1 John 3:1-15
John 3 1 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. 2 Dear
friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet
been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like
him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in
him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who
sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know
that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no
sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who
continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear
children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is
right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does
what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from
the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the
devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin,
because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because
they have been born of God.
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: we should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
“All you need is love” was first performed by the Beatles on “Our World” the first, global television link watched by over 400 million people in 25 countries on 25 June 1967. John Lennon was said to be fascinated by slogans, and said that this was a propaganda song because he was a revolutionary artist, dedicated to change.
Lennon, of course, was just reworking the teaching of Jesus, echoed by the apostle John.
The Right Foundations v.1-3
John began this epistle 1.1-4 by explaining to his audience why he wrote. He said he wrote so his readers would enjoy the fellowship with God that is possible only to those who have seen Him. This fellowship, he explained, rests on the reality of Jesus Christ's incarnation, and it results in transformation for those who experience it.
The first three verses re-affirm the great love of God that He has poured out upon His children, so they will know Him. This relationship promises a fantastic future which will involve believers being like Jesus. With perfect, eternal resurrection bodies.
This will inspire the believer to “purify themselves”, v.3. This is inspired and enabled by the work of God's Holy Spirit inside the believer, but this is also requires the co-operation of the believer. The disobedient “believer” can quench and frustrate the work of the Spirit.
2 Ways to Live v4-9
John is encouraging believers to true away from sin and live in and with God.
Two scenarios are outlined. The child of God. As children of God we share the same nature as our Heavenly father, who is the Holy Spirit and gives the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, gentlenesss, faithfulness and self-control. Believers whose relationship with God is close have their wills entwined with God's. So they do what God wants them to do.
John also refers to children of the devil. They follow their sinful, selfish, fallen, human nature. This means they do not do what is right, v. 10.
The reality of the Christian life is that it is a battle within the believer between the old, sinful, nature and the new being that we are through and in Jesus. The believer will sin, but that is not being true to their identity as a child of God.
Jesus compared a good prophet to a good tree; 'A good tree cannot produce bad fruit' (Mt. 7:18). Of course a good tree can produce bad fruit, but not as a result of what it really is, a good tree.
In the last verse of the preceding chapter John wrote 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. He is is saying that people's conduct shows their spiritual relationship. Bad conduct shows a relationship with the devil, good conduct flows from relationship with God the Father, through God the Son, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
John the continues by encouraging believers to love one another because of their relationship with God. This reflects Jesus command to his disciples, recorded in John 13.34 & 15.12, that they were to love one another. It also reflects Jesus' teaching in John 15 that loving God is linked to obeying His commands. In John 15 Jesus also taught that the world, representing those under the control of the devil, will hate His followers because they hated Jesus and because Jesus' followers are different. This is linked to
Love One Another v10-15
There is a church tradition, which says, that when John was an old man in Ephesus, he had to be carried to the church in the arms of his disciples. At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, "Little children, love one another!" After a time, the disciples wearied at always hearing the same words, asked, "Master, why do you always say this?" "It is the Lord's command," was his reply. "And if this alone be done, it is enough!"
In the next chapter John wrote verse 4.7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In Chapter 3 10-15 he encourages true believers to show this by loving one another, and he wrote that those who do not are like murderers. He says that loving fellow believers is a litmus test showing if our relationship with God is genuine. He refers to Cain. His offering to God was not wholehearted, whereas his brother's, Abel, was. God told Cain he had a choice, to master sin, or be mastered by it, Gen. 4.7. But Cain gave into sin and murdered his brother.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5.21ff, Jesus taught that being angry with a fellow believer is like murder. Anger can lead to literal murder. But it can also lead to the murder of someone's reputation, their self-esteem, their relationships. It can also murder the reputation of Jesus and His church.
On the road to Damascus, Acts 9.4 Jesus said to Saul, “Why do you persecute me”. Saul was persecuting the church, but Jesus identified so closely with it that what Saul was doing to the church he was doing to Jesus, too. When believers sin they can bring disgrace to the person of Jesus. They can also show that He is not truly their master.
We are to love one another. We shouldn't confuse love with feelings. The Greek word agape, used to describe God's love for us, is a perfect love that cares more about the one being loved than the one doing the loving. It is supremely shown on the cross. Jesus said John 15.12 My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
This is the type of love we are to show one another. We will not be able to do this all the time. But our lives should be a continuing and increasing cycle of repentance and love for God and others. 1 John 3.14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
As children of God let us be thankful that He has poured His love into our lives. Let us draw on that source of divine love, and show we are His by loving one another.