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« Reply #6270 on: September 15, 2018, 08:57:24 AM »

The Pragmatic Life

“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13)

This “parable of the pounds” indicated to His disciples that they should not wait idly for the second coming of Christ, thinking “that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11), but that they should stay busy, using whatever abilities and opportunities they had in the Lord’s service until His return. The word “occupy” is an unusual word, the Greek pragmatenomai, from which we derive our modern word “pragmatic,” meaning “practical,” and it only occurs this one time in the New Testament.

There is another related word, however, also occurring only one time, in 2 Timothy 2:4: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Here the word “affairs” is the Greek pragmateia, and Paul is cautioning those who would be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ” against becoming involved in the pragmatic affairs of civilian or business life, if they would really be pleasing to their commanding officer.

At first, there seems to be a contradiction. Jesus says to stay busy with the practical affairs of life until He returns. Paul says not to get involved with pragmatic things.

There is no real contradiction, of course, if motivation is considered. Whatever may be our vocation in life, as led by the Lord, we are to perform that job and all the other daily responsibilities of life diligently and faithfully, for His sake.

If we allow these things to become an end in themselves, however, or use them for other purposes than for His glory, then we have, indeed, become tangled up in the affairs of this life, and this displeases Him. He desires that we be diligent in whatever He has called us to do until He comes, but to be sure it is for Him, not for ourselves. HMM
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« Reply #6271 on: September 16, 2018, 08:40:50 AM »

Three Worldly Powers

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)

This well-known passage identifies three fountainheads of ungodly power that will, if unchecked and unguarded, ensnare a believer into a sinful lifestyle.

Sensual power (lust of the flesh) is a body-oriented and emotion-driven reaction to fleshly appetites that can never please God (Romans 8:8) and is in constant warfare with the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:17). We are told to “flee” these “youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22) that are a “corruption” (2 Peter 1:4) of the “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) God-designed human body.

Visual power (lust of the eyes) is an intellect-oriented and imagination-driven stimulation of wishful thinking that will take control of behavior (Matthew 6:22-23) if not carefully curtailed (Job 31:1; 2 Peter 2:14). Although impacting men more than women, this kind of “lust” will “conceive” sin instead of merely reacting to it (James 1:13-15).

Personal power (the pride of life) is a self-oriented and ego-driven desire for dominance that has no ethic or limiting factor other than the praise of men, not God (John 12:43). Such pride, dominated by the “natural mind” (1 Corinthians 2:14) and a “deceitful” heart (Jeremiah 17:9), spirals into a self-love that twists and distorts human behavior into a litany of ungodliness that loves pleasure rather than God (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Giving in to these “worldly” powers may grant us pleasures for “a season” (Hebrews 11:25), but will surely make us an “enemy of God” (James 4:4). May our Lord Jesus grant that we stay armed against such “wiles” (Ephesians 6:11), covered and protected with the “whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17). HMM III
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« Reply #6272 on: September 17, 2018, 09:27:52 AM »

The Name above Every Name

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9)

Three primary names for God are used in the Old Testament: Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai. In the New Testament, both Jehovah and Adonai are translated as “Lord” (Greek kurios) and applied to Christ. This word is also applied occasionally to human “lords” but is specifically used as a name or title of God or Christ no less than 663 times.

His human name was Jesus (“Jehovah is Savior”), but this is used by itself only 22 times in the epistles—always with special emphasis on His humanity. Although it was the common name used repeatedly in the gospel narratives, it is significant that the disciples and other believers almost always addressed Him personally as “Lord,” never simply as “Jesus.” Unbelievers and demons, on the other hand, never addressed Him as “Lord.”

The name “Christ” means “anointed one” and is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah. Thus, Christ is His divine title as God’s “anointed” prophet, priest, and king; Jesus is His human name, as our example and Savior; Lord is His title of spiritual relationship to those He has saved. All three names are of paramount importance. Thus, Peter said: “God hath made that same Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). His “full name,” so to speak, is therefore “the Lord Jesus Christ.” This complete name is used over 100 times; “Christ” and “Lord” are used even more.

In the great testimony of His coming exaltation, Paul says He has been given “the name” (the definite article is in the original) above every name. At this “name of Jesus” (with the “of” indicating the possessive—that is, “the name now belonging to the man Jesus who died on the cross”), every knee must bow, and every tongue must someday confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). HMM
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« Reply #6273 on: September 18, 2018, 09:21:02 AM »

Identifying Antichrists

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18)

Evangelicals expect “the” Antichrist to be revealed in the future, yet there are more warnings about “many” antichrists who are currently and actively plotting evil. John lists two specific identifying factors that enable us to spot these “anti” Christs.

