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Children of God and Children of the Devil part 2

1 John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Children of God or Children of the Devil or Who’s Your Father Part 2

Last week we looked at the last of chapter 2 and began looking at chapter 3 of 1 John. We looked at the fact that there is a difference between the children of God and the children of the devil and that the differences are observable. Last week was kind of a part one of “Children of God and Children of the Devil” or “Who’s Your Father”. I’m not going to do a long review of last week but some of the points that stood out, at least to me, were that as children of God we are loved by God and we have been given the title “Children of God”. We have been changed to be children of God. Children of the devil are not given the title children of the devil because that is what they are by nature. Some of the characteristics of the children of God is that they (we) abide in Him and abiding in Him we practice righteousness, we purify our lives and we do not live a lifestyle of sin. The characteristics of the children of the devil is that they live a rebellious, lawless lifestyle with not thought of the glory of God and they follow the sway of their father the devil and look like him therefore they retain their sin and will be ashamed when they stand before God. That is very quickly what we saw last week in part one.
Today in part two we will be in looking at what we do in this world as children of God that is different from the children of the devil and what that looks like or how it is lived out. Let’s go ahead and pray asking God’s blessing on the reading and preaching of His Word.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 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. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.[1]
There are a lot of things to see here in this passage but the first thing I want us to take note of is found in verse 10. The reason I want to point this out is because I believe that much of what we draw out of this passage hinges on what we find here. Let me read verse 10 again: 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. The first thing I want us to notice here is that John equates loving our brothers and sisters in Christ (the children of God) with practicing righteousness. That does not mean that loving your brothers and sisters in Christ encompasses all of righteousness but it does mean that if you do not love them you are not practicing righteousness and that is how you tell the difference between the children of the devil and children of God. To be quite honest I don’t see any wiggle room here. You love the children of God or you don’t. You are a child of God or you are a child of the devil, that simple. In light of this truth in verse 11 John points back to what the people had been taught from the beginning: Love one another. In and 15 Jesus said to His Apostles: love one another as I have loved you, and John and the other Apostles taught this from the beginning. We need to make sure we understand this; in doctrine and in behavior or ethics we must always go back to the beginning and look into what the Apostles taught in the Word of God because those things never change. There are three things that the Apostles taught that will never, never change. 1. The gospel of Christ that is the power of God for salvation will never change. It is just as true today as it was when Jesus said; “God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life”. That has not and will not change. 2. The truth of Who Jesus is and what He did will not change. He is the eternal Creator Son of God who took on flesh and lived among His creation taking upon Himself the sin of all who would believe. That has not and will not change. 3. The truth of the ethics of the children of God; loving our brothers, walking in the light, practicing righteousness does not change. Righteousness and sin do not change with the cultural morals, righteousness is righteousness and sin is sin, it does not change.
So we see that we are to practice righteousness by loving our brothers and sister and that does not and will not change if we are children of God. But there is something else that has not changed and will not change and it is found in verses 12-13. The children of the devil will hate the children of God. 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. All the way back in Genesis chapter 4 we see this truth played out. Cain (the children of the devil) killed his brother Abel (the children of God) not because of anything Abel had done to Cain. There was not insult or wrong done to him. Cain killed Abel because Cain was evil and his brother was righteous. You see Abel’s act of righteousness in offering his sacrifice in faith demonstrated to Cain that he was evil and killing Abel was showing his desire to extinguish the light that showed his evil nature. That is what Jesus was saying in “Light came into the world but man loved darkness rather than light because his deeds are evil.” What Cain did to Abel was just a foreshadowing of what would happen to Jesus on the cross. The religious leaders had to get rid of Jesus because he shined the light of righteousness on their sinfulness. The children of the devil hate the children of light; the children of God. John says in verse 13 that it should not surprise us and Jesus told us why in 18“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19If 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. 20Remember 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 keep yours also. 21But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24If 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. 25But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause. The children of God love one another but the children of the devil hate the children of God, they hate Jesus the Son of God and they hate God the Father. And that is not going to change.
Now these next couple of verses gets to meddling. Let’s look at verse14-15: 14 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. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Some of this is very straight forward: If you love the brethren, that is evidence or even proof that you are a child of God. There is no way for us to love that way if we were not children of God, it is outside or our nature to love that way. So you can know that you have passed from being a child of the devil (death) to being a child of God (life) because you love the brethren. But the child of the devil cannot love like that because as we saw last week the child of the devil does not know God nor has he even seen God so he is unable and unwilling to love that way so he abides in death. If you hate your brother then you are a murderer (Jesus said that as well) and murderers do not have eternal life. All of that is very plain but here is where the meddling comes in. Because John draws this link or contrast between loving the brethren and hating the brethren then I have to ask this question: Is “not loving the brethren” the same as hating the brethren? I ask that question because I have heard people say (of course I have never said it nor have any of you) but I have heard people say something like: “I don’t really hate them but I really don’t love them either”. I’m not making any kind of accusations or value judgments here but I think this is something each one of us as children of God should explore deeply. Because if you will explore the possibility that you do not love the brethren then you are seeking to love them. But if you refuse to explore the possibility then perhaps you are walking in the darkness and refusing to come to the light because your deeds are evil.
