************ Sermon on 1 John 3:11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 26, 2020
1 John 3:10-19a
1 John 3:11
"Love One Another"
In a program at Rotary the Tulare County Sheriff's department told us about DNA marking technology that invisibly tags farm equipment. Any items stolen and recovered by the police are immediately traceable back to the individual farm. Every marking kit has a unique DNA signature recorded in a database so that a code scanned from a piece of equipment can be identified with a specific owner. The technology is bad news for criminals: the DNA marker cannot be washed or scrubbed off and will remain on an offender’s skin for six weeks and longer on their clothes.
I've been saying all along that the Apostle John is also concerned about markers -- the marks of a true Christian. We find two verses stating this concern in 1 John 3:
(1 Jn 3:10) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are ...This is John's concern. So his letter gives us markers by which we can tell who is and is not a true Christian. We've looked at a number of markers already:
(1 Jn 3:19) This then is how we know that we belong to the truth ...
-true Christians believe Jesus is the eternal Son of God
-true Christians walk in the light and not in the darkness
-true Christians admit they are sinners
-true Christians claim Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for their sins
-true Christians obey Christ's commandments
-true Christians grow in the faith
-true Christians do not love the world
-true Christians believe Jesus has come in the flesh
Today, John brings up again a marker he has already mentioned in chapter 2 -- the marker of love. By now you should realize that John keeps dealing with the same subjects. But each time he digs a bit deeper; each time he turns the screws a little tighter; each time he penetrates a little more into our mind and soul and heart.
True Christians, says John, show the marker of love. God is love. If God lives in you then you also love. Love is evidence of the presence of God in your life. So, when someone claims to be a Christian, when someone claims to have a relationship with God, when someone claims to have eternal life, examine them for love to see if their claims are true.
I From the Beginning
A John starts by saying, "This is the message you have heard from the beginning ..." (1 Jn 3:11). Why does he say this? Why emphasize the beginning?
The Old Testament books of Moses teach that God's people show love:
(Lev 19:18) "'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.We all know that Jesus says love is the summary of the Law:
(Deut 10:19) And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
(Mt 22:37-39) 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'Since the beginning of the Christian faith, the apostles also called Christians to love. This is the message they have heard from the beginning: love one another. The people of God have always been marked by love for one another.
The early Christians were the objects of great suspicion because they had given up their pagan lifestyle. But one thing almost all pagans agreed upon when it came to Christians was this: "See how they love one another."
"See how they love one another." Is this what people outside our church say about us? Are they jealous of our love for one another?
B Now, remember, John is dealing with false teachers who crept into the church. These false teachers claimed a relationship with the Father and the Son. But they did not have the marks of a true Christian. They claimed, for instance, they had no sin. They denied Jesus was the eternal Son of God. They denied Jesus came in the flesh. They loved the world. And, they said the Gospel does not require Christians to love one another.
Go back, says John, go back to the beginning. What did Moses say? What did Jesus say? What did we apostles say? Go back to when you first heard the truth. Didn't you hear back then that you are to love one another? So pay no attention to the false teachers. Reject what is said by the false teachers.
Heretics and false teachers always have a new teaching. Students of church history realize anything new is not true. That's what cults like the Mormons, JWs, Christian Science, and Adventists do -- they claim a new revelation from an angel or in a dream. Run away when someone claims new and fresh insight into the truth. The faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints remains the same and nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken away from it (cf Jude 1:3).
There is nothing new. The faith does not change. The truth about Jesus does not change. The truth of the Gospel does not change. The truth about man's sinful condition does not change. The truth about the world and the devil does not change. Nor does the truth about loving one another change. Go back to what you first heard: love one another. That has not changed no matter what heretics and false teachers may say.
C In 1 John 2 the command to love is called an old command -- it is the same old command that has been heard from the beginning. But in Christ it is also called a new command. What is new about this old command? In John 13:34 we are called to love one another as Jesus has loved us. Love one another (that's the old command) as Christ has loved us (that's the new command).
The love of Jesus is new. No one has ever loved the way Jesus loves. It is not a self-serving love. Rather, it is self-sacrificing, self-giving, self-denying. That's how you should love one another. That's what people should see when they look at us. People should marvel, "See how they love one another."
II The Absence of Love
A In talking about love, John contrasts the children of God with the children of the devil. The children of God love; the children of the devil hate. The children of God sacrifice for one another; the children of the devil are selfish and self-centered. Most of what John says in our Bible reading this morning describes what a life without love looks like. John, if you will, tells us three characteristics of those without love.
