1 John 3:14-16, “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. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 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.”
John goes on to tell us that because of the fact that we love the brethren, our brothers and sisters, we have passed from that spiritual death and darkness into life. This “manifestation” is an essence, a characteristic of Christianity. Love is the catalyst of life as selfishness and self-centeredness is the catalyst of death. This is a spiritual condition. Selfishness, self-centeredness is spiritual death, but also a spiritual condition. It is a darkness of the deepest parts of a person’s spirit and heart. It is the realm of the god of this world, the devil and he basks in the dark abyss of that spiritual death!
A person who does not love others, abides in death. They were dead without a rebirth of the spirit and if they continue to NOT love, they remain in death. If they remain in that state, they are most obviously NOT Christ-like! It is because of this state or status that it is becoming increasingly harder to use the term Christian in today’s world. It is not due to the fact that we as brothers and sisters do not know the true meaning of what it is to be Christian, but the world, as it has done with the term love and so many other Christ-like attributes has twisted and warped the very meaning and thus the term “Christianity” has lost much of it’s true meaning to the world around us.
Selfishness and self-centeredness is rampant in the world and it is “disguised” to those blind to the truth by the FEELINGS that those in the world try to use to describe it. True, Godly, Christ-like love has absolutely nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with actions and how we treat others, even, and I might add, especially those, who may not be on the friendliest of terms with us!
It is so easy to profess something in this day and age. “I love you, I am a Christian, I believe in ‘God,'” etc., etc., but the truth is that it is not the action of our lips necessarily, but the actions TOWARDS others that determine the truth of anything we profess! I am often found using the Scripture found in Luke 6:45c, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Yet the truth of the matter is, it is not JUST what comes out of his mouth, but the ACTIONS of his heart as well that lend testimony to the truth of any profession. A person in truth WILL talk about the things he loves most, but that love will be manifested in actions as well.
This is why John tells us as believers that if we hate our brothers and sisters, we are murderers, whether we have taken another life or not, the seed, the root of that murder is just shallowly buried beneath the surface. Again, and I know I sound like some broken record, but hate in truth is actually self-centeredness and selfishness. It is being concerned with number one, yourself, rather than others in the light of troubles, afflictions or distress, etc. That selfishness within us can lead to murder by omission or neglect, because selfishness or the lack of love, can bring about the death of another for lack of meeting a need or standing in the gap for another. That murder can be assumed to be not just to mean in the natural flesh, but in the character or well-being of another. You know the Beloved Apostle is trying to show us the wickedness of hate within itself, but murder, whether in body OR in character, emotion or well-being of another is just evil! Remember, though ALL or ANY sin is enough to bring about spiritual death, murder has always been considered, at least in the natural, to be the most grievous. I am not saying it is worse than some other sin, but in the NATURAL eyes and mind of men it is, and the Apostle is using that distinction to portray the gravity of the lack of love within a person.
When your life, or your things become so much more precious than another life, you are walking in the footsteps of Cain, whether you are consciously aware of it or not! This spirit, this seed will not inherit eternal life for that seed of selfishness is darkness, an abomination to the Father. He cannot abide in it and the person walking in it cannot abide in the Father either. Remember, “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”—1 John 4:16b.
Do you see then in these scriptures why hate is not the feeling, but the actions or lack of actions? John tells us that the person who doesn’t love abides in death. This is the action of omission. You see, not acting upon something that we know we should is not passive, it is still active for it takes the conscious effort to stand still in the face of necessary action. Those that do not love or act in a loving manner are abiding in death, thus there is no (spiritual) life in them. By the same token, whoever actively hates or is actively ACTING selfish or self-centered concerning his brother is also a murderer and thereby abiding in death. Therefore, you can be selfish by not acting when necessary or acting in a selfish way toward another, they both abide in death, they both constitute the wicked seed of murder!
