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September 12, 2022 4:00 am
Here's one of John's key determining factors to identify true Christians, when someone claims to be a Christian.
We are instructed here to examine the character of their love life. Therein lies the truth of their claim. Decades of pulpit ministry titled the New Testament beginning to end.
Today's lesson is from first John, and he focuses on the love that should characterize your life. If you're a follower of Christ. But before we begin today's lesson. John is hard to believe you began preaching more than 50 years ago in the early days of your ministry. Your messages didn't even reach beyond the walls of your home church but today anyone with Internet access can download your sermons from GT Y.org so as you look at how this ministry is grown, wondering what's been the most unexpected way the Lord has used this ministry. Yeah, I actually began preaching. If you add it all up 60 years ago when I was very very young and yeah in the early days of my ministry. I preach sermons.
Thankfully, that weren't recorded because they should've died when they were spoken. They should've evaporated in the air. Never been heard again, but you have to start somewhere.
But when I got to the place I was preaching something that was true and helpful and useful recording had become available. How wonderful is that Ende today anyone anywhere on the planet can download my sermons from GT Y.org. Just think about that this ministry is grown and grown over the years and I preached messages that are available on the grace to you website and their being downloaded all over the planet and it's pretty remarkable. The word of God is not bound by time. It is not bound by culture.
It is not bound by geography and particularly in the world in which we live. That is a shocking reality to me. Who would've ever dreamed of. This certainly not me, you, thank you, John, and friend. Thanks for what you do to support this ministry. Thank you for praying and for partnering with us financially as you're able to strengthen believers around the world with typical truth, you can connect with email@example.com and I'll have more of those details before we close today, but for now follow along as John continues his look at the New Testament beginning to end well.
We return in our study of the word of God to first John chapter 3 now as you know, in looking at this epistle. The theme that runs all the way through this entire letter is identifying marks of true Christians.
This is John's concern the whole epistle gives us revelation by which we can discern who is real within the family of God and as we come into chapter 3 and verses 11 through 18. We come to the subject of love, or better yet, we come to the test of love or the mark of love. There is one of John's key determining factors to identify true Christians, when someone claims to be a Christian. Someone claims to be in union with God in union with Jesus Christ possessing eternal life.
We are instructed here to examine the character of their love life for therein lies the proof of their claim Christians who are genuinely born of God manifest that transformation by means of righteousness and love.
Those are the two basic behavioral tests. The two measurements of conduct. The first moral task.
The first behavioral test to validate one's claim to be a Christian is the test of righteous conduct.
The second is the test of love.
We have been given. Then, in Christ, the capacity to love is more than a mandate. It is a capacity, it is more than a capacity is a characteristic that's why Paul said I don't need to teach you how to love your taught of God to love one another. It is natural to the believer to love another believer now as we begin this passage, let's go back to chapter 3 in verse 11 for this is the message which you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another. No, why does he say it that way. Why does he say this is the message which you've heard from the beginning.
I'll tell you why this is not the first time he has so spoken go back to chapter 2 and verse 24. As for you, he says let that abide in you, which you heard from the beginning. Here's the problem they had the truth right at the beginning because it was delivered to them by apostles.
They had the truth about the gospel right they had the truth about the person of Christ right there. The truth about their own sinfulness right. They had the truth about righteousness and obedience. Right they had the truth about love right because it was delivered to them by the apostolic preachers. It was delivered to them by those who brought them the true revelation of God in the gospel. However, after some period of time. They had false teachers come in and they were getting another message and so John says lock backup run this thing back skip over what you heard and go all the way back to the beginning. This is the message which you heard from the beginning that we should love one another. The false teachers might be telling you, but that doesn't matter. They might be telling you that there is no requirement of loving one another that that's not a part of knowing God. Heretics always come along and boast about new teaching anything that's news not true that you sort of the basic axiom of its new it's not true. You may find somebody who has a fresh insight into the truth but anything that's new is not true because the faith was once for all delivered to the saints, and nothing shall be added to it or nothing taken away from it. That's how the Bible ends with that warning that anybody who does that is in grave danger from the judgment of God. Jesus commanded his disciples in that upper room in chapter 15 of John, this is my commandment that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus is saying it's an old command, but it has a newness because now I am taking it to the point where it is absolutely self-sacrificing and again in verse 17, just a few verses later this I command you, that you love one another.
