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JOHN 15:18-25

The Gospel According to John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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John Title Slide

Pray

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this morning. It is a great privilege to stand before you gathered among your people and under the authority and teaching of your word. We ask that you bless this time and use it to make much of your son in whose name we pray, Amen.

Intro

I can think of no greater “anti-climactic” way to introduce the New Year than the following words- “You will be hated”. Happy New Year.
One of the greatest identifiers of sincere and true faith and, of course by contrast, insincere and false faith is how someone handles persecution and hatred by others. I’m not sure how to say this but- there once was a time, believe it or not, when it was “cool” to be a Christian. However, in the present, gone are the days where someone can become a Christian because of the social, cultural, economic, or even political benefits of identifying as a believer. Many people who have been culturally Christian or nominally Christian have been challenged by the fact that it’s increasingly becoming more and more unpopular and inconvenient to being a Christian and these people are falling away from the church and the Christian faith in droves... And as a result of this, particularly as of the last decade or so, there have been many people who have made the erroneous assertion that Christianity, in the West, is dying. Or perhaps that the Church is dying....But friends, that simply isn’t true. Jesus says in Matthew 16:18 that he “...will build [His] church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christianity and the Church is completely secure. Completely good. Totally fine. I would put this before you- It’s not the Church or the faith that’s dying.....but the comfort and convenience of Christians that is being placed on the altar. And nothing makes this death more swift than the assurance that believers will be hated by the world. The gospel writer John tells us in one of his letters to the church these words- 1 John 3:13
1 John 3:13 ESV
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
Transition: Being hated is a non negotiable reality for the Christian. It’s not a question of “whether” you and I will be hated. Rather it’s a question of “what for” and “by whom”. Not whether, but “what will we be hated for?” and “whom will we be hated by?”.
In our text today Jesus tells his followers that they will be hated by the world.
Why? Let’s begin by looking at John 15:18. This is what Jesus says-
John 15:18 ESV
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
Why? Because the world hates Jesus. So to be associated with him, will incur hatred from the world. And if we’re to be hated because of Jesus we must understand why the world hates Jesus. So, why DOES the world hate Jesus?

