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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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1st John 3:10-23

 

“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.  For this is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  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.  Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.  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.  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?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth.  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts because of him.  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God.  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.  And this is the commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:10-23).

 

“Good morning.  Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1st John chapter 3.  One more thing, if you could keep this in prayer.  I was, during worship, as the worship team was playing and we were singing “Step by Step”, I remember years ago living in San Diego and working in the career I was in and was at home, just spending some time with the Lord in prayer and seeking the face of the Lord, God put things on my heart, and I was listening to a tape by Rich Mullins and that tape had on it that song “Step by Step”, it was newly out.  And as I was listening to it, God had already put a burden on my heart for ministry in New England, and I was praying about that and considering Boston.  And as I was listening to this song, suddenly I started to daydream, and I started to think about being back in college in Boston in my college days, and being on the radio and just ministering to students.  I got excited, I even got up and started playing with the cassette-deck, rewinding that song Step by Step.  And I said, ‘If I ever have a radio program this would be a great song for a radio program.  Well from that I just couldn’t stop thinking about it that day.  And I even started to tell people in our Bible study that we were a part of ‘You know, some day I’m going to be on the radio in the Boston area and this will be the song.’  Well, anyway, I was sounding kind of goofy and being goofy about it, but God, it was really a plan of the Lord and he was just moving my heart.  So we came out here, and as you guys who attend here know the story, God has raised up this radio station Wxxx, and in time there was a radio program called Step by Step.  Well, I’ll say it was probably about a year and a half ago, WJCX in Bangor, the ministry up there called us up and wanted to work with us as far as getting a radio program on our station, but they offered to us free of charge that our radio program Step by Step would be on their station.  So without ever pursuing it or even spending any money, the church program Step by Step is on locally, but it’s also been on for awhile now in Bangor, Maine.  And I’ve met people who are listening, supposedly being encouraged, I hope anyway.  Well, I say this to you, because just recently the Lord is doing his work, and we have talked about, some of you have already heard the news, about the FCC and having applications with the FCC as far as radio licenses, and this last week we heard that CSN, the Calvary Satellite Network was awarded a construction permit, a license for WJWT which is an FM radio station in Gardner, Massachusetts.  So it would appear at this time, not too long in the future, we’ll also be broadcasting our services live I presume, and Step by Step on another radio station 24 hours a day.  Now some of you that live in Gardner and beyond, you know you lose our signal.  You guys have hung in there and been faithful, now you guys get to listen 24 hours a day and in FM, which certainly is a privilege.  So keep that in prayer.  Of course there is a lot to it.  The license is a big deal, but the construction and dealing with zoning and cities is just as big an accomplishment, so keep it in prayer.  And there’s other things happening as far as radio for CSN in the area, and I would just ask you to keep praying, because, man does this community ever need to hear that Jesus Christ loves the people and wants to work in their lives, especially at a time as this.  So please keep it in prayer.  [this particular congregation with its radio ministry now has four stations, one on the Cape, one in Plymouth, a potential one in Lunenburg, and that one in Gardner.  But this is 2007 and he’s saying this in July of 2003.  They went through a bumpy, winding and twisting road to accomplish all that, God testing their faith all the way.  But the results are real, they’re now on four new FM radio stations, as well as still being on their original AM station.]

          Let’s say a prayer again, and we’ll get started in 1st John.  We’re going to pick up, we left off last week in verse 10, so we’ll pick up 11 of chapter 3 of 1st John.  If you don’t have a Bible there’s Bibles in front of some of the seats you can snag one or share a Bible.  ‘Lord we just thank you that we can look at your Word together this morning and that we once more can have you speak to our hearts.  And we so much need to hear your voice and we just need your instruction, we need to know what you think, we need to know your wisdom, we need to know your love, we need to know your direction in our lives.  So as we spend this time in your Word, of course we need to be hearing from you, not just listening to a man’s voice share some Scriptures and some thoughts, or being distracted thinking about the ball game [Red Sock territory—too bad, Yankee fans] or something else.  We need to hear from you Lord.  You are our Creator, you created the heavens and the earth.  You love us, and some day we’re going to stand before you.  So give us ears to hear, and Holy Spirit be upon all of us and on myself as we go through your Word.  In Jesus name, Amen.’  