It is a command. There's no question about that, but as well as a command. It is also a privilege because we have been given the capacity to do that and that's the passage in first Thessalonians 49 now as to the love of the brother, and you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another, God works in your life to produce that love. In fact, even Peter, one of my favorite comments about this. Love is found in the words of Peter first Peter 122 since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls talk about salvation. You've come you heard the truth you obeyed the gospel. Your soul was purified since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls. Listen to this on to a sincere love of the brethren, what a great statement he saying this is who you are. You obeyed the truth. Your soul was cleansed a produce. It produced a genuine love for the brother and and since that is happen, he yet fervently love one another from the heart. The command is based upon the capacity since God has wrought that in you that capacity. Do it fervently, fervently, is the record ectomy's is use of a muscle that is taught that is literally stretched to its capacity, and he is saying love as far as you can. Love stretch yourself. As far as you can go in love reach out as far as you have capacity to reach, you have literally obeyed the truth been purged unto this genuine kind of love exercise it to the max. So back to our opening statement in first John three you have heard from the beginning. This message that we should love one another. Killer anybody comes along and says this is true. This is not just command this is God-given capacity so we are obeying it and are able to do so because of the wonderful work of the Spirit of God in shedding the love of Christ abroad in our hearts.
Now having introduced that theme of love in verse 11. John moves into a contrast. Contrast are very typical of John. All through his gospel all through his epistle.
We've said this before he sort of the black-and-white apostle and we see it here again, and in regard to this matter of love he contrast the children of the devil with the children of God, and it's a simple contrast, the children of the devil hate and the children of God love the children of the devil resents and the children of God, respect the children of the devil are selfish. The children of God are sacrificial toward one another. What started out as John doesn't look at the characteristics of the children of the devil. They occupy most of the passage were going to look at what see the characteristics of the children of the devil and they are characteristics that demonstrate the absence of love. Okay, the absence of love. The first one is murder. I would say that's a fairly good demonstration of the absence of love.
When you murder, that is the ultimate act of hate verse 12 your love one another, not as now we have the contrast is look at the children of the devil, 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 brothers were righteous. Here is the lowest level. Obviously, the lowest level that any relationship can ever descend to.
Would you agree they can't get any worse than that when you kill the other person. This is hates extremity can go beyond that, the lowest level it is characteristic of those who do not know God, to be murderous to be murderous. Cain was not an atheist.
He was a religious person and he came as a worshiper of God, and you want to understand this folk some of the most murderous people who exist. Some of the greatest haters of those who were truly God's are those who are religious. In fact, you could make a case that they're the worst that was an atheist to murder Jesus was an atheist who screamed for his blood and demanded that the Romans crucify him. It was religionists. It's clear that even though he was not an atheist. Even though he was worshiping the true God.
It was worshiping him in a wrong way, and it was worshiping him from a wicked heart and so you know the story. The real test of Cain's true religion wasn't even his sacrifice. That was one test that was in the full test we could say well he was trying to get there by works and that's bad. It was worse than that.
He despised the man who was obedient to God.
Cain showed his spiritual connection to Satan by murdering his brother. The word here regarding Cain slew his brother is the word spot.
So in Greek and everything. What it means.
It means to butcher by cutting the throat. He slid his brother's throat. That's an important thing to say a and and I'll tell you why, because there had only been up to this point. One indication of a death prior to this murder and it was God killing an animal.
Remember to take the skin to cover Adam and Eve, and very likely God had killed that animal by slitting its throat, which became the standard practice in the sacrificial system. He literally came up behind his brother and butchered him by cutting his throat. The terms used in classical Greek spot so to refer to the slaughtering of victims for sacrifice by cutting their throat cutting their jugular.
