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1 John 3:11-24: Follow Christ, Forsake Cain

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

1 John 3:19-20

Watch Week Three Day Four

If John worked today as a school teacher, he would probably prefer true-or-false questions to multiple choice or open ended. His straightforward, yes-or-no, right-or-wrong, this-or-that approach to truth led one commentator to write, “As he now fills in his preliminary sketch, he uses no colours but black and white.”6 Returning to his social criteria for believers, John’s ratcheting up of stark contrasts paints a vivid picture (albeit a black-and-white one) of the world contrasted with the church.

Cain versus Christ

Returning to his social ethic of love as a true test of Christianity, John pits Cain who hated his brother against Christ who laid down His life for His brothers. As is his custom, John pulls no punches. Cain represents the world and all the evil that accompanies it. Harkening back to Genesis 4, John reminds the reader that Cain hated his brother, gave in to his jealousy, and murdered Abel. Christ, on the other hand, represents the church and all the good that accompanies it. Reminding the reader of Jesus’ life, John exhorts Christians to love their brothers and to lay down their lives. Cain murdered. Christ sacrificed. Cain hated. Christ loves. Cain was evil. Christ is righteous. John’s point about the social implications for believers is simple: choose the way of Christ, not Cain.

Assurance of Salvation

After such poignant declarations, John recognizes the need to reassure the readers of their good standing in Christ. Since we have an Enemy that accuses us, John acknowledges that our hearts might condemn us. While we attempt to defend ourselves, we have a greater judge in God. When our Enemy shouts into our hearts that we do not belong, our Father bellows louder, “Mine.” If we believe in Christ as evidenced by our love for Him and for others, our Judge smacks down His gavel declaring our innocence. It is our right to walk in the newness of life given by the Judge. Finally, perhaps the greatest evidence of our standing before Christ and our assurance of salvation is the presence of the third person of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit—in our lives. Scripture clearly teaches that God’s indwelling Spirit serves as a sign and testimony of God’s saving work in that person. God taking up residence inside of you signifies His engagement to you, as we eagerly await the wedding of the Bridegroom—Christ—to His bride—the church. Sister, John writes these words so that you may confidently look forward to the life in the world to come.

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Do you sometimes doubt your salvation even though you have placed your faith in Christ and love your neighbors? How can you hear God’s voice over the shouting of the Enemy?

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