 

Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats”

 

          You remember in Matthew chapter 25 Jesus shared a parable.  And in this parable he was illustrating through this story about when he comes in his glory and he comes with all his angels, and all the nations are gathered around his throne as his sits upon his throne to judge the world, he shares this parable and he likens this day of judgment as like when a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  One day he too, as he shares this, will separate his people from the people of the world, his sheep from the goats.  That’s what is illustrated in that parable [according to Calvary Chapel interpretation.  There are slightly different interpretations as to who the goats are in differing churches and groups within the body of Christ].  In fact, as he shares, he’ll put his people on one hand, the right hand, and those that weren’t his people on the other side of his throne.  And those of his people that will be separated to the right hand will be people that will inherit the kingdom of God that was prepared for them from the foundation of the world.  But those that weren’t his people, that didn’t know him, that didn’t love him, he will separate to his left hand, and they will be destined, as it says there in the parable, to everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  Now according to Jesus if you remember this parable, what was the distinguishing mark as he makes that separation between the sheep and the goats?  He notes in that parable there’s a distinguishing mark that he uses to separate one from the other.  What will be the characteristic that will exactly determine who belongs in what group?---child of God or not a child of God?  What is the characteristic?  Will it be a life of holiness?  Will it be one of enduring faith?  Will it be a life of the knowledge of the truth?  As you remember the parable, no, that isn’t the distinguishing mark, although those certainly are characteristics true of every believer in Jesus Christ.  But as he shares in Matthew 25 the distinguishing mark, the determining factor will be that of love.  That’s what he says very clearly, that is a true love, a love that is more than just words or deeds, but a love that is practically seen in ministering to the needs of others.  You know Jesus will say to his people on that day, the sheep, note it in the parable, Matthew 25, verses 34-40, “Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink: I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me: I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came in to me.  Then shall the righteous [the sheep] answer unto him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee?  Or thirsty and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in?  or naked and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison and came unto thee?”  Of course, as he says, the sheep will say ‘When did we do that to you?’  ‘We don’t ever remember seeing you.’  Jesus will reply (verse 40), “Assuredly I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”  Then to the goats Jesus will say, “Assuredly I say to you, in as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.  So they will be sent away to everlasting punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Verses 45-46).  So, on judgment day, as our lives are summed up, completely, we see things for what it really is, what will be the stand-out characteristic that proves you are a child of God?  Jesus shares in that parable, it will be love, a true love, a love in the heart. [Note: this is a parable.  The judgment that sends people to hell-fire, as seen in Revelation 20:14-15, in reality occurs at a different time than this Bemis Seat judgment for the saints.  Parables make a point, show a lesson.  But the reality of when the events in a parable occur is often different.  Those who use parables to determine timing of prophetic Biblical events often fall into gross error in the area of interpretation.]  And that’s what we saw last week, as John was demonstrating there in 1st John in the beginning of the chapter, that as children of God, we have been infused with the life of God, and where you have the life of God you also have the love of God.  The two go hand-in-hand [i.e. Agape-love].  And he made it very clear, especially in verse 10.  That if there is a child of God indeed, you will see love in their life. “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.”  And so John was teaching on the that, and now we continue on that in verse 11, as he makes this transition where he really focuses especially on this subject of love.  Verses 11-15, of chapter 3, “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.  Why did he murder him?  Because his works were evil and his brother’s were righteous.  Do not marvel my brethren if the world hates you.  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.”  You might be getting the feeling, as we’ve been studying 1st John that John seems to repeat himself.  And it’s clear, he does.  It’s true, there’s several subjects, three subjects in particular that he visits over and over again.  That is the subject of obedience, then the subject of love, and the subject of truth.  Now he comes back to this subject of love.  And some of this, as you’re reading sounds a little familiar.  But keep this in mind, as we’re studying 1st John.  Each time he comes back to a subject he’s visited before, inbetween he lays the foundation to actually go even deeper into the subject.  And that’s what he does now, he gives some additional things to consider.  Now we’ve already heard John make strong statements concerning the love, the love of God being in the heart of a believer.  Back in chapter 2, in fact in a section that we studied on a whole Sunday morning, in chapter 2 verses 7 to 11, this whole thing was about love.  Of course, in chapters 1 and 2 John emphasized fellowship, communion with God, how important it is.  And as he was talking about that, he listed things that would hinder me from having communion and closeness with God.  And one of the things he talked about in chapter 2 was if there’s not a love for the brethren, my brother, in my heart, that is going to hinder my fellowship with God.  And he says that.  You can say that you’re in the light, close to God, but if there’s not love for your brother, then you’re clearly not close to God, is what he said back in chapter 2 as you remember.  But if there is a real sincere love in your heart for your brother, then that would indicate you’re close to God, because that is the heart of God. 

