Friday, May 10, 2024

Morning Message: Love One Another

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Love One Another"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It astounds me that in these end-times, that there is such a lack of discernment and knowledge among “learned” individuals, and even in many so-called Christian Churches. Among the “Gifts of the Holy Ghost” are discernment of spirits, a word of wisdom, and a word of knowledge.

1 Corinthians 12 mentions these and other gifts of the Spirit. These are just a few of the gifts mentioned in the chapter and there are other Spiritual Gifts mentioned elsewhere in the Epistles, and all were meant to build faith and enhance ministry; literally, “to profit withal.”

Critical thinking in our times has been replaced by Critical Race Theory, but mind you, it’s only an unproven theory that is being deliberately promoted by racist minds. Reality in our times seems to have escaped our educators, and our students. And little Johnny’s hopes of being President someday are being replaced by hopes of being a female! Twenty years ago, the Country song hits included singer Shania Twain’s song, “MAN! I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN.” The song is resurging on the charts again! If ever there was a time for common sense, it’s now when there seems to be such a lack of it.

The current Hamas/Israel war is a perfect example for the youth of today. Maybe you have noticed that today’s young people always will support whoever they perceive as being persecuted. From the surprise Hamas attack of October 7th, they were all feeling supportive for Israelis because the attack killed so many, and Hamas took many others hostage. How the tables have turned now! Hamas’ goals were to have public opinion of Israel turned against them. And it has worked. Hamas brought the proverbial “knife to a gun fight.”

Hamas planned for this turn of events, and to change the pity for Israel, to Hamas themselves. They started a war they knew they could not win, so now they are the underdogs that our youth rally around. The Hamas battle cry against Israel has always been “From the river to the sea,” driving the Jews from the Jordan River and into the Mediterranean Sea. Now Israel has its guns out, and it is Hamas that’s being driven to the sea.

There was enmity between Cain and Abel; and between Isaac and Ismael, and Joseph and his 11 brothers. Jealousy was at the core then, and is still at the core today between brothers, and/or neighbors.

“…perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment.”  - 1 John 4:15

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
1 John 3:10 - 24 - "Love One Another"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:  

Christians who are genuinely born of God manifest a transformation by means of righteousness and love. We have been born again by the Spirit of God, and literally have His abiding presence in our lives. Therefore, the characteristics of God, become ours.

As we begin our study in 1 John 3:10, John is summarizing his teachings in verses 1 through 9 with two characteristics.  They are two basic behavior tests, the measurements of conduct.   
 The first is righteousness (verses 4-10). The one who practices righteousness, verse 7, is righteous. But the one who practices sin is of the devil (verse 8).  In other words, a person who does not "practice righteousness" is not from God. A true believer will seek to live according to God's ways, not deliberately "walking" in darkness. We are told why in verse 9, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 

As we come to verse 10, John sums it up for us, "
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God...” – Now comes the transition, verse 10 – “nor the one who does not love his brother.”

The first test (moral or behavioral) that validates one’s claim to be a Christian is the test of righteous conduct. The second is the test of love. 

Now remember, there were false teachers who were in this particular church who were coming against this particular assembly of believers, and they were claiming to have a relationship with God, the Creator and to have a relationship with Christ. However, they were not willing to acknowledge their sin. In fact, according to chapter 1, they were pretty much denying they had any sin, nor were they manifestly characterized by love for the brethren. John is pointing out here that no matter what somebody claims, the truth can be determined in these two behavioral ways. Obedience, righteous behavior and love are evidences of true sons of God.

In 1 John 3:12, the apostle goes on to give us an example of what love is not, the opposite of love, is hate. John says we are not to be like Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve. Cain is at first presented in God’s Word as one who worshipped God and even offered a sacrifice, but when his sacrifice was not accepted by God and his brother’s sacrifice was accepted by God, Cain became jealous and hateful and rose us and murdered his brother, Abel. His murderous actions revealed that inwardly his deeds were evil.  Self-styled religion has been rejected by God.  Pleasing God is not left to our own design, or standard or imagination, but rather obeying His will, doing what God has asked of us.  We know that Cain was a very religious man.  His sacrifice was rejected because he didn't bring the right sacrifice.  The brother's were asked to bring an animal sacrifice. Abel did, Cain did not. Rather than bring a sacrifice which God asked, Cain brought the fruit of the land which he himself had toiled to produce.  Our relationship with God is not based upon our own accomplishments, but true faith produces obedience and love.   

In verses 11-15, John focuses on love believers should have for one another. 
  John goes on to tell his readers to not be surprised if the world hates them. We have heard the stories throughout history, from the early church of the first century to our present day how the world hates Christians and shows it by persecuting them.  John then reminds us of the hope that we have, the truth that makes it possible to endure the hatred and persecution of the world, he says we know that we have passed out of death into life, and this is seen because we no longer hate, but instead we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can even love those who hate us and persecute us. Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life and a turning from hate to love. When this love is lacking it is an indication that the person who does not love is spiritually dead. John is trying to show us that love for one another is a sure test of whether someone has experienced new birth in Christ or if they are still in the darkness of spiritual death or are as John writes, abiding in death, dwelling there, because no resurrection has taken place.

