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Summary: The “love of the brethren” is one of the greatest witnesses the church can have, because love is the greatest among all the virtues.

They Love the Brethren (Ch. 3:11 – 3:18)

1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

From the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, He gave this command to His followers. He said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

The “love of the brethren” is one of the greatest witnesses the church can have, because love is the greatest among all the virtues (1 Corinthians 13) Just think of all the people who have been turned away from the church and consequently turned away from God because of disunity, disharmony and a general lack of love among the brethren.

Followers of Christ are commanded to maintain the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” If peace is the “glue” love is what squeezes it out of the tube.

The love that John refers to is a sacrificial giving of oneself to another even to the point of death if necessary.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:8 - This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The love that John refers to is obviously a divine love. It is not a friendly, warm fuzzy demonstration of affection.

The love that John refers to is loving others as has Christ loved us. This kind of love cannot be done through mere human strength. You and I need the Holy Spirit to empower us to demonstrate this kind of love.

In Ephesians 5:25 Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it…” If you are a husband you know that you need a supernatural power to love your wife in this way. ?

Love is the epitome of Jesus Christ in the life of the Christian. “Christ in you” manifests itself in a love for the brethren. John wants us to know that love is one of the tests that you are a genuine Christian.

In verse 11 John says that Christians should “love one another.” Here he is reminding his readers of the command of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

If love for the brethren is the epitome of Jesus, hate is the epitome or the personification of Satan, the evil one. John goes on to say that Christians are not to be like Cain who did not exercise love but hate.

1 John 3:12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous.

1 John 3:13 Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.

Most of us should know the story of Cain and Abel found in Genesis chapter four. The Bible tells us that these brothers, sons of our first parents Adam and Eve, brought their sacrificial offerings to God.

Gen 4:3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.

Gen 4:4 And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;

Gen 4:5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

Did Cain do something wrong? The Bible also says in Genesis chapter four that Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. In other words, Abel was a farmer and according to Leviticus chapter two, bringing an offering from the fruit of the ground was something that people did.

But God did not accept Cain’s offering. Other passages of Scripture let us know that God was looking for a blood sacrifice from both these men and all Cain had to do is swap with his brother or father some grain for a lamb and make the sacrifice.

But Cain had an attitude problem which led to the death of his brother. Why did he kill his brother?

Back in 1st John we find the answer:

1 John 3:12 …Cain, who was of the evil one, …slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous.

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