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The Necessity of Holy Loving, #1

November 28, 2010 Pastor: Don Green Series: Life in the Truth

Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: 1 John 3:11-13

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Please turn in your Bibles to 1 John, chapter 3 as we continue on in our study of this epistle. 

Last time we looked at verses 4-10 of chapter 3 and we saw that necessity of holy living, John says in chapter 3:7:

Little children, make sure no one deceives you.  The one who practices righteousness is righteous just as He is righteous.  The one who practices sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

John divides humanity in to two segments, those who belong to God, who have been born of God and who practice righteousness as a result of that, those who do not know God, who have not repented and put their faith in Christ and therefore belong to the devil and do not live righteously, they are incapable of living righteously.  Salvation produces in the redeemed an orientation toward righteousness, a heart bent toward righteousness and obedience to the law of God because that is one of the purposes of God in salvation.  He saves us in order to incline us to live righteously and to reflect His glory on the earth.

Now, why is that important?  John is writing to give us an assurance of salvation—1 John 5:13.  He wants us to know that we are truly saved and the obedience that he is speaking of here is something that we are not naturally born in to. You are not born in to an obedient relationship with God.  Anyone that has been a parent or has been a child recognizes that fact implicitly.  You do not have to teach children to lie and disobey and to throw tantrums, they are naturally bent that way, it is because they are born in to sin and hostility toward God.  And unless God saves someone and intervenes in their life, that settled mindset that they are born with continues as a pattern throughout life.  Colossians 1:21 says:

 

You were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds.

 

That was true of each one of us before we came to salvation in Jesus Christ.  That alienation, that hostility toward God is why we preach the gospel, that is why we preach to men that they must be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Christ as the payment for their sins.  It is only through faith in Christ and renewal by the Holy Spirit that our bondage to sin is broken and we begin to live transformed lives.  But the transformation in one measure or another is certain to occur because it depends upon the power of God working through the Holy Spirit in our lives to bring about that change, God does that in the lives of the redeemed, He changes us.  That’s why we can say that holy living begins as a matter of necessity, it will happen when a person is truly born again—that’s what we looked at last time in verses 4-10 of chapter 3.

 

Today we are going to see something different.  Today we are going to see that there are other changes that occur in the life of a true Christian as well.  There are certain fruit that come forth in the life of the true Christian beyond the practice of righteousness, it is like a cluster of grapes.  There are cluster of attributes and spiritual attitudes that mark true Christians and John is going to point to another grape on that cluster, if I can put it that way as we continue on in chapter 3.  Let’s begin in verse 10.  I am going to read through verse 18, that will be our text for today and next week as well.  But just to set the context, we will start in verse 10 because it is a transition verse between the prior section to what we are going to look at today.  Verse 10:

 

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious, anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God (and here is the transitional phrase as he moves in to another subject matter) nor the one who does not love his brother.

 

This is a transitional phrase, now in verses 11-18, he is going to talk about the priority of love in the lives of the redeemed.  Verses 11-18:

 

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the evil one and slew his brother.  And for what reason did he slay him?  Because his deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous.  Do not be surprised brethren if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed out of death in to life because we love the brethren.  He who does not love abides in death.  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.  We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him.  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

 

Last week was the necessity of holy living.  Today we are seeing in the text the necessity of holy loving, holy loving toward the believers that are in our midst, holy loving toward the body of Christ.  Having established the reality of the transforming righteousness in the lives of true Christians, John is now going to describe the necessity of a holy loving toward one another.  Christians are people who love one another, they love the people of God.  And this is rooted ultimately in the very character of God Himself, the necessity of this, why this happens as a natural result of true salvation is ultimately rooted in the very character of God Himself.  God the Father reproduces His love in those who are truly His children.  When God brings us in to His family, when He causes us to be born again, when the Spirit of God regenerates us and gives us a new nature, it is a nature like that after the nature of God Himself, the God who is love.  Look at 1 John 4:7:

 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (Verse 11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

He reflects back on the fact that Christ loved us and gave His life for us as a sacrifice for our sins.  And so, with spiritual life originating in the person of God, the God who is love, the one to whom He imparts His life is going to have the same affinity for love and the same affinity for the people of God that God the Father does because He is merely reproducing His own love in those of us who believe.

