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The Ten Commandments Series: A New Commandment

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The Ten Commandments Series

A New Commandment

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During Jesus’ last Passover observance with His disciples, He made a profound announcement that is misinterpreted by many and not well appreciated by many others. In reality, it was revolutionary. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 John 13:34-35 [34] A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [35] By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

A new commandment? An Eleventh Commandment? No, no need to add to the Perfect Ten.

A commandment to replace the Ten Commandments? No, very early in Jesus’ ministry, He emphasized that He would not “abolish… even the smallest detail of God’s law” (Matthew 5:17-20 Matthew 5:17-20 [17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. [18] For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [19] Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Jesus emphasized the two Great Commandments about love but Jesus was quoting the Old Testament (Mark 12:28-31 Mark 12:28-31 [28] And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? [29] And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: [30] 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: this is the first commandment. [31] And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
American King James Version×
). Deuteronomy 30:6 Deuteronomy 30:6And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.
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commands each of us “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×
says “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So what was new about the love Jesus taught and exemplified?

In every discussion about love in the Bible, keep in mind that the emphasis is on action, not feelings.

In the Bible, in general, to “love” a person means to treat him or her well.

Following are the three major lessons revealed in John 13:34-35 John 13:34-35 [34] A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [35] By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×
.

A new commandment: Christ’s disciples should have a special love for one another

God and Jesus Christ love everyone (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
). While They do have a special relationship with some because of their obedience, godly character, love for God and other people, etc., They are never influenced by partiality or favoritism (Romans 2:11 Romans 2:11For there is no respect of persons with God.
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.)

Lazarus, Mary and Martha were apparently Jesus’ best friends. Clearly Jesus regarded Peter, James and John as His three closest companions (Mark 9:2 Mark 9:2And after six days Jesus takes with him Peter, and James, and John, and leads them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
American King James Version×
). And John was the disciple whom Jesus loved the most (John 13:23 John 13:23Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
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).

Jesus had a special love for His disciples (John 13:1 John 13:1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end.
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). Likewise, His modern day disciples, the saints, should have a special love for one another. Jesus said His disciples were His “friends” with whom He openly confided (John 15:13-15 John 15:13-15 [13] Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [14] You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. [15] From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.
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). Likewise, we should cultivate true friendships with our fellow Church members.

Peter wrote: “You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart” (1 Peter 1:22 1 Peter 1:22Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently:
American King James Version×
, NLT). “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8 1 Peter 4:8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
American King James Version×
). To “cover sins” means to forgive them. Only God can give absolute forgiveness, but when you truly love someone, you are willing to forgive the hurts done to you.

Having the indwelling gift of God’s Holy Spirit enables us to have an intimate relationship with God and Jesus Christ. And when two people both have the Holy Spirit, they can and should have a very close and loving spiritual relationship.

In one sense, all human beings are God’s children. In a more powerful sense, converted Christians are God’s “sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
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). One of the most important ways to love God is by loving His other children, our spiritual siblings (1 John 3:14 1 John 3:14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers. He that loves not his brother stays in death.
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, 17; 4:20-21).

Paul emphasizes this brotherly love for one another in Romans 12:10 Romans 12:10Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;
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and 13:8; Galatians 5:13 Galatians 5:13For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
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; Ephesians 4:2 Ephesians 4:2With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
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; 1 Thessalonians 3:12 1 Thessalonians 3:12And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
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and 4:9. John repeatedly urges God’s people to “love one another” (1 John 3:11 1 John 3:11For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
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, 23; 4:7, 11-12, 20-21).

Galatians 6:10 Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
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gives a practical overview of this subject. It says: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

A new love: Love people in the humble, self-sacrificing ways Jesus demonstrated

Jesus said, “I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you” (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
American King James Version×
, God’s Word. Jesus repeated this in John 15:12 John 15:12This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.
American King James Version×
and 15:17).