          Well now in chapter 3 he comes back to this subject of love.  But as you remember as we started last week, he’s now emphasizing sonship, what it means to be a child of God.  And as he talks about being a child of God, now he gives characteristics, things that are true of the life of somebody who is a child of God.  So he goes back now to the subject of love.  If there is the love of God and the love for others in somebody’s heart, that would indicate that they are a child of God.  But if there’s a lack of that, then there’s something wrong.  There’s a lack of proof that they’re a child of God.  Now in verse 10 he made this really clear, in very strong words as he does.  He said it explicitly, what will prove that you’re a child of God or a child of the devil.  A child of God does righteousness, works of righteousness, but also loves others.  But somebody who isn’t a child of God does not do righteousness, works of righteousness and does not love his brother.  He made that real clear.  Well now in verse 11, as we picked up there, he goes and mentions that love again is foundational to the Christian faith.  We studied that again in chapter 2.  It is foundational, it is from the beginning.  In fact, it goes all the way back to the Old Testament, God is love, love is foundational to the Christian faith.  It’s a commandment from the beginning, chapter 2.  But as he notes here it’s also the message that we’ve heard from the beginning.  Jesus’ very words to his disciples were “love one another” [John 14-16].  And then Jesus said to the disciples, “By this, all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  [And also in Matthew 5, this extended to love for your very enemies.]  So it’s the message we’ve heard from the beginning.  A Christian, to be a Christian, is to be somebody who loves your brother.  And as Jesus said in Matthew 25, on judgment day, my life, if I’m a Christian, will be characterized by love, loving others, loving my brother.  That is the sheep of the shepherd, the sheep of the Lord, they will have love in their hearts.  But a goat on the other hand, somebody who’s not a child of God, will not have that love in their hearts.  [And here’s a scary observation.  Goats and sheep often dwell together on farms.  This is an indication that this is also talking about people who attend church, often the same church together.  Some  who are genuine goats, and from the context of Matthew 25, they think they’re sheep.  Jesus has to actually separate them in the parable, although the actual separation will occur on two separate judgment days, in two separate resurrections, the 1st and 2nd, cf. Revelation 20:5-6, 11-13.  This may also be talking about goats in the world.  But personally I believe it’s talking more about goats who attend church, thinking they’re sheep.  The parable in Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats is not just talking about non-believers “in the world”, but can also be talking about actual members of the very same churches the sheep are dwelling in.  I don’t know if the pastor will bring this point out, so I am making it here.  Sobering thought.  Read 2 Corinthians 13:5.]  And that’s what he mentions in verse 12, the first person on this planet, who did not have a heart for God, the first goat, you would say, as far as using the illustration of Jesus was the third person who ever lived on this planet, and that was the firstborn of Adam and Eve, it was Cain.  And that’s what he mentions here in verse 12.  He had such a heart, that though he was the first human to ever be born, he was not a child of God.  That’s what John tells us right here in these verses, verse 12.  And that became very evident as he grew and began to treat his brother in a certain way.  In Genesis 4 we’re told that both Cain and Abel, these two brothers, offered sacrifices to the Lord.  But then we’re told that the Lord looked down and he respected, he accepted Abel’s sacrifice.  But when he looked at Cain and the manner that he offered his sacrifice, he did not accept Cain’s sacrifice.  And we’re told in Genesis 4 that Cain became very angry.  And why was he angry?  Well, it seemed that there was some jealously there, there was a root of jealousy.  ‘You accepted my brother’s, but you didn’t accept mine.’  But there was this element, and we’re going to go into this, and is where John brings us in these verses, there was this desire his heart.  He wanted to be a certain way, he did not want to change.  But Abel was doing the right thing.  And then with that, looking now at his sin and seeing his nature for what it is, there was just a hatred of the light, a hatred of the truth.  So Cain didn’t want to change.  And the fact that Abel was doing what was right kind of put him in a predicament, kind of made him [Cain] feel a certain way.  So, God came to Cain, and really as you remember the passage, he encouraged Cain to change….he encouraged him, ‘you know, if you do the right thing, you know Cain I’ll accept what you have also.  I’m not like being biased here.  Do the right thing, and you know what it is.  Offer it with a right heart, a heart of love and worship, and I indeed will accept your sacrifice also Cain.’  But as often the case in the human heart, Cain did not want to change.  And it was just a change of heart.  As you look at Hebrews chapter 11, Hebrews says that Abel’s sacrifice was more excellent, and what made it more excellent again, was just the heart.  It was that he offered it in faith.  Evidently Cain didn’t come in faith.  Cain didn’t come in worship.   So it wasn’t so much what he offered, but it was the attitude of his offering.  But yet he was unwilling to change his heart, unwilling.  Well, God warned him and said ‘If you do not do well, sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’  God saw what was in his heart.  God saw the jealously, God saw this hatred rising up.  God knew that Cain was about to stumble if he didn’t repent and change his way.  But Cain was unwilling, so one day as you remember the story, he was out in the field with his brother Abel, and this hatred now begins to work its way out in such a way that he takes his brother, never happened on the planet earth before, and he murders him brutally there, murders he brother, thereby showing what was in his heart.  So if you look at the first two descendants of Adam and Eve, man you can see who was the child of God and who wasn’t.  You can see it in the things they did.  You can see in their hearts.  One was a goat, and one was a sheep, again using the illustration of Jesus.  There was the love in one heart and there was the absence of love in the other heart.  And that made the difference very clear.  You know, I heard the news this week, somebody was sharing this story this week about that basketball player at Baylor University, this guy that just disappeared.  And I haven’t heard the news in the last couple days, so I don’t know the latest reports, but he’s been missing for a little bit of time, and there’s the belief that he’s potentially dead, they haven’t found him.  But also there is the possibility, they are saying, that he was murdered, murdered supposedly by a friend, another ball player at Baylor.  Well this person was telling me about this news story, and I then since read about it in the newspaper, but as the person was telling me, they saw this on the news.  But then what jumped out at them was the newscaster at the very end made this statement ‘Oh, yea, Baylor University is a Christian university.’  And that just kind of irked him, as this person watched this.  And so there was this seemingly a statement that said, you know, ‘Look at the hypocrisy.  See, there’s really no difference, is there, Christian university, non-Christian university, this stuff happens everywhere’, seemed to be the statement that was being made.  But you know, just because somebody attends Baylor University that I guess is a Christian university, it doesn’t mean that they’re really born-again.  Right?  Just as, if you come to this church, it doesn’t mean you’re really born-again.  That doesn’t save you.  Having a relationship with Jesus Christ does.  And that’s the point that John is making, if somebody’s born-again there’s going to be a certain life within them, there’s going to be a certain life-style.  But before we go on, he’s talking about Cain the murderer, may we not just think that it’s the big sins, murder and things like that, that indicate that somebody is without God, or may we not think that because somebody is a murderer that doesn’t mean necessarily that they won’t go to heaven.  Clearly, as we study the Bible, there are people that committed murder, that also are in [the kingdom of] heaven today, David.  David committed cold-blooded murder, but that man is in the kingdom of heaven today.  He repented of his sin.  Also Paul, Paul was responsible for murder, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament.  But he repented of his sin when he heard the gospel and turned to God and was saved.  [More like when he saw the actual object of the Gospel, Jesus Christ, glowing like the sun right in front of him on the road to Damascus.]  So, he was forgiven of his sin.  I think too, of this story, indicating this point, during the Korean War there was a South Korean Christian who was arrested by the Communists, and he was ordered shot.  But when the young Communist leader learned that the prisoner was in charge of an orphanage caring for small children, he decided to spare him and kill his son instead.  So, they wouldn’t kill him, but they took his son, who was 19 years old, and in his presence they killed his son.  But later the fortunes of war changed, and the young Communist leader was captured by the United Nations forces and was tried and condemned to death.  But before the sentence was carried out, the Christian who’s boy had been killed pleaded for the life of the killer.  He declared that he was young, and that he really didn’t know what he was doing at the time.  ‘Give him to me,’ said the father, ‘and I’ll train him.’  And the United Nations forces granted the request, and that father took the murderer of his boy into his own home and cared him, and today this young Communist is a Christian pastor.  But there is a story, making a point right there, an illustration.  Right?  There was a man that committed murder, there was a man that was taking care of an orphanage.  You could see whose the goat and whose the child of God, but later the goat also became a child of God.  And anybody here, that’s in this room today, no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve been, you can become a Christian.  You just have to repent and turn to Jesus [Yeshua].  He’s waiting, he loves you, he wants to give you eternal life.  So, you see that illustrated in that story.