Context

Before understanding this, we must understand whom he’s talking about when he’s referring to the word “world” here.... The word “world” is not talking about the physical earth. The Greek word here is “kosmos”. For those of you who understand Russian this should be familiar due to that fact that the Russian word for space is - “kosmos”. But in the english language the word “kosmos” or “Cosmos” refers, not just to space, but to the entire universe. And when we think of the Cosmos we think of the “order” of the universe or the “orderly system” of our galaxy. Which is why the Greek word here doesn’t just mean “world” but also can mean “order” or “system”. So when Jesus uses the word “Kosmos” here he is referring to an orderly system of cosmic proportions that is hellbent on opposing God and his word. Which means that when we think of someone who is “wordly” we think of them as being in opposition or defiance of God’s order and God’s word. But more specifically, who is Jesus talking about here when he says that the “world” will hate you? Notice what he concludes in V25. Look at John 15:25
John 15:25 ESV
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
Who’s the “their”?
He’s talking about the Pharisees and Sadducees here. When Jesus is referring to the “world” and “worldly system” here, he’s talking about the corrupt and rebellious religious system of his day. Why does that matter to understanding what Jesus is saying here?
Let me answer this question by clearing up a misconception about the Pharisees. It’s no secret that the word “Pharisee” has become somewhat of a byword amongst not only the religious among us but also those of secular persuasions. And I grant that the tarnished reputation of this title “Pharisee” is a deserved one. However, the word Pharisee has also become a synonym for the word “legalist”. Meaning- that the Pharisees were so concerned with law-keeping that they became these smug and self-righteous legalists who looked down at others with furrowed brows and a tight lip. But, nothing could be further from the truth. The Pharisees (those who earned themselves this title in a negative sense) were known NOT because of their “law-keeping” but rather they were known for “avoiding” the law of God. They did everything in their power to come up with loophole after loophole after loophole.....to try and weasel their way out of obedience to the obvious standards of God’s laws. And in their efforts of creating endless loopholes to try and excuse themselves from obedience, they created a bunch of their own man-made laws to justify their avoidance of God’s law and God’s word. Why is this significant? Because when the typical everyday average person in America thinks of Pharisees they think of people who are trying to keep God’s laws and God’s commandments; they associate obedience to God’s laws with being a Pharisee.....and that is a grave injustice. A person who is trying to apply God’s commandments (properly and appropriately) is none other than an obedient Christian. Now, to be sure, someone who is trying to obey God’s laws in an effort to make themselves righteous has certainly misunderstood the purpose of God’s laws and the means of salvation and justification. But that is not the common flaw of Pharisees. The true Pharisees of our modern day are the same ones as those of Jesus’ day......they are people who avoid obedience to God’s laws and God’s words and they hate people who remind them of God’s laws and God’s words; which is why they hated Jesus- because he continually reminded them of God’s laws and God’s words.
Notice what Jesus says in John 15:22.
John 15:22 ESV
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Jesus is pointing out the fact that it’s because of what he said to them that they hate him. But notice also that he says they wouldn’t be guilty of sin....he’s not talking about sin here in a general sense. He’s talking about their violation of God’s law particularly Leviticus 19:17.
Leviticus 19:17 ESV
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
He addresses this specific issue earlier in John 8:43-47 when he confronts the Pharisees concerning this exact same point-
John 8:43–47 ESV
Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
So.....WHY DOES THE WORLD HATE JESUS? They hated Jesus because of his “words”.
Transition: But not only do they hate him because of his words, they also hate him because of his works; and not because the works are evil (no.....everyone loved the miracles of Jesus…) but because of what they revealed in their hearts. Look at what Jesus continues to say in John 15:24.
John 15:24 ESV
If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
Notice the the works that “no one else did”.....Now, Jesus did many things that no one else did.....but here he’s referring to something very specific because of what he says afterward when he says “but now they have seen.” The work here that he’s talking about is none other than the healing of the blind man in John chapter 9. Do you remember what happened? Jesus heals a man born blind and the question is about ‘who sinned’. Jesus goes on to say that it’s not because of sin but so that the glory of God would be revealed and shown through this miracle NAMELY, that Jesus is God.....and the blind man knew this which is why when he is harassed by the Pharisees he says in John 9:32 this-
John 9:32 ESV
Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.
Indicating that only GOD can restore sight to the blind, which is what Jesus had done. But then the Pharisees reject the blind man calling him a “sinner” who has no place to question them and accuse them of unbelief. But then the man interacts with Jesus again and worships him. But some of the Pharisees ask Jesus if he thinks that “they’re blind”.....to which he responds in John 9:41.
John 9:41 ESV
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
And what guilt is that? The guilt of hating the Christ. The Messiah. You see, when Jesus did his miraculous works, it was in contrast to the evil works of the Pharisees.
Example of feeling guilt when someone does something you should have been doing....
Same issue with the man who is born blind.
John 3:19-21
John 3:19–21 ESV
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Summary: So, what have we learned so far-