 

When you understand the spiritual lineage that is at stake here, you can see why this must necessarily happen.  And so, that’s why the apostle John is able to so sharply divide humans in to two classes in this section of scripture.  Look at verse 10 again—the children of God and the children of the devil, the people who do not love the people of God are clearly ones who belong to the devil because those who belong to God are going to manifest His love to those who belong to Him.  Those who live righteously and love other Christians belong to God, those who do not belong to the devil.

 

Now, John has emphasized the priority of love earlier in this letter, I want you to see that this is an important theme to him.  Look at chapter 2, beginning in verse 9, talking about the priority of love here as being the mark of a true Christian, he says:

 

The one who says he is in the light (the one who claims to be a Christian) and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.  The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him, but the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

 

So, earlier in the letter he has talked about this love and he is going to emphasize it again later on.  I am just setting the broader context for you before we get in to our text this morning.  Look at chapter 3:23, notice this priority of the mutual love that Christians have for one another.  Chapter 3:23:

 

This is His commandment that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another just as He commanded us.

 

We saw chapter 4:7:

 

Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God.

 

(Verse 10)  This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be propitiation for our sins.

 

(Verse 11)  If God so loved us beloved, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.

 

And so, the whole point here is that believers have a natural affinity, a natural affection for those who are belong to the same spiritual family.  You have experienced this if you are a true

Christian.  If you meet a Christian some place and you have never met before, maybe you are on a trip, you are traveling some place and you find that someone is a genuine believer and there is a spark, an immediate spark in the relationship as one who belongs to God meets another who belongs to God, there is a commonality of affections, and love and priorities that naturally bonds you together in a way that transcends meeting a long-lost cousin with whom you have no prior relationship and you don’t share that faith in Christ.  It shows that the spiritual bond between Christians is stronger than the blood bond that belongs to family.  This occurs naturally because of the common nature that Christians have received from their heavenly Father.  And that is why John is able to say here, and why we receive with gladness the admonition that this kind of brotherly love is essential to the Christian character and that’s why we can say so dogmatically that those who do not love Christians cannot be Christians themselves.  If you do not possess that brotherly love for those who belong to the body of Christ, you are not a believer at all and you need to come to grips with that.

 

Well, let’s get in to our text now, this was all by way of general introduction.

 

There are two main points here today to structure your notes if you are going to take notes.  The first point here as we look at verses 11-13 this morning is this: 

 

  1. The Positive Priority of Love

 

Look at verse 11 with me again, he says:

 

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

 

This message, this call to love one another is something that John’s readers had heard from their first exposure to the gospel, it is central to Christian character because it is grounded in the nature of the God who gave birth to us, and it was central to the message of Christ Himself as well.  Turn back to the gospel of John, chapter 13, I want to take you to these familiar verses just to see the way that this originates in the Lord Himself.  And those of us who name Christ as our Lord embrace this because this is the teaching of our Lord, this is the command of our Lord.  We don’t have to overcome resistance to it, we have a natural attraction to what is said here in John 13:34-35, Jesus said:

 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.

 

Look at chapter 15:12, Jesus says it again:

 

This is my commandment that you love one another just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that He lay down His life for His friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you. (Verse 17) This I command you, that you love one another…

 

The constant repetition of this instruction from Jesus shows us the priority that He places on it, this is a priority for the children of God to love one another.

 

Now, going back to 1 John 3:11, you can see that John is practically quoting the Lord Jesus as he writes here.  Verse 11:

 

This is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

 

Now, I want to make an important point here.  What John is writing here in verse 11, he is not calling us to an indiscriminate love that is poured out on all men everywhere throughout the world.  It is good for us to love those who are outside the family of God.  In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells us to love our enemies.  That is not John’s point here, his point here is the mutual love that Christians have within the family of God within the church.  This is love as a mutual operation among believers in the church, within the walls of the family of God.

 

One writer puts it this way:  This kind of love is not feeling warm toward other people in general, it is not a vague sentiment, a vague disposition of being kind and courteous to people, rather, (Getting back to the quote, you’ll never know where the quote began and ended with the way I’m doing this.  I know you’re dying to see the quote, but I have italics here, and so I’ll just give it to you.)  Love is not feeling warm toward other people in general, but doing good to specific individuals.  Failure to love the family shows the lack of the family’s inner bond.

