Read 1 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.
More on Love and Hatred
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.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Chapter 3 begins by reminding us who our identity in Christ is: We are beloved and called God’s children. Jesus died on the cross for us so we no longer have to live in sin and shame; we are free to live out our purpose without the burdens of our mistakes. This basic truth is essential to us understanding the true meaning and intention for the rest of this chapter.
In a world where we are surrounded by cultural Christianity, we can easily lose sight of the power of our faith. Luke 11:28 (ESV) says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” There is power in the simple act of believing God’s Word. When we surrender our lives to Him, He transforms us and gives us strength that is unimaginable. But our actions need to follow our belief.
We are warned not to be deceived by the world and remember that it’s our actions, not our intentions, that display our faith. If we are truly inviting God to work in us and through us, we will begin to look more like Him and less like the world. The message is clear, but it is not meant to make us feel guilty. Rather, its intention is conviction. Sometimes it’s necessary for us to be called out on our prejudices against brothers and sisters in the faith to help remind us of God’s purpose for us.
Verse 11 reminds us we are to love others with our actions. Verse 15 tells us hating others is the same as killing them. It seems like Scripture goes from zero to one hundred really fast. But when we are focused on ourselves, it is impossible to focus on others. This selfishness leads to suffering, not only for others, but also ourselves. It takes humility to be reminded that we are all sinners, no sin is greater or less than another, and it’s here that we turn to God. Rather than harming or hating others out of our own selfishness, we are called to lay down our lives for others. Jesus already set this example of sacrificial love before us, and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live this out.
It’s up to us whether or not we will answer the call to love. Because of Christ’s sacrificial love, we can be confident in our eternity and empowered to live out our faith through our actions. Let’s be faithful to obey, and love others well.
- Consider that we are God’s children. How does this change your perspective on the message of this chapter?
- Would the people closest to you say that you are following God with your whole heart? Are you living in order to please people, or are you actively, sacrificially loving them?
- What do you need to surrender to God today? How are these hindrances keeping you from following God and loving others?
“A really humble man…will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
– Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life