The New Commandment.
We live in a world that is angry, confused and going in a wrong direction almost everywhere you look—many being absorbed by self-interest and self-preservation, without any real concern for the well-being of their neighbors. This world is very unloving and dangerous, because even religions compete against other religions in the hope of conquering some for a following. Unlike the mindset of Abraham of the Bible, who was willing to give the best land to his nephew Lot, in order to maintain peace between them; (Gen.13) being one who trusted God to take care of him. He is called the Father of the faithful in the Bible and practiced obedience to God, quite UNLIKE those who have physically descended from him in our world today.
Today 99.9% of the people in this world do not know what it means to truly love someone else, as Christ loved while in the flesh, and still does today from heaven. Therefore, the world cannot practice the intent of the New Commandment given by Christ for true Christianity. However, all true Christians should be learning to love others in this way, especially their brethren; growing in their own individual understanding, guided by the Holy Spirit. (John16:13) Now that may come across as shocking to the many, as there are millions in this world who think they are Christians and are saved, while still living their own worldly life styles. This goes against what Christ taught.
Even COG groups of today, and the many in them, (separate organizations as a whole and based on some of the leadership’s perspective) are failing miserably in this area. This is all too obvious to those individuals who truly do study and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead them to understand the word of God and His way of living. There are those today who claim to be Christians and part of the COG, but cannot seem to distinguish between true Christianity and false Christianity, by their words in their magazine, booklets and online articles. To lump false Christians in with true by general statements, seems to be a violation of the Third Commandment and cannot be done by the love of or for Christ. This is a thoughtless and lukewarm approach to naming the name of Christ. (2Tim.2:19—last part. Also see the article titled Christianity or “Christianity” for more on this subject.) The “New Commandment” is perhaps far more a serious matter than the most may realize, in this lukewarm time frame of Laodicea.
(All true Christians will desire to understand the truths of Scripture on the subject of love and search for that understanding of how to love as Christ loved. We should all have the basic understanding, if true Christians, that Christ Loved the Father and the truth first and foremost and gave Himself to fulfill the plan of God, by Loving humanity more than His own physical life. Let us read the New Commandment before going any further; John 13:34 (Christ speaking) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” NKJ—thru-out unless otherwise noted)
We find written many times in Scripture, the aspect of loving our neighbor, and this is one of the two great Commandments. (Matt.22:39) Here is one example; Rom 13:9-10 “For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (The 2nd great Commandment says the same.) 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Okay, we are to be keeping the Commandments and love does no harm to a neighbor, as we just read, but what exactly does it mean to love the disciples as Christ did? Sometimes we seem to be hurting others just by living or being alive, in their minds that is, because we get in their way, which is the opposite of the attitude Christ displayed! (This is a cruel mind-set on the part of those who think that way about others—it certainly is not the mind of Christ (Phil.2:5) as the New Commandment projects and will have to be repented of.)
The question by many becomes, “who is my Neighbor”, as was asked of Christ, (Luke 10:29) and He gave the scenario of the Good Samaritan. Now of course we have to use wisdom in this today, because many people (Sometimes even family or close friends, sons, daughters or even a wife or husband) may profess to be Christian for gain. However, they will choose to ignore God, their mate or parents in order to have their own way or live life by going the way of the world, when useful to their lusts. They may choose to have their pleasure or way now and take a chance on God’s mercy and forgiveness without really being repentant.
This takes them into areas of breaking one or more of the Commandments of God knowingly, which has serious consequences. (Of course there are also some who have made a life of being subtle “panhandlers”—even “manipulators” or “exploiters” — preying on the goodness/kindness and generosity of others to simply fulfill their own lust and desires. Sometimes these may mingle with the COG and profess to be members.) These “neighbors” will then look to others to be bailed out of the troubles they have gotten themselves into and just ride on the goodness of others. When that happens the person in trouble then pulls you into their troubles, sometimes causing others a great amount of grief, but never really learning any lessons from it nor caring about the damage they may be doing. They move on and repeat the same thing all over again when opportunity presents itself. This in no way resembles the life style of a Christian who is led by the Spirit of God and is not related to the love of the New Commandment and Christian living.
A similar example to this selfish way of living is in Luke 15:11-32, with the exception that it seems the prodigal son did finally learn the lesson of “hard knocks” and repented, returning to his father in a right attitude to plead for forgiveness. Sometimes it is far more loving to let someone suffer through some mistakes and even go through some hard Spiritual trials, as that Biblical example shows our Father in heaven does. Why? So they (Any true begotten Christian) will learn something from them. Some call this “tough” love, but we also can see this as a Biblical principal of true love. This becomes a problem for some who just do not seem to exhibit that kind of love or understand it. They cannot or will not give of themselves that much (Not willing to endure the hurt to themselves in order to help another) and put things in God’s hands to take care of their needs.
