************ Sermon on 1 John 3:14 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on July 22, 2007

1 John 3
1 John 3:14
"We Know by Our Love"
TASC # 2

How do you know if you have passed a course? When you get your report card and see a passing grade. How do you know if you are cancer free? If you have five years of clear checkups. How do you know if you have been accepted for a scholarship? When you get a letter or certificate in the mail. How do you know a bill has been paid? When you go online and see the money has been withdrawn from your bank account.

Now a much more serious question: How do you know if you are a Christian? If you love your Christian brother or sister. You know the song we sing:
We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord.
We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord.
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love.
Not only will they know but we also will know.

We are privileged this week to host TASC. Our theme for TASC is love. I am looking at love in my messages. And love is the whole point of the work we are doing in TASC.

I Love One Another
A "We should love one another" (1 Jn 3:11). That's what John says in verse 11. That seems obvious. That is the Christian thing to do. But we live in a world where resentments, anger, grudges, and violence dominates. Watch the news or read the newspaper. Rarely do you come across touching and uplifting stories of love and care and concern. Rather, the news is filled with people not being loved killed, raped, divorced, bullied, sued, terrorized, abused, discriminated, bombed, road rage.
Here are stories taken from the Visalia Times Delta a few days ago (Saturday, July 21):

Welcome to my home," Kimberly Moon says. Her smile and hospitality are grander than her place of residence an old, canvas gazebo cover she and her boyfriend fished out of a trash bin. They turned it into a makeshift tent held up with sticks and ropes. It is located along the St. Johns River. In early June, they and other homeless people living on an island and along the Visalia side of the river were ordered to leave by police.

The manager of the Double D Mini Mart in north Visalia is no stranger to trouble. Since the first of the year, he has called Visalia police 14 times for incidents ranging from the brandishing of a weapon to car theft. Thursday night, police arrived again. But this time it was different. The manager told officers that an argument broke out when he approached two people loitering in the parking lot at about 9:30 p.m. He went back inside the store, got a baseball bat, returned and swung it at two different men, who called police and requested that charges be pressed.

The U.S. Postal Service is seeking the public's help in finding whoever broke into a Visalia post office mailbox and made off with the contents.
The postmaster for Visalia said someone pried open one of the "blue boxes" in front of the post office on Beech Ave. Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Two Tulare women were arrested Friday morning after police found them riding in a stolen vehicle. The car was reported stolen July 10, police said.

Visalia police arrested a man Friday after finding drugs and a firearm in his home in Goshen. The man was arrested on suspicion of possessing meth for sales, maintaining a residence where narcotics are sold and possessing a firearm while committing a felony, police said.
Do you hear the common refrain? A lack of love, a failure to love is what we come across over and over again.

B "We should love one another" (1 Jn 3:11). One of the saddest things in life is that even Christians often fail in this area. If you read the Bible carefully, you will find what happens in the world also happens in the lives of God's children. People do not get along with each other. People live with hatred, which the Bible says is murder. John tells us about Cain and Abel. But he could also have told us about Abraham and Lot, Sarah and Hagar, Joseph and his brothers, King Saul and David, King Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Euodia and Syntyche, Paul and Barnabas. If saints like Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, David, and Paul have problems loving those around them, is it little wonder that we have the same problem?

C "We should love one another." We don't find this love by looking at the world. We often don't find this love by looking at Christians. Where do we look then? In a completely different direction. We find love when we look to the Lord Jesus Christ. John writes:
(1 John 3:16) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
God, in Christ, had a choice. He could have chosen to spend eternity counting all our iniquities, transgressions, mistakes, and sins and holding them against us. Or, He could have chosen to shower love upon us His children. God chose love. He sent Jesus to lay down His life for us. In Christ, God chose to forgive us our sins. That is love.
Topic: Love
Index: 2200-2209
Date: 12/1996.8

A plane crashed and burned on a runway in Philadelphia. The attendant was Mary Frances Hausley. She stood at the door assisting passengers to safety. When she thought all were safe, she heard a woman screaming, "My baby, my baby!" With this prompting she returned to the flaming plane, never to be seen again. When the burned wreckage was searched, Miss Hausley's body was found draped over the child she tried to save. The caption in the newspaper that day read, "She Could Have Jumped."

-- G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Broadman, 1986), p. 88.
In Miss Hausley we see a picture of Christ and His love. He gave His life for us.

II Where There Cannot be Love
A "We should love one another" (1 Jn 3:11). You need to realize that this command is impossible to keep in certain situations and places. Just like plants don't grow in the dark or in a place without water, so love doesn't grow in some kinds of places.

What are the situations and places I am talking about? John tells us to "not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother" (1 Jn 3:12). It should be obvious to everyone here that there can be no love where there is murder. Murder is the exact opposite of love.

Let's understand exactly what John says about Cain by asking three questions.

First, who was Cain's family? You might think this is a ridiculous question to ask. After all, every Sunday School student know that his parents were Adam and Even and his brother was Abel. In other words, he was part of the first human family.

We can talk not only about physical family but also about spiritual family. So, who was Cain's family? Did you catch what verse 12 says? We are told that Cain "belonged to the evil one" (1 Jn 3:12). Listen also to verse 10:
(1 John 3:10) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
There are two distinct spiritual families: the family of God and the family of Satan. Cain, we are told, is of the family of Satan; Cain is a child of the devil. As such, Cain has the attitude of the devil murder and hatred and evil and enmity.