 

Hatred is the spirit of murder

 

But John isn’t saying it’s murder, and if you do that you’re not going to be granted eternal life.  Maybe you’re thinking ‘Well, I never committed murder, so I’m OK.’  That’s what the religious Pharisees did, but then John in verse 15 takes it a little bit further.  In verse 15 he equates hate with murder [as Jesus does in Matthew 5], he puts the two on the same level.  He says it’s an issue of heart.  Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.  He’s dealing with the heart.  He’s dealing with the heart is what he’s dealing with.  He equates the absence of the love of God in a heart, instead where there’s now this hatred, he equates that with murder.  And he says it’s that heart, it’s that heart that’s unwilling to change, like a heart of Cain, unwilling to repent, that is the heart that he is referring to.  In fact, in verse 15, that is the heart that will not have eternal life.  It’s the heart, it’s the issue at heart.  Now I believe that Cain had the opportunity to repent, as you look at the story.  God came to him and he said ‘Cain, where’s your brother Abel?’  I believe in that he gave him an opportunity to repent.  But his heart was so hard he denied the whole deal.  He says ‘I have no idea.’  And then he actually said ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?  Come on, God, am I supposed to be taking care of him?’  The answer to that is ‘Yes, you’re to love, you’re to be looking out for him.’  But God came to him and gave him the opportunity to repent, and he didn’t repent.  So John says he was a son of the wicked one.  It was in his heart.  His heart was hard.  And eventually the fruit of his heart was visible.  In his instance it was murder, but in other people it’s in other ways.  It’s all about the heart.  In time the fruit that will come from that will prove whether or not somebody is a child of God, and that is what John is saying here.  Now it’s interesting, he says a child of God, somebody who knows the Lord will love.

