Faithlife Sermons

3-11-2018 For the Love of Abel 1 John 3:11-17

1 John Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:32
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Introduction:
There is a story of how fleeting love can be and is told by a girl who regretted breaking her engagement and wrote this letter:
“Dearest Tommy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! I love you!”
Yours forever, Marie
PS: And congratulations on winning the state lottery.
Transition:
Love might be perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts of at least the English language if not of humanity. And this misconception is compounded by the effects of sin. Despite our tainted views of love, the Apostle John commands us to love with true love.
Scripture Reading:
1 John 3:11–17 ESV
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Transition:
Our text this morning continues with the great theme of love that John has already mentioned somewhat extensively both in this letter and in his Gospel. Known as the apostle of love, there is no surprise with John’s repetitive need to emphasize love among the believers. He was blessed to literally and physically walk with the Lord, studying His life and ministry, clearly seeing the love Jesus expressed to others with his own two eyes.
As we follow Jesus’ great example and seek to heed the words of John in the Scripture, we too must be willing to put our love into action. It is easy to talk of love. It is easy to express concern for the pressing needs of our day, but it is quite something else to be moved to action. Our love must not be limited to conversation; it must compel us to act! Let’s take a few moments to consider the challenges John speaks of as we think on: Putting our Love into Action.

I. A Lovely Call (vv. 11-13)

John calls the believer to love one another…again! His exhortation is:

A. A Timely Love

1 John 3:11 ESV
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Again this is nothing new; John isn’t sharing a message they have never heard. From their earliest encounter with the gospel and the beginning of their relationship with Christ, they had been encouraged to love one another. This is essential to the Christian faith. It reflects Jesus’ very own words that John has already testified to in his Gospel:
John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 ESV
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:17 ESV
These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Loving others accompanies salvation.
Christopher Benfield calls out this kind of love that John is calling us to, He says:
Jesus is the great example of love that each of us ought to emulate. Jesus didn’t just speak of love, He exemplified love. He was moved with compassion as He witnessed the multitudes scattered as sheep without a shepherd. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, encouraged the lonely, and gave Himself on the cross for our sin. He gave His life so we might have life and have it more abundantly.
This still remains a timely message for our day as well. Surely we all have the capacity to love more, and in our day of self-indulgence and intolerance, love is certainly needed. We are never more like our Lord than when we love others.

B. A Tested Love

1 John 3:12 ESV
We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
In Genesis 4, Cain brought grain and fruits for his offering, while Abel brought an animal from his flock. Abel’s sacrifice (an animal substitute) was more acceptable to YHWH mainly because of Abel’s faith when he offered it:
Hebrews 11:4 ESV
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
After Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, YHWH encouraged him to be in the right. But Cain refused, and in his jealous anger he killed his own brother. But why did he fell like he had kill his brother? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was right.
The message of love and YHWH’s expectation associated with it were not new to John’s readers. This message was not a even new doctrine Jesus taught that would have been foreign to the Jews. The people of YHWH were always expected to show His love toward others. Despite how old this message is, love wasn’t and still is not always . It didn’t take long for love to be tested and even resisted. John reminds us of how Cain slew Abel in a moment of rage and anger. Abel showed love while Cain revealed the hatred within his heart. Cain despised his brother because Abel’s sacrifice was accepted in God’s eyes and his wasn’t.
In our passage this morning, John’s emphasis was not so much that Cain murdered and became a child of the "evil one”; but rather, since Cain did not abide in YHWH’s love, his evil anger and jealousy led him to murder. John wanted his readers to understand the horrid ends of refusing to love one another. Lack of love can lead to anger, jealousy, hatred—and, finally, even to murder.
Through the example of Cain we see that the heart will be revealed in time. What we have hid within our hearts will eventually be revealed through our actions. One can know of love and understand God’s expectation for love, and yet refuse to love. Genuine love cannot be fabricated or imitated. We cannot offer what we do not first possess!

C. A Tempered Love

1 John 3:13 ESV
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
John didn’t want believers to be caught off guard. Jesus wants his followers to be distinctive; he sets them apart from the world. Their very separation, however, arouses unbelievers’ animosity. When people become Christians, sometimes their lives change drastically. This was especially true for first-century believers who had come out of the morally corrupt pagan world—John’s readers lived in Ephesus. Former pagans would have been involved in many evil activities. After becoming believers, however, they no longer wanted to be involved in such things. As Cain did with Abel, unbelievers reacted in hostility, often because they wanted to justify their own actions or silence their consciences. When a person stands aside from certain activities, it makes the others think—and often they don’t like that.
At the point of Salvation, Christ’s love fills our hearts. We are commanded to share that love because we belong to Him. However, not everyone will accept our love, and if you haven’t experienced it already, some will even hate you for your relationship with Christ. Despite the world’s reaction, we must still show love to all we meet.
Really this ought not come as a shock. Jesus showed and shared love with all He met—even tough love. His love moved Him to action, but there were those who hated Him in spite of His love. If our Lord was hated even though He loved, we cannot expect everyone to love us. In fact, Jesus says to expect opposition and hatred from the world:
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.
Transition:

II. A Lovely Revelation (vv. 14-15)

Here we is that love, or its lack thereof, will be revealed in the way we live:

A. Our Character Revealed

1 John 3:14 ESV
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
A tree is known by its fruit. Those who are born again in Christ will always have love for their brothers and sisters in the faith—it is a part of our new nature! This love does not earn eternal life; instead, this love is evidence that we have eternal life!
John stated again that this kind of love is proof of one’s salvation. Those who belong to Christ will love others. That love may not be received or reciprocated, but we will still love nonetheless.
And so logically, just as love shown for others is a good indicator of salvation, the absence of love stands a good indicator of the lack of salvation. If one cannot love his brother, he “abides in death”, never brought from death to life in Christ.