 

And so, we have this love that has been implanted in our heart and it is natural for us to share that within the body of those who also have the same bond.  And the specific nature of it, the doing good of it is something that John emphasizes in this passage.  Look down to verse 17 with me, we will cover this more next week.  But it is the tangible doing of good that John has in mind here.  He says in verse 17:

 

Whoever has the world’s good and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

 

He shrugs his shoulder, that doesn’t make any sense.  How does the love of God abide in someone who has the goods of the world and sees his fellow Christian in need and yet closes his heart against him, shuts the door as it were.  So he says in verse 18:

 

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

 

Reminiscent of what James said in chapter 2.  And so this positive priority of love and the expression of it in tangible ways, Jesus makes it simple in Matthew 25.  Turn back there with me if you would.  Matthew 25, in terms of what is this love looks like?  What is it that would carry the reward of God upon it?  You have to love the simplicity and practicality of it all.  This is not difficult, this is not complex, it is ministry in a simple pattern of ordinary day to day life.  In verse 34 Jesus says:

 

The King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”  Then the righteous said “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink, and when did we see you a stranger and invited you in or naked and clothed you.  When did we see you sick or in prison and come to you?”  The King will answer and said to them “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”

 

And so the needs that are presented to you in the daily flow of your life, those things that cross your pathway, those are an opportunity to minister to Christ by those who belong to Him that are there in front of you.  That is the simplicity and the practicality of it, a drink, a piece of clothing, it is not complicated.  But those practical manifestations of kindness in the body of Christ, Jesus says is an expression of love that will receive great reward from the Father.

 

Now, as I was thinking about this and preparing for it, I couldn’t help but be compelled to recognize the blessing that is ours in GraceLife because the Christians in GraceLife surround themselves with this kind of love, you visit the sick.  It is always wonderful to go to a hospital and find somebody ahead of you that is ministering, who has no agenda other than to be kind to the one who is there and counsel and lead Bible studies.  You minister in music, make memorial receptions happen, you write notes to the discouraged and share your professional expertise, give your hands to routine tasks without which the church cannot function.  You don’t think about it as loving one another so much, this is what you naturally do.  And the reason that it comes naturally and you are so unassuming and non-self-conscious about it is because the nature of God is being planted in you to do that, and so it comes naturally to you to do that, it is the desire of your heart to do that.

So I don’t know if you are encouraged, but you have encouraged me because your unassuming love in routine life is putting the eternal love of your God on display and it testifies to the reality of your salvation, it testifies to the fact that you have been born from the hand of the eternal God—that’s marvelous.  That is part of what promotes assurance in the life of someone who is questioning their salvation is to recognize that disposition of loving attitudes and conduct toward those who are in the body of Christ.  And how gracious and marvelous is it of God that something so simple that comes so naturally to you would become a sure mark of the reality of His salvation work in your life—that’s wonderful, that’s gracious from the hand of God.  It is not the silly rituals of a medieval church that point to the reality of salvation, those things point to the absence of salvation.  No, it is the love of the daily routine of life, sharing the Bible verses with the football team, it speaks to the reality of the guy that knows the Lord (just to give an example of someone I have seen in the audience).

So that unassuming love is that which gives birth to assurance and should motivate you to excel still more and say “This is what I’m called to, yes, let me redouble my efforts, let me freshen up my approach that God might be on display in my life and display the reality of my salvation to the world.”

 

Now with that said, for those of you that are on the periphery, who slip in and slip out week after week, no one knows your name because you are in and out so quickly or perhaps you just sit and find yourself critical, not involved in the lives of those in the church.  This would be a good time, this would be a good text for you to come to and realize that maybe it is a good time for you now to start ministering in the body of Christ, for you to show forth that while you have been in the shadows, your salvation is real and you step forward and say how can I minister here.  That is what should be coming to the minds of some of you.  We have got room for more people here that want to manifest the love of Christ.  Just let people know, let people in the leadership know what you would like to do and what you are good at and that you are available and we will put it to use because God has gifted you to do that.  The intent for you is to take what you are able to do and to minister in the lives of the body of Christ.

People that are content to stay on the outside, isolated, not wanting any interference, not wanting to share, those are people who should not be confident that they truly belong to the Lord because there is just an overwhelming motivation that come from those who know Christ that they want to do this, they are impelled by the Holy Spirit to move in that direction in their lives.  And I thank God that so many of you are like that and I just hope that there would be a few more that would step forward in that same way--that is the positive priority of love, this is what Christians do.

