1 John 3:11-24
Passed From Death Unto Life
God wants us to consider Cain, one of the sons of Adam and Eve. Abel was a believer, and Cain was an unbeliever. Cain was a child of the devil. He was the founder of the first false religion—a religion works. The Bible says very clearly that the reason he rose up and killed his own brother was because his brother’s works were righteous.
Notice the word God uses in the very next verse. He says, “Marvel not.” Do not let this astonish you! Just as Cain hated Abel and rose up and murdered him, marvel not if the world hates you. Your righteous living exposes their evil deeds. There is conflict between these two families, and this conflict is severe. It is the conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness.
God’s Word says in 1 John 3:13-14, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you…We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” In other words, if you do not have this love, God says the evidence shows that you are still dead. You will one day stop breathing and die physically; but you are already dead spiritually, and you are going to hell in your trespasses and sins.
Many who profess to be Christians have such rebellion in their heart. They provide no real evidence of the Christian life. The Bible says in 1 John 3:15, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” This is clear teaching in God’s Word.
The Perfect Example
The Bible says in 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” God says that this passage from death unto life is proven by our love to others. We find an example of this in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the perfect example. The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. There is no doubt in our minds that the Lord Jesus died for us, but God says that we should give our lives for others.
I am motivated to do anything in this world for certain people because they have poured out their love to me; my love is a “return” kind of love. The love of Jesus Christ is not that kind of love. Christ loved us when we are unlovely and unloving. The reason we love Him is because He first loved us. The Bible says in Romans 5:1-8, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God…And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience…And patience, experience; and experience, hope…And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us…For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die…But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Christ is the perfect example. How do we prove that we have passed from death unto life? We demonstrate our new life in Christ as His love is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 5:5). There are many words used in the New Testament for love, but it is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts for people that is so desperately needed. How is this evidenced?
Note the example in 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Imagine that a young woman marries a man who is very career-conscious. She makes man sacrifices so that he can prepare himself with the right education, gain a professional foothold, and achieve notoriety while she does the most menial things to support him. Then when he arrives at his social standing, he trades her in for someone that suits him better. All he wanted was what the could get out of her.
Is there any sickening resemblance between that illustration and the way many people who say they are Christians that the Lord Jesus? Some only want to use God for anything and everything to gain their illustrious footholds. Those people have no true love relationship with Jesus Christ.
The example of the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to love others, help others, make their lives better, and desire the best for them. The Lord says here in 1 John 3:17, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
Many times we have what others need and we foolishly pray for the need to be met. God has blessed us with the means to help, yet we pray for someone to help when God has put in our power to do the helping. 1 John 3:18 says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” This is the way love is proven—by our deeds. The Lord Jesus proved that He loves in deeds. He is the perfect example.
If I am going to help my brother, I must meet three conditions. First, I must have the means necessary to meet his need. Second, I must know that the need exists. Third, I must be loving enough to want to share.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” — John 15:13.