B. Our Consequences Revealed

1 John 3:15 ESV
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Here John deals exclusively with those who lack love for their brother, those who possess genuine hatred rather than love. These are strong words, but they are truth! If a person hates someone, it is like wishing that the other were dead. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 5:
Matthew 5:21–24 ESV
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Those who genuinely hate are viewed as murderers in God’s eyes. To possess real hatred for another is equivalent to killing them. There is absolutely no difference in God’s holy standard.
Henry Donald Spence explained it this way
"Love is the only security against hate. And as every one who does not love is potentially a hater, so every hater is potentially a murderer. A murderer is a hater who expresses his hatred in the most emphatic way. A hater who does not murder abstains for various reasons from this extreme way of expressing his hate. But the temper of the two men is the same."
We cannot miss the eternal consequence of hatred within the heart. Those who hate, in essence guilty of murder, do not have eternal life abiding in them. Those who love to hate, will not inherit eternal life.
Does the Bible really say that? Yup!
Galatians 5:19–21 ESV
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
and just in case you missed it:
Revelation 21:8 ESV
8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Scripture could not be any clearer about the consequence of hatred.
Transition:
but scripture does not ever leave us hopeless!

III. A Lovely Inspiration (vv. 16-17)

As we conclude our look in this passage, John now brings our attention to the great inspiration we have to love. Consider:
A. The Divine Example (16a)
1 John 3:16 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: Jesus is love! He came to earth as God in the flesh. He had a body as we do and yet He maintained the very nature of God. The nly One who was perfectly holy and righteous gave His life willingly on the cross for our sin because He loves us! What love Jesus had and still has for us!
Does this love still move you? Do you still care about that kind of love? Often our love for one another is affected by circumstances and emotions. We tend to get angry and hold grudges. We refuse an effort to forget the pain others have caused. We often wear our feelings on our sleeve, just daring someone to brush up against them. That is not the type of love Christ possesses or showed mankind. I am certain we have not endured the suffering and shame He did, and yet He loved enough to lay down His life for us! Oh how we need to follow His divine example and love others unconditionally despite circumstances!

B. The Daily Expression (16b)

1 John 3:16 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. This is a hard statement to receive, but it reveals the divine expectation. As we look to the love of Christ as our example, we ought to be inspired to love as He loved. We ought to be willing to do whatever it takes to love one another. We ought to be willing to make any sacrifice necessary to express our love for others. We must be willing to love as Christ loved.
Often we wonder why our churches have declined so much in recent years. We wonder why folks don’t show up for service when invited. There are many factors involved with the decline, but we need not look any further than the nearest mirror for part of the reason. What kind of love do we express in our day? Do we share the love of Christ with others? Do they see anything in us they would desire? We must be willing to love without limits!

C. The Decisive Examination

1 John 3:17 ESV
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Once again we find John’s call to love our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Why again and again? It is because this statement is difficult to live out and it can reveals dark truth.
I might have asked this before, but do you know what the opposite of love is? It is not hate as you might first assume, but the opposite is indifference or apathy. Think about it for a moment: love causes you to focus on someone. Hate also causes you to focus on someone. Both love and hate involves some amount of caring, but pure apathy and indifference causes you to ignore people and not to care at all.
John is asking how we can claim the love of Christ and refuse to help others when it is within our power to do so. How can our hearts be right with the Lord when we see others suffering need and refuse to lend a helping hand? You might be here today saying, “Well Pastor Josh, I here you, but I don’t see a whole lot of people here in need.” If that is what you are thinking, then look again, look harder. I suspect that those here today have great, desperate, spiritual needs, or emotional needs, or even sin problems and a need for freedom. How can we feel good about our relationship with Christ and yet be indifferent about the spiritual needs of our congregation? We have the Good News of the glorious Gospel.

So What?

We know the Bible commands that we love one another, and yet we fail to fully heed the command—even within the walls of the church.
So often today there is feuding among Christians. Churches struggle with truly minor issues that divide the members. All members must to work on love and harmony. Jesus wanted his followers to be unified as an effective witness to the reality of God’s love. Believers must help to unify their churches. This is accomplished by praying for other Christians, avoiding gossip, building others up, working together in humility, giving time and money, exalting Christ, and an absolute refusal to get involved in divisive matters.
Conclusion:
We ought to be praying that the Lord will open our eyes, and allow us to see others as He sees them—even here at Grace. We ought to be filled with compassion for those who stand in such desperate need of love! Jesus didn’t ignore the needs of His day and we must not ignore the needs of ours.
In conclusion, does our love please the Lord? Does our love cause us to act when we see an opportunity to share His love? Are we willing to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus within a world that needs Him?
One cannot know love apart from Christ. If you have never been saved, you really do not and cannot know what authentic love is. Jesus is the great example and the giver of love. If you have never experienced His great love in salvation, seek Him today as He speaks to you!
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