Having introduced that priority—this is the message, we love one another, we should love one another, this is the message.  It is very interesting where John goes from there because where he goes is in to a negative illustration.  You would expect maybe something positive to illustrated, but he actually goes to a negative illustration as the backdrop to what he is saying in this section of his letter.  And so in second point here this morning we are going to look at:

  1. The Negative Picture of Love

In verses 12-13, having just said we should love one another, in verse 12 he goes negative, he says:

Not as Cain who was of the evil one and slew his brother.  And for what reason did he slay him?  Because his deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

He is showing here the desirability of love with a negative illustration.  It is kind of like if you are teaching your teen aged kid to drive and you say “Don’t stop on the rail road tracks.”  You are not going to give him a positive illustration of that because it is going to make you happy to sit behind the white line, you are going to say “If you stop on the rail road tracks, you are going to get run over by a train.”  This is bad, don’t do it that way.  And so sometimes you make a positive point, but reinforce it with a negative illustration-that’s what John is doing here.  The story of Cain shows the absence of love as a mark of the devil and it also shows that the hostility of the world against the righteous goes back to the very beginning points of creation.

 

Turn back to the book of Genesis chapter 4 with me and we will just review this episode from the patriarchal period to refresh our minds and to see what it is that the apostle John has in his mind as he is writing to us in 1 John.  This is the only direct allusion to the Old Testament in John’s letter, but it is very clear.  Genesis, chapter 4:  Adam and Eve have been kicked out of the Garden of Eden for their sin and now life begins to develop for them.  Genesis 4, beginning in verse 1:

Now the man had relations with his wife, Eve and she conceived and gave birth to Cain and she said I have gotten a man-child with the help of the Lord.  Again she gave birth to his brother Abel.  And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.  Abel on his part also brought of the first ones of his flock and of their fat portions.  And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering, but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.  So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.  And then the Lord said to Cain “Why are you angry and why is your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  Cain told Abel his brother.  And it came about when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Why did Cain kill Abel?  Back to 1 John.  Why did he kill him?  It was not because Abel had done anything wrong, Abel was righteous.  Hebrews 11:4 points us in that direction as does the verse here.  Why did he slay him?  The word refers to brutal slaughter, used for the slaughter of animals for sacrifice, this was a vicious attack, premeditated.  But why did Cain act that way?  It says in verse 12:

…because his deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Cain killed Abel because he resented Abel’s superior righteousness.  Physically speaking, Cain was the son of Adam, but spiritually, he was the son of the devil.  His jealousy led to hatred and his hatred led to murder—that’s the progression.  And that’s why the sins of envy in your heart you need to deal with so severely, there are the seeds of what lead to murder and there are totally incompatible with Christian living.  And so you need to repent of that kind of sin and bring forth the fruit of righteousness because it is the children of the devil that act like the devil.  Jesus said in John 8:44:

You are of your father the devil; he was a murderer from the beginning.

And so, that kind of hostility toward the righteous, the resultant persecution, the hatred, the murder that flows from that is ultimately find its spiritual root in the devil himself.  And John comes back to that dichotomous view that he has of humanity, the children of God who love, the children of the devil who hate and are envious and kill and murder.  And here is his point, Cain’s murder in Genesis, chapter 4 was the start of the pattern of hostility that wicked people would show against God’s righteous people.  And John expands from the example of Cain the attitude that the world continues to have against the righteous today.  Look at verse 13 in 1 John, he says:

Do not be surprised brethren if the world hates you…

Don’t be surprised by this, this has a long, checkered history.  As he writes this he says, do not be surprised if the world hates you.  The construction here is the one that assumes that this antagonism is going to happen.  He is not casting doubt when he says if this happens—maybe it will, maybe it won’t.  This is the construction that assumes that it is going to happen.  When this happens, when you see this manifested, don’t be surprised, don’t marvel at it as if it were some strange thing because the world and those who belong to it, the organized system in opposition to God and under the control of the devil and those who are born in to that, those who embrace that, those who have never been born again, those who have their spiritual lineage tied directly to that system, that world is naturally going to react against the righteous children of God.

