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THE BENEFITS OF BIBLICAL LOVE

1 John
3:18-24

 Introduction:    In this section of (1 Jn. Ch 3) John has been speaking of the loving hearts of Christians. In (Ch 2) we’re told that loving the brethren is a matter of light and darkness, for if we do not love one another we cannot walk in the light no matter how loud our profession. But here in (Ch 3) we’re told that loving the brethren is a matter of life and death for John says, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (v.14). One of the marks of the early church was the love that was seen and shared among believers. The Lord Jesus often spoke of the love that is to be seen and shared among believers. He said “this is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12). Again He said, “by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13:35). The Epistles stressed the same truth, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Rom.13:8). And again to the believers in Thessalonica he said, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another (4:9). Christian love means that we treat each other the way God treats us. “But does it not cost a great deal for the believer to exercise this kind of love?” Yes, it does. But the wonderful benefits that come to you as byproducts of this love more than compensate for any sacrifice you make. To be sure, you do not love others because you want to get something in return. The Biblical principle “give and it shall be given unto you,” (Lk 6:38) applies to love as well as to money.

 

I.          LOVE AFFECTS US PERSONALLY (VV.19-20)

For it brings to our hearts the assurance of salvation. It makes a world of difference in your life and mine if we know with assurance, the one in whom we have believed. Assurance of salvation is a tremendous bonus for the believer. In (v.21) John says, “Beloved if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (4:17). Do you see how this section opens? “hereby we know we are of the truth” (v.19). How do we know? The previous verses explain to us that one of the tests is the test of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. This speaks here of,

 

A.        A Confirming Heart (v.19)

The Lord has various ways of giving us assurance of salvation. Generally speaking that assurance is founded on the Word of God, the Work of Christ, and the Witness of the Spirit. Here, is added the assurance that comes from translating our affirmations into positive action.

  •          My good works are not the ground of conversion, but they are the result of it.

They help confirm that our faith is not in vain. Do you see that word “assure,”? It means to “persuade, soothe, tranquillise.” This describes the condition of heart that God intends every Christian to have. It is not good for believers to go through life never sure of where they really stand with God, never sure about their relationship to Him. Do you have an assured heart? Is your heart pacified, tranquil in the presence of the Lord? Or do you lack assurance? Is there antagonism instead of affection? Is there bitterness instead of benevolence? Is there hatred instead of harmony? God wants to eliminate all nagging doubts from our hearts and minds! He wants to remove any trace of uncertainty regarding the reality of our faith in Christ! So he shows us that

  1.          Christian love and Christian assurance are really two sides of the same coin.

For love gives assurance. But John not only talks about, (a) he talks about,

 

B.         The Condemning Heart (v.20)

When a believer sins, his heart condemns him, he is bothered by what he has done. There is that on the inside that says we have done wrong. The word “condemn,” = to blame or find fault with. A Christian, who is living close to the Lord and walking with the Lord, will have a sensitive heart to sin. The Holy Spirit informs you that you are not right with God or not right with your brother.

  •          If you are a true Christian you cannot habitually sin and be happy and content.

At this moment you either have a confirming heart or you have a condemning heart. The problem is that sometimes we are harder on ourselves than God is. (Illus: Fact, Faith, and Feeling were walking along a wall in that order. Fact was first, Faith was walking behind Fact, and finally Feeling came along last. Everything went fine until Faith looked to see where Feeling was. Each time Faith did this, he fell off the wall. But as long as Faith kept his eyes on Fact he did fine. The moral of the story is we need to keep our eyes on Fact and let Feeling take care of itself). Feelings are fickle, they are not reliable, and they can lead astray. So when our feelings condemn us, then we need to tell them to sit down and shut up. Sometimes the most difficult people to be forgiven are ourselves. More than one Christian has been harder on himself than necessary, but God will never make a mistake. Do you see how John puts it?

  •          “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

Do you remember Mary? (Lk 10:38-42). Martha was busy preparing the meal, but Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” Do you remember Peter? How he wept bitterly after he had denied his Lord! No doubt he was filled with remorse and repentance for his sin. But Christ knew that Peter had repented and after His resurrection the Lord sent a special message to Peter (Mk 16:7). That must have assured the hot headed fisherman that he was forgiven. Peter’s heart may have condemned him, but God was greater than his heart. Jesus, knowing all things, gave Peter just the assurance he needed. Have you given the devil an opportunity to accuse you; to rob of your confidence?