 

The world hates us

 

But at the very same time in these verses, verse 13, it says Christians will love, even though at the same time they will be hated.  They will love, because the love of God is in them, but they’re going to be hated by the world.  Now why are Christians hated by the world?  I think it’s the same reason that you see in Cain and Abel.  Cain hated Abel because Cain, in fact Jesus said this in John chapter 3, verse 20, it illustrates this, it says it perfectly.  “For everyone practicing evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”  So somebody who has a certain heart to do just whatever he wants to do, he doesn’t want the light, he hates the light.  It makes him squirm, makes him feel bad about himself.  He doesn’t want to feel bad about himself, he just wants to be comfortable doing what he wants to do.  So Cain saw what Abel did and he hated him for it.  And so John says don’t marvel at that brethren, don’t be at all surprised if the world also hates you.  1 John 3:13, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”  So as Christians, we will be people that love, it’s in us.  Yet we’re told the world will hate us.  The world will hate us for that very reason.  Now, I remember just a week ago we had our baptisms, you know, at the State Forest, so we’re out in pubic.  I love to do it at the State Forest, just to very simply and quietly declare the love of God to this community.  So there’s a good group of us gathering, and we set up our guitars, and of course we started to draw attention, you know.  ‘Why are all these people going to this group?’  And somebody pulls out a guitar and several other instruments and we started to sing praises to Jesus.  Well I was facing our group, and I was going to share from the Word, and as I was facing our group I looked beyond our group, and I could tell there was a lady there, she was really angry that we were there.  She just was.  She got up, she was walking around, I’m sure she wanted to find someone just to complain, to tell on us.  But I was thinking, I was watching her, and I’m trying to sing.  She was totally irritated that we were there.  And I was thinking, ‘What is the big deal?’  We’re singing songs to Jesus.  And she’s like ‘Grrrr!”  That’s exactly what she was like, ‘You’re going to sing songs to Jesus in this park?!?’  What’s the big deal?  But she liked darkness.  And the light bothers you.  So you don’t want to change.  It’s making you uncomfortable.  I wish I had been in this passage, I could have just said it aloud to that lady.  ‘Lady, want to know why you’re squirming?  It’s because of your heart.  You know, I was thinking, what if a rock band came, one of these rock bands that just like to sing about evil and darkness and party, and they came and put their boom box on and they started to play, I wonder if she would have been as irate?  She probably would have been upset by the noise.  But I bet you she wouldn’t have been so steamingly hot.  But we were just singing to Jesus.  So that’s what he’s saying here.  It’s like the issue with Cain.  All Abel did was come and offer his sacrifices to God.  But Cain said, ‘I want to kill him!’  So that’s what he did.  That’s because he had a heart ultimately influenced by Satan.  Well, he says, “Don’t marvel my brethren if the world hates you.”  Don’t marvel. 

          Now, Jesus said, John chapter 15, verse 18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.”  “If you were of the world, the world would love its own, yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you.  The servant is not greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know him who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin.  But now they have no excuse for their sin.  He who hates me hates my Father also.  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin.  But now they have seen and also hated both me and my Father.  This happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law ‘They hated me without a cause’” (verses 19-25).  He says, ‘They hated me, so they’ll also hate you.’  He says, ‘They hated me without a cause.’  ‘And that is because, he says, when I came they now saw their sin.’  And that is exactly the same for you and I as Christians.  We have this love of God in our hearts, you know I come on a Sunday morning, and there will be people, ‘Aw bummer, they’re not here’, and I’m burdened for them, they’re checking out the Gospel, they’re young in the Lord, and I won’t see them, and I’ll be bothered, ‘Oh Lord, draw them here, they need to hear about Jesus, draw them to another church.’  That’s in the heart of a Christian to be concerned for others.  But the world on the other hand, looks at the church and ‘Oh, they bug me, they bug me.’  Well John says don’t marvel, don’t worry, just keep moving ahead, this is just part of being a Christian.  You know, we had our parade there on July 4th, it was cool, you know, 20 of us or so, there was a float, walking down through the town parade, and I’m amazed by all the people that come out to the parade there in this town.  Kind of a neat time, we gave out 5,000 little flyers, one of the flyers that’s in your bulletin, bunch of candy that people had purchased.  And I didn’t plan any of this.  People just kind of did it.  And there was even groups that made little bracelets for kids, so the kids in our group were going out giving bracelets to kids and just loving the people.  And as we were going along, one young person came up to me and says “You know, some of these flyers, I’m giving them to people, and they’re just ripping them up.”  You know, just making a statement to a child.  And all the flier says is “Concert, Christian concert.”  Rip, rip, rip, ‘Why are you giving this to me?’  Well I told this person, ‘Hey man, that’s what the Bible says.’  But there are also people in this crowd that have a different attitude.  And God’s going to use that flier, so don’t marvel man, if the world hates you.  Don’t let it slow you down.  But just keep giving out the Gospel and loving people.  You know I also read in the newspaper this week, USA Today, this NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon, the article caught my eye as I was looking through it, and that is because Jeff Gordon at one time was professing at least through things that he did that he was a Christian.  And, you know, if he had a victory, and he had a lot of them, he would make a point to go out of the way there and give thanks to God that he had been given a victory.  But now in the article he’s changed.  And so the newspapers write it up.  He’s no longer so radical, he’s a little bit more tame, and just doesn’t do these types of religious expressions.  I was reading that, and just reading the article.  And of course, that’s what the world wants.  That’s what he’s writing about.  ‘This guy was doing it before, but he stopped, he’s not doing it anymore, so let’s write a newspaper article about it.  He’s not doing these things, these things bug us.’  Well, there is a tendency, I don’t know where Jeff Gordon stands with God, only God knows that, but sometimes it’s even true of Christians, because of the hatred, because of the animosity, because of the tension, we start to back down.  But this [passage] is an encouragement for us.  This is the way it is, but don’t slow down, don’t back down.  Love people, man, get the Gospel out, reach out to them.  Understand, there’s going to be these things, but don’t let it discourage you.  John mentions in these verses too, he says we’re to love, yet the world is going to hate us.  But then he says, “But we know” and when he says “we know” he uses the Greek intuitive word, that word oeda.  He says “But we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren….” (verse 14a).  He says that “we perceive”, there’s proof in my life, the fact that I love other people.  It says to me, ‘Man, God is doing a work in me, and I am indeed a Christian.’  So there’s the fruit.  I wasn’t like that before, something has changed….he’s referring to, ‘we know that there was a certain time when I passed from death to life.  I wasn’t like that before, but then I heard the Gospel and I came to Jesus Christ, and now there’s the love of God in my heart, and I love people in a way I didn’t love them before.  So I look and say ‘Man, something’s happened, I’m indeed a Christian.’  That’s what he means.  It’s proof that I’m a Christian.  “….but he who does not love his brother abides in death” (verse 14b).  We were all spiritually dead when we were born [physically born], apart from God.  But those who have Christ in their hearts now are alive spiritually.  “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life in him” (verse 15). 