And so in this negative picture, this negative illustration of love, he is setting the stage to show us why love is so important.  This opposition, this prejudice against Christians is not a surprising mystery, they belong to the devil like Cain did.  Cain killed Abel, but he killed Abel out of his hostility against Abel’s righteousness.  John is saying, go all the way back to the beginning, realize that that hostility is part of the world opposition toward the children of God and carry it forward in to the present and realize that nothing has changed.  By its hatred, by its opposition to the Christian church, the true Christian church, the world is simply manifesting its own ongoing spiritual death.

John’s lesson in that for us today is not so much the explanation of that hostility—that’s part of it.  But what he is getting at, the command that flows from that is, don’t be surprised, don’t be astonished that this is happening.  Here is the point, I think for some of you, this would lower your stress level immensely if you would simply take this to heart.  If you are a believer and you see the political and personal and the media bias against believers, if you read the news, you see that on an ongoing basis.  You don’t have to be so worked up about it.  You don’t have to try to do everything that you can to alert people to try to correct these wrongs—this is what is going to happen, this is the nature of life in this fallen world.  When they wrong us, they are simply proving the point of the Bible.

And so, don’t be surprised, don’t look at this if as if it were some strange thing, don’t try to correct every wrong that you see being done perpetrated against Christians.  That’s a pointless, fruitless exercise because it is going to continue to happen because the nature of the world is such that is just what is going to spill out from its evil, wicked heart and it will be manifested in specific, particular ways and Christians will be wronged by that.  Christians will be slaughtered at the hands of unbelieving people who are hostile to the gospel just like Abel was.  We are in the position of Abel versus Cain here.  This is the nature of the conflict between the children of the devil and the children of God, so don’t be surprised when it happens.  You can alleviate the suffering of those who are the victims of that bias, but you don’t have to get so worked up, you are not going to be able to fix it in this life.  Fixing this is going to require the return of Christ to the world, so don’t be surprised.

Peter made the same point, turn back few pages to the left in your Bible to 1 Peter 4:12, writing to believers who were being persecuted at the hands of the Roman Empire, he says:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing as though some strange thing were happening to you.  But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Make sure that none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evil doer or a troublesome meddler.  But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

Back in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:10, Jesus says:

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad when this happens for your reward in heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

It started with Abel, it carried through the prophets, they crucified Christ, I know you remember that, there were waves of persecution in the first three centuries of the early church and it continues on.  This is the red thread that runs through human history in the life of the church, the life of the redeemed, the life of the righteous who have believed the promise of God, put their faith in Him and lived a life of obedience to Him.  That manner of living incites the opposition of wicked people because it condemns their own conscience.  They react against the conviction that that kind of living brings upon them and so they lash out, they strike out at those who they see as the perpetrators of the insult to their conscience.

John tells us don’t be surprised when that happens.  He is writing to encourage us, to strengthen us, to prepare us for that.  And the reaction that we have is not one of organizing politically, but one of rejoicing before the Lord that we have been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, to share in the sufferings of Christ, to join in the sufferings of those noble men and women who spilled their blood in generations before us and delivered the faith, once for all delivered to the saints who faithfully delivered it to us with the river of their own blood and we stand in the in their noble tradition with gratitude, with rejoicing, with glory given to God because that persecution is a testimony that we have been delivered out of that evil system and in to a secure kingdom of God.

We have to look passed all of the externals on this and discern the spiritual reality of it.  The wicked hate the righteous and they will always hate the righteous, it is folly to curry the favor of the world, to seek it, to seek their approval.  You can’t have it both ways, you can’t live righteously and love the brethren and also have the world approve you and applaud you.  It is a choice that they made, they hated Christ and they will hate us too, Jesus said this.  Turn back to the gospel of John 15:18-20:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.

It could be interpreted as an imperative, if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.  Remember this, call this to mind when you see the opposition of the world to Christianity and to Christians today.  Go back and remember that they hated Christ and crucified Him, they hated Him, nothing has changed, you are not going to be able to change that dynamic. 

Verse 18:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world (look at who did the choosing here, Jesus says) I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you.  Remember the words that I have said to you, a slave 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.