“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist . . . and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3).

This much is clear. Anyone who refuses to accept the incarnated Christ as the Son of God is anti-Christ. Perhaps we need to see this term in its simplicity. Those who are “anti” Christ (oppose, reject, against, opposite to, before, instead of, in place of) are antichrists!

Peter warns that false prophets and false teachers are also “anti” Christ—and that they may well come from among the Lord’s visible Kingdom.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).

Thus, we are told that Satan’s “ministers also [are] transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15). No wonder we should have caution. This is the last time (days), and we need to be alert! HMM III
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« Reply #6274 on: September 19, 2018, 09:23:21 AM »

To Die Is Gain

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Although the glorious resurrection bodies that have been promised all believers must await the return of Christ, even the spirit-existence after death is better than this present life for the believer. Paul himself expressed “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (v. 23)—“to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Thus, it is “gain” when a Christian dies! Since Christ, in His resurrection body, is in heaven at the right hand of the Father, the spirits of “sleeping” Christians are also there. The intermediate state is somewhat analogous to the dreaming state, in which the consciousness travels to various places and experiences while the body is asleep. In fact, death is called “sleep” for the Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

However, in some amazing way, these conscious spirits of believers are still distinct and recognizable. Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:3), as well as Samuel (1 Samuel 28:12-19), were identifiable in their spirit-form, even by people here on Earth.

One of the greatest blessings of dying and going to be with the Lord will be the joy of returning with Him “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). “Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. . . . And the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16), just before the “rapture” and glorification of the saints who are still living. As wonderful as it might be to live until Christ returns, it will be even better to be with Him!

The death of a Christian, therefore, may be a time of loss and grief for those left behind, but it is a time of joy and blessing for the one who dies, including a happy reunion with those who have gone before. HMM
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« Reply #6275 on: September 20, 2018, 08:53:31 AM »

Whom Do You Know?

“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

A person who thinks he is a Christian, or hopes he is a Christian, probably isn’t a Christian. One should know, when it comes to this most important of all questions. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). It’s a matter of who you know, not what you know. Paul said: “I know whom I have believed”—that is, he knew the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

But just how can we know that we have eternal life? In the first place, we know because He has said so in His Word. Furthermore, He knows us! “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

We also “know . . . that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13), which “beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). If the Holy Spirit truly has become a part of our lives (as He surely has if we genuinely came to Christ as lost sinners, trusting Him alone for forgiveness and salvation, and yielding our lives and eternal souls to Him), then we will also come to love the Word which He inspired. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. . . . But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:3, 5).

There are many other things we can know when we know we are saved. Best of all, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). HMM
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« Reply #6276 on: September 21, 2018, 09:41:31 AM »

The Similitude of God

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” (James 3:9)

Here inserted within a very sober condemnation of the misuse of our God-given privilege of speech is what seems almost an incidental reference to the image of God in man. It is not a trivial reference, however, but very significant.

It tells us that even though the image of God in man has been severely marred by sin, it is still there! That is, man is eternal just as God is eternal, and we will all continue to exist forever, either in the presence of God, or away from His presence. That “image” is not shared with animals, even the higher animals. The latter do have a body, soul (in the sense of mind), and spirit (in the sense of breath), but they do not possess “the image of God” that was specially created in man alone after all the animals had been created (note Genesis 1:21, 27).

Another implication is that the word “similitude” includes the meaning of a physical resemblance. While God in His full essence is omnipresent and therefore invisible to human eyes, it is still true that, when God became man, He took on an actual physical body. Furthermore, our Lord Jesus, God the Son, still is “that same Jesus” and therefore still in that body (note Acts 1:11; 1 John 3:2; etc.).

Since His incarnation and His work of salvation were planned by the triune God “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), man was apparently created in the image of that body that Christ had planned to take on when He would eventually become man.

That being the case, our bodies are even more sacred than otherwise we might have assumed, and it is indeed a serious matter to misuse the tongue or any other member of the body, which is made after the similitude of Christ. HMM
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« Reply #6277 on: September 22, 2018, 09:31:41 AM »

Propitiation

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

Most words in the King James Bible have one or two syllables. Our text verse, for example, has 21 such short words and only one big word; but that word, “propitiation,” has five syllables, and so has elicited much complaint from folks who don’t like to use dictionaries. What does “propitiation” mean?

