­mand­ment I give unto you, that you love one anoth­er; even as I have loved you, that you also love one anoth­er. By this all men will know that you are my dis­ci­ples, if you have love for one anoth­er. (John 13:34)

The new ele­ment in this “new com­mand­ment” is not the teach­ing of love, for this was writ­ten in the law. The new ele­ment is that believ­ers in Christ must love as Christ Him­self loves. The new com­mand­ment is to love “as I have loved you.

Chris­t­ian love must be the per­fect love of Christ Him­self which is whol­ly divine. Chris­t­ian love must be the total­ly self-emp­ty­ing love of the Lord Him­self. It must be the divine love of God the Father poured into men’s hearts by the very Spir­it of God. It must be the love that is absolute­ly faith­ful, per­fect, eter­nal and divine.

Of all the men who ever lived on this earth, or who ever will live, only one has ful­ly ful­filled the two great com­mand­ments of God; only one has lived absolute­ly and per­fect­ly accord­ing to God’s laws; only one has loved the Father with all of His heart, mind, soul, and strength, and His neigh­bor as Him­self. This is Jesus Christ, the child of Mary accord­ing to the flesh.

There is no one right­eous before God’s law but Jesus. Only He has lived accord­ing to the law and by the teach­ings of the prophets. He alone is the one who has “ful­filled the law and the prophets.” (cf Matthew 5:17, 7:12) He alone, of all men, has loved with per­fect, sin­less, dis­pas­sion­ate love.

He com­mit­ted no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suf­fered, He did not threat­en; but He trust­ed to Him who judges just­ly. He Him­self bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to right­eous­ness. By His wounds you have been healed. (I Peter 2:22–24; cf Isa­iah 53)

Hav­ing no sin, Jesus took our sins upon Him­self and became sin “for us men and for our sal­va­tion.” (Nicene Creed) In this the per­fect love of God was per­fect­ed in a human being, that all humans might share in the love and glo­ry of God. As all of the holy fathers have said, “He became what we are, that we might become what He is… God became man that man might become god.”

For our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the right­eous­ness of God. (2 Corinthi­ans 5:21)

His divine pow­er has grant­ed to us all things that per­tain to life and god­li­ness… that you may escape from the cor­rup­tion that is in the world because of pas­sion, and become par­tak­ers of the nature of God (2 Peter 1:3–4)

Since…the chil­dren share in flesh and blood, He Him­self like­wise par­took of the same nature, that through death He might destroy him who has the pow­er of death, that is, the dev­il, and deliv­er all those who through fear of death were sub­ject to life­long bondage.

There­fore He had to be made like His brethren in every respect, so that He might become a mer­ci­ful and faith­ful high priest in the ser­vice of God, to make expi­a­tion for the sins of the peo­ple. For because He Him­self suf­fered and was tempt­ed, He is able to help those who are tempt­ed.

For we have not a high priest who is unable to sym­pa­thize (i.e., co-suf­fer) with our weak­ness­es, but One who in every respect has been tempt­ed as we, yet with­out sin­ning. (Hebrews 2:14–18,4:15–16)

God has giv­en us His love in Jesus. When a per­son is “in Christ” he can love with the love of God. This is the “new com­mand­ment,” that men filled with the Holy Spir­it should love with the love of God Him­self.

In his first let­ter to the Corinthi­ans, Saint Paul describes the per­fect love which is Christ’s gift of God to men in the Holy Spir­it. He describes what Chris­t­ian love is: the chief gift of the Spir­it of God, who is love.

Through the love of Christ, men are called to bear, believe, hope and suf­fer all things. This is what Christ has done. This is what love does. The one who does this has ful­filled the “new com­mand­ment” of Jesus and abides in the love of God. The one who does this abides in God Him­self, and already pos­sess­es eter­nal life as a mem­ber of His King­dom.