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How's Your Love Life

How Can I Know My Faith is Real?   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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One of the test John gives for an authentic faith is that of loving your brother and sister in Christ.

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14 Date: March 4th, 2018 Title: How’s Your Love Life? Text: 1 John 3:11-24 Series: How Can I Know My Faith Is Real? Introduction: · Princess Alice, the daughter of Queen Victoria, had a little boy who became very sick with black diphtheria. Doctors quarantined the boy and told the mother to stay away. She tried, until one day she overheard him whisper to the nurse, “why doesn’t my mother kiss me anymore?’” Princess Alice ran to her son and smothered him with kisses…within a few days, both died. o Momma didn’t stand outside the door and simply say “I do love you honey; I really do love you.” o Momma didn’t go to the church and start telling others how they needed to go love on her son… o No, momma knew her son was hurting and knew that he needed her, so with no regard for what it could or would cost her, she ran into the room, exposing herself to the deadly disease because her love for her son was greater than the love for herself…she displayed a tangible love for her son that was easily recognizable. · With that in mind please turn to 1 John 3:11-24 o There is no denying the love a parent has for their children, that even though they can be thorns in our sides at times, we would give our lives for them… o The love a parent has for a child runs deep. · But is it possible for you to have a deep love for someone who is not your spouse, not your child, not related to you physically, that goes to that level of a willingness to risk everything for them? o That person sitting behind you, in front of you, across the aisle from you, across the room from you, etc.…do you have a love for them that looks beyond the imperfections and is willing to do whatever it takes to let them know how much you love them, even if it meant, you had to die to do it? § Yes that kind of love is possible… · I ask you this morning “How is your love life?” o Not talking about your marriage, or your dating life, etc. we’re talking this morning about the condition of your love life towards all the people God has chosen to assemble in this house…even those outside this house who are truly God’s children… o Get specific…right now God has brought you all to this particular house of worship…many of you have been here for years, some of you are new, thankful for all of you…Does the person sitting in row 4, seat 7 know without a shadow of a doubt, that the person sitting in row 6 seat 10 genuinely loves them? You pick any row, any seat and ask that same question… o What evidence will you submit to prove your case? · Here’s what John is going to tell us in this next section…if you call yourself a genuine believer, then… Main Point: Genuine believers display a tangible love for one another that is easily recognizable. 3 characteristics of love that is easily recognizable by others I. Tangible Love Avoids the Sins of Cain – vv. 3:11-12 (cf. Genesis 4:1-14) · From the beginning…this is not a new message to them or us because when we first heard the message of the Gospel we became acquainted with love…God loves us…Jesus loves us…the Holy Spirit loves us…every member of the Godhead loves us and is involved in our salvation and provided everything we need to experience this love first hand…so we are familiar with God’s love for us…we could only love Him in return because He first loved us. · Loving others is also nothing new…love is central to the theme of Christianity…Love is commanded of every believer and serves as genuine proof of salvation. · V. 12…not as Cain…What is the significance of John mentioning Cain in the context of loving one another? o Go back to Genesis 4:1-14 o John is setting up a contrast of love/hate. o He references Cain as a representative of all who belong to Satan. o If we want to have a love that is consistent with this text, then there are certain things we have to avoid…specifically those of Cain. A. Sin of disobedience to God’s command · God gave clear commands to both Cain and Abel regarding the kind of offering that they were to bring…Although we don’t see those instructions in Scripture, we know enough about the character of our God to understand that our God does not act in randomness…there is a purpose behind everything our God does…so why then does God accept Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s? · What John says in verse 12 gives us insight into Cain’s heart…why did Cain slay Abel? Because Cain's deeds were evil and his brother's were righteous. o Hebrews 11:4 - By faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. o Genesis 4:5 - but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. · I believe that God gave Cain and Abel clear commands about the nature of the offering that they were to bring; and the problem began when Cain disobeyed the commands of God. o Cain’s disobedience to God was a result of his heart belonging to Satan, not God…Cain’s outward expression of worship was sinful because his