 

II.         LOVE AFFECTS US PRAYERFULLY (VV.21-22)

When you pray, do you feel like you are talking to a wall? Could it be because you fail to love biblically? You see, the second benefit of love is answered prayer! For prayer is related,

 

A.        To Loving Continually (v.21)

Love for the brethren produces confidence toward God, and confidence toward God gives you boldness in asking what you need. This does not mean that you earn answers to prayer by loving the brethren. Rather, it means that your love for the brethren proves that you are living in the will of God where God can answer prayer.

  •          Love is the fulfilling of God’s law (Rom 13:8-10)

Therefore when you love the brethren, you are obeying our Lord’s commandments and He is able to answer your prayers. In light of our mission, let me ask, are you on praying ground? You say, Are you in a right relationship with your brother, sister, wife? You see, wrong relationships hinder our prayers. Do you recall what Peter says? “Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them, according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet 4:3:7). Are you praying for your son, daughter, wife, husband, relative, with little answer? Is your pride taking precedence over your situation?

 

B.         To Longing Earnestly (v.22a)

What a definition of prayer. Prayer is going to God and asking for definite things. Do you know the reason why we do not get more answers from God in prayer? It’s because we are not definite enough in our prayers! James says “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” Here is a God who can do anything but fail. Here is a God who never disappoints us. Here is a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Here is a God whose resources are unfathomable. Here is a God whose reservoir is never in danger of drying up. Here is a God who desperately wants to help us. Here is a God who passionately longs to intervene on our behalf. Here is a God that loves to come alongside us and show us the way. Here is a God who finds endless delight in answering the prayers of His children!

 

C.         To Living Obediently (v.22b)

This is the key to answered prayer. Obedience, and what is the secret of obedience? Love! For Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). The only way you can have confidence in your prayer; the only way you can go boldly to the throne of grace is to be right with God and your brother in Christ. You see, God has so engineered you, that if you are not right with your brother, you cannot be right with Him. If you do not love your brother in Christ, you might as well forget about prayer. For love affects us (1) (2)

 

III.       LOVE AFFECTS US POWERFULLY (VV.23-24)

This is the third benefit of Biblical love. The abiding presence and empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit of God. Power! We hardly know what it these days! Leonard Ravenhill says, “the tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpit giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.” So little unction in the pulpit and so little action in the pew. Yet John tells us that one of the blessings of love is power and productivity! Power, if we,

 

A.        Adhere To The Lord’s Precepts (v.23)

Faith and love are like Siamese twins. The Greek verb for “believe,” indicates a definite action at a specific point in time. It is something that has already happened. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, when it is done, it is done. It cannot be repeated. Incidentally, have you believed on the name of God’s son, Jesus Christ? There’s salvation in that name (Acts 4:12). However, the word, “love,” appears in the present continuous tense, and it conveys the idea of something which is ongoing. It just keeps on flowing from us to others around us. We become conduits for blessing others! Does that describe you? Is your life a channel of blessing? You say, “I need power in my life,” well, (a) and then,

 

B.         Abide In The Lord’s Presence (v.24)

The Bible says we abide in Him (2 Cor. 5:17) and He abides in us (Col 1:27). He comes to live within us. The Lord says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Do you recall those two despondent disciples on the road to Emmaus? (Lk 24:15). When it was about the time for the sun to go down, they came to their home and they said to the Risen Lord, “Abide with us.” Do you know what the Bible says? “And He went in” (Lk 24:29). Something wonderful happened. The one who was invited to be their guest became their host. He took the bread, broke it and served it to them. You see, when you invite Christ into your life, He takes over and becomes the host. He meets the problems of your heart. How can we know the Lord is in our heart? “hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us” (3:24). When you receive Christ as your Saviour, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in your heart and lets you know that you are His. 

  •          Do you have that assurance that the Spirit of God is dwelling within you?

  •          Does Christ feel at home in your heart?

  •          Is your communion with the Lord fruitful or fractured?

Do you realise that you can grieve the Holy Spirit of God? How? “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32).

 

Conclusion:     Have you noticed that as we come to the end of this chapter that each member of the Triune Godhead is involved in your “love life?” You see, God the Father commands us to love one another, God the Son gave His life on the cross, the supreme example of love, and God the Holy Spirit lives within us to provide the love we need (Rom 5:5). To abide in love is to abide in God, and to abide in God is to abide in love. This is the secret of victorious Christian living! But is it the secret of your life?