The world hates Jesus because of his words
The world hates Jesus because of his works
And because the world hates Jesus.....it will hate his followers, his representatives. Notice what he says in John 15:20
John 15:20 ESV
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And it’s because of his same words that they will also hate his followers. You remember what he said to them back in the previous chapter? In John 14:25-26 he tells the disciples this-
John 14:25–26 ESV
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
So the disciples, after Jesus leaves the earth and after the Pentecost happens in Acts 2, they receive God the Holy Spirit and in receiving him, they experience a unique moment in redemptive history where the Holy Spirit reminds them of all the “words” of Jesus so that they can proclaim them and put pen to paper and write down the Scriptures. And it’s on the basis of THOSE WORDS that Jesus’ followers are going to be persecuted and hated by the “world”; the book of Acts attests this when the “Jews” (The Pharisees and Sadducees) follow Paul around trying to get him killed.
Insert a few examples in church history of martyrs made because of God’s word. Joan Hus or William Tyndale or Wycliffe, or Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer
"Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
Use this at the end: Example of Cranmer as someone who compromised but then recanted his recanting and was burned in the flames along with his fellow friends. https://discerninghistory.com/2017/12/thomas-cranmer-out-of-weakness-he-was-made-strong/
And it’s on the basis of THOSE VERY SAME WORDS that followers of Jesus will be persecuted and hated TODAY.
It’s very easy to be hated by the world. Simply believe and speak God’s word. To show you how easy it is to be hated by the world just think of it this way- Just simply say anything against-
Abortion
Egalitarianism
Homosexuality
Or the distortion and tragedy of Transgenderism and Androgyny.
5. Or decry Marxism and Critical Race Theory
As followers of Christ, we will experience hatred and persecution. We shouldn’t be surprised when the world hates us. We should expect it to. Remember that, the Pharisees were the upperclass elites of society in Jesus’ day. They were those who were “well-respected” because of their standing in society. So it would be very easy to succumb to the temptation of trying to be liked by this group of people. And the problem with many Christians today is that they’re going about the business of trying to live their life so that they’re liked by the world all the while failing to understand that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). We are bending ourselves backwards in trying to gain the approval of the world and we do so by trying to make God’s word palatable to pagans. We try to make God’s word sweet-sounding to carnal ears, pleasant food to corrupt tastebuds, beautiful to blind eyes, and relevant to people who hate it no matter how distilled and contextualized it becomes.
Don’t misunderstand me please- there’s a place for conversation and discussion about God’s word and it’s goodness, beauty, and truth with non-believers. But it’s a conversation that happens AFTER they know that you subscribe to its authority regardless of their opinion on the matter. In other words- God’s word is not up for debate or opinion. It’s non-negotiable. And I’m simply wanting to point out to us this fact- that no matter how palatable we try to make God’s word to the world.....Jesus says it’ll still hate us because of it. So, our goal should not be to win people over with our winsomeness. But to win them over by proclaiming the truth of God in love desiring their good and the salvation of their soul.
The powerlessness of the modern American evangelical church is a powerlessness that has been brought about by the death of a thousand qualifications.
Kafka trap
It has its origins in The Trial a book written in 1915 by Franz Kafka.
In The Trial the protagonist is arrested and accused of serious crimes which are never specified. He receives no explanation or description of the charges, and his refusal to acknowledge that he must be guilty is what makes him guilty.  The only way to stop his abuse is to admit that he is guilty.
What is the kafka trap?
In the kafka trap you are accused of being a:
Racist, Sexist, Bigot, Facist, Homophobe, Transphobe, Islamophobe, Misogynist, Nazi, Hitler, etc.
…and any attempt to argue, deny or defend yourself is seen as proof of guilt.
Yep.
Denial is proof of guilt.
You’re guilty until proven innocent.
Being hated, although is something that is unavoidable and inescapable for the Christian, is not something that immediately proves virtue. One is not immediately deemed virtuous simply because they are hated by others. “Oh look...” you might say, “...they hate me......I must be doing something right.” All the while refusing to examine and evaluate the actual reasons for the hatred received. You see, when we make this faulty assumption, we are participating in our own version of Kafka trapping. We’re just doing it to ourselves. We receive hatred from others, assume that this hatred proves our innocence, and then proceed with a smug and self-righteous attitude by taking a moral high ground. This, friends, is a classic example of nothing other than self-deception.
John 15:19 ESV
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
John 15:25 ESV
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Application

Are you like....?
Cranmer - who has compromised his witness.....who has been cowardly when confronted with being associated with God’s word? Being afraid of being maligned and slandered....
The Pharisees - who look at the obedience of others with mockery. Example: Are you someone who looks at those street preachers and responds to them in mockery of their efforts while you sit comfortably in self-righteous excuse making for your own neglect of evangelism and public witness?
Are you like those who have gone before us who have been slandered, maligned, and persecuted on account of God’s word and you’re in the thick of it right now.....?
Well, Jesus concludes by quoting Psalm 35:19 , which reads-
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