This is the highest possible standard of love—the Christ-like standard! Therefore, we need to study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to learn how He loved people and then imitate those ways. Paul profoundly described godly love in the inspiring 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.

As stated previously, love is taught in the Old Testament—the word “love” is in the New King James Version 147 times.  Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×
tells us to “love your neighbor” but Jesus taught that we should regard everyone as our neighbor, such as through His parable of the good Samaritan. Regarding love, Jesus expounded on many things that are not specifically explained in the Old Testament.

Jesus taught the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12 Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×
, CEV).

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
American King James Version×
). John wrote: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16 1 John 3:16Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
American King James Version×
). To “lay down one’s life” can mean dying for someone, suffering for someone, or simply sacrificing one’s time to serve someone.

Jesus’ love extended well beyond “friends” and “brethren.” Jesus astounded the people of His day by regularly showing compassion, empathy and love for the “little” people who were neglected and rejected. He touched the “untouchables.” He respected those who were deemed less important or looked down upon in that society—foreigners, women, children, the sick and handicapped (even those afflicted with leprosy), the poor, people with bad reputations from their past, etc.! His ministry was a continual labor of love.

Philippians 2:1-8 Philippians 2:1-8 [1] If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, [2] Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
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refers to how our Savior sacrificed His incredible glory and power to come to earth to suffer humiliation, torture and death out of His love for every single human being. Verse 5 tells us the main lesson: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Likewise, for God the Father to sacrifice His Son brought Him suffering beyond our comprehension.

Jesus taught that a “great” person is a voluntary servant of others (Mark 10:42-45 Mark 10:42-45 [42] But Jesus called them to him, and said to them, You know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority on them. [43] But so shall it not be among you: but whoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: [44] And whoever of you will be the most chief, shall be servant of all. [45] For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
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). “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (verse 45). After washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you (John 13:15 John 13:15For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
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). True love is humble, generous in giving and self-sacrificing.

What Jesus taught about love went even further! He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 Matthew 5:43-44 [43] You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
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).

Jesus’ enemies managed to get Him killed but godly love is very forgiving. As He was dying, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
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).

A new sign: “By this all will know that you are My disciples...

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×
).

This is a distinguishing mark of Christ’s followers! (1 John 3:11 1 John 3:11For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
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,14-18, 23; 4:7-8, 11-12, 19-21). This is a major way that God’s people should be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 [14] You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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). Being “religious” is not a distinguishing mark—there are many religious people who are selfish, self-righteous and despise others.

This point is remarkable! There have been many viewpoints regarding what are the main signs—the main beliefs, practices or characteristics—that identify the people of God who comprise the true Church of God. Sabbath observance is a sign. Jesus Himself told us another identifying sign!

This is certainly logical as well as biblical. Think of the factors that turn people off when they are contemplating attending a church. Newcomers probably know what are the main doctrines of the Church and are largely in agreement with them. But what are their first impressions when they first attend? Negative impressions result from a lack of being welcomed by several members, a lack of warm friendliness, being ignored, or being treated impolitely.

And after the newcomers have attended a few times, what are they experiencing? Do they see cliques and huddles of members who are not inviting others to join their conversations? Are they being subtly treated as outsiders? Do they see carnal gossiping? These observations show a serious lack of “love for one another.”

When Jesus said “love for one another,” He didn’t mean just “love for family members, close friends, and longtime members.” He meant for us to welcome, adopt, and embrace everyone as “part of the family.”

He meant for us to live by Romans 12 including: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (verse 10), distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (verse 13), Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (verse 15).

When people experience a congregation of Christians like that, they become convinced they are seeing part of the true Church of God.

In summary, let’s reflect on, deeply appreciate and live by the critically important instructions Jesus gave His disciples as recorded in John 13:34-35 John 13:34-35 [34] A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [35] By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×
! He taught a new commandment, a significantly higher standard of love, and a primary sign that identifies Christ’s disciples! 

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