Second, what did Cain actually do? Verse 12 tells us that he "murdered his brother" (1 Jn 3:12). In the Greek language the word for "murder" is vivid and grisly. The word used by John expresses the gruesomeness, undeserved fate, criminal act, passion, and atrocity of the act. It is the same word used to describe the cutting of an animal's throat for sacrifice. So, when Cain killed his brother it was a brutal and violent and even vicious murder.

Third, why did Cain murder his brother? "Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous" (1 Jn 3:12). Cain could not stand it that his brother was more holy than he was. Cain could not stand it that his brother had a closer walk with God than he did. Cain could not stand it that his brother loved the Lord and served the Lord. Cain could not stand it that his brother's heart was in the right place. In this light we would have to say that Cain and Abel had a disagreement about religion; and, this disagreement led to murder. This should not surprise us. Someone once said that more people have been killed over religion than over anything else. In this light consider the Muslim suicide bombers who gladly kill and maim in the name of their false and idolatrous religion. Or, consider the violence in Northern Ireland between Protestant and Roman Catholic.

"We should love one another" (1 Jn 3:11). But there can be no love where there is murder. There can be no love if you belong to Satan instead of to Jesus. There can be no love if you can't stand true religion.

B Do you know another place or circumstance where there can be no love? There can be no love where there is hatred. Again, this should be obvious to all. "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer" (1 Jn 3:15). John equates hate with murder. Therefore, hate like murder is the exact opposite of love. And, love cannot exist where there is hatred.

What is the difference between actual murder and hate? The only difference is the outward deed. The inner intention is the same. The inner desire is the same. Given the right circumstance and under the right pressure, if you have hate in your heart you can easily be guilty of murder.
Topic: Hatred
Subtopic: Condemned
Index: 2210
Date: 9/1987.29

Clarence Darrow, a famous criminal lawyer, once said, "Everyone is a potential murderer. I have not killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction out of obituary notices."

Did you notice what else John says? "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him" (1 Jn 3:15). You aren't saved if your heart is filled with hate. You cannot be saved. It is impossible that you are saved. Yes, you can be in worship on Sunday. Yes, you can be a baptized and confessing member of the church. Yes, you can be an elder or deacon or pastor. But that doesn't matter. If you have hate in your heart you are a murderer and "no murderer has eternal life in him."

I repeat, there can be no love where there is hatred. The messages of this week, the work of this week it is all wasted on you if your heart is filled with hate.

C John mentions one last place or circumstance where there can be no love. There can be no love if there is no pity. John writes:
(1 John 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?
If you have no compassion for those who are poor and hungry, then there can be no love in your heart. If you are cold-hearted and mean spirited about the needy in your community, then there can be no love in your heart. If blame and accusation is your first reaction to someone in need, then you have no love in your heart.

To have love and to show love this week you need to be filled with loving mercy.

III How We Know
A Back to the serious question I asked at the start of this message: How do you know if you are a Christian? You know you are a Christian if you love your Christian brother or sister. That's what John says to us:
(1 John 3:14) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
We know we have passed from the death of sin to the life of Christ when we love our brothers.

Right here is something that many people don't like about the Bible. The Bible keeps hitting us where it hurts. No qualifications, no ifs and buts and maybes, no fudging of the facts, no rationalizations like we so often do. John says it the way it is take it or leave it. If you really want to know if you are saved, look inside your heart and ask if you love your brother.

Notice whom John is talking about? He isn't talking about the people we will be helping this week. He isn't talking about the poor and needy. He isn't talking about people in general. John is talking about loving "one another" (1 Jn 3:11). John is talking about loving fellow church members, both men and women. John is talking about loving the other people with you on TASC this week.

Ask yourself, are there people in church I really don't care about very much? Are there members whose very presence I loathe? Are there church members I can barely stand? Are there people whom I deliberately avoid making contact with?

Have Christians passed from death to life if they cannot get along? If they dislike each other? If they hate each other? If they deliberately avoid each other? John says the answer is NO. No, they have not passed from death to life. No, they are not saved. No, they are not Christian.

Come now, you may say, surely this is an exaggeration in order to make a point. Must we love all of our brothers and sisters, no matter what? Yes, we should! But some of them are so unlovable. Some of them are so mean. Some of them are always scowling and complaining and whining. Some have actually hurt me. How can I love such people?

B This week is all about love. But love starts right here, in this room, in this body, in those involved in TASC. If we can't love one another, we certainly cannot love those who are out there. If we don't love one another, then doctrine and prayer and Bible reading and hearing a sermon mean nothing. If we don't love one another, then the love of Jesus cannot be in us and we have not passed from death to life. Those who are loved by Jesus cannot help but love everyone else who is loved by Jesus. Those who love Jesus cannot help but love everyone else who loves Jesus.

Whenever I read 1 John 3:14, I cannot help but shudder. Because it lays everything on the line. If I am a Christian then I love my brother and sister. It is as simple as this.

Lord Jesus, destroy my bitterness, take away my hatred, keep me from being pitiless, and transform me into a loving person. Thank You for loving me by dying on the cross for me. I pray I will never forget what You have done for me. In Your name. Amen.
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