The first characteristic of those without love is murder.
(1 Jn 3:11-12) This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (12) Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous."Do not be like Cain." Cain is an example of someone without love.
Now, Cain and Abel had the same parents. They were raised in the same home. They had identical experiences. They worshiped the same God. They both presented an offering to God. Cain knew God as Creator and Judge. He knew God pronounced both curse and blessing on Adam and Eve. He knew the first promise of the Gospel -- that there would be a seed of the woman who would bruise the serpent's head.
No where does the Bible tells us Cain was an atheist. He knew and worshiped the one only true God. You need to hear this, congregation, because some of the most murderous people in history were God worshipers. It wasn't atheists who murdered Jesus. It wasn't atheists who screamed, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" It was deeply religious people who thought they were worshiping God.
Cain is a reminder that just because someone is in worship or a member of the church doesn't mean they must be a child of God. No, Cain was not an atheist. Cain was a religious man. But Cain failed the test of love: he murdered his own brother. And why did he murder him? He despised the man who was obedient to God. He despised the man who was truly righteous. This means Cain realized he was a fake while his brother was real; that he was outside of the Kingdom while his brother was saved.
Cain, John tells us, "belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother." "Evil" means opposed to good, aggressively evil, determined and fervent in evil. Evil means to suck everyone into your corruption so they go down with you. That's Satan. He wants everyone and everything to perish with him.
According to Jesus, Satan "was a murderer from the beginning" (Jn 8:44). Cain belonged to the evil one. So it is not surprising that Cain was like Satan and murdered his brother.
The word for murder is gruesome. It means to butcher by cutting the throat. This word is used to refer to the slaughter of animals for sacrifice. Cain slit his brother's throat. Cain literally came up behind his brother and butchered him by cutting his throat. Treating his brother like an animal. Treating his brother without love. Murdering his brother.
"Do not be like Cain," congregation. "Do not be like Cain." Love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Do not let murder dwell in your heart.
B The second characteristic of those without love is hate. John mentions hate in verses 13 & 15:
(1 Jn 3:13) Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
(1 Jn 3:15) Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
The only difference between murder and hate is the act. It is the same attitude. Maybe the person who is hateful hasn't had the opportunity or circumstances have held him back. But in God's eyes hatred is the same as murder. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus makes clear that hatred is the equivalent of murder (Mt 5:21ff). Hatred is the root of murder.
Most people haven't murdered anyone. But people who are children of the devil are characterized by hate. And what they hate, who they hate, is Jesus, the church, the Gospel, the Bible.
The hatred of the world should not shock us. It is not surprising or mysterious or hard to figure out. The hatred of the world is the same as Cain's hatred for Abel: he hated his brother because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. The world always hates those who are righteous and different. Hatred for believers is proof you don't know or love God.
You know, the world shouldn't hate us. After all, we don't harm the world. Rather, true Christians try to make a difference, try to have a positive impact on their communities. The only reason the media, the liberals, the sinful hate us is because they can't stand our righteous acts. So, Cain hated Abel. The leaders hated Jesus. The Jews hated the apostles. Likewise, the world hates us. That's what happens when you are righteous and different. The world has no tolerance for those who make them look bad.
Throughout history the church has been hated. The Reformers were hated. Those who try to be faithful and true are hated. Today, there are more Christians being persecuted and killed because of Christ than in any other time of history. The world hates so don't be surprised when they hate you.
C The third characteristic of those without love is a lack of pity. Or maybe we can say they aren't caring. Or perhaps we can say they are indifferent. Look at verse 17:
(1 Jn 3:17) If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?They have plenty, these people. They have food, clothing, shelter. They have money in the bank or in the wallet. But they aren't willing to share with the needy. They aren't willing to sacrifice for another. They are selfish and self-centered. They have no concern for others. They might drop a few dollars into the Red Cross kettle at Christmas but that is just to quiet their conscience or to make themselves look good.
Go back to verse 16. It talks about being like Jesus and laying down our lives for our brothers. The uncaring, indifferent people would never die for somebody. They might kill somebody but they would never die for anybody but themselves.
James tells us that religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). You may go to church, you may attend Bible Study, you may support Christian education, you may donate to seminaries and mission boards, but if you are uncaring eternal life is not in you.
True Christians have passed from death to life (1 Jn 3:14). They are made new in Christ. They don't murder or want to murder. They don't hate. They aren't uncaring. Instead, they have the marker of love. They love because the love of God is in their heart.
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