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Love is a Task and a Test – 1 John 3:11-15

02/05/2014

Love is a Task and a Test.

Text. 1 John 3:11-15 (OT Text: Gen 4:1-16)
Is there any hatred, down inside us? Do we love our brothers and sisters as we ought? Only that way can we know that there has been a work of grace done in our hearts. See…

1. A Quotation. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
John reminds the Christians that loving one another is not a new idea. It was part of the message that they had heard from the beginning. After all, John is echoing the words of Jesus, in John 13:34-35 Today orthodoxy is long out of fashion, and many Christians are no longer interested in doctrine, – ‘love’ has overtaken all other aspects of Christianity, almost to the extent that many people think loving your neighbour is the central truth of the Christian gospel. This is how the world thinks. So let’s look at that for a moment…

The Message. This message of loving others was part of the PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL by the Apostles! But simply loving others wouldn’t ever deal with our sinfulness. So, how can John say that a command to ‘Love one another’ is part of the good news? It’s law, surely, not gospel! It’s something WE must DO, and nothing WE DO can justify us before God

The Law precedes the Gospel. And therein is the key! The first use of the law is to show us our own sinfulness! To make us realise that we are poor helpless sinners, who need a saviour, – tellings us that we MUST love each other, will if we are honest make us confess that without new life within us, we simply can’t and won’t love each other! So, part of the Christian message, from the very beginning, was that we have failed to keep God’s law, because of our sin and the essence of the law’s demands is to love God, and others as ourselves. We fail, we fall short and the law condemns us and we need to hear the good news, that Christ died for sinners. We can repent and have our sins forgiven and have new life in Christ. 1 Tim 1:15

But for Christians…

Love is a RESULT of and RESPONSE TO the Gospel! Having known God’s grace, and been given a new nature in Christ, we are now to respond to Christ’s love for us, by loving others, as he has loved us, and where better to show Christian love than with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

2. A Quarrel. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.
So, family relationships must be really important. Certainly the world thinks that way. God’s family has very close relationships too, so to illustrate what can happen when love is not the ruling force in our hearts, John gives us a comparison WE MUST NOT BE LIKE CAIN. – a Biblical example of someone who did not love his brother. See what the result of that was…

Who Cain was. Cain, who was of that wicked one, Cain was the eldest son of Adam and Eve. The scriptures record his birth in Genesis 4:1, But while he was certainly a life, and all life is from the Lord, John records for us here that ‘he was of that wicked one.’ He was in reality a son of the devil, born with Adam’s sin, as we all are.
What Cain did. and slew his brother. Cain was a horticulturalist. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. Both brothers brought an offering unto the Lord, but only Abel’s offering was accepted. Here’s why, (Hebrews 11:4) Cain was truly of ‘the evil one’ in that he had no faith in God, and thus his worship was unacceptable. In rage, Cain murdered his brother, and was punished by God, by being forced to roam in the land of Nod.
Why Cain did it. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. But now John gives us some more insight into Cain’s character. ‘His works were evil.’ Evil springs from the heart of man. Genesis 6:5 Sinfulness manifests itself in sin.

Why should we worry about some ancient quarrel between a farmer and a herdsman? John draws a comparison between Cain’s day and his, and by extension, ours. 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. The world hates us, we will love them in return! We love (the brethren) but we do not restrict it to ‘the brethren – Matthew 5:44 Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

3. A Quickening. 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. 15Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
John’s language often reflects what he heard and was taught at the feet of the Master. He now reminds us that that there is a very great reason why Christians will reflect the love of Christ, in love for others. It is simply this, – that God has given them a new heart. They have been raised from death to newness of life.

* The first resurrection! Read the words of Jesus: John 5:24.
* The only way to love your neighbour is to have a new heart. The ‘Golden Rule’ of ‘love thy neighbour’ can really only be understood in the context of Christ’s love for us – and God did not show his love for us by overlooking our sin, or exercising a bit of tolerance for it. He demonstrated his love by judicially removing our sins from us, by placing them upon his son.
* The way to know that you have been given a new heart is by loving your brother. Here then is the test that a saving work has been done in our hearts. Our attitude will be different. We will love other people.
* The opposite of love is hate. whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: How can hating someone be equated with murder? Again, John is simply quoting Jesus. Matthew 5:21-22 And people whose hearts are filled with hatred, cannot seriously say that they have been given a new heart by Jesus.

The duty of love is an absolute duty. You cannot be a Christian without love. You cannot be saved unless you have realised that you are a sinner, who, even in the very best of men falls short of God’s standards and requirements. You cannot be saved without the love of God in Christ, demonstrated on the Cross, and manifested in his saving work in our lives, and you cannot claim to be saved and not be motivated by love for others – even those whom you do not like. Love is a task and it is a test.

From → 1st John

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