The Mark of the World vs. The Mark of the Church

1 John 3:11-18

Set the stage for this text in verse 10b: here’s what is made plain – “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” Being familiar with John’s writing style, would expect a contrast, something positive to follow the negative. Exactly what he does. In fact he uses it as a litmus test. Remember litmus paper from school days – turned red in presence of acid, blue in presence of base. Litmus test here for Christian – love one another, love the brothers.

Negative given by John – mark of the world; positive – mark of the church. Marks are worn by those who belong to the world, who belong to the church. John holds up two portraits – one of Cain and one of Christ – model of one wearing mark of world, other mark of church. John was intimately acquainted with one portrait: studied at length, in person, for 3 years. In fact, probably what he saw in portrait of Christ transformed from one of “Sons of Thunder” to “apostle of love”.

Theme repeated over and over in John’s epistles – love one another, just as Jesus repeated during last night together. Both Jesus and John understood human nature, both were directed by Holy Spirit. If they thought there was need for repetition, must be that we need to hear it more than once. A principle that’s hard for us to master, to get right and keep right, in both our thinking and doing. John declares again it’s not a new announcement; they know it well enough, like many of us and hymns, hear the first 2 or 3 notes and you can finish it. We should love one another. Ok, sounds simple, what’s the big deal??

Here it is: separates sheep from goats; true Christians from everyone else; those who have saving faith from those who don’t. Part 2: here’s the standard and the sorts of times when you get to exercise it.

A. The mark of the world is hatred.

1. Hatred is typified in Adam’s firstborn, Cain (12)

typify – be a representative example of

2nd generation of mankind – sin, rebellion against God, taken to it’s logical conclusion: destroying one who faithfully bears image of God

follow the logic here, John’s answer to question why?

Cain’s works were evil, Abel’s works were righteous

Cain’s problem was with far more than God’s reaction to sacrifice – he knew standard just as well as Cain

everything Abel did by faith showed up Cain for who he was – stranger to God

rather than repent when challenged by God, Cain brooded, purposed to continue in rebellion

2. Hatred originates with the devil (12, 15)

see John 8:44 – described by Jesus as murderer from the beginning, by John in v.8 as sinning from the beginning

Satan’s undying object from beginning – to usurp the throne; requires taking on God

hasn’t ruled out possibility of success

hatred is result of seeing self as rightful owner of what someone else has – universal rule

Cain, willing agent of Satan, took out hatred on nearest object, little brother

made especially easy by Abel’s resemblance to Cain’s true enemy

3. Hatred divides people and may result in the taking of life (12-13, 15)

hatred is experienced inwardly first, then expressed outwardly

many things – personality, needs, circumstances, etc. – suppress outward expression

at some level, comes between people, regardless of relationship

when allowed free reign, can result in actual murder

all that is required: time and feeding and opportunity

why Jesus said: “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” see Matt. 5:21-25

when hatred toward believers is expressed: should not be surprised

world does not hate believers because they are good, do good

world hates believers because light of Christ shining in / through them shows up the darkness in unbelievers

4. Hatred is motivated by personal sin (12)

was darkness of sin that motivated Cain

Abel offered right sacrifice and God honored it; Cain did not, God did not honor it

whether right sacrifice or not, Bible doesn’t say

does say Abel offered firstborn in faith; makes no such claim for Cain

God confronted Cain – warned that “sin crouches at the door, you must subdue it”

rather than heed warning and repent, Cain carried out murderous plan

murder may have been up near top of sin list by magnitude, far from first in sequence

every indication from story that Abel’s murder simply continued sinful progression already present in Cain’s life

5. Hatred is the evidence of spiritual death (14, 15)

one who does not love, who hates Christians has no spiritual life

no room here for neutral position – don’t love ’em, don’t hate ’em either

John makes clear it is either one or the other

if either love is absent or hatred is present – no eternal life

in fact, never had it – “ The one who does not love remains in death.” NET

If you profess Christianity and: hatred for God’s children is present, love for others is absent from your life – John says your profession has no foundation in reality, you don’t have necessary evidence to back it up. So what evidence must be there? #1 thing,

B. The mark of the church is love.

1. Love is typified in God’s firstborn, Christ (16)

greatest expression of love: that someone lays down his life for his friends. John 15:13

according to Jesus – can’t top that one; has greater weight – spoken less than 24 hours before he did exactly that

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…John 3:16

…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.Gal. 2:20

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Rom. 5:8

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.Eph. 5:25

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.1 John 4:10

2. Love originates with God.

God is love, love is from God, we love because he loved us; see 1 John 4:7-8, 19

only way we know it – God showed us

only way we experience true love – God sends it to us

only way we can show it – God equips us

3. Love unites people and results in laying down our lives for others (16-17)

self-sacrificing love makes for strong and close bonds

buddies, displaying great acts of courage under fire, bonds last long after war ends

same is true in Christian life – displaying great acts of love under cultural fire, bonds last into next life

the kind of love that results from following Jesus instruction for followers: deny self,… see Mark 8:34-35

may not require ultimate physical sacrifice – giving up physical life for another

often requires giving up life plans, life prioirities to put others’ needs first

putting our idea of life on hold to do for others

often requires re-evaluation of needs

how much do we need, what things do we need, what about lifestyle/standard of living are essential

what can/should we redirect of our resources to meet needs of others – see James 2:15-16

true love’s first impulse is to give; duh, remember who we learned love from and how??

so,… if we have, and a brother needs, then…

goes without saying, must be right kind of help, even for a brother

4. Love is motivated by God’s love in Christ. (16)

was God’s love for us that sent Jesus to the cross; even before creation, God loved us in Christ (Eph. 1:4)

was God’s love for Jesus that he intended might in-fill us – see John 17:26

experiencing Father-love of God knowing we don’t deserve it motivates us to love others

adequate understanding of sin (last week) means we understand greatness of the Cross

God – Father and Son – accomplished redemption at the Cross because of love for us

we comprehend and experience that love by our union with Christ

5. Love in action is the evidence of spiritual life (14, 18)

crossed over from death to life – here’s how it is evident – love the brethren

the challenge – not to get complacent

Tammy S – gotta have blinders on not to see people with needs

opportunities to show love all over the place; our job to see and respond

C. Whose mark??

so what’s the verdict? do you pass the test? are you wearing mark of the world or mark of the church?

is love for brethren obvious or does it need stoking up?

or is true love for Christian brothers and sisters not ever been part of your life?

repent, turn to Christ in faith, receive gift of God’s love, start spreading it around


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