Are You Cain-Like or Christ-Like? (1 John 3:11-18)
Are You Cain-Like or Christ-Like?
I The Timeless Message (verse 11)
The message of the gospel and the commandment to love one another is a timeless message. Obedience to the command to love flows out of our understanding of the gospel. On the one hand, if the gospel is underemphasized or ceases to remain central to our own lives, we will lack both the power and the motivation to love each other truly. On the other hand, if we do not emphasize the commandment to love one another, our profession of the gospel will prove to be an ineffective and fruitless knowledge.
II. Negative Example: Cain (verses 12-15)
Cain is a negative example—an example of what it looks like not to love. It’s given to us in this passage so that we might know what not to emulate. Cain did not love his brother Abel, and so he slew him. This is the description John gives us of one who hates his brother: he is a murderer. And one who hates his brother is one who abides in death. It might be that you don’t feel blatant hostility toward another Christian, but if John makes clear that if you do not love him or her, both in word and deed, then it is equal to hating.
III. The Positive Example: Jesus (verse 16a)
Love is giving up one’s own interest to help someone else. The supreme example we have of love is Jesus’ own willingness to die for us.
His death for us was a willing sacrifice. He calls Himself the good Shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep (John 10:11). He says that the Father loves Him because He lays down His own life. No one took His life from Him, but He freely laid it down on His own initiative (John 10:17-18).
His death for us was a substitutionary sacrifice. It was given as a penal substitute, canceling the guilt of our sin and making full atonement for us (1 John 4:10). As Peter puts it, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
His death was also an exemplary sacrifice. It is the greatest example of love. Life is our most precious possession, and yet Jesus shows us what it looks like to lay it down for the sake of others: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). We are called to imitate His example of selfless love.
IV. John’s Application (verses 16b-18)
Love in the body of Christ—specifically, in this local body if you are a member of Christ Church-Radford—is a willingness to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. We should give up what we want, rearrange our schedule, and sacrifice our time to selflessly serve others and love one another.
- In what ways has Christ loved you? Do you put proper emphasis both on the message of the gospel as well as the command to love in response to the gospel?
- In what ways are you seeking to imitate Christ’s example of love by loving and serving Christ Church-Radford this week?