The children of God love one another and that will not change. The children of the devil hate the children of God and that will not change. If you love the brethren then you can know that you have passed from death to life because that is not the behavior of those who abide in death. If you hate the brethren then you can also know that you are murderer and no murderer has eternal life.
In case you did not notice it the word love is used 8 different times in the whole of this passage. So we have to say that the overwhelming characteristic of the children of God is what? It is their love for one another. But does that mean we can just express our love verbally or send Valentine cards to one another? In the next few verses we are going to move from the declaration of ‘what to do’ to the explanation of what it looks like. Let’s look at verses 16-18: 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. By this we know love. What is the “this” that makes us know love? Jesus Christ’s sacrificial giving of Himself for those who were still sinners. Outside of that demonstration of godly love we would only have a glimmer of what love is. But by that one act, by one Man, the Son of Man, we can nail down what love is, it is the sacrificial giving of yourself for the benefit of someone else. And that is exactly what John says we are to do, give of ourselves for others, lay down our lives for the brethren. Jesus laid down His life for us and we are to lay down our lives for one another. Does this mean that we have to die for someone else? Perhaps, but that’s probably not going to happen. What did Jesus do aside from His death on the cross that was for the benefit of others? Yes He gave up heaven to take on flesh and suffered right alongside His creation but I’m talking about personal benefit for those He spent His earthly life with. Let me just say that no one has ever invested his life into others like Jesus invested His life into His Apostles. Jesus lived with them, He talked with them, He taught them on every occasion, even when at times they were pretty thick headed Jesus continued to pour His life into them. And just to let you know He is busy doing that in your life right now through the Holy Spirit. But we should be doing the same with one another; we should be investing our lives in the brethren both spiritually and physically. This is the way John said it, and I paraphrase, “If your brother is in need and you have the means to satisfy that need then how can you say that the love of God abides in you if you do not meet that need?” That is really no different than someone who says he is a child of God and hates his brother. If you don’t love them in deed and truth then you are treating them the way the child of the devil treats the child of God. Let that sink in for a minute. It is easy to say that you love but there is a need for action just like Christ’s action of love while you were still a sinner. We must one another one another.
Now let’s look at verses 19-22: 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
Again we have to ask what the “this” is that causes us to know that we are of the truth? This time John is looking back at the topic just finished. Because we love the brethren in deed and in truth we can know. When we love in deed and in truth, when we invest our lives and fortunes in the children of God, we can know that we are in the truth and confirm in our hearts that we are His. This is not to say we are in the truth because we invest in the brethren but that we know we are in the truth because we invest in the brethren. This is what Paul told us in We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. But if our hearts (that part of us that either obeys God or rebels against God) condemn us causing us to not to love our brothers and sisters in deed and truth, withholding from them what we have to serve them with so that we can spend them on ourselves we need to remember that is not the way of God, God is greater than our heart and knows how we are withholding ourselves from the brethren. Your selfishness is not unnoticed by God. According to God judges His people according to how they treat the brethren in need.
But in verses 21-22 if our hearts do not lead us astray and we seek to love our brothers and sisters in deed and in truth; joyfully and without regret then we have confidence to come before the God and make our requests known. We ask and we receive because we have the confidence to ask and we have the confidence to ask because we are keeping His commandments and doing those things that please Him. (His will is going to be done but when we are obedient it changes us not God.) How many of you when you were a teenager and didn’t do your chores had the confidence to go to your parent and ask to use the car on Friday night? You didn’t even ask. When we do what we know to do we have confidence to enter into the presence of God and make our requests known.
The children of God love one another and that will not change. The children of the devil hate the children of God and that will not change. If you love the brethren then you can know that you have passed from death to life because that is not the behavior of those who abide in death. If you hate the brethren then you can also know that you are murderer and no murderer has eternal life. The children of God know love because Jesus gave Himself for us and we must do the same for one another, not loving with our words but with our deeds and in truth. We must one another one another and when we do we can have confidence to come before God and make our requests known. And finally verse 23 says: 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.[2] The commandments that we keep and those things that are pleasing in His sight is believing in the name of Jesus Christ and loving one another. Very clearly John isn’t just summing things up. If you believe in the name of Jesus Christ then you will love one another. You cannot believe in the name of Jesus Christ and hate the brethren. You cannot trust in Jesus and hate His bride. People who say things like; “I love Jesus but I just can’t stand the church” is lying because if they love Jesus and believe in Him they will love the church, the children of God.
In the end we see this: Loving the brethren is an act, it is investing your life in them for their good and so that you will be confident to boldly enter into the presence of God. That is the distinguishing mark of the child of God. Let’s pray.
[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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