Monday, January 26, 2009
Love or Die
Please read I John 3:11-24. In this Epistle John keeps returning to the topics of love, obedience and truth. However each time he looks at these topics from a different point of view. In the fellowship section we are told that loving the brethren is a matter of light and darkness. If we do not love one another we cannot walk in the light, no matter how loud our profession might be. In the above section when it comes to the matter of love, there are four possible levels of relationship on which a person may live. I. The level of murder. This is the lowest level on which one may live. The devil was a murder from the beginning of his fallen career. Christians have heard from the beginning that they are to love one another. John emphasizes origins. Cain is an example of hatred. The real test is love for the brethren and here Cain failed. The difference between Cain's offering and Abel's was faith. Cain clearly rejected God's Word. God accepted Abel's offering. Rather than repent, Cain decided to destroy his brother. Centuries later, the Pharisees did the same thing to Jesus Christ. A hunter took refuge in a cave during a rainstorm. He was quite snug in the darkness. In time he found a flashlight in his gear and turned it on. to his horror he found the cave was filled with lizards and poisonous snakes. Darkness keeps the unsaved from seeing what is really going on in their lives and in the world around them. Murder is living on the lowest level of hatred and lies, surrounded by that old serpent Satan and all his demonic armies. II. Hatred. At this point you might be thinking "But I have never murdered anyone!" Jesus said hatred is the same as murder. The difference between level 1 and 2 is the outward act of taking life. The inward intent is the same. A visitor at the zoo was in the lion house. He said "They just look like big kittens." The zoo keeper answered "But, unlike the kittens, there is murder in their hearts." The question is not so much what did you do? The real question is what did you want to do? In God's sight hatred is the moral equivalent of murder. Of course your neighbor would rather you hate him than murder him. A murderer can become a Christian, but as a Christian he will not continue to murder. The Apostle Paul is an example of this truth. Hate is the normal experience of the unsaved. when the hateful heart opens to Jesus it becomes a loving heart. Evangelist John Wesley was robbed at gunpoint, Wesley shouted as the robber was leaving "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin." Months later, after Wesley preached a message in a town square, the same man came up to Wesley to confess that he had received Christ. He said "I would not get that scripture verse out of my mind." III. Indifference. Here is the real test of Christian love. Love is not simply failure to do evil to others. Love also involves doing good. Jesus did not simply talk about His love, He died to prove it. Self-preservation is the first law of physical life. There is self-sacrifice, this is the first law of spiritual life (I John 3:16). John simply asks us to help a brother in need. In these days of multiplied social agencies, it is easy for Christians to forget their obligations. For example an overwhelmed young mother who has trouble making time for devotions. Baby sitting for an hour may be of great help. In time the young mother could develop her devotional life so with the Lord's strength she would be able to handle life much better. IV. Christian love. John names three wonderful blessings that will come to the believer who practices Christian love. 1. Assurance. The Believers relationship with others affects his relationship with God. A condemning heart is one that robs a believer of peace. No Christian should treat sin lightly, but no Christian should be harder on himself than God is. Take for example Mary and Martha. Martha criticized both Mary and Jesus. But Jesus knew Mary's heart. 2. Answered prayer. A believer's relationship to the brethren cannot be divorced from his prayer life. A Christian who lives to please God will discover that God finds ways to please His child. "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your Heart" (Ps. 37:4). 3. Abiding-depends on our obeying God's Word and keeping our lives clean. The vine and the branches teaches us about producing fruit or the branch's (us) withers and dies. There are four levels on which a person may live. 1. Satanic level-practicing murder. 2. The hatred level, on this level a man is slowly killing himself. 3. The level of indifference-this is a believer living for self. 4. Christian love, this is a life of joy and liberty, a life of answered prayer. Dr. Spiz from New Your studied neglected children. He said some were slow in development, some died. It is even more so in the spiritual sense. In fact it is a matter of love or death. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church ministry.