Summary: Examines the "Marks" or qualities that set a Christian apart.
MARKS OF A CHRISTIAN
Some things in this world look very much alike. They are very similar. For instance, a King Snake and a Coral Snake look very much alike. An alligator and a crocodile look a lot alike. They are very similar. We have a citrus tree growing in our yard, that produces both sweet and sour oranges, and the 2 look very similar. Often, people are unable to tell these things apart because they look so much alike.
But on each of them, there is something that sets them apart. Each of them is distinctive in some way you just have to know what to look for. In King & Coral snakes you look for the placement of their rings. In alligators & crocodiles, you look at their teeth, and the shape of their snouts. Similarly, the sweet and sour oranges have different peels and leaves. You have to know the marks that make them distinctive.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus commented that in the church, some are believers and some are not, but the 2 are there together. They look very similar, but they are not the same and the end of the two will be very different.
Evidently, in this passage, John was addressing some people, some folks who believed they were Christians, but were experiencing some doubt. In chapters 4 and 5 John gave some distinctives, some marks to look for in Christians’ lives and then he wrote in verse 13, “I have written these things so that you may know you have eternal life.”
What are the “things” John speaks of we are to look for in our lives? What are the distinctives you find in one of Christ’s disciples that set him apart? In this passage I believe John records for us 3 primary marks we are to look for in a believer’s life.
I. MARKS OF A CHRISTIAN
1. An Obedient Christian has a Distinctive Love
We live in a society today where any live only for themselves. It doesn’t matter what it takes to get ahead. It doesn’t matter who you have to step on, who you have to talk about, who you have to cheat, swindle, or lie to, as long as you get ahead.
There are those today who carry grudges. There are those who refuse to forgive. There are those who hate others just because they are different. They talk different, or they look different, or they dress different. They have a different skin color, or something. So they hate them, put them down, or look to climb over them.
“It doesn’t matter, as long as I get what I want. It doesn’t matter as long as I get ahead.” I love God, but hang them. The Bible says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”
My friend, the Bible says, “God is love.” Jesus Himself said, “The first commandment is to love God. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The two go hand in hand. Think of how people’s despair and pain, moved Jesus to tears. If Jesus is alive and well in your heart, it will show it self in the way you treat other people. It will reveal itself in the way you love others. Jesus said, “By this may all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”
It breaks my heart when I think of how supposed believers treat unbelievers. It breaks my heart when I think of the way those in the church treat people in the world, forgetting that God sent His Son for them just as He did for us. It breaks my heart when I see believers seeking the grace of God for themselves, who are unwilling to offer it to others.
Let me ask you, “Do you love other people?” A Christian has a distinctive love.
2. An Obedient Christian has a Distinctive Life
The Bible says, “If you love the Father, if you love the Son, that you will obey.” My friend, morality is not an option. Godly living is not an option.
Now, let me make myself clear. The Bibles says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. You and I are saved through faith. There is nothing you and I can do to earn our salvation. There is nothing you and I can do to earn our way to heaven. You cannot clean up the outside enough. You cannot attend church enough. You cannot give enough. You cannot serve enough or work enough to get to heaven. You cannot earn your salvation. At the same time, a Christian will live differently than those in the world.