Loving God and other people in a cynical world
This is perhaps one of the most difficult articles I ever had to write because John is dealing with much sin and hatred in the early church. If a Christian reads 1 John 3: 9-19 and does not squirm and struggle with these verses something is wrong somewhere. As this writing progresses you will see exactly what I mean.
In verse nine the Apostle mentions three times that we are born of God and two times that sin is not in that nature. One out of the three times he uses the term ... "His seed remaineth in him." ... but this is just another way to describe our born again position before God through His Son Jesus Christ. There were many farmers in that day so he wanted to bring this message to their world so they understood what he (the Apostle John) was saying to them.
In verse ten John is basically saying that if we are true Christians we will be living a righteous life and of course John goes on to say you heard this message from the beginning. The Apostle goes to an extreme example going all the way back to Cain but he does this for a reason. Cain had murder in his heart and he did slew his brother because his works (Abel) were righteous but John uses this story as a steppingstone to ask us, "Should you really be surprised if the world hates you?" I will talk about that in more detail in a bit but we did pass from death to life and the Apostle says that ultimate evidence of this is we truly love our brother. Always look for the emphasis in Scripture. Some Christians believe winning a theological debate will score them extra points in heaven but the real truth of the matter is it will not especially if we engage in this with the wrong spirit. If anything we will lose points if you know what I mean.
John goes on to state the obvious that if we hate our brother we do not have eternal life abiding in us but then goes to the opposite end and writes if Jesus Christ laid down His life for us we should desire to do the same for our brethren. Then he even gets more specific and says if we are blessed and see our brother in need we should have compassion for him and then assures us that the love of God dwells in us. To love in word and tongue is important but not nearly as vital as showing Godly affection in deed and truth. If we do this we know we are of the truth and our hearts will be assured before God. Let me just quote the original text for you and then I will expand on these biblical precepts and principles.
(9) Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot commit sin, because he is born of God. (10) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (11) For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (12) Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. (13) Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. (14) We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (15) Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in Him. (16) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him. (18) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (19) And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." 1 John 3: 9-19.
There is a difference between the children of God and the children of the devil. There are distinct characteristics to look for because the Bible does say we will know them by their fruits. When verse nine talks about seed that can also go the other way. The seed of the serpent is neglecting our faith in one way or the other. We need to be very careful what goes into our minds and hearts because this becomes part of us and then is a permanent part of our spirit. If we do not allow God to correct us we will go down a dark path.
A Christian will live a righteous life but that does not mean we will never sin. This is why John starts at the beginning of the book of 1 John about the Christian repenting of their transgressions. The early church was having a problem with sin and loving their brother. In verse eleven John recommends fraternal Christian love. Before we can truly do that we have to love Jesus Christ but just as important value His affection for us. This is why we need to get to know Him which can be work but special when the Holy Spirit sheds light in our minds and hearts about the Son of the Living God.
This is the part when the Apostle John gets heavy duty in explaining the whole situation. This is why I said in the beginning of this article that I was squirming much because John is blunt and we are all going to have to do some really serious soul searching about ourselves.
John uses the example of Cain because he was the first that imitated and resembled the wicked one who is Satan. Cain had ill will (if we have this we need to stop right away) toward his brother because he had no restraint. This went so deep in his spirit that he committed murder.
If we indulge in sin we are positioning ourselves where we will continue to commit transgressions with no bounds. In plain language we will keep doing it over and over again and our consciences will become seared. Restraint does not sound like a spiritual word but it is more biblical than we could ever possible imagine.
I need you to think about what I am about to say. Cain was vexed with Abel being superior because of his obedience to God but what if he turned the whole thing around? What if Cain admired and imitated Abel and got right with God? Cain did not have good will toward Abel and let this be a learning process to us because that will teach us hate and revenge. This is why John goes on to say marvel not that the world hate you. He was going back to the original example of Cain to explain to Christians why the world has disdain for you as a believer in Jesus Christ. This is not to say that the majority of unbelievers will hate you but some will reach that level of sin and then he adds it should not shock us as Christians.
Love for God and our brother is a mark or evidence of our true faith in Jesus Christ. It is kind of interesting to me but every credible afterlife experience in hell gives me the same report. The demons in hell have such hatred toward God and unregenerate sinners that they could actually feel the hate. What if unbelievers in life could actually feel our love?
John is encouraging us to have a particular love to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is simple --- God loves them and we should also because we passed from death to life in Jesus Christ. Hatred is a sign of a deadly state in darkness (Satan). We should desire the welfare of someone else not bad to become their life. This involves the disposition of our heart and unfortunately hatred is emotional murder. This person does not have eternal life abiding in him.
The Apostle John explains that we need to follow the example and reality of Jesus Christ which should inflame our hearts with holy love. The Lamb of God died for our sins and as a result we should love those who the Triune Godhead loves and presently has deep affection.
This is the hard part of the message that John is portraying to his readers. Our love for our brother should be so fervent that we should be willing to suffer or die for him or her. If I were to stand up on the platform of where I work and say, "I love you guys and I am willing to die for you" I would either be hauled away to the funny farm or labeled as a man that had one to many drinks. The only way I could get away with that statement is if I were in a bar and did have to much alcohol.
I am saying this to describe the cynical way of life and the way we were taught be weary of people taking advantage of us on this earth. We need to understand that life is a cosmetic setup of the devil but it is also a test from God to us to see what is truly in our character.
What John is saying is we are to be compassionate, communicative and liberal for our brother's welfare and benefit. Remember we are going to be spending eternity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Verse seventeen is a very important verse in the Bible because we can usually get away with this under an earthly law but we will never get away with this under the heavenly law. Read the verse again which is in the fifth paragraph of this article.
If we can help in a tangible way we should in another person's plight but we are never called to be their enabler in their sin. If you feel yourself growing cold in your busy daily routine and do not stop to help someone in their hour of need then count to ten if you know what I mean because God will be offended by your lack of response. We should have a mind and heart set to help because this is part of our character. Our Godly affection in this case would be service but do not just walk away in their time of despair.
If we do this we will be more sincere in our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ will increase which should say there is nothing like having integrity in our walk with Jesus Christ. If we follow the biblical precepts and principles that the Apostle John is talking about we will have more inward peace and abound in love through the Person of Jesus Christ.
If you are one out there that has not accepted Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior and Lord you may want to repent of all your sins and invite Jesus Christ to come into your life. God loves everyone so much and desires you to have love for Him and other people. This is so much better than living your life apart from Jesus Christ.
God Bless you,