Thursday, May 02, 2024

2024.05.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 3:10–15

Read 1 John 3:10–15

Questions from the Scripture text: Which two categories of men have been distinguished from one another (1 John 3:10)? How is this distinction revealed? What two things are always the case for someone who is a child of the devil? What have the apostle’s readers heard (1 John 3:11)? Since when? That we should do what? Who did not love (1 John 3:12)? Of whom was Cain? What did Cain do? Why? What does the apostle say not to do in 1 John 3:13? What does he call his readers? At what shouldn’t they marvel? What do he and his readers know (1 John 3:14)? Because they do what? But what is the condition of the one that does not love his brother? What is a man who hates his brother (1 John 3:15)? What does no murderer have abiding in him?

How can we distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil? 1 John 3:10–15 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that one clear way to distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil is whether they love the brethren.

Children of God and children of the devil. All of humanity can be divided into two categories: children of God and children of the devil (1 John 3:10a), which are the same categories as the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (cf. Genesis 3:15). In the previous passage, we heard about the seed of God being in the one born of God (1 John 3:9) and works of righteousness coming from those who are righteous with Christ’s righteousness (1 John 3:7). 

Children of God identified by the origin of their love. If someone does not work righteousness, then he is not of God (1 John 3:10b). There is no such thing as a believer in Jesus Christ who has not been created newly in Christ Jesus to walk in good works (cf. Ephesians 2:10). And central to this righteousness that he works, and these good works that he walks in, is love for his brother. The “new commandment” that was initiated by the crucifixion is that brethren must live self-sacrificially for one another by Christ’s own love for one another (1 John 3:11, cf. 1 John 2:6–11; John 13:34, John 15:12). Truly God has worked love in those whom He redeemed ever since Adam. But there is a “beginning” of Christ-imitating love, coming in conscious union with Him, at the founding of Christ’s church.

Children of the devil identified by the origin of their hatred. But hatred also has a beginning in the human race. Adam and his wife both believed, so the first seed of the serpent that the Bible tells us about is Cain. Cain offered sacrifices that were not of faith (cf. Genesis 4:4–5, Hebrews 11:4, Romans 14:23), and when his evil works from his evil nature were not received by God, his evil nature overflowed into the hatred and murder of his brother (1 John 3:12, cf. Genesis 4:8). 

Don’t be surprised by hate. There are two great applications to realizing where hatred and love come from. The first application is not to marvel at being hated by the world (1 John 3:13). The only way that anyone could genuinely love us is by union with Christ. Even unbelievers who (by common grace) have a natural affection for us do not love us with the same sort of love, the genuine love, that is in Christ and in Christians. So do not expect love from the world, and do not be surprised at hate from the world.

But rejoice at the opportunity, and the gift of the ability, to love. The second application is to love your brother not only for his sake, but as an enjoyment of the reality of having passed from death to life (1 John 3:14). What a privilege it is to be a child of God rather than a child of the devil! What a privilege it is, therefore, to love the brethren with Christ-derived divine love! Embrace the opportunities to love your brethren, and to foster that love in your heart. Enjoy and lay hold of the life of Christ in you!

And be very alarmed if you have and tolerate hate in your heart. And of course there is a great warning here. If we do not love the brethren, we have not passed from death to life. Such a person not only has some death remaining in him, but he himself abides/remains in death (1 John 3:14c). So watch against hatred in your heart, for it is of the same nature as murder (1 John 3:15a, cf. Matthew 5:21–26). And one who is consumed with hate, whose identity is still that of a murderer, is still a child of the devil; no eternal life dwells in him (1 John 3:15b). Dear reader, watch against hate in your heart! Identify it as your mortal enemy, the remnants of a devilish being that you no longer are. Do not tolerate it. Kill it!

When have you killed hate in your own heart? Whom are you tempted to hate? How can you see them, instead, as an opportunity to enjoy God’s giving to you to love them? By what means do you look to Him for the grace to do so? What are the evidences of your love for believers? How has the world hated you? What difference does it make for you not to be surprised at this? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us, for we have not loved our brother like You have loved us. Our love has fallen short in its greatness, because we do not sacrifice ourselves for one another. And our love has fallen short in its origin, because we are often seeking to love each other by virtue of our effort, rather than in dependence upon Your grace. Indeed, we are horrified to admit that we have often known hostility in our hearts for other believers—the very hostility that has its origin in the devil himself and that is the mark of the children of the devil. But You have given us to to have life abide in us by Jesus Christ. Grant that His love would abide in us, and that we would put to death all hatred that remains within us, we ask through Him, even Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP118A “Because He’s Good, O Thank the LORD” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

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