Love, the Test of Sonship
1 Jn. 3:10-15
In this world, there were only two kinds of children. Children of God and children of the devil. There
were no in between. It’s either you were God’s children or the devil’s children. Children of God can
be distinguished from the children of the devil by their not continuing to sin and by their brotherly
love. The opposite is very obvious and very clear, it’s just like comparing light from darkness or good
from evil. The Apostle John talks about love here and the following chapters.
Illustration 1: Unconditional Love
There is nothing you can to do make God love you more!
There is nothing you can do to make God love you less!
His love is Unconditional, Impartial, Everlasting, Infinite, Perfect! (Richard C. Halverson)
I. The Command to love (1 Jn. 3:11)
A. Believers have known this from the beginning. The word ‘beginning” here means the
preaching of the Gospel to them, and of their conversion
B. It is the message of love. God’s strong sacrificing love.
C. It is not just a warm feeling of friendliness nor mere human affection.
D. It is God’s kind of love that is always active; it gives, and gives, and gives.
E. Love is the most important mark of family likeness in God’s children.
Illustration 2: The Importance of Love
God’s benevolent concern for humankind. All religions have some idea of the importance of love.
Christian theology stresses the importance of love because God has revealed that he is love (1 John
4:8, 16). Love is both what God is and what he has done; God always acts in love.
Love is a transitive reality—that is, it requires an object. In the Bible, love is described as personal
(between persons) and selfless (desiring the best for others). Christians see God’s love in sending his
Son to die on the cross to save sinners (Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). Christians are to be known
by the fact that they love God and others (John (13:34-35). Their love is not to be like the love the
world has (Luke 6:32, 35). Love is best seen in actions and in most cases is to be identified with what
we do—in our compassion and commitment to those around us, regardless of the object’s virtue (1
John 4:19). Our loving attitudes and behavior are to reflect God’s love. Jesus said that only two
commands are needed to govern our lives: love of God and love of neighbor. If such love is
demonstrated, all the law and prophets are fulfilled. (The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook)
II. The conflict (1 Jn. 3:12)
1. He was the first child born into this world. He was a murderer.
2. Though he was a child of Adam and Eve, he was “the devil’s first child” and he
3. This is the reason why he does evil things including killing his brother.
1. The second born.
2. He was a child of God by faith (Heb. 11).
3. This is the reason why he did what was right.
III. The hate of the world (1 Jn. 3:13)
A. In this verse, John calls the believers brethren (brothers).
B. As members of God’s family, we are characterized by love.
C. We should not be surprised at the lack of love on the part of the devil’s family.
D. The opposite of love is hate. Hatred is the character of the devil’s family, the people
of this world system.
E. Our Lord told His people to expect hatred from the unbelievers (Jn. 15:18-20, Mat.
F. We must make sure that the unbelievers hate us only for Christ’s sake not because
of our own foolish actions.
Illustration 3: Mordecai Vs Joseph on Wrongs
There are two ways of dealing with your enemies—the wrong way, the way that Haman took toward
Mordecai (Esther 5:14); and the right way, the way that Joseph took toward his brethren who had
sold him into slavery (Genesis 45:5).
Let us consider the wrong way, or how not to get the best of our enemies.
Haman built a gallows fifty cubits high on which to hang his enemy, Mordecai. In the early morning
light, passers-by in the city of Shushan saw a body dangling from a gallows fifty cubits high, and the
vultures already circling around it.
But it was not the body of Mordecai, for whom Haman had built the gallows, but the body of Haman
himself. He was a victim of hate and revenge—not another’s, but his own.
Since every soul can hate, every man has in him the making of a Haman.
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Illustration 4: Agapao and Phileo
There is not much difference lexically between agapao and phileo. Both involve a voluntary (I’ve
decided to love you) and involuntary (I can’t help but love you) response.
One point: there is no command to love in scripture that ever uses phileo.
C. Swindoll, Growing Strong, pp. 67-8
IV. Comforting Certainties (1 Jn. 3:14-15)
A. Signifies passing from death to life
1. Love is a mark of true conversion.
a. Brotherly love is not the only indicator
b. Bear in mind that we must also practice righteousness (Gal. 5:22-23)
c. But love for the brethren is a positive sign of true conversion.
2. Lack of love is a significant sign
a. That one “abides in death”
b. It is written in 1 Jn. 2:9, 11, that one who hates his brother “is in darkness
even until now”
c. Hating one’s brother makes one a murderer! (just like Cain)
d. It is evident that a murderer does not possess eternal life.
Illustration 4: Grace of Giving
In The Grace of Giving, Stephen Olford tells of a Baptist pastor during the American Revolution, Peter
Miller, who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed the friendship of George Washington. In
Ephrata also lived Michael Wittman, an evil-minded sort who did all he could to oppose and
humiliate the pastor. One day Michael Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die.
Peter Miller traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor.
“No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”
“My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.”
“What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the
matter in different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did.
Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata—no longer an enemy but a friend.
– Lynn Jost The Grace of Giving, Stephen Olford
We are commanded by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to love one another. We heard this from the beginning. The world will hate us but as long as we love, we can show the world that we are really children of God.