1 John 3
While I study out of the ESV most of the time the first verse of this chapter bears quoting from the NIV.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1
I love the way this verse is quoted in the NIV because of the excitement of it. You can’t use the word lavished without thinking of something being poured out all over the place. The Father has lavished us with love, and then there is actually an exclamation point at the end of the sentence to emphasize it even more. The Father did not pour out His love on us because of anything we do or have done. He pours it out on us and calls us His children because that is what we are! All we have to do is to accept this love! Then the next sentence of this verse explains all of the ridicule and persecution we ever receive because of our christianity. “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” We get so upset at being misunderstood by the world sometime and yet it’s not us that is misunderstood as much as it is God. The reason the world thinks that what we believe is foolishness is because the world does not know God. Nor can it understand the love of God.
John goes on to explain that those who are God’s children will practice righteousness and those who are not will practice sinning. This is not to say that we will ever be perfect and not sin, only that those who practice sinning, living in a lifestyle of sin, are those who do not know Him and are not His children.
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:7-8
John breaks it down very simply here. If you are a child of God and if you abide in Him you will practice righteousness. Make no mistake, God will never leave His children alone in sin. That is not to say that children of God will never sin. That is impossible because we are all human. However, if you are a child of God and you are trying to live a lifestyle of sin, God will not allow you to continue in it. I believe He will provide you a way out at first and then if you do not grasp that way out, He will throw obstacles in your path to that sin.
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9
God will not allow His children to remain in a lifestyle of sin. They will not prosper in sin and they will not be blessed in sin. John takes this a step further, however. Our christian life is not just what we are kept from and staying out of a lifestyle of sin. But it is also about what we do!
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 3:11
John goes on to give us the example of Cain, who murdered his brother all because his brother was trying to live his life rightly. Cain murdered Abel because Cain’s deeds were evil while Abel’s were righteous. But John is also explaining that we do not have to carry out the act of murder to be murdering in our heart.
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15
Now I know that not everyone is lovable and yes, there have been a few people who have had actions against me and my people that I have had to pray really really hard about the feelings in my heart. But the truth of the matter is, there is never any room for hate in the christian heart. Friends if you have someone that when you hear their name or you look at them you feel something bubbling up in you that could be hate, you have to pray against that.
“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 good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:16-17
We can love because of what Jesus did on the cross and the fact that he laid down his life for us. We can lay down our lives for others because of what Jesus did for us. God’s love must abide in us, and through God’s love we can love our brothers.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;” 1 John 3:18-19
We can’t be all talk and no action and truly be abiding in His love. If we abide in Him and in His love we will show it by the truth that is within us. You see this is the thing, if we say we are abiding in Him, we have no choice but to love.
“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” 1 John 3:23-24
If we are abiding in God, and we believe in Jesus we will love one another. Yes, even those people that are harder to love. And we will know that we abide in Him by the Spirit that lives in us as well.