 

“By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us---and we also ought to lay down our lives for our brethren”

 

          Now let’s read verses 16 to 18.  “By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for our brethren.  But whoever has this world’s good and sees his brothers in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”  (verses 16-17)  So he goes further with it.  You know, John is really making his point clear.  And he says here in verse 16, “By this know, the word there is ginosko, By this we know, experientially what love is….” and that is that we look at the cross.  I see what Jesus did.  By this we know, because he laid down his life for us.”  There it is for me now, what kind of love God is talking about.  That is what it means.  I know what it is, as I look, consider, what Jesus Christ has done for me.  So, by this we know, as we look at his work for us.  But now he says at the end of verse 16 “and we also ought to lay down our lives for our brethren.”  You know, it’s interesting.  This is 1st John 3:16.  Of course, you can’t help but think of John 3:16.  “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish”, that speaks of the love of God.  People believing in him and being saved.  This is a very important verse that we should just memorize.  A lot of us know John 3:16, but 1st John 3:16 is then the next step.  Yes, we know love, God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son.  But now brethren, now Christians, we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren [and as other passages show, also for our neighbors, and yes, even our enemies].  God gave us his Son so that we could be saved, so now also that should be in my heart.  I should be following the example of the Savior, one should lead me to the other.  What he has done for me should now lead me to do the same for the others, those around me.  And now John goes very clear into detail.  ‘This is what I mean,’ he says.  Now, somebody around you, a brother’s in need, and you have the means, and you see the need, but you don’t do anything about it.  You have the means, you have the time, you have the resources, but you don’t do anything about it.  In fact, he says, ‘he shuts up his heart’, the King James says “he shuts up the bowels of his compassion”, I look and there’s a brother in need.  I say, ‘Oh well, and I move on.’  He says ‘How can the love of God abide in that person.’  When Jesus came and died for the sins of the world, he died for me, and I have Christ in my heart, how could I just go along and see a need, and not do anything about it if I have the means to do it?  Now he’s not referring to those times when we don’t have the means, your bank account is dry, you don’t have the means.  Or you don’t have the time, you’re not able to.  There’s times we’re not able to.  But he’s referring to when you genuinely do have the opportunity, it’s there before you.  And let’s just face it, we have lots of opportunity, but you just go along and you don’t do anything.  He says, ‘Wait a minute, how can Jesus be in you?  Look at Jesus, what he does.  And yet you just walk on by?’  It sounds to me, that’s also like what Jesus addressed in the Pharisees.  Right?  He gave that parable of the good Samaritan, he says ‘You guys say you’re all religious and you love God.  Let me give  you a story.’  In fact, somebody had even asked him, you know, ‘What must I do to be saved?  He said, ‘Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor.’  And the guy says, ‘Well, I’ve been real good at being spiritual, what do you mean by loving my neighbor?’  And then I’m sure he was pretty humbled when Jesus said ‘This is what I mean.’  There’s this guy, got beat up, lying there on the road, and this religious leader comes walking by, and what does the religious leader do?  He crosses to the other side of the road.  This spiritual man, ignores the need.  Then he refers to another scribe, another Levite, walks by and does exactly the same thing.  And then he says there was this Samaritan.  Of course, in the eye a Jew a Samaritan was like a half-breed.  [Or worse, since the Assyrians, when they deported the real 10 northern tribes of Israel, they replaced them with pagans from the area of the Caspian Sea where the Israelites were now deported to.  The Jews new this.  Many of these new arrivals had given Ezra and Nehemiah such a hard time when they were trying to rebuilt the temple and the wall around Jerusalem.  So animosities went back as far as Ezra and Nehemiah.]  They were disdained.  So the Samaritan comes along, comes over, takes care of him, takes him to a hotel, takes care of his needs.  And Jesus says to them, ‘So, who was the neighbor?’  The guy says, ‘Oh, ouch.’  And that’s what John is saying here.  [cf. James 2:14-16 says the same thing, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body: what doth it profit?”]  If you say you have Christ in your heart, if Jesus, is really in you, and you really are religious [in the right sense], you’ve got to reach out to others in love, and you’re going to minister.  Now when he says “brother” here, we need to go a little bit further.  When he says “brother” [King James “brethren”] here, he’s not referring to somebody I just naturally like, he’s not referring to somebody in the church I’m just buddy-buddy with, he’s not referring to a family member.  In fact, the word he uses means “a neighbor”, it means somebody on the street.  But it also means somebody who’s not very lovable to you, somebody you just wouldn’t be naturally attracted to.  He says, when you see someone like that, and if it’s in your heart ‘Oh man, that poor orphan, that poor person, they’re suffering’, and you begin to reach out to them.  That’s because the love of Christ is in your heart.  But if it isn’t, then there’s something going on, something going on.  You know, Jesus said in Matthew 25 in that parable again, he says, the people will say ‘When did we love you?’  and he said, ‘When you did it to the least of these, that least of these.’  That’s what John is saying, the same thing here.  I think too of this story of a soldier.  It’s been awhile since I heard this story.  But the sense of the story, this soldier was in bitter winter, came along and saw a beggar, and as he saw the beggar asking for help, he didn’t have any money, didn’t have any food to give him.  And maybe in the story, he began to walk off, I forget.  He comes back, he’s a Christian man, has a love for this individual, he suffering, there in the cold, this beggar.  So he took off his Roman uniform, his Roman coat there, and he ripped it in half, and gave half to the beggar and he went off with half a coat.  How warm are you going to keep yourself with half a coat.  But that’s the heart of what he’s saying here.  It’s the love of God, it’s just wanting to love people and reach out and make a difference.  Man, if that’s in your heart, man.  Well, he goes on and gives a little bit more of what that means. 