This is the dynamic that we embrace, we are glad to follow the steps of our Master who was persecuted, who was hated, who was killed.  We are glad to do that because we love Him more than life itself.  We are glad to see that we are on the receiving end of this because it testifies to whom we belong, it testifies to the reality that our soul has been purchased and given over to the kingdom of God, never to be lost again.

And so, you prepare for that hostility by understanding the forces that are at work.  Those particular acts of hostility against you and against our brothers throughout the world, those particular acts of hostility have a greater spiritual context in which they occur, showing that we belong to Christ and they belong to the devil.  I will take the temporary suffering of persecution for that exchange, won’t you?  Wouldn’t you take that, take some persecution as a token of the reality of who you belong to and know that who you belong to means that you can have an assurance of eternal life and that this life opens the gateway at the end to eternal glory?  What kind of minor tradeoff is that?  So when it happens to you, don’t react in anger and surprise.  When family and friends react against you for your righteousness, receive that as a testimony from God that your salvation is real and rejoice in Christ, that is the consistent testimony of the New Testament of how we respond to persecution—don’t be surprised, embrace it.

Now, in the context of what he is saying here, coming back full circle here as we wrap up, go back to 1 John as we conclude this.  What is the underlying purpose of John giving this negative picture of love when he is talking about the positive priority of love?  Why does negative illustration when he is commanding us to love one another?  Why inject the world in to this?  Go back to chapter 3:11-13.  We should love one another—illustration of Cain, verse 13, don’t be surprised if the world hates you, follow this very closely.  Why does John give us this negative picture?  Understand this, understanding the reality of the children of God and the children of the devil, understand this, that if the world will not love us, and it won’t, then the urgency of us loving one another shines forth by comparison.  If the black backdrop of persecution is going to be the world in which we live in, then it is urgent, it is imperative, it is so important for you and me to love one another in practical, simple day to day ways because that is going to be the context of the encouragement that enables us to continue to persevere as we walk with Christ.  We tangibly help one another in this because we understand that we are in hostile enemy territory.  So those of us that belong to the same family of God, wrap our arms around one another and minister to one another because that is one of the means that God enables us to persevere until the end.

Now, in light of that, in light of this positive priority of love, in light of everything that the Lord has said to us, I want you to step back and think about life for a moment because some of you probably need to deal with the broken relationship in order to really show that you are serious about this and to bring forth the fruit of righteousness in your own life.  Broken relationships in the body of Christ, those people that you go out of your way to avoid because of some past wrong that has happened, you need to deal with those.  You need to address that lack of love in a relationship before you are ready to minister more broadly.  Start by repairing the relationships that are broken.  So, is there a Christian with whom you have a broken relationship, maybe even within your own family?  Beloved, you need to address that.  In light of what we have said today, in light of what the text of scripture said, we should love one another.  This is the verse that calls us to reconciliation as part of the manifestation of the reality of our love for Christ.  We need to fix that quickly because Christians love the brethren, that is what we do by nature.

And once you repair those relationships, remember how simple love is in the body of Christ, see a need, you meet the need, it is not difficult.  Where can you start?  God rewards even the simplest acts of kindness done in the name of Christ to one of His children.  As John says later in the book:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Let’s pray.  Father, I thank you for these wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ that you have brought in to my life.  I thank you for the love that they show so consistently, show to one another.  I pray that as they manifest that particular kindness of love, that you would bless their hearts with an assurance of salvation and that you would help them excel still more.  Father, for those of us who have stumbled along the way and allowed jealousy and bitter attitudes and resentment to store up in relationships, even those closest to us, those that we share the same roof with, Father I pray that you would bring such a negative conviction of sin and a positive desire to make these things right as expression of love and faithfulness to you that walking out of this room here this morning to be born in us a conviction to address those things, to repent before you of our ingratitude and our selfishness, our bitterness, to repent of those things and to bring forth the love that you have planted in our hearts through the work of your Holy Spirit in our lives.  Father, make this a radical day of change for us so that we would honor you and glorify the one who sacrificed His life, who laid down His life as propitiation for our sins.  Give us grace to bring forth the love that is worthy of Christ’s great sacrifice on our behalf.  We thank you for this text of scripture, we thank you for the indwelling Spirit of God, we thank you for the eternal purposes for which you chose us in Christ.  Now Lord, we ask you to help us bring forth the fruit that would be worthy of your great work of salvation.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

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The Necessity of Holy Loving, #2