The Greek word is hilasmos and occurs just two other times. These are as follows:

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

As an aside, note that these two verses contain two words of two syllables, three of three syllables, and 48 of one syllable. But both also include “propitiation,” and that seems to be a problem. Nevertheless, “propitiation” is certainly the most accurate word to convey the meaning of the original. The dictionary gives “expiation” and “conciliation” as definitions, but that probably doesn’t help much.

In any case, the action of the Lord Jesus in submitting His body to be a substitutionary sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins and to endure God’s wrath against all the sins of the world, thereby enabling Him to be reconciled to us, with Christ’s perfect righteousness credited to our account, is seen in these three verses to be a basic theme of this great truth of Christ’s propitiatory work on the cross. And surely, as John says: “Herein is love,” that God would so love us that He would offer up His Son, and Christ would so love us that He would die for us. Surely, this is love! HMM
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« Reply #6278 on: September 23, 2018, 08:50:17 AM »

What Do Fig Trees Do?

“Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:12)

The answer to these rhetorical questions obviously is “No.” A fig tree cannot become an olive tree in one growing season, or in a million of them. Nor can a grapevine evolve into a fig tree, no matter what happens to it (grafts, mutations, chemicals, radiations, anything).

In the very first chapter of the Bible, each kind of plant God created was given the genetic information by its Maker to “reproduce” only its own “kind” of plant, not to diverge into some other kind, although its offspring could develop into many varieties of the parental kind (but even that only within strict limits). The same was true with the animals. Ten times in Genesis 1, God, in five verses, tells us that each created kind of plant and animal was coded to reproduce just its own kind (Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24-25).

Just in the event that some skeptic might reject Genesis 1 as factual, the same theme is reiterated in the New Testament, not only in our text but in Paul’s great chapter on death and resurrection. “God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Corinthians 15:38-39).

This biblical truth is confirmed by every scientific observation ever made on plants and animals—whether living, dead, or fossilized. No one has ever seen a frog evolve into a prince, or a vine into an olive tree, either in the present or in the fossil record of the past. “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that man should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14). HMM
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« Reply #6279 on: September 24, 2018, 08:34:31 AM »

Boldness in Prayer

“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Ephesians 3:12)

There is a wonderful exhortation and promise in Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted [that is, ‘tested’] like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

We aren’t to come presumptuously or arrogantly to God in prayer, but we can come boldly! This is not by virtue of our own merits but because Christ Himself has opened the way for us. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Because He has been fully tested yet free from sin, and because of the shed “blood of Jesus” and the opened veil “through his flesh,” if we come “by the faith of him,” we do have “access” to God’s “throne of grace” and can boldly present our petitions. These must, of course, be dependent upon His will, for “this is the confidence [same Greek word as ‘boldness’] that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

But, whether a particular request is granted or denied in accord with God’s greater wisdom, or whether the answer is delayed until God’s more propitious time, we can always “find grace to help in time of need.” He is our great high priest, our mediator, our advocate with the Father, our intercessor, and we can surely pray with “boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” HMM
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« Reply #6280 on: September 25, 2018, 08:13:28 AM »

How to Know the Will of God

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The key to knowing God’s will is willingness and determination to follow it before knowing it. “If any man will [literally ‘wills to’] do his will, he shall know” (John 7:17).

The best indicator whether one is really willing to follow God’s will is whether or not he is now following that part of His will that is already known as revealed in His Word. This requires first knowing and believing, then obeying the Word, especially those portions dealing with God’s general will for all Christians. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Then, if one indeed is following the revealed will of God, he may ask in confidence (1 John 5:14-15) for the Lord to indicate His will in a specific matter on which there is no explicit biblical teaching (see also James 1:5-6).

God will then answer, though it may not be immediately. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). It may not be in accordance with our preferences or personal judgment, but it will always be for the ultimate best. “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit . . . maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:26-28).

God will lead in two ways in the absence of specific Scripture guidance (which must always take precedence, of course). One is by providential circumstances, the other by inner witness of the Spirit, and these two must agree. Then, if all the terms have been met, one should proceed to follow God’s will as best he can, knowing that God will redirect him if he has made a mistake. God does want us to know His will, and He will “direct our paths.” HMM
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« Reply #6281 on: September 26, 2018, 07:56:08 AM »

But When You Sin

“And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

There is no suggestion anywhere in Scripture that any person can be sinless. “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23), the Bible boldly declares. “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Repentance toward God (Acts 20:21) and salvation by God (2 Corinthians 7:10) eternally settles the issue of the sinful condition inherent in us (Ephesians 2:1-8). However, even though we have been “made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we still commit sinful acts (1 John 1:8-10)!

