Summary: In this section of 1 John, we are shown what love is. John gives us the negative example of Cain and the positive example of Christ.
A. “Love, love, love, love, the Gospel in one word is love.”
1. It’s not only a catchy little song, it is the truth.
2. And that sums it up so well, doesn’t it?
B. The Beatles released the hit song “All You Need Is Love” in July of 1967.
1. And even though we all know that “all you need is love,” love isn’t as easy as it sounds.
2. In the book, “Children’s Letters to God: The New Collection”, a little girl named, Nan, writes this letter: “Dear God, I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only four people in our family and I have trouble loving them!”
3. Here are some other statements from an article called, “What Is Love—From a Kid’s Point of View.” So, What is love, from a kid’s point of view?
a. "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love."
b. "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."
c. "Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay."
d. "Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."
e. "Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."
f. "Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
g. "You really shouldn’t say ’I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."
C. As I have already said in this series, the apostle John makes two proclamations about God.
1. First, he declares that God is Light.
2. Second, he declares that God is Love.
3. Because God is light and God is love, we, his children, must walk in the light and in love.
D. I’ve pointed out previously, that the letter of 1 John divides quite naturally into two parts.
1. The first half of the letter is from 1 John 1:5-3:10, and the second half, therefore, picks up with 3:11 and continues through the end of the letter.
2. If you will notice, both sections begin with the phrase “This is the message…”
3. 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
4. 1 John 3:11, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
5. In section one of the letter, John has warned us against the false teachers who had disrupted the peace and unity of the body with their reinterpretation of Christ and holy living.
a. John stressed that God is light and that the church must be a place of light as God’s people walk in the light and hold to the truth.
6. In the second section that we begin today, John is going to be focusing on the quality of the fellowship of God’s people, and so John’s message will be about our need to love one another.
a. The work of the false teachers has injured the life of the body of Christ, and John takes pains to rebuild that life.
7. The two halves of this letter underscore the sort of balance that always validates the church.
a. It is a balance between sound doctrine and holy living. Light and Love.
E. John follows a very simple outline in this section.
1. He first of all gives us a negative example of how not to treat each other in the body, and then he gives us a very positive one; mater of fact, a perfect one.
2. This is a common strategy of good teachers – before explaining what something should look like, you first give an example of what it shouldn’t look like.
I. The Tragic (But all too familiar) Example of Cain (3:11-15)
A. The story of Cain and Abel is found in Genesis 4:1-16.
1. It is the first story that occurs outside of the garden of Eden.
2. Interestingly, it is John’s only allusion to the Old Testament in this letter.
B. As you know, Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise with their new found ability to know the difference between good and evil.
1. We assume that their first children, Cain and Abel, had the same ability.
2. The older son, Cain, grew up to be a farmer, which is a perfectly honorable occupation.