It is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Leviticus 15 to refer to the slaying of sacrificial animals. It was as if Cain said okay God you want you want to sacrifice. Do you you want an animal sacrifice. Here's one that's the vitriol that existed in Cain's heart and the writer here John uses a vivid strong word to describe the murder.
There is another word that means to kill our path UNESCO but he doesn't use that word he uses the word to butcher by cutting the throat. So ultimately, in its extreme, the absence of love is a murderous heart characteristic of all the children of the devil you say will now wait a minute you're your seeming to say that they that everybody who's an unconverted person would murder people. Well that's what the Bible says that that they don't all have the opportunity to do that they they don't all actually do that but that's in their hearts that takes us to the second thing, if not murder.
There's another characteristic of the children of the devil and its hatred.
Verse 13 do not be surprised, brother, and if the world hates you.
Don't be surprised if the world hates you. We know that we passed out of death into life, because we love the brother and Steve doesn't love abides in death.
In verse 15 everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him being with murderous attitudes don't have eternal life because eternal life makes you love not hate most people never murdered anybody they would like to have. That's the only difference that they just not done it. The only difference between murder and hate is the act. The attitude is the same right beatitude is the same, maybe never had an opportunity to do it. You are the restraint because of the consequences.
But in God's eyes. Hatred is the moral equivalent of murder. Hatred is the moral equivalent of murder off the hook just because you don't kill somebody. You are children you are children of the devil. And whether you kill somebody or not that will manifest itself in your hatred of others.
Could you without negative consequences carry out your murder is every reason to assume that you would do it if there were no retribution if there were no judgment if you never beheld responsible. Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 521 you heard that the ancients were told, you shall not commit murder, and whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court, I say to you everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. Whoever says to his brother you good for nothing, an epithet that seems rather mild.
But in those days it would come out differently. A person who says that that is to say, curses, someone shall be guilty before the Supreme Court. And whoever says you fool, shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell you're going to go to hell for your hate, whether or not it ever materializes in the murder. As I said hatred is the moral equivalent of murder. It just doesn't exercise the option.
Most people haven't murdered anybody but people who are the children of the devil are characterized by hate. And so, go back again. Verse 13. Don't be surprised. Do not marvel. Do not be surprised, brother, and if the world hates you.
It goes with the territory. It's because of the children of the devil and they have nothing in common with us absolutely nothing in common. Marvel here or surprise as it was something that's shocking, mysterious, amazing hatred of the world is not amazing. It's not shocking.
It's not mysterious, not hard to figure out. It's just the same as Cain and Abel. He hated his brother because his deeds were evil and his brothers were righteous.
It's only to be expected that the wicked would continue to regard and treat the righteous the same way that Cain regarded and treated as righteous brother because they all have the same father hatred for believers is a giveaway that you don't know God.
In John 1525, but they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law. They hated me without a cause taken from the Psalms. There's no real reason for the world hate us will harm the world is no reason for people in our society. The elite, the rich and the famous, the sinful the publicly sinful the blatantly sinful to hate anybody who is righteous except for the fact that they manifested there. The children of the devil right it's a dead giveaway. It's a dead giveaway by its hatred.
The world reveals its true character. Cain hated able people hated Jesus Jewish leaders hated they hated the apostles. They martyred all but one of the exiled him and through the history of the church.
The church's leaders have been hated the reformers the nonconformists persecuted hated and even today there are more Christians being persecuted for the cause of Jesus Christ than ever in history. Tens of thousands dying all over the world under the hateful murderous people who are the children of the devil.
So this is what is characteristic of them don't be surprised if they hate you then verse 15 everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
It's a dead giveaway, but on the other hand, verse 14 will say more about this we know that we passed out of death into life, because we love the brother that's the contrast murderer is the word here that just means that someone who slays a man no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Are you saying that if someone commits murder. They can never be saved. No, I am saying that if someone continues with a murderous heart. They're not saved right.
