Love or Death – 3

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Scripture References: 1 John 3:11-24

Hatred (1 John 3:13–15) – Continued

The verses in this section, like those that deal with habitual sin in a believer (1 John 1:5–2:6), concern a settled habit of life: a believer is in the practice of loving the brethren, even though on occasion he may be angry with a brother (Matthew 5:22–24). Occasional incidents of anger do not nullify the principle. If anything, they prove it true, because a believer out of fellowship with his fellow Christians is a miserable person! His feelings make clear to him that something is wrong.

Notice another fact: we are not told that murderers cannot be saved. The Apostle Paul himself took a hand in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:57–60) and admitted that his vote helped to put innocent people to death (Acts 26:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:12–15). But in His grace God saved Paul.

The issue here is not whether a murderer can become a Christian, but whether a man can continue being a murderer and still be a Christian. The answer is no. “You know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” – 1 John 3:15. The murderer did not once have eternal life and then lose it; he never had eternal life at all.

The fact that you have never actually murdered anyone should not make you proud or complacent. Have you ever harbored hatred in your heart?

Hatred does the hater far more damage than it does anyone else (Matthew 5:21–26). Jesus said that anger puts a man in danger of facing the local court. Calling a brother an “empty-headed fool” put him in danger of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish council. But calling him a “cursed fool” put him in danger of eternal judgment in hell. Hatred that is not confessed and forsaken actually puts a man into a spiritual and emotional prison! (Matthew 5:25)

The antidote for hatred is love. “Hateful and hating one another” is the normal experience of an unsaved person (Titus 3:3). But when a hateful heart opens itself to Jesus Christ, it becomes a loving heart. Then instead of wanting to “murder” others through hatred, one wants to love them and share with them the message of eternal life.

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Evangelist John Wesley was stopped one night by a highwayman who robbed the Methodist leader of all his money. Wesley said to the man, “If the day should come that you desire to leave this evil way and live for God, remember that ‘the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.’ ”

Some years later, Wesley was stopped by a man after a church service. “Do you remember me?” the man asked. “I robbed you one night, and you told me that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. I have trusted Christ, and He has changed my life.”

Indifference (1 John 3:16–17)

But the test of Christian love is not simply failure to do evil to others. Love also involves doing them good. Christian love is both positive and negative. “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.” (Isaiah 1:16–17).

Cain is our example of false love; Christ is the example of true Christian love. Jesus gave His life for us that we may experience truth. Every Christian knows John 3:16, but how many of us pay much attention to 1 John 3:16? It is wonderful to experience the blessing of John 3:16; but it is even more wonderful to share that experience by obeying 1 John 3:16: Christ laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Christian love involves sacrifice and service. Christ did not simply talk about His love; He died to prove it (Romans 5:6–10). Jesus was not killed as a martyr; He willingly laid down His life (John 10:11–18; 15:13). “Self-preservation” is the first law of physical life, but “self-sacrifice” is the first law of spiritual life.

But God does not ask us to lay down our lives. He simply asks us to help a brother in need. John wisely turns from “the brethren” in 1 John 3:16 to the singular, “his brother,” in 1 John 3:17.

It is easy for us to talk about “loving the brethren” and to neglect to help a single other believer. Christian love is personal and active.

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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