1 John 3 – Never Stop Loving (Pdf file)
Preaching can be very hard work. It can be difficult intellectually and spiritually and emotionally. When I work a passage of Scripture that I’m going to present, I work to understand the text. But I also carry in my heart the concerns and needs of those who will hear what I say: not only in this immediate church but also the believers who are far away who will read or listen to the sermon on-line. And I pray, “Dear Father, help me to understand and obey Your Word. Help me to teach so that it challenges, confronts, comforts and heals.” At times people will tell me how God worked in their lives through what was taught and that is always an encouragement to me.
I’m sure the apostle John felt this way. He loved the people he served just as I love you. In John’s third letter he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”The people to whom John originally wrote were just like us. They had their hopes and dreams and concerns. But life in the first century was also harsh, cold-hearted and oppressive. So the apostle wrote with love and concern to the people he cared for.
He wrote and said as Christians we are privileged to have fellowship with God and Christ. The greatest blessing anyone can have in this world is to share in the life and love of God and Jesus Christ. John wanted those he loved to know this and to experience this partnership with God and Christ so that their joy would be full.
Therefore he encouraged the then to walk in the light of Scripture. He urged them to learn the truth about the person of Jesus Christ and to continue in that truth. He taught the wonderful truth that Christians are children of God. One day we will be like Him. And because of this we should practice living a pure and holy life now. And in our present passage of Scripture, the Word of God tells us a very important way for us to keep our joy full in this world.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
Let me re-phrase this for you. People in the world can be cold-hearted, harsh, oppressive, selfish and uncaring. There is a lot of evil in the world. Therefore make every effort to love one another. Jesus Christ said,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
Love is perhaps more productive in leading people to faith in Jesus Christ than anything else. And for this reason we are told in Scripture to speak the truth in love. And also in love to serve one another. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us to love one another. And John tells us to love one another. And I call this to your attention, because all of us need to be loved. And God calls us to shine as lights in a dark world.
We are called to love because people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. We love people when we seek to be beneficial to them, to encourage them, to meet their needs, to challenge them and to help them be their best. But sadly, tragically there are times when this love is rejected.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:10-12)
Think about this: Cain killed Abel because Abel was good! If you had asked Cain why he killed his brother he might have said, “I couldn’t stand him! He was so pious, so devoted, and so good. He was always talking about God’s Word and he offended me. So I killed him.”
Cain stands in the Bible as a type of worldly person. He may seem normal and even religious; he did bring an offering to God. But in light of last week’s teaching, Cain’s sin of murder stemmed from his attitude of lawlessness. He rebelled against God. He disobeyed God’s Word as to what to bring as an offering. And so jealousy, rage and anger rose within him and he killed Abel. Cain is of the kingdom of darkness, living life supposedly his own way, but really under the influence of Satan. And all of us lived that way until we grabbed onto God’s grace.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Once, our desires, opinions, values, standards and sense of morality was manipulated by a fallen world under the sway of Satan. And we thought we were free. But these worldly hopes, fears and values kept us in chains until God’s love set us free.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Love always seeks what is best for another. Love is not selfish. And in love and mercy God reached out to us through Christ and His Word and when we believed we were saved.
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:11, 12)
Now, we can sit here and think, “Dear God that’s terrible.” Or we can examine our own hearts. In Matthew 5, Jesus Christ said,
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:21)
But then he tells us that when we are angry without a righteous cause or when in anger we call people by filthy words and names, in our hearts we have the same evil that leads to murder. If we are guilty of this sin we should ask for forgiveness.
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)
The world hates Christians not because you and I are hateful people, but because we strive to be righteous. More to the point, the world hates you because you are endeavoring to become like Christ and the world hates Christ. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
The world’s hatred towards Christians is due to the fact that they see in you, in your attitudes and actions, a condemnation of who they are. A worldly person can often see in a faithful Christian what he or she is not and what in their heart of hearts they know they ought to be. But because they will not to change they hate the believer. They may not kill you but they will ignore you or have contempt and disdain for you or call you hateful and bigoted. But on your part never stop loving. Never stop speaking the truth in love. Never stop serving and giving in love.
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:14-15)
When you love with the love of God, when you love as Christ loves you, you have proof that something radical and miraculous has happened at the core of who you are. You have the life of God in Christ in you. You are a child of God. It is so important for us to know who we are and what we have in Christ.
We are the children of God. We have become partakers of the divine nature. We have new life in us. We are a new creation. We can practice righteousness and love. And we have everlasting life. The life of a Christian is one where a new principle of life is at work within you—the very life of God in Christ. But the proof is in the doing and so love must be seen in practice.
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)
Lifer and nature simply cannot be hidden. What we are we are sure to express. If we belong to Jesus Christ, he should be seen in us. It’s not every day that we are called to literally die in the place of another. But every day we can die to self and sacrifice our own interests for the needs of someone else.
Today’s culture teaches and glorifies self-gratification. If someone is not fully satisfied in a marriage you can call it quits no matter the cost to your spouse or children. But the Word of God teaches that we must die to self that the other person or persons may be full. The Word of God in Ephesians 5 declares,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25)
And Scripture tells all of us,
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Summing up, John says,
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. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17)
Good words of love must be backed up with good deeds of love. God, our Father, has done this.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Godly love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment to seek the highest good of the person loved. Hatred is a self-seeking attitude that disregards others. Self-sacrifice; loving others to meet an emotional or spiritual or physical need is never convenient. It is many times a hassle to get involved and love and serve. But love is what God is; love is what God does. Jesus Christ loves you and gave his life for you. The badge of honor for a church is love. We know that we have passed from death to life when we love just as Christ loved us.