          “Little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue: but in deed and in truth” (verse 18).  “Little children, let us not love, just professing the word, saying that you’re religious, but in deed and in truth.  Let us just not love in tongue.”  Tongue is opposite of the truth, is what he says here, tongue is just professing it, but it’s insincere.  Truth is, ‘Look at my life, I love in truth, I love in deed and I love in truth.’  He says “Let us love in deed and in truth.”  Verse 19, “By this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”  See, I come to the Lord.  And he says “we know” and that word is experientially.  I know I’m a Christian, I know I’m a child of God.  You know, I reached out to that individual, and it was a blast.  I love to be a blessing to people.  I love to reach out to people that even don’t like me.  There’s just love in my heart for other people.  He says “By this we then know that we are of the truth, and we shall assure our hearts when we come before God.”  We have that same sense, ‘I am a child of God, there’s no question.  I’ve been loving, Lord.  And that’s what you are and that’s what you do, clearly you’re working in me.’  “So by this we know that we are of the truth, and there is an assurance in our heart....”

 

“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things”

 

  Now what does he mean in verse 20, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”  He talks about having confidence before God, but yet if you come to God and there’s condemnation, he says God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.  What does he mean?  This verse is debated by many.  You look at all the old commentaries, I’ve got a lot of them, a lot of the old commentaries say ‘If my heart condemns us, I can be sure that God knows my heart even more, and God’s going ‘You, you’re out of line.’  And it may mean that, but it also might mean it another way.  And I kind of lean to the other side.  Certainly God knows my heart more than I do, but God is also a God of infinite love and infinite grace, and there is often times as a Christian, you know, I’ve been loving people, sure, but there’s times I haven’t been, there’s times I’ve been struggling, and I come now before the Lord in prayer, and instantly, the first thing that comes to my mind is ‘I did this’, or ‘I experienced this’, or ‘I didn’t do this.’  And there’s that sense, ‘Oh, man I can’t even pray, man.’  I just have that condemnation in my heart.  But John says God is greater than our heart, God’s above feelings, apart from that he’s a God of infinite love and grace.  If I confess my sins he will forgive me, and I have every basis as a child of God to stand before God at any time and say “God, I need you.  Here’s what’s on my heart, Lord.”  So there are times, maybe you’re even struggling with prayer in the sense of condemnation in your heart.  But God is greater than your heart, man, and he wants you to come, he wants you to talk to him.  He wants you to get your heart right with him.