Paul was a murderer. Was he not then he persecuted kill Christians. He says I was a blasphemer and a murderer but he repented and was forgiven. Murder is the worst hate comes next, but there's 1/3 characteristic of the children of the devil.
Third characteristic indifference. This is the best that can be said of them.
This is the best there in different not all the children of the devil are equally evil in their actions. They are characterized by some level of murderous attitude.
They are all characterized by some level of hatred of those who are righteous, but not all of them are driven by the same degree of hate, nor do all of them carried to its extreme, and kill the best it can be said is that they manifest indifference verses 16 and 17. We know love by this that he lay down his life for us and we are lay down our lives for the brethren. Contrast that with verse 17 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. This is indifference is another evidence of the unregenerate they have the world's goods. They make no sacrifice for anyone else there dominated by selfishness. If they do give away a little pittance here little pittance. There is the past by their own conscience and had the appearance of philanthropy.
The children of the devil or consumer themselves are unconcerned with others. You say, what about those people who are so somewhat sacrificial and get involved in charitable work. Again, they do that for the purposes that accrue to their own glory. It's not because their hearts are genuinely broken in love for others. People in the world a lot like that. They say they're in love.
Then last very long does it say they love, but they make very little sacrifice characteristic of these people at best is indifference. They shut their heart against the one in need and then in verse 16 we know love by this that he lay down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brother.
We don't want to kill and hate and be in different we want to do the opposite will give our lives away. This is what characterizes the true child of God. Total selflessness, willingness to give up everything because this love has so permeated are being by the goodness of God. We have been delivered from our former attitude Jesus demonstrated that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus did that weird 11. The same sacrificial way were to love so that we bring life not death were loves so that we bring affection, not hatred were to love so that we meet needs sacrificially not in different contrast is stark here and unmistakable. And if you are a killer at heart and if you are in different at heart.
Your claim to know God means nothing. How does the universe.
17 the love of God abide in such a person. Well, the answer is it doesn't. And then in verse 18, there is a final statement in this status text which is an injunction to us little children, let us not love with word over time, but in deed and truth will know by this that were of the truth and assure our hearts before. Not only is your love a testimony to everybody around you that you belong to God.
It's an assuring testimony to yourself is profession is not enough. It's not enough for those around you. It's not enough for you. He says love not just in word and tongue, but in deed and truth genuine action. Love sacrificially love in the way that's been described love by giving your life away verse 16 laying down our lives. The brother love verse 17 by seeing a brother in need and opening up your heart to him.
Love verse 18, not just in what you say but in how you act isn't just words on your tongue. It's deeds that manifest the truth of that love in your heart. Then again, does John identify for us unmistakable manifest nature and character of the true Christian. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us today. John continued his series.
The New Testament beginning to end with a message titled true Christians love one another. Now, as we mentioned before the lesson. It's the faithful support of listeners like you who keep this broadcast on the air in your area and around the world to help equip God's people with verse by verse, Bible teaching, make a tax-deductible donation when you contact us today. You can mail your donation to grace to you. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 or call us at 855 grace or go to GT Y.org. Your gifts enable us to encourage believers and local churches across the globe with a verse by verse teaching of God's word again to express your support visit GT Y.org or give us a call at 855 grace and when you get in touch. Let me encourage you to pick up a copy of our flagship resource. The MacArthur study Bible. It's an all in one spiritual library that contains about 25,000 study notes written by John full introductions to each book more than 140 charts and maps, all of it crafted to help you understand and apply the life-changing truth of God's word, the MacArthur study Bible is available in the new King James new American Standard and English standard versions of Scripture to order call us at 855 grace or visit the website GT Y.org now for John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson, thanks for starting your week off with Grace to you and join us tomorrow when John shows you the trait you should be known for. If you're Christian, it's another half hour of unleashing God's truth set a time on grace to you