(A summary of the Sunday morning teaching on 29-Nov-15, in AFT Church, English service. From the series The Foundation For Victorious Living)
WALKING IN LOVE
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 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.
1 John 3:10-15
Last week, we studied that the proof of salvation is the ability to love our brethren. Let us continue to study about it.
BEING AND DOING
John in this epistle writes about how we must model Jesus Christ in leading our lives as children of God. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience and brotherly love.
Or in other words John is saying that if a person practices righteousness (obedience) and brotherly love, then he or she can be identified as a child of God. The corollary to that truth is that a born-again child of God will exhibit brotherly love because he has the seed of His Heavenly Father in him.
Now that doesn’t mean that a believer will never sin. In all likelihood he might sin, but he will not remain in it. He would be convicted and repent of his sins.
So, going back to our main point, a believer will demonstrate brotherly love. That’s because the life and nature of a person cannot be hidden for a long time. Jesus said in Mathew 7:16-19 that, ‘You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’. Our ‘being’ comes first, then comes our ‘doing’. At salvation, we become somebody new. Out of those new selves,flowgood and righteous deeds. 1 John 2:29 attests it and says, ‘If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him’.
Sadly, while living in this difficult world we often forget our new identities and heritage. The pressures of this world will slowly erode us if we are not careful. It’s like having to remind our children, however good they are, to behave in a manner well fitting to the family’s reputation. It’s easy to get sucked into peer pressures and live in a manner that is completely alien to our new nature. So, let us live in such a way that our deeds reflect our new and beautiful selves.
PROOF OF THE NEW NATURE
Let’s move on to learn what the characteristics of this nature as a Christian are:-
a. A Christian has passed from death to life.
b. A Christian is born of God.
c. A Christian has eternal life abiding in him.
In order to answer any doubt, let us prove these characteristics.
1. UNLIKE THE WORLD
As born-again Christians, we have eternal life. We have now become radically different and are unlike the world.
Let’s see what ‘being of the world’ looks like. 1 John 3:12 says that, ‘not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.’ Cain was a worldly person who had a murderous spirit. When God cursed the serpent in Genesis 3:15, He said, ‘And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,and between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise His heel.”So in Genesis 4, when Adam and Eve had a son they assumed he would be the Messiah who would destroy Satan. Little did they know that their son Cain was sinful and wicked. He had a murderous spirit in him. Cain represents the sinful and worldly nature of a person.
For better understanding, here are some general and particular characteristics of a worldly person.
General characteristics of a worldly person
a. He is spiritually dead.
b. He is not of God but of the wicked one.
c. He does not have eternal life abiding in him or her.
Particular characteristics of a worldly person
a. He is self-centered, self-willed and selfish
He believes that everything must revolve around them according to their liking. This rule of self originated a long time ago in one of God’s angels – Lucifer aka Satan. Lucifer was a gifted angel created to worship and glorify God. But he could not stomach the idea of giving honor to God. Jealousy, pride, hatred and wickedness birthed in his heart. He gathered a third of the angels and led a revolt against God. But God cast all of them into hell.
b. He is a hater
This attitude of hatred also originated in Lucifer. He absolutely hates God and all good things. Cain had this attitude. That’s why he killed his brother Abel. Abel didn’t do anything to Cain that prompted him to murder him. But Cain’s selfish ego was hurt because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected his. Romans 8:7 says, ‘Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be’. Cain’s carnal, worldly and wicked mind hated God, and that led him to murder his innocent brother.
I recently heard a discussion on a television program about same sex marriage. When one man said that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman, the other person on the program snapped, ‘Who is God to tell me what I should do’? That’s sadly what a worldly mind looks like.
Let’s not forget that not too long ago we were in a similar boat. Titus 3:3 says, ‘For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another’. Hateful and hating one another! What a horrible way to lead a life! That’s why when we become a Christian, we are so far removed from all these vices. We become new people who are unlike anything that the world considers normal.
c. HATED BY THE WORLD
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
1 John 3:13
Throughout the Bible, we see people hating the prophets of God. In fact the ultimate proof of being hated was Jesus Christ. The Son of God came down as a man, lived among the Jews, healed the sick, performed wonderful miracles, forgave sinners and brought light to many dark lives. Yet the people cried for His crucifixion and instead sought the release of a criminal named Barabbas. They hated Jesus because He was perfect, holy and good. The worldly nature in them could not identify with them anymore.
Once, a lady accused me of stealing her child! Apparently at one point they used to hang out as a family together. But since the time her son became a believer in Jesus Christ, he began to set aside Sundays to go to Church. Not only that, he also started claiming to be the child of Jesus. She couldn’t accept the fact that he was not her son anymore. She felt I had encouraged him to become this new person. I explained to her that Jesus does not steal anybody. He would take her son and make him into be a wonderful man.
Matthew 10:34-36 says, ‘Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ Luke 14:26 says, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple’.
In order to avoid misinterpretation and confusion, let me explain one truth about this verse. When Jesus said that a believer must hate his family, He meant that a believer must have Jesus as his number one priority in life. When we do that, the world will hate us because we are not like them anymore.
3. LOVE THE BRETHREN
I John 3:14 says, ‘We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brotherabides in death’. It’s easy and natural for us to love our immediate family members. But now that we are in God’s family we must love all its members too. We may be different in caste, language, ethnicity, color and race but because we are all of the same family of God, we are able to love one another.
Many years ago, I was the pastor of a church in America where all the members were white Americans. I was the only ‘non-American’. The people of the town wondered about it. Well, let me tell you how we were able to do it. We were all members of the same family of God, irrespective of our color and creed.