heart was sinful…and that is why God rejected it. o He had a heart that was filled with selfish pride that was unwilling to worship God on God’s terms. · So what does this have to do with showing tangible love? o Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is not an option…regardless of the way they may treat us, regardless of the moment we are in with them; in spite of their imperfections, which we all have…we are commanded to love each other… o The person with a heart like Cain, has no desire to obey God, chooses disobedience, and then comes up with all sorts of reasons as to why not loving their brother is acceptable, which are nothing but selfishness. o Although John specifically mentions Cain, the contrast here is that the person who has a heart like Able, chooses to make a habit of obedience to God’s commands…that kind of obedience places them in a better position to love others. · Notice God’s response to Cain… o God graciously rejected his offering. o It was in Cain’s best spiritual interest for God to reject his offering…God’s gracious discipline was on display and Cain was given an opportunity to repent. o Genesis 4:6-7 – master sin or it will master you. § God is giving Cain the opportunity to repent and change because if God accepted his outward worship, without an inward reality of true worship, Cain would walk away from that experience believing he could worship God on his own terms…God said no, that is not acceptable. · Cain’s focus is not on pleasing God, it is not on serving brother…it’s his own pride…so as long as selfish pride is in the way, we will continue to disobey God in this and never be able to express the love God desires to express. B. Sin of selfish and stubborn responses to confrontation · Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. · Proverbs 15:5 - A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible. · Cain should have listened…he should have repented…but before we condemn Cain we had better take a good hard look at our own hearts… all of us would do well to ask ourselves how we respond to the convicting power of God…how do we respond to the loving confrontation of other people and then connect that logically to this issue of being able to show tangible love in the moment. o See we all have this natural ability to be pretty selfish…: and a question that comes out of this text is do we act like we really believe we need the confrontation of God? o When someone is willing to risk their friendship with you and choses to speak the truth in love to you, tells you something you need to hear that might make you a little uncomfortable, how do you respond to them? · We need the confrontation of God's people to help us put off our selfishness so we can be in a better position to practice tangible love…Don't be like Cain C. Sin of unrestrained violence · Genesis 4:8 - · This is what John refers to… o Murder…slew…In the Greek means to slaughter, kill by violence o …Why? Because his deeds were righteous and you envied him. You were jealous of him and you became a violent man. · You don’t have to physically kill some body to murder them…you murder them in your heart through words and actions that are unloving…murder is the ultimate expression of hatred and Jesus equates the attitude with the action in Matthew 5:21-22. · When we allow unloving words to come out of our mouths, or when we act in ways that are unloving towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, we have taken the path of Cain, and there is blood on us because we have in some degree murdered our brothers/sisters. · Cain-like hate is blind to the damage our words can cause or the pain we inflict on others…with Cain like hate it doesn’t matter what we say or how we say it as long as we make our point and they know how we feel about it…with Cain like hate, we seize the moment to make sure how we feel or what we think is the most important, so we do whatever it takes, even if it means murder, to make sure we come out on top! · What’s the next step… D. Sin of portraying oneself inappropriately as the victim · Instead of viewing his disobedience as something that produces guilt and shame for sin, which God intended to motivate him to repent, he selfishly plays the victim here. · Genesis 4:13 - Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear!” · Cain’s focus is not on what he did to his brother, nor is it on the pain he caused his parents…it is focused on his punishment. o Jealousy/envy are clear signposts on the road of selfishness that we would do well to heed and get off it…get over ourselves…we need to stop and think what God wants at this moment, instead of what I want at this moment. · Each of us needs to consider the fact that we aren’t as effective and faithful at practicing tangible love as we ought to be, because we have allowed ourselves to move along some points in the trajectory of this Cain-like selfishness. o This issue of being jealous about someone else of who do they think they are…that must be put to death and put to death right away. II. Tangible Love Acts With Confidence A. Stop making excuses for not loving…(13-16) · I get the fact that there are going to be some people that are just going to hate us regardless of what we say or do…v.13 – don’t be surprised by those who hate you o don’t be surprised by that…this world is full of Cain like people who will display their hatred of God’s children. · V14 – You know what to do… o The difference between us and them is the fact that we have a new life and are fully capable of loving each other. o Being passed out of death into life is a result of our response to the gospel…We know…we know what happened when we responded to the truth…we were dead in our sin, now we are alive in Christ…we are now united with Jesus in his resurrection…we know that instead of a life of hate, we now can live a life of love. o Because you know your life has changed, there is no excuse for your lack of love…so stop making them. § A lack of love indicates you are spiritually dead…because someone who is characterized by hate has never experienced new life in Christ. · V15 –In God’s eyes, your lack of love reveals a heart of hate that is equal to murder itself; and unless you repent and turn to Christ in faith, you have no part in the kingdom of God. o The test John gives here is that if the bulk of your life indicates a lack of love for the children of God, then you have every reason to doubt your salvation. · V. 16 – The standard by which we measure love is Jesus himself. o Jesus actively and purposefully gave his life for ours. o As a result, we have a moral obligation to love each other to the point that we are willing to die for one another. § You can’t be selfish and display this kind of love. § None of us may ever be asked to sacrifice to the point of death, but often when asked to sacrifice a little of time, talents or treasures we react as though we were dying. o Perhaps its time for you to lay down your desires for the need of someone else…to sacrifice a little of your time for someone else…to give up going out to eat once or twice a week so you could have more to give to God’s work…what sacrifices are you willing to make to show you love God’s people? § After all Jesus gave for us, the least we could do is give up what we want for the needs of someone else. Point here is that we can’t go around making excuses for our lack of love…regardless of the fact there will be Cain’s around you, stop making excuses because hating your brothers is equivalent to murder and the least you could do is be willing to sacrifice yourself for others because Jesus sacrificed himself for you. B. Pay attention to needs – v. 17 · although John specifically mentions possessions here, it doesn’t have to be only your possessions…Simply sharing what you have is a good place to start…you don’t have to be wealthy to sacrifice for one another… o Genuine love for one another expresses itself in sacrificial giving to other Christian’s needs. o It is motivated by a desire to help others. · The implication of this text cannot be overlooked…as we become aware needs, material, spiritual etc. we are to do our part to meet that need…don’t close off your heart… o Take your eyes off yourself for a little bit, look around, and see that everyone has some need, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, etc. and discover you might just be the person to whom God is speaking, “Go meet that need.” C. Step out and do something v. 3:18 · It is not enough to simply say you love them…if you are speaking the truth, you will act upon it. D. Be convinced this pleases God .19 - 22 · Genuine believers will know they belong to God because they will be sincere and genuine in living the way God desires, especially in the way they love one another… o Notice what is missing from this text…the response of the person/people you are loving… o They may reject your acts of love, they may even say you have ulterior motives for doing what you are doing…that doesn’t matter. · You rest in the fact that God calls you to a life of loving one another and you do it because you want to be obedient to God and please Him…not them. o Obedience to God and a desire to please Him are to be the motives behind all that we do…regardless of what others say or do… o Not loving in this way has a direct impact on your prayer life – v.22 III. Tangible Love Depends on the Power of God (23-24) · You can’t love the way this text demands without the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life · 1 John 3:24 - The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. Lesson for Life – Find Someone to Love · Who are you going to express love to this week, next week, next month, next year, and it what ways? · Your obedience/disobedience to this comes down to with whom do you want to be identified? o the differences between Satan’s children and God’s children could not be clearer. § Satan’s children will murder, habitually hate, or be chronically self-centered and indifferent to the needs of others…eternal life does not exist in them. § God’s children have genuinely repented of their sin and as a result of being identified in Christ refuse to harbor murderous, hateful attitudes and live with a cold, selfish indifference to the needs of others. o All God’s children will display a tangible love for one another, regardless of all the imperfections, because they recognize the depth of love Jesus showed for them.
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