In verses 16-18, that love is evidenced by our actions. Since we now understand what love is not, John introduces the standard of love, what love is for the one who has placed their faith in the Lord Jesus. John writes, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” (1 John 3:16). John has given us the measuring stick for every expression of love.  Those who are in darkness, are ruled by Satan and his characteristics.  They are filled with hatred and murder.  Their lack of love is seen as indifference toward the needs of others. Contrasted with this is the selflessness of Christ, who was considering only the needs of others as He laid down His life for us. This phrase, “He laid down His life…”  is a phrase that is unique to John (see John 10:11; 15:13).  This standard of love is about self-sacrifice and giving of yourself, it truly is the opposite of hate as you are sacrificing yourself for someone else. Jesus Christ giving up his life so that sinners might be reconciled to God, have their sins forgiven, and become His people, having a new nature characterized by His love. As God’s children, we ought to be willing "to lay down our lives for the brethren."  God has called us to the same standard of love that He has for us. There are not many who will be called to make this supreme sacrifice, to lay down his life for his brother, but this same kind of love can be shown in lesser ways. John goes on to give us an example and this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we are confronted with Scripture, and we must do something about what we read.

Then in verses 19-24 discusses whether our hearts condemn us or not. Every human being is born with a knowledge of God, and with the law of God written in their conscience.  This law accuses or excuses depending on the person's actions in regard to His law.   This means every person has the ability to recognize right and wrong.  When we obey the Word of God, our conscience informs us that we are doing right, pleasing God.  As a result, we have confidence before God.   When we live a lifestyle opposed to God's law, we are condemned, our conscience indicts us (John 8:9).  A believer who persists in sin, disobeying God, will become fearful, insecure, doubting their faith and salvation (Psalm 32:3-4; 38:1-8; 40:11-12). First John 3:21 notes, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God." When we have confessed our sins and abide (remain) in Christ, we can ask for anything according to His will and receive it (1 John 3:22).

The final two verses also offer an important reminder. John again focuses on love for God through Jesus as well as loving one another, offering teaching closely similar to the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:37–40.  These verses also highlight the triune nature of God. John mentions God twice in verse 24, the Son Jesus Christ in verse 23, and the Spirit in verse 24. All three persons of the triune Godhead are distinct yet serve in perfect unity as the One True God.

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Children of the Devil (3:10) - There is nothing more sobering to learn that according to the Scriptures, there are only two kinds of children who exist in this world:  children of God and children of Satan. It's one or the other.  Children of God exhibit His righteous character.  Children of Satan exhibit his sinful nature.  Children of the Devil are also called:  children of the wicked one (Matthew 13:38), children of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3).  

From the Beginning (3:11) - Since the beginning of the proclaiming of the gospel, love has been a central theme of Christianity.  What they heard "from the beginning" John has now repeated several times to emphasize that the false teachers were preventing that which God, through the apostles, proclaimed.  

Cain (3:12) - In Genesis 4, outwardly Cain is a worshiper of God who even offered a sacrifice.  Cain's murderous actions, however, revealed that inwardly he was a child of the devil, "of that wicked one" (John 8:44). 

The World Hates You (3:13) - History is filled with stories of persecuted Christians. This should not surprise believers.  
Jesus taught, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). Such people will be rewarded (Matthew 5:12). Jesus also taught, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). As opposed to the claim that salvation will make all of our earthly trouble vanish, the gospel implies that loving God means being hated by the world.

Passed From Death Unto Life (3:14) - Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life, from sin to obedience, and from hate to love (Gal. 5:6,22).  Love is the sure test of whether someone has experienced the new birth or is still in darkness, or spiritual death (2:9, 11).  Someone who is characterized by hate has never experienced the new birth, they "abide in death."

Love The Brethren (3:14) - By doing righteousness (3:10); self-sacrificing, being willing to lay your life down for the brethren(3:16); willing to ease the burdens of others, meeting needs (3:17). 

A Murderer (3:15) - Hatred is spiritually the same as a murder in the eyes of God.  As Jesus taught the disciples, the attitude is equal to the act.  Hate is the seed that leads to murder, as seen in the example of Cain. See Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 22:15.

Lay Down Our Lives (3:16) - The meaning here is "be laying down."  Our love and service are a daily "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1) for the sake of the brethren.  God calls Christians to the same standard of love for one another as He had for us (see verse 16). 

Seeth... Shutteth Up His Bowels of Compassion (3:17) - The verb is a continuing present - "goes on seeing."  This does not refer to a chance encounter with someone in need, but a continual refusal to help a fellow Christian who we are in frequent contact with and is truly in need. Genuine Christian love expresses itself in sacrificial giving to other Christians' needs (his brother).  It is a Christian's practical love that finds motivation in helping others (1Timothy 6:17-19; Hebrews 13:16; James 2:14-17). 

Not Love in Word (3:18) - Claiming to love is not enough.  Love is not sentiment, but deeds.  Our love for God is demonstrated by living it, not by talking or singing about it.  Our love for the brethren is manifested in our relations with other Christians. 

Hereby We Know (3:19) - A lifestyle of love in action is demonstrable proof of salvation.

Shall Assure Our Hearts (3:19) - The benefits of love is the assurance of salvation (3:17-21; Answered prayer (3:22) and the abiding presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (3:23-24). 

We Receive of Him (3:22) - The condition for answered prayer is that we pray according to His will, and also to do according to His will

He Gave Us Commandment (3:23) - Loving God and loving our neighbor (see Matthew 22:36-40).

He In Him (3:24) - See John 15:4,7, 10.  We are commanded to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. We have assurance when we love His words and seek to obey them.

The Spirit (3:24) - Another assurance of salvation is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16-17).  

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