 

A great promise---if we’re right with God

 

 Verses 21-23, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence towards God, and whatever we ask we receive from him because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.  And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of the Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”  Now he says, ‘If our heart doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence toward God,’ and not only that, when you have confidence toward God, in verse 22, when you come to him in prayer, man, you just ask in such a way in faith that your prayer-life isn’t being hindered.  He’s essentially saying that when I love, when I live as Christ lived, man it means for effective prayer.  A holy life, a loving life, means for effective prayer.  When I love my brethren, it does help my prayer-life.  If I don’t love my brethren, I struggle now in prayer, I know I haven’t been doing the things I should be doing, there’s a struggle in prayer, less of a confidence and faith in prayer.  You know the Psalmist in Psalm 66:18 said “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”  Peter said to the husbands, “Husbands, love your wives, dwell with them in understanding, that your prayers may not be hindered.”  [To “dwell with them in understanding” means having a good understanding of how the marital relationship works, which most men don’t have, Christian and non-Christian alike.  Not sure yourself?  Check out http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.COM.]  If I come before the Lord and have not been loving my brother or my wife or another individual, it does effect my prayer-life.  Jesus said if you come to the altar to offer your sacrifice, and somebody has something against you, go and make it right with him, and then offer your sacrifice.  So yes, the way I view others does effect my prayer-life.  If I’m loving, man, I can be confident in prayer.  There’s a beautiful word in here, “Whatever we ask we receive from him”, that word “from” is the word preposition para, and it means “nearby”.  And what is meant there, he’s giving a picture, it’s the idea of somebody being so near to God, that whatever you desire is so in tune with his heart, that you can ask and ask and it will be done.  That word “from” in our English doesn’t come out like that.  The word para in the Greek means, ‘I’ll receive from him, I’m so close to him that he’ll hear, we’re so in tune, so connected, our hearts are so in communion.’  So it is true, when I have fellowship with God, closeness, my heart is in tune with his, I can just keep asking God to just do that, I’m going to ask what delights him, what pleases him, I’m going to ask according to his will.  Well, finally as we end our time in this study, he says “This is the commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (verse 23).  When he says “believe” the Greek refers, it’s in the subjective tense, it means that initial time of believing, the time that you received Messiah as your Lord and Savior, and this is his commandment, that we should believe, just turn to Jesus and receive him as our Savior, and that we should also love one another.  And that is in the tense in the Greek, that it means to continue to love.  So, we’re reminded to love, really as a Christian is to obey simply as a commandment to the Word.  You know, I was preparing this study, and I have this book of illustrations, and once in a while I’ll go to it.  I’m thinking, ‘I’d like a little story, this would help convey this truth.  Right now I can’t think of a story.’  There’s a number of books, but I have one book that a lot of pastors have, it’s filled with nearly 8,000 stories.  So you wonder where I get some of my stories once in a while, I’ve got this book.  If it isn’t in the paper or my experience, and I need something I’ll look [in this book] for a story.  Well I was, it’s all organized, this book and I was looking under the heading of love, and this little heading popped out at me.  It said “Verse by verse teaching” and something else, and it was under the subject of love.  And I said ‘What’s this?’.  So I went to the illustration in this book and found it,  and don’t you know, it was a story written nine years after Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa got going.  And it’s about this church, Costa Mesa California, Calvary Chapel, that in nine years at this time had gone from just as few to 15,000.  And it talks about Chuck Smith teaching expository, and it’s a whole page right, I didn’t copy it, but of all the different things that were going on in only nine years.  But in the story was noted “verse by verse teaching”, but people come because they feel and sense the love of God.”  Talking about four or five thousand people coming at night to hear the Word of God and listening to long sermons like you just did, because it’s verse by verse, and because they sense the love of God.  And I pray, as we just study the Word….this church in this community, man people love people there, and you ought to check it out, you ought to check it out.  Let’s close in prayer.” [a sermon transcript of a congregation somewhere in New England.] 

 

I have a better story for you about the kind of love the apostle John is trying to convey.  It explains how we are to love our brethren, neighbors, and yes even enemies.  The early Judeo-Christians under Polycarp had a royal chance to practice just what John had taught them in these verses we just studied.  This love is such an essential part of true Christianity.  Opportunities to love in such a way can occur for us in individual ways, but sometimes they can occur for the whole church.  This actually  happened twice for the early Judeo-Christian churches in Asia Minor, church congregations that actually had members who remembered hearing John say these things, or had leaders who were trained by John or his disciple Polycarp. Not much in history can top this story.  To read this true story log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/LegacyOfLove.htm .  This story will amaze you.  But it truly demonstrates the love of God within early Christians, a love that was put into action, it wasn’t lip service.  There was only one way this kind of love could have been put into action, it had to be within these people in the first place, indwelling them through the Holy Spirit.  Be sure to log on and read about it.  This story gives true meaning and perspective to John’s words, which are the words also of Jesus Christ, “Love one another.”

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