Love or Death – 2

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Scripture References: 1 John 3:11-24

Murder (1 John 3:11–12) – Continued

The difference between Cain’s offering and Abel’s offering was faith (Hebrews 11:4), and faith is always based on the revelation God has given (Romans 10:17). It seems clear that God must have given definite instructions concerning how He was to be worshiped. Cain rejected God’s Word and decided to worship in his own way. This shows his relationship to Satan, for Satan is always interested in turning people away from the revealed will of God. The devil’s “Has God indeed said?” (Genesis 3:1) was the beginning of trouble for Cain’s parents and for all mankind since.

We are not told by what outward sign the Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. It may be that He sent fire from heaven to consume Abel’s sacrifice of an animal and its blood. But we are told the results: Abel went away from the altar with God’s witness of acceptance in his heart, but Cain went away angry and disappointed (Genesis 4:4–6). God warned Cain that sin was crouching at the door like a dangerous beast (Genesis 4:7) but promised that if Cain would obey God, he, like Abel, would enjoy peace.

Instead of heeding God’s warning, Cain listened to Satan’s voice and plotted to kill his brother. His envy had turned to anger and hatred. He knew that he was evil and that his brother was righteous. Rather than repent, as God commanded him to do, he decided to destroy his brother.

Centuries later, the Pharisees did the same thing to Jesus (Mark 15:9–10), and Jesus also called them children of the devil.

Cain’s attitude represents the attitude of the present world system (1 John 3:13). The world hates Christ (John 15:18–25) for the same reason Cain hated Abel: Christ shows up the world’s sin and reveals its true nature. When the world, like Cain, comes face-to-face with reality and truth, it can make only one of two decisions: repent and change, or destroy the one who is exposing it.

Satan is the “ruler of this world (“prince” in KJV)” (John 14:30), and he controls it through murder and lies. How horrible to live on the same level as Satan!

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If the unsaved world could only see, it would realize that it is living on the low level of murder and lies, surrounded by that old serpent Satan and all his demonic armies. Like Cain, the people of the world try to cover up their true nature with religious rites; but they lack faith in God’s Word. People who continue to live on this level will eventually be cast into outer darkness with Satan to suffer apart from God forever.

Hatred (1 John 3:13–15)

At this point, you are probably thinking, “But I have never murdered anyone!” And to this statement, God replies, “Yes, but remember that to a Christian hatred is the same as murder” (1 John 3:15; Matthew 5:22). The only difference between Level 1 and Level 2 is the outward act of taking life. The inward intent is the same.

The only reason some people have never actually murdered anyone is because of the virtual “bars” that have been put up: the fear of arrest and shame, the penalties of the law, and the possibility of death. But we are going to be judged by “the law of liberty” (James 2:12). The question is not so much, “What did you do?” but “What did you want to do? What would you have done if you had been at liberty to do as you pleased?” This is why Jesus equates hatred with murder (Matthew 5:21–26) and lust with adultery (Matthew 5:27–30).

This does not mean, of course, that hatred in the heart does the same amount of damage, or involves the same degree of guilt, as actual murder. Your neighbor would rather you hate him than kill him! But in God’s sight, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder, and if left unbridled it leads to murder. A Christian has passed from death to life (John 5:24), and the proof of this is that he loves the brethren. When he belonged to the world system, he hated God’s people; but now that he belongs to God, he loves them.

To Be Continued

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Adapted and modified excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Volume 2.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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