Remember this also, the teaching of Jesus in Matthew chapter 7, a person is known by their fruit or lack thereof! God alone reads the heart of man, but man CAN read a person by his actions, by his fruit. That discernment was given to provide protection to the WHOLE Body of Christ and not just to the individual. Those that are false that we join too or with, are like a cancer in an otherwise unblemished body; and Christ is coming back for a Body that is spotless and unblemished. This is one of the reasons the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Now in sharp contrast to death and murder, The Apostle John states this, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” I love this part of the scripture. Many, many years ago the Lord was so gracious to reveal a truth to me in this scripture and it really changed my life and the way I perceive loving others. You see, we always hear the heroic tales of those, who in time of war or crisis, took the death or damage meant for another upon themselves, thus saving the intended victim. This is truly the supreme example and it truly is the example that Jesus gave us on the Cross of Calvary. But there is SO much more——-!!! You see, Jesus didn’t stay dead! He arose again to live for each of us that He died initially on the Cross for!
It is true that not everyone will go through their lives with an opportunity like that confronting them. Not everyone will have to literally lay their natural lives on the line for another. It is however true, as children of the Lord, that we should be prepared to do it, if asked too, but it just doesn’t always happen. But there is another way of laying down your life for another, and I want you to give this some real thought and consideration when we are talking about the actions of loving others.
Jesus Christ laid down His life on the Cross yes, but He also laid down His life in another way and is in essence still doing it. He left the glories and majesty of Heaven to come to earth to live an example to us and to spend time teaching and training us. He gave up a role of Kingly authority to take upon Himself the role of servant that we might learn the true value of love and leadership! Yes, He died, but as I stated above, He didn’t stay dead. He arose and eventually ascended back into Heaven. Even after His resurrection and ascension, He is still at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us! Now think about it. He is ALIVE and at the Father’s right hand, INTERCEEDING, actively being an ADVOCATE for each of us that He calls His own! He is alive, and He is living in part by being our Advocate and Intercessor! Let that thought sink in!!
Follow this line of reasoning; He died for us. He arose for us. He advocates and intercedes for us. He is our EXAMPLE and we are to strive for Christ-likeness! See where I’m going? If the servant is not greater than the Master, and the student is not greater than the Teacher, but the best we can hope to do is to follow that example, than we shouldn’t be thinking in terms of JUST following Christ’s example while He walked this earth, but rather we should give serious contemplation to following His ever-present LIVING example, even now!!
We CAN and MUST follow that same example. We can take our dreams, goals and hopes and lay them at the feet of Jesus Christ and make Him true Lord or Master of our lives; placing our wills aside that HIS will might be accomplished through us. We can choose to relinquish authority over our lives and surrender them to His will for the benefit of others.
Now let me remind you of something; we are talking about a lifestyle of surrender for the good and welfare of others. Can you see the laying your life down for others in this?? This is the unselfishness that agape love embraces. This is the love that allows us to abide in God, our Father and thus He abides in us! We surrender or lay down our lives so that others might be blessed and cared for by the Lord through us!!! This is something that every child of God can do and do in the natural! We aren’t all destined to take a bullet or a knife for another, but we are all capable of laying down our lives that others may come to the knowledge of the Glory of the Father!
Every time we actively give of ourselves, our material possessions, if able, our time in prayer (intercession) for others, we are giving up a part of our lives that we can never get back. We are laying down THAT particular time in our lives for others. Are you a giver? The things you give, whether money or materials, demand your time spent in the work of another to get what you need to be able to have the money or materials. You don’t gain that time back. Are you an intercessor? The time you spend on your knees or in your “prayer closet” is time you give up so that you can intervene and intercede, “be an advocate,” for another without ever getting that time back. You see, eternity is timeless. When we cross that threshold from the natural world into the spiritual eternity, time as we know it will have no meaning at all. But, while still on this side of that barrier, it has been rightly stated that, “time is precious.” It is a priceless commodity, once spent, never regained; at least in this natural life! That is why when you unselfishly give it, however you are able to do it, it is the spiritual action of unconditional, agape, Godly love. It is the most notable manifestation and demonstration of what Christ Jesus Himself displayed to us while walking this earth AND living in the Glory of Glories!
In closing, here’s an important question; are we Cain-like, or are we Christ-like? Have we truly “laid” down our lives for others or are we still living only for ourselves? This is and always has been an individual and personal question and only important between us and our Creator. Just remember, however you answer it, this is the REAL difference between true love and selfishness or self-centeredness (hate)!