1 John 3:16-24– By this, do we know the genuine, true love of God? Are we Loving by Deed, and by God’s Truth?

It was perfect LOVE that caused the almighty God act in the affairs of mankind, to send His only begotten Son into the world to become the sin-sacrifice for the entire race of humanity and it was perfect love that caused the Lord Jesus Christ to lay down His life for us. It was perfect love which caused the Lord Jesus to be a perfectly willing sacrifice, to talk the talk and walk the walk all the long and humiliating and painful way to be crucified upon the cruelest criminal’s cross… willingly, so all who believe on Him might not perish but have everlasting life.

Ponder for a while in your 21st century heart those words “perfect love.” What comes into your mind? What thoughts come rushing into your soul that either say; “I can hold my head up high to that one!” or “my head now “comfortably” rests on my knees and my “perfect” shame are resting ever before mine eyes.” Be vigorously and rigorously honest with yourself – God is right beside you!!! Whose standard of “Yeah, I got this love thing down perfectly” “Hallelujah”” are you living, loving, placing before Jesus as your standard of Christianity?

Read and reread Psalm One. Place your standard of “Hallelujah” before God!!!

Now, let us examine today’s text,

1 John 3:16-24 The Message

16-17 This is how we have come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

When We Practice Real Love

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In the most perfect example of love in all history, God sent His only Son into the affairs and works of mankind. For the sake of love alone, the Lord Jesus offered for mankind’s consideration the supreme example of ultimate love when He willingly laid down His life for friends and enemies alike. Jesus’ Perfect Love is made manifest in its highest measure at the cross of Calvary and as His children we might ponder our own hyper dramatic, self-serving standard of perfect love.

Mankind is steadily crumpling under the weight of sin and collapsing under the satanic influence of evil, which is suffocating a world in distress, but the true character of the spiritual Christian is based on a godly love and stands in stark contrast with the evil hatred that reigns supreme over this fallen world system.

From our 21st century context we cannot begin to imagine what it cost God the Father to turn His back on His only begotten Son and pour out the full force of His holy hatred of sin… upon HIM. It was for love of us that God the Father poured out the full force of His holy wrath for the accumulated sin of the whole world, upon His innocent and dearly beloved Son – Whom He had loved from before the conception of the universe. And He did it out of LOVE… for the world.

From our 21st century “smart phone” applications we cannot dare presume to comprehend what it cost the innocent Lord Jesus, Who as God incarnate… had to freely lay aside His eternal majesty and supreme glory and be clothed in our decaying human flesh… and then be made indescribable sin for you and for me.

The eternal Creator God demonstrated His perfect standard of love towards us in that while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-8), He laid down His perfect life for us and became a perfect curse and a perfect hissing – as the weight of the accumulated sin of the world was laid perfectly upon His shoulders – and He did it for perfect LOVE of an imperfect you and for perfect LOVE of an imperfect me.

When we look at the cross of Christ and the blood that He shed for us at Calvary – we see incarnate LOVE. and we know what real godly love is by this: that the only Son of God, Christ Jesus perfectly laid down His perfect life for us. Ought not we for HIS sake, imperfectly lay down our lives for our imperfect brethren?

One “soul grabbing” “spiritually sobering” passage of biblical text which grabs our attention in this regard is the message of 1 John 3:16-18, where it is written:

1 John 3:16-18 Amplified Bible

16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers. 17 But whoever has the [a] world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

What a marvelous, memorable message that is! Let us look at those words and the surrounding context to learn about God’s will for love in our lives.

Love – a recurring theme in this letter. Love for our fellow Christians is one of the dominant themes of this epistle, especially in chapters three and four.

From a whole heavenly host number of angles, the Spirit through John appealed to these first-century disciples to love one another. That is just a part of whom God’s children are, recognizing this truth: “. . . we should love one another” (3:11). Would it be correct to say that God commands members of His church in our own troubled 21st century context to love each other? Read for yourself: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (3:23).

Love in word – When we read, “. . . let us not love in word or in tongue” (3:18), that is not a divine decree forbidding children of God from verbalizing their love for one another. The point being made here is that we ought to do 100% more than talk about love – we need to show it in our action. Jesus told His apostles,

“. . . I have loved you” (John 13:1-17, 34-35, John 15:9-17). Paul wrote the same thing to the saints in Corinth, saying, “. . . though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Corinthians 12:14-15). When it comes from our sincere sacrificial heart, saying, “I love you” doesn’t violate Jesus’ teachings.

Love “in deed and in truth” – Again, that is the plain point of 1 John 3:18. Genuine love for other humans is something that we put into practice.

In this context, we see that such love was exemplified. It was shown by none other than the Lord Himself. What was His greatest manifestation of love for humanity? “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (3:16). What kind of perfect love was that? It was perfect love in perfect action, love sacrificing, love doing what always will be in the very best interest of others.

In this context, we also see that such love is expected of every single follower of the Christ. He exemplified it and He expect it from us, too. In view of what He did for us, we know, “And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:16). In this matter, Cain seriously failed his brother (3:12). We must not do the same. When we see our brother in need of material goods, we need to have compassion, open our hearts and our stockpile of blessings, and help! (3:17). Until we grow to the point of putting love into helpful action, we are just talking and tinkering, prancing and dancing around and maybe, deceiving ourselves.

Love in deed and in truth – love from the heart. Immediately following the charge for you and me to love in deed and in truth (3:18), in each of the next three statements/sentences there is reference made to a Christian’s heart. Look at them: “our hearts before Him” (3:19), “our heart” (3:20), and “our heart” (3:21). Our heart may or may not condemn us (3:20,21). God sees! God knows!

Words are words. Action is action. But do the words and/or action come from the heart? Are they sincere before God and man, or are we like the hypocrites of Jesus’ day who looked great on the outside but were a mess within? (Matthew 23:27,28). Yes, God calls us to put love into action, but none of us should believe the faulty notion that all action shows true love. Such is not the case. Action without proper motivation (love!) is empty, fraudulent and seriously fruitless.

Lack of love – This is not a very pretty picture, but it is one which John sets forth before us. If I fail to love my brother in the Lord, which is the same as hating him, that makes me a murderer (1 John 3:15). Is that relevant today? That is what the Bible says, and such language gets my attention. What else?

If a child of God does not love his brother, he is “not of God” (3:10). Such a disciple of Jesus is acting like Cain (3:12). Raise your hand if you want that label (“Acts Just Like Cain”) for your conduct. The world hates us, and we expect that (3:13), but we do not expect to see such among God’s family. What else?

One who does not love his brother abides in death, which is separation from God (3:14). The saint who hates his brother is a murderer, and the consequence of being a murderer is one does not possess eternal life (3:15). You see, my own relationship with God, depends on exactly “how do I treat other people now?”

Think about it.

Ponder it in your heart.

Ponder it in your soul.

Ponder it in your strength.

Ponder it in your weakness.

Ponder it in all of your imperfections.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Today, O’ God, this is my perfect plea, Lead Me out upon thy Level Ground!

Loving Father of mine, teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your Holy Spirit lead me forth on level ground. I see your faithfulness and goodness in what you have done for me throughout my life. I think about all these things, and I thirst for you. Let me hear of your unfailing love every morning, for I am trusting you. Show me how to talk. Show me where to walk, for I give my whole self to you. Keep me on firm footing for the glory of your name. Alleluia! Amen.

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