Hallelujah for the Advocate! What a blessed promise it is that is recorded for us that the same Jesus Christ who died for our sins, who rose from the grave in glorious victory over sin, “is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

Although our security in the completed work of Christ Jesus is “for ever” (Hebrews 10:12), our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) stands ready to rebut the constant efforts of Satan to flaunt our sins before the holy throne of God (Revelation 12:10). We have no standing there on our own. Our life, even though forgiven and rescued from sin, still is tainted with the deeds and consequences of evil choices. Even the body in which we live houses “no good thing” (Romans 7:18).

Were it up to us to be holy, we would quickly be defamed by the reality of our life. The child of God, though redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19), has no ability to plead Christ’s work in person before the throne. “Wherefore he [Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). HMM III
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« Reply #6282 on: September 27, 2018, 08:33:12 AM »

Our Eternal Bodies

“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:21)

Only those religions that believe in special creation—that is, orthodox Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—also believe in a bodily resurrection. Of the three creationist/resurrectionist religions, however, only the Christian faith acknowledges that the resurrection can be possible only when the Creator Himself becomes the atoning Savior, dying for sin and thereby defeating death.

When Christ arose from the tomb, He could proclaim, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18). His resurrection body was the same physical body that had been in the grave, able to be touched and even retaining its crucifixion scars. Nevertheless, it was different, a “spiritual” body (1 Corinthians 15:42-49), controlled by spiritual forces. Our present “natural” bodies are controlled by natural forces, but the resurrected Christ could move quickly from Earth to heaven, and could pass through closed doors (John 20:17, 19, 26).

But our resurrection bodies will be like His someday, according to the “working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). By that same “working,” He is able to subdue all things, for He is the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16). Our “vile” bodies will become “glorious” bodies, no longer subject to sickness and aging, or lusts and evil passions. “This corruptible shall have put on incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:54). “We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). This is the blessed hope of the genuine Christian. HMM
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« Reply #6283 on: September 28, 2018, 09:14:14 AM »

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” (Proverbs 9:1)

The foundation of the house of wisdom is “the fear of the LORD. . . the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). One does not finally reach the Lord through much study and the acquisition of much wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the very “beginning of wisdom.” Without a reverent trust in the God of creation and redemption, there can be no true wisdom. “For other foundation can no man lay than . . . Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Then, erected upon this foundation and supporting all the superstructure of the “house of wisdom” are seven mighty pillars or columns. But what are these? The answer seems to be found in that New Testament book of wisdom, the book of James, where it is said that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5). Then, “a wise man and endued with knowledge . . . [will] show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Finally, the seven great pillars seem to be listed in James 3:17: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” The first in the list or central column, carrying more weight than any of the other columns in the structure, is purity. Then there are six outside pillars. One is peaceableness; the next is gentleness; then comes reasonableness (“easy to be entreated”). The next phrase, “full of mercy and good fruits,” connotes helpfulness. The term for “without partiality” actually means humility, and then the final pillar is sincerity.

Thus, a life of genuine wisdom is a life founded upon the fear of the Lord and supported by genuine purity, peaceableness, gentleness, reasonableness, helpfulness, humility, and sincerity. Such a house will never fall! HMM
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« Reply #6284 on: September 29, 2018, 09:11:40 AM »

Commandment

“Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment. . . . Again, a new commandment I write unto you.” (1 John 2:7-8)

On the surface, this passage appears to be a real problem. The easily seen focus of the “commandment” is love for the brethren (vv. 9-11). The difficult wording lies in the “old” and the “new” side of the same thought.

The “old” sense of the command to love is as eternal as the very nature of God Himself. Whatever love we express in our human nature derives its source from God who is love (1 John 4:16). Even “from the beginning” (1 John 2:7) humanity was charged with the commitment of marital love (Genesis 2:24), which is the earthly example of God’s love for His church (Ephesians 5:25).

Then as God codified His “rules” for those who would submit to His authority, God insisted that we were to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). Centuries later as the apostle Paul commented on the Mosiac Law, it was noted that “love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).

The “new” side of the commandment has its “beginning” with the institution of the new covenant (Hebrews 8:13) and the commissioning of the apostolic leadership (John 13:34). The new focus would be on the spiritual kingdom rather than the earthly nation, and the “brethren” would not merely be genetically related but have a spiritual “new birth”(Acts 10:34-35; Galatians 3:28).

Since “the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth” (1 John 2:8), “he that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). This new command goes beyond marriage and nation to the entire family of God. HMM III
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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