Let’s continue our journey through the third chapter of 1 John.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
Again John here is not talking about single acts of righteousness and in the next verse single acts of sin. It is about what our life is marked by. If we practice righteousness, if that is what our life is about, then we are righteous. Now let’s define a little further what John is actually talking about when he says righteousness. We live in a culture that is all about promoting self righteousness, that is not what John is talking about here. Here is what God says through the prophet Isaiah concerning our righteous acts. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags; Isaiah 64: 6a. If we want to try to compare ourselves amongst ourselves some may be able to claim some righteous acts. But God’s measuring stick is not those around us but Him Himself. When we compare ourselves to God’s righteousness there is no comparison, indeed those acts appear as filthy rags. But that is okay, because God imputes His righteousness on our accounts. Because of this relationship we have with Jesus and His righteousness on our behalf we have what we need to live a righteous life, we have His spirit dwelling inside of us.
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
Again we do all sin, John is talking about a lifestyle of sin here. We can be victorious over sin in our lives, and in fact we are called to live victorious lives. The one who sins, and sins habitually is not had by God, but by the devil. If you are sitting there reading this today thinking I love God I know His word, I want to live for Him, but I just cannot seems to stop this one sin, I get it, but the devil has you. I know because I lived it. I grow up in the church and had much of scripture memorized and could pull them out in times of trouble, but I still had this deep hidden sin, a sin I could not seem to get on top of. A big part of that was because I was so ashamed of my sin that I would not let people in, and it was one of those sins that I could keep hidden. So I did. I thought it was what was best at the time, but God cannot heal something that you do not bring before Him. and often He will ask you to let other safe people in who will hold you accountable and love you with the love of Christ. A big part of the issue was my pride as well. I would save face, so to speak, in front of people, but I would not truly heed the advice of the godly counsel I was receiving. When we truly encounter God, and see Him for who He truly is, He comes in and takes up residency and when we go in the way of sin it does not settle with us like it once did. Things we were comfortable with before we suddenly cannot do. This is a good thing. Do not block this uncomfortability, but allow it to change your actions. This is the working of the Holy Spirit in your life directing your steps towards righteousness.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
John reiterates the things that he just told us and brings a new depth to what He is saying as well. Our lives should be marked by both righteousness and the love we have for one another. Have you ever heard the old hymn “They’ll know we are Christians by our love?” It is so true and is scripture. It is found in John 13:35. If the love of God is in us it should overflow out to others. Our lives should be marked by the love we show one another. If we are not loving our brother that means we are harboring bitterness and ill will (hatred) towards others. We could end up like Cain, who murdered his brother Abel out of envy. Abel came to God on God’s terms and his sacrifice was righteous and accepted by God. Cain came to God with his personal best and presented himself before God and was not accepted because it was his self-righteousness that was presented. This angered Cain to the point where he went out and killed his own brother. Guys are lives need to be marked by the love that we have for each other. We uplift and encourage and point each other towards Christ. We have a choice to make. I know I am not perfect in my choosing of love every time, but I am setting my mind to choose love. We are in control over what comes out of our mouths. I want to have love and encouragement be what overflows from me.
13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
If the world does hate us that is a sign that we are doing things right. Being hated and despised by the world can be a hard pill to swallow. The thing that I ask myself is do I want to be accepted by the world or accepted by God. As hard as it is to by rejected by the world how much harder would it be to be rejected by God. I definitely want to be accepted by God. It really does come down to that. I may sound like I am being extreme but scripture says friendship with the world is enmity with God. It can be hard to accept that but it is a truth, we need to find our acceptance in God alone and not the world or those around us.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
We were dead in our trespasses and anger. We know that we have life with Christ. The way life in Christ is shown in our lives is through the love that we have for our brothers. Love is so important and John really drives home the point of having love and the love of Christ.
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
This is such a beautiful exchange. His death for our life. None of us were deserving of it, but He choose to die for our gain. Christ gave us the perfect example of what love is to look like. The truth is to love like Christ did is a costly love. Often we will be called to love those who are not capable of loving us back. The good news is we get our fill from God. The other thing is He loves us enough to shower us with love in many ways, especially as we are pouring out. He will use others to show us love, it may not always come from those we are pouring into, but we will be filled. We need to love like Christ did, not just the people that it is easy for us to love. Do you have a sandpaper kind of person in your life? Praise God! Show them the love of Christ even when it is hard. This person will be the very person God uses to grow you, allow Him to do that work in your heart and life.
17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
We need to practically love those around us. If we have what people are needing and we have it in abundance but are not willing to share how is that showing the love of Christ to those around us.And what is it that people need the most of all but to know that love their Savior has for them. As well as the basic essentials of life, food, water, clothing, and shelter. We live in a very blessed country where we do have more than what we need. We should be willing to share with those in need. If the love of God is abiding in us we should be practically showing that to those around us.
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
We want to be loving in action as well as with what we are saying. If we talk a good game of love and our speech is all about love, but we are not showing love to others they are going to believe us? We need to have our actions match our words. The old saying talk is cheap is so true. We could say many things, but our actions carry the weight of what we say.
19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.
We know we are in the truth when love is what is evident in our lives. Listen, our hearts try to condemn us everyday. Our feelings come up and tell us big lies often. We need to be women who are governed by the word of God and not by our feelings. The good news is God is greater than our hearts. We can choose to live lives that are in submission to Him and then our hearts will be subjected to Him. They will still try to speak up and condemn, but God will tell us something different. It is up to us who we want to believe. Whose voice are you listening to today?
22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
When we ask of Jesus with pure hearts He loves to give. We need to remember that He is our good good Father. That he knows how to give good gifts to His children and delights in doing so. He does this because we keep His commandments. And really His commandments are so simple and John breaks it down for us so well. First we need to Believe on Jesus, believe He died and rose again for us, that His death in the cross paid for all sins, past, present and future. And second, understanding His great love for us, we need to love those that God has placed in our lives with a biblical love. Biblical love is different then the world’s idea of loving everyone. The world says we just accept everyone and let them live however they want. Biblical love holds believers to a standard. Biblical love does cover sins. But Matthew 18 tells us to go to a sinning brother and tell them their sins in a hope to bring them back, told truthfully but with love and grace in the approach. And it goes on from there. My point is just that what the world calls love and what is truly love according to the Bible does not always line up and we need to choose the way of the Bible every time. The way we Biblically cover sins is by not gossiping and spreading someone else’s business and wrong doings around. We still go to that person and lovingly show them their fault. If they hear us great, we have won our brother back. If they do not hear and the sin continues we are then to go with someone else who is a first hand witness to the sin and lovingly go to them. If that still does not work you go get church leadership involved. We should only bring the sin of someone else to two maybe three people and that should only be to people who are going to be part of the help in going to that person Biblically and helping them see their faults.
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
God gives us His spirit to reside inside of us and He shows us how to live and love. He shows us with gentle pulls and pokes of direction within our spirit that we can choose to listen to or deny. We need to hold fast to what the Word of God says. Especially in a world that lives so contrary to sound teaching and who is so sly, cunning, and even convincing in its lies. If we don’t study His Word and stand steadfast by what we learn in it we could easily be deceived and led astray. I don’t want to be one of those who are led astray. I want to be the one on the sidelines pulling people back from the pit and setting their feet in the right direction. I desire to live for God and honor Him with my life.