This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 20th, 2019.
First John is a letter that was written by the Apostle John to a struggling church in Asia Minor. He is also the author of the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. We are currently in an ongoing series in 1 John entitled, “Love Letter”. We have been going through this book verse by verse as we see the context in which John was writing (Who was he writing to and for what purpose), and how this epistle is applicable to us today as well (What is it saying to us today). As you all should know from previous sermons, the main topic of this book is love. The love spoken in this context is the kind of love that leads to a transformational life and gives us a picture as to what our lives should look like. In addition to the message of love John gives warnings to the believers of this church to not be deceived by false teachers and doctrines that were in this church and he also warns them to keep their affections for the world at bay.
Last week, I talked about the incredible privilege we believers have in being named children of God. Since we are children of God, we have a responsibility as to how we conduct our lives. The concluding thought for the message was this…the life you live reveals who you serve. This means that how you conduct your daily lives speaks volumes about the God (or god) whom you serve. The person who continually lives in willful sin and disobedience to God, serves the devil. However, the one who lives in obedience to God’s Word and His commands serves Jesus.
Today we are going to continue in this series as we look at 1 John Chapter 3:11 -24. This portion of scripture is what commentator Stephen S. Smalley writes, “The second condition for living as God’s children: obedience.” This passage bridges the former topic what it looks to be a child of God (you are a child of God so remain in Him) to how to live as a child of God (since you are a child of God you must live in obedient love).
Verse ten is the connecting verse to this new condition. The concluding thought is that the life you live reveals the God you serve, but in the same sense it sets up the introduction of the new condition of obedience, which basically means that if you are a believer you will live your life in obedience to the commands of God.
Verse 11: The message of loving one another is something believers have heard from the beginning. The command of Jesus Christ was to love one another, in John 13:34, 35 He said, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This new command, love one another, is the message that they have heard since the establishing of the Christian faith. We will soon see that love is the foundation of the Christian life because not only are we commanded to love, but we are commanded to love as Jesus loved. The love you have for one another will be evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ… It will identify you as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
John has talked about loving and hating your brothers and sisters. In the previous verse John says that someone who is not doing right in God’s eyes is the one who does not love his brother or sister, so it is imperative to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Verse 12: Interestingly John shows the direct opposite example of what love is not through the story of Cain and Able. I assume you are all familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. Even if you are not familiar with the Bible it is more than likely that you know this murderous story found in Genesis 4:3 - 7. (Go to passage).
Here are some things we know about the story of Cain and Abel…
The reason Cain murdered his brother was because his deeds (actions) were evil and his brother’s deeds were righteous. Cain was not right with God and this led to him choosing the path of evil over the ways of God.
Verse 13: If Cain hated his brother because his deeds were righteous, then we should not be surprised when the world, who does not know God, hates us when we do what is right or stand up for righteousness sake. I do not think it is wrong to speculate that Cain was jealous of his brother’s righteous deeds and this was the early seed to his hatred. His jealousy led to hatred and his hatred led to murder and this is not uncommon in the world today. In the world today, people are often criticized or even punished for doing what is right, and this is simply because the world does not know God. Evil, hatred and murder all begin in the heart
Verse 14: When we choose to live in obedience to God’s command to love, we choose life. But the one who does not, chooses disobedience to God’s command and has chosen the pathway of death and he/she will remain in the clutches of death. Choosing the former pathway often leads to bitterness, anger, hatred, etc.
Verse 15: John now gets to the root of hated and he calls it what it really is… murder. John recollects the words and teaching of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.in Matthew 5:21 – 22 (Read). It is in the sermon Jesus shows that sin is not only a physical act, but it is also and primarily a matter of the heart.
Jesus teaches these three truths about hate and murder
Verse 16: We are now shown the true act of love. We love because Jesus showed us how to love properly. Jesus gave us an example of love through his sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. But Jesus’ love wasn’t just an example of love, it was love displayed and given. Jesus gave his life on the cross because of his love for us and he displayed this love through his sacrifice
John opens our eyes to the truth of love as an act of sacrifice. We show true love to others by sacrificing. Sadly, our society has cheapened the act of love by defining love as an intense emotional attraction and feeling you have towards someone that just happens naturally. An example is a man saying, “My girlfriend and I fell in love…” This insinuates that the act of love was stumbled upon or tripped into, like a random act rooted in an intense emotional connection and feeling. Many also define love as the act of sex. Many people who believe they are in love because they have shared the physical act of sex, when in fact the physical act of sex is not what makes people love one another. In both instances love is cheapened because these worldly definitions are temporary. I have heard married couples say, “We have fallen out of love.” True biblical love does not have an end to it.
True biblical marriage is an example of sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church…” How did he love the church? He loved the church by giving his life for her. Men, we ought to love our wives this way. Men/husbands we have a responsibility to love our wives sacrificially. We must be willing to die for our wives. We must not only say we love; we must show we love.
Fortunately for us Jesus never “falls out of love with us.” True biblical love defined could be summed up in one word…sacrifice. Jesus gave his life for us, and this was the ultimate example and action of love by God. So, John says that since Jesus showed His love to us in this way, then we ought to do the same for one another. How do you do that practically?
Verse 17: John gives us one example of this love in action and it is still true today. He is speaking to believers who have material possessions and responding to needs. He says if one has worldly or material possessions and can share and refuses to show compassion by helping those in need, this person does not truly have the love of God in them. John is not speaking just to the wealthy; he is speaking to all Christians who are able to help, and they should do so as well. You see, sometimes we expect the wealthy to care for the poor and needy, but those of us who have what we need to live have the responsibility to share with the needy as well.
What this looks like practically varies from believer to believer. Christians should be generous givers. Now, I believe John is speaking to those within the church and really there should be no person in the body of Christ who is destitute and in need of the essentials of life. Since John is speaking to the believers of this church, on the other hand we know that Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:38 – 48 to love our neighbors as well. (Read)
Verse 18: John takes this thought one step further by saying that we must not only love in word or speech, but through our actions and in truth. This means that love must be active and not hypothetical. We are not called to just speak love, but we are to show love through our actions which are divinely inspired works from God, through the Holy Spirit. Christians are called and commanded to love actively and genuinely.
Verses 19 – 24: Once again John tells us and his readers that our words and actions show that we belong to Him and gives us assurance in knowing that we are not condemned. Our hearts and emotions may try and condemn us, but God is bigger than our hearts and emotions. We must allow God to be the one who give us assurance and not our emotions and feelings. In fact, everything is grounded in God and faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, as John concludes this chapter, he ties everything together by reminding us that love alone is not all that we as Christians are required to do. First and foremost, if we are to truly love the way God intends for us to love it must be rooted in Jesus Christ. Gary Burge writes in his commentary of 1 John, “We are to believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another. Verse 24 make explicit that the success of such love only comes when we are living in intimacy with the Son, an intimacy that takes place when the Son is genuinely living in us and we in Him…The virtues of the Christian life cannot be lived apart from a relationship with God, a relationship defined and sustained by Jesus Christ.”
In this passage we have seen the importance of obedient love. Jesus commands us to love and He has shown us what love it through His actions. Jesus did not merely tell about His love, He modeled it and displayed it on the cross of Calvary. Since he has shown us love through sacrifice, we should love sacrificially as well. What does that look like for you?
We also see that speaking love is not enough. Our words must be through our deeds. If we say we love and do not care for our brothers and sisters in need, then the love of God is not is us. How can you make these changes in your life?
Our love in action means nothing in a spiritual sense if it is not all based in Jesus Christ. So, let everything you do be done in the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 145
 Wenham, G. J. (1987). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 104). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 165
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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