Love is not something Christians do, it’s evidence of who they are. John often begins his definition of what a Christian value is by defining what it is not. Our text today shows what love is by first looking at the unloving actions of Cain. Take a look at 1 John 3:11-12
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
1 John 3:11 tells us to go back to the beginning to determine where the origins of our spiritual lives came from. “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
Our ability to love other believers is a test of our position in the Lord. Love is not something Christians do; it’s evidence of who they are. A person who is spiritually alive inevitably loves with a Christ-like love. Sacrificial love is evidence of who they are as a child of God.
It goes without saying that the most unloving action imaginable is murder. Murder is certainly the most depraved level of human interactions. The text says that Cain acted murderously because he was in captivity to “the evil one.”
Have you considered that Satan (the evil one v.12) often operates at the level of a murderer? The Bible says that Satan (the evil one) hates us and wants us dead. Jesus says in John 8:44 that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” When we flirt with the things of the Devil, we flirt with a being that wants to kill us.
Imagine if your daughter was flirting with a mass murderer. It would be a nightmare. Any good father who sees his daughter flirting with a dangerous man, would go on the offensive.
Satan is no less dangerous than a mass murderer.
- When we are confronted with Satan and his worldly schemes, it’s time to go on the offensive.
- It’s time to protect yourself and your family against his murderous and destructive tactics.
That’s why the Bible tells us not to flirt with temptation but to flee temptation and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Righteousness, faith, love and peace are the opposites of hatred and murder and are the natural fruits of a person who has been “born of God” and who has a “pure heart.”
Cain is the ultimate example of a person who is without love in his heart. In Verse 12, John says that he’s “of the evil one.” In other words, he’s not a child of God, but a captive of Satan.
Consider this fact: both Cain and Abel made sacrifices to God. At first in Genesis, Cain is not presented as an atheist or as a captive “of the evil one.” Instead, Cain is presented as a person who is religious. We do not know what religious services looked like back then, but whatever they were like, Cain apparently participated in them.
Cain’s religiosity comes as a warning to us:
- Sometimes unsaved people serve in ministries.
- Sometimes they even contribute money to a church.
…But serving and giving are not proof that someone has been “born of God.” Love is the proof!. Remember what John said in 1 John 4:8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” According to our text, love is not something Christians do; it’s evidence of who they are. When it came to showing love for his brother, Cain didn’t show any evidence of being “born of God” or of knowing God.
Most conservative and reliable theologians assume that God was very clear (at some point) that He expected a blood sacrifice from both Cain and Abel to atone for their sins. Cain rejected God’s command and decided to worship in his own way. When Satan has a grip on the heart of a man, Satan often leads that man to worship in a way that is contrary to God’s clear commands.
Cain violated God’s instructions. In Genesis 4:5, it says that the Lord accepted Abel’s offering “5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.” And then God warned Cain and he literally speaks to Cain and says (vs 6), ““Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain was at a breaking point. It was like he was saying to God:
- I want to do things my way. What right do you have to tell me what to do?
- You want an animal sacrifice? Fine. Well then how about if I sacrifice my brother?! Would that be good enough for you?
There was hatred and rebellion in Cain’s heart because he was not born of God nor did he know God. Rather than turn from that sinful anger– as God instructed him to do – he decided he would be happier if he destroyed his brother. Let’s go back to 1 John 3:12-13
12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
Cain’s attitude (as it is explained in 1 John 3:13) represents the overall attitude of this dark and fallen world. The world hates Jesus and his followers as well. Jesus says in John 15:18, “18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Why does the world hate Jesus so much? I think the world hates Jesus because the light of Christ destroys darkness and reveals sin.
When I was a kid, I went over to my friend’s house across the street one day. He wanted to show me something in the neighbor’s yard. He took me over to a planter in this older woman’s front yard that was made out of cinder blocks. He lifted up a brick on top and underneath there was a nest of roaches. When the roaches were exposed to the light they scattered everywhere. Roaches are filthy creatures that operate in the dark and they hate being exposed to light.
The world hated Jesus for the same reasons that roaches hate light. When Jesus, the Light of the World, shows up, He exposes the world for what it really is. When people are exposed to Jesus, they have 1 of 3 choices to make:
- Run away from the message (and try to hide in another dark corner)
- Try to silence the messenger (like Cain did)
- Repent and Change
There are some people who hear the message of Jesus and when they see the darkness of their sin, they want to be set free from it. Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Freedom comes when we have the capacity to resist Satan and to truly love others. Love is not something Christians do; it’s evidence of who they are.
When a Christian passes from death to life, one of the proofs of his new life is that he loves other believers… the Cain-like hate is gone! The regenerative work of Christ naturally drives believers to show the love of Christ with their lives. 1 John 3:16-17 says:
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Here’s how Christ-like love often work’s itself out: Someone in the body has a need. There are 2 conditions that exist that help to determine if you or I should step up to meet that need:
- Do you know that the need exists?
- Do you have the resources to meet that need?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to both questions, then act like who you are. You put love into action because love is not something Christians do; it’s evidence of who they are.