1 John 3:11-16 ESV
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 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. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever 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. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
Love One Another
Whether we are loving God or we are loving one another, this love has to do with moral preference. It has to do with preferring to live through Christ, to embrace God’s will, to choose his choices, and to obey them through His power and strength. And it means to prefer what God prefers because God is love and love comes from God, so love is godly, morally pure, kind, compassionate, holy, righteous, honest, and faithful. So if we love one another we will do right by others and we will not knowingly harm them.
So, we should not be like Cain. And who was Cain? He was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve who were the first humans God created. Their second born son was Abel. Abel was a keeper of the sheep and Cain was a worker of the ground. In the course of time they each brought an offering to the Lord. The Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but he rejected Cain’s, so Cain was very angry with God.
“The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’” Genesis 4:6-7 ESV
And the Lord is giving us the same message today. It is taught to us all throughout the New Testament. Jesus said if we are going to come after him that we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for the flesh, we will lose them for eternity. But if for Jesus’ sake we die with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, and if this is our practice until the very end, we are promised eternal life with God.
And he said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For he said that many will stand before him on that day and they will proclaim that they did this or that in his name, and many of them are going to hear him say, “I never knew you! Depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” Why? Because they loved their sins more and so they did not submit to Christ as Lord, and they did not repent and obey Jesus.
And so we have taught to us all throughout the New Testament that we must forsake our former lives of living in sin and for self and that we are to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. For if we continue in sin, doing what our sinful hearts desire, and if obedience to our Lord and righteousness are not what we practice, then we don’t have eternal life with God. So it is the same message God gave to Cain when he was angry with his brother.
Don’t Hate Others
Yet, because Cain did not listen to God, but he followed his own flesh, instead, which is where many professing Christians are today, Cain ended up murdering his brother. Why? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous. And this is the way it is today, too. Many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are still living in sin and not for God and so they end up resenting and hating those who are living for the Lord.
And so they will murder the righteous ones with their looks, with their attitudes toward them, with the words they speak to them, by ignoring them, by fighting against them vehemently, by trying to trick them and to trip them up in order to accuse them of something, and by slandering them, etc. For Jesus said that hate is the same as murder. And many pastors are doing this, too, to those who are walking in holiness and in righteousness. For many of them are teaching an altered gospel to appease human flesh.
So, we should not be surprised if the worldly church hates those of us who are walking in holiness and in righteousness. Now this is not saying that we are perfect people (see 1 John 2:1-2), but if we are followers of Christ we should all be those who have forsaken our lives of sin and who are following our Lord in obedience. For the Scriptures teach that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (in conduct, in practice) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-14).
But since so much of what is called “church” today has watered down the gospel message to exclude the biblical requirements of repentance (the forsaking of sins) and walks of obedience to our Lord, or else they make them optional and not required, they are also demonizing those of us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And they are tagging us as hyper-religious or as legalists or as those who teach and practice works salvation or as being judgmental and not loving.
And so we are being pushed aside or we are being told to “go someplace else where you will be a better fit.” Or we are being asked to compromise our faith to conform with the worldly standards that so many are following. And if we choose the way of holiness and righteousness and we do not yield to worldliness and to sin, then we may also be cast out of some of these institutional churches because they were warned about people like us, i.e. “people with strong convictions.”
Consequences of Hate
But if you choose hate over love, which means you choose your own selfish ways and your sins over obedience to the Lord and over surrender to his will for your life, and so you not only reject God and his word, in truth, but you also reject and hate those who are following him in truth and in righteousness, then the love of God does not abide in you. And heaven is not your eternal destiny unless you repent of your wicked ways, and unless you turn and you follow the Lord in obedience and choose love over hate.
But by this we know what love is, that Jesus Christ laid his life down for us in order that we might be crucified with him in death to sin and be raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, that sin would no longer be our practice, but that righteousness and obedience to Christ will be our practice. For he died to free us from our slavery (addiction) to sin, not just to free us from the punishment of sin.
So, because of what Jesus did for us on that cross, we are to love God by dying with Christ to sin and by living to God and to his righteousness, in his power and strength, and not just once, but daily, continuously until the very end of time that we have on this earth. And in his power we then can love one another, and we are able, too, to lay down our lives for our fellow humans in order to see them freed of their bondage to sin and freed to walk now in holiness and in righteousness, in the love of God, too.
And we do this by sharing with them the truth of the gospel knowing that we might be hated and mistreated in return.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
By Paul Baloche / Lenny Leblanc
Above all powers above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began
Above all kingdoms above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth
Crucified laid behind the stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a Rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
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