God gave Adam and Eve physical life and blessings, along with commands and instructions on how to have the best of life, but then let them choose their own way, knowing they would suffer the consequences for wrong choices—not because He did not love them—but because He does love all of mankind and wants us all to see the need to always choose the right way, as He directs. Yet He will not tolerate sinful living, nor except any kind of compromise with sin, because that is harmful to us and brings sorrow and death. When sins are committed there are consequences and penalties that have to be paid. (Rom.6:23) Thankfully Christ GAVE HIMSELF to pay those penalties for every human being, but once those sins are recognized and then repented of, we have to resist any pulls or temptation that would take us back into that way of life. We have to trust God to take care of us and our needs as we continually seek His kingdom. (Matt.6:33-34)
So it is only the few in this world today who really want to learn to love as a disciple of Christ. Again, we need to understand what is the way of a true Christian. In reviewing what Acts 11:26 says, we find it was when the disciples of Christ were first called Christians, by being followers of Christ. Peter reveals this also, about Christians; 1 Pet 4:16 “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” Why?—because Christian character is being developed in them as long as they stay focused on God and His ways—true disciples are learning to do as He did, to the best of their ability and by putting the New Commandment into action, even if it requires “tough” love and sacrifice. (Rom.12:1-2)
Phil 2:1-5 says; “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,--(RSV)
Let us examine together another passage and be honest with what Scripture reveals;
(I John 3:16-19) “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. (Did you notice this? This takes president over the physical family which may all be still unconverted, living with a wrong mindset—but this first and foremost is to brethren! This is so hard for some to learn and I realize there are some who do not want to see this explained because it would require repentance and change for them to come into line with it!)
V.17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother- (again, remember this is a brother or sister in the faith—a convert is the context here, who is in need of what help you may be able to supply at the moment. (James 2:15 & 16 is in the same train of thought.) So it is those in the spiritual family who John & James speak of as having an immediate need.) - in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” (Christ)
So, even as “brethren” we are to use wisdom and be able to discern the difference between those who are using others or us for selfish gain, and those who have a genuine need they cannot otherwise acquire. Another thing to remember is that God is not calling or even dealing with the bulk of humanity at this time and the work of true Christians should be focused on loving God and each other and the commission given the Church. It is sometimes hard to grasp that some in the COG, even for many years are not really converted, as their fruits will eventually reveal. Another passage says “many are called, but few are chosen” which we should also consider for the COG today.
So this brings us again to the “New Commandment” and those really trying to be Christ’s disciples; “By this all will know that you are My disciples”—they are trying to be true Christians. Let us notice this next passage now and pay attention to what is being said; John 15:12-13 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” Who are those “friends”? Christ goes on to define for them what He is meaning by this and of course His very example should be showing us today what He meant. What we are reading here in Scripture is being given during the course of the Passover evening, with His disciples. Christ knew that in just a few hours He would be put to death. He was giving His life—laying down His life for His friends/disciples—eventually for all mankind, but first and foremost it was for the COG and to help them become pure. (Eph. 5:27 “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she (COG) should be holy and without blemish.”)
Notice further this theme; John 15:14-18 "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (Many ignore this statement as part of this New Commandment way of loving) 15 "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 "These things I command you, that you love one another. 18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
There is also the proverb (18:24) that speaks of a friend that sticks closer than a brother, which goes quite well with this. A true friend will be there thru “thick and thin” as the old saying goes—they do not bail out on you when you need them and their loyalty, although they will tell you if what your doing is wrong, because they do love you.
However, much to the opposite is going on today and this is now affecting many of the COG realm, in its scattered state and this end time era of Laodicea. There are those who claim to be “Philadelphians” today—the meaning of which is “Brotherly love”—but those who make that claim are excluding many other called out and converted ones, also members of the COG body, as being “lesser than they” because they do not all meet together.
Why do they not all meet together? There are some perverted brands of doctrine on various things now being taught along with this wrong approach to other Christians. Some ministers are actually driving others away by allowing, even helping and supporting wives and husbands to divorce their mates. This is going on among those who are also in the COG body but may attend in another organization! They do these wrong and unloving things and remain in the COG in an unrepentant state because they “get away with it”. One mate divorcing another while both are within the body of Christ is not the love of Christ, neither the working of the New Commandment nor the working of the Holy Spirit and should not be happening. Note this in the ASV; Mal 2:16 “For I hate putting away, (which begins in the mind) saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, and him that covereth his garment with violence, (The taking of another to the outside courts to “get from them” what they want through divorce. See 1Cor.6) saith Jehovah of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” (See the article titled Divorce vs. Commitment for more on this subject.)
So as we can see by looking around us today, it is a time frame of laxness, compromise and lukewarm-ness when it comes to being zealous for God, whole heartedly keeping all His commands and loving all other Christian “neighbors” enough to go beyond the self for them. (Again, using wisdom and the Scriptural teachings and right understanding for our guide) Are we really laying down our lives for the brethren, when we push them away and prefer the unconverted? The true COG (A Spiritual organism) is putting forth efforts, even individually at times and (Eph.4:16) apart from organizations, to warn and help with proclaiming Biblical truth. These are laying down their lives to hold fast and promote truth in a world that is being beaten up and left for dead by Satan the devil and the carnal cravings of the rest of mankind.
How honest are people with this kind of Godly love, faithfulness and loyalty first to God and then other converts? They will be keeping commitments made, even in the scattered COG, that shows we are “His disciples” and striving to be loving as He said to be by the New Commandment! Isn’t it time to repent and put forth effort to show those fruits of truly trying to love as Christ loved and obey the New Commandment?
(Editor for TCOGMSO)