1 John 3:15-18 We love and live by the Love of God and the Life of God
Our text for this week is 1 John 3:15-18, however I will read 10-18,
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
It has been three weeks since we have preached from 1 John so a review may be in order. In the verses the text we just read, John spoke about how those who are children of God will do righteous deeds. In 1 John 3:10 John transitioned from that topic to another by saying, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Everything that comes after 1 John 3:10 has to do with how the child of God is to love their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Look with me at 1 John 3:15-18, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
The theme of these verses can be summed up by saying, “Those who enjoy fellowship with God will demonstrate true biblical love and not murderous hatred for their brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The believers that John is writing had been confused by false teachers who said that they had eternal life and that they enjoyed fellowship with the LORD; however they did no live righteously nor did they love the believers. Instead, they displayed a hatred for the people of God. Because of this John concludes that they are not believers and they should not be listened too and allowed to throw the church into confusion and doubt.
When John says in 1 John 3:15, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murder…”, he is not speaking about someone who displays a brief moment of anger. He is not referring to a occasion when someone displays a fit of rage against another person. He is not speaking about those who for a short season are at odds with someone else in the church.
The verb ‘hate’ is in the present tense. This speaks of a person who makes a continual habit of hating other believers in the church. He is speaking of a person who does not seek to end hostilities but who practices ill-will toward the saints. This person does not seek to stop the hatred that festers in his heart. He continues in the path of murderous jealousy. He extends the conflict and make a lifestyle of it. This person allows bitterness to blind them and lead them into sin. They are a person who pursues war and not peace. This is referring to people who would normalize the practice of letting the sun go down on their anger (Ephesians 4:26).
John says that everyone who continually hates his brother in this way is a murderer, and no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. And he also says in verse seventeen that no such person has the love of God abiding in him.
Those who continually and persistently hate the brothers and sisters in Christ cannot be enjoying fellowship with the LORD. They cannot say that the love and life of God is abiding in them if they are not manifesting that love towards those who are brothers and sisters in Christ and if they do not lay their lives down for them in practical ways.
Those who share in the love of God and in the life of God know what real love is. John says in 1 John 316, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” To display the type of love that John is speaking of here you have to have a Christ centered heart.
Having come to know this love they are attracted to this grace, they are drawn to it, they are instinctively made to reflect that same type of love within the body of Christ. These attributes are the reflection of the nature of our new life and the agape love that we have experienced in Christ. A believer who has come to know the love of Christ will be willing to make sacrifices for their brothers and sisters of Christ just as Christ did for them. (Philippians 2)
Giving up one’s life for another would be the greatest sacrifice that a person could make. John draws a very sharp contrast between giving up one’s life in verses 16 (‘...and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers’); with verse 17 where he says that we ought to see this practically in how we give to another the things we possess. John says in verse 17-18, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Let me make several observations about verses 17-18 before moving on
John speaks of a man who has the ability to provide help but closes his heart to the person and their need. They possess the means but they do not possess mercy. This person sees the person in need and they close their heart against them.