Monday, September 3, 2012
1st John Chapter 3 Part 8
3:10-12 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
Returning to verse 7 we find John revealing a pattern of contrasts that he is following through into our present passage. In verse 7 he states that the one who professes Christ is righteous only if he practices said righteousness. Those who live in a lifestyle of sin but profess godliness (verse 8) are actually of the Devil, the opponent of Christ that Jesus manifested to destroy the very works of.And though John affirms in verse 9 that true Christians who have placed their faith in Jesus for eternal life cannot be lost, he returns to his point that in this life God’s children are manifested in two ways. One, they practice righteousness (in that they hear and obey Christ’s commands, James 1:22) and two, they love their Christian brothers.
Those who fail these two tests consistently the apostle testifies are not God’s children but are actually of the Devil; in fact John refers to them as children of the Devil. Jesus uses the same scathing language in reference to the rebellious Jews that rejected His testimony and refused to listen to His words, John 8:43-44. Satan’s pride never permitted him to apparently heed God; instead he wanted to oppose his Creator and has since the beginning of the creation, John 8:44. Remember that John wrote this epistle in part to warn his spiritual children about “those who try to deceive you,” 1st John 2:26. False teachers were invading the church ever since Paul’s day thirty years prior. Paul, Peter and Jude all wrote regarding such men; that they would lure people away from Christ and to themselves, Acts 20:30. Jesus would later use the term “Nicolaitans” in the Revelation, which means “overcomers of the people” to describe the men and women who masquerade as Christians to create a following of their own.
The message that we heard from the beginning refers to Christ’s ministry and command to His disciples shortly before His arrest and execution, John 13:34-35. Jesus defined such love, Christian love, as a servant spirit. Jesus our Lord girded Himself with a towel and served His own apostles. The concept was that Christians ought to be willing to become servants to other saints; we place ourselves in the role of the inferior one, and the one needing ministry is put in the role of the superior. We are to get our hands dirty; we are to act in love; we are to sacrifice for the sake of our brethren. John says that these two things, practicing righteousness or keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27) and loving one’s Christian brother with a perpetual servant mentality would evidence the Christian life. A lack of it would evidence a tare whose fate would be to suffer eternal separation from God in the place assigned hypocrites, Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46.
Here we come to the mention of Cain. Cain, in the New Testament, is not looked well on. John refers to him as a child of the wicked one, Satan. Jude testifies that false teachers who have not the Spirit and revile anything they do not understand are like Cain. And like Cain, they shall suffer his fate, Jude 1:11. John testifies that Cain’s works were wicked. I don’t believe the apostle is presently referring to his murder of Abel by mentioning Cain’s wicked works; I think that he means the offering of the fruit of the earth that Cain brought God when Abel brought the first of his flock and the fat thereof, Genesis 4:3-5. It is written that Cain killed Abel BECAUSE his works were wicked and Abel’s righteous. The writer of Hebrews informs us that “by faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts,” Hebrews 11:4. To quell the witness of Abel’s faithful obedience which cast Cain in a bad light, Cain murdered his brother.
In fact this tale of the two brothers is an excellent contrast of everything John is attempting to impress on us. One brother by faith obeyed the command given and was accepted for his faith driven works; the other was rejected by God because he rejected God’s will and brought what he was not commanded to bring. In other words, Cain wanted God to conform to his belief as to what is acceptable when God gave him a clear revelation of His own divine will. Cain wanted to approach God as he deemed fit; not as God ordained necessary. His works were wicked and his offering wicked because it was spawned by a rebellious heart who felt that sacrifice outstripped faithful obedience, 1st Samuel 15:22-23. Solomon writes, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with wicked intent!” Proverbs 21:27.