No Middle Ground, 1 John 3:10-15

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” I John 3:10.

There are two camps, only two; there is no middle ground as some seem to think. A person has either accepted Christ as their Savior or they have not.

For example; while you are out for a drive, your car stalls on a railroad track and a train is coming. You have two choices, try to start the car and drive off, or get out and away from the car. While you are deciding, you are in the process of dying.

Again, your doctor tells you that you have a cancer which will be fatal unless operated on; should you have an operation or try some homeopathic remedy? While you are deciding, you are in the process of dying.

Many think that while they are undecided they are straddling the fence or in some gray area. There is no gray area, from birth to death; a person is in the process of dying, with or without Christ.

Death is a final destination, either in hell or with Jesus in heaven; it is an actual choice the individual makes, no one else, not God, not men, period.

Christ’s blood covers children until they reach an age when they can make an intelligent decision. There are no children in hell! I added this in case that question occurred to you.

As seen in our opening verse, there are those who are the children of God by accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their sins and there are children of the devil either by default or because they choose to follow him.

By default it is meant that while deciding what to do a person is dying and on their way to hell.

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5.

What David is saying in this verse is that he, like everyone else, was born with the sin nature and under the curse of sin.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

The marginal note in my Bible renders, “the gift” as “the free gift”. When folks receive a gift, they do not ask if they can pay for it or do something in return it is just received with gratitude.

Again we are reminded that, “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God…” and again the key word here is practice. Christians do not get it right all the time, but they will be characterized by their practice of being righteous.

How well Christians practice righteousness will depend on how closely they abide in Christ.

One cannot become a professional golfer by whacking a ball around their back yard a couple of times a week and playing a game once a month, not going to happen.

Serious focus, practice, study, resolution, and most important, getting up when you fail and moving forward; ask any sports legend, and they will tell you the same thing. Abiding in Christ takes the same kind of dedication.

Some Christians believe that you can lose your salvation by sinning after receiving Christ as your Savior. Scripture does not teach this, even though there are verses that seem to indicate it.

Most importantly remember this, to think that one can lose their salvation cheapens the shed blood of the Son of God, never forget that, ever.

When someone questions this, ask them: “When Jesus died for our sins, how many of them were in the future?” The answer is, all of them.

The question then becomes, “How many of your sins were erased by the blood of Christ?” Again the answer is, all of them.

One of the verses that create confusion about salvation’s permanence is as follows.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” Philippians 2:12.

The appearance here is that once you are saved, you have to work to maintain that salvation, or lose it. But what is being said is, since you are saved; work out that salvation as one who will give an account of themselves before Christ on that day.

“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14:10.

“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.

This judgment seat of Christ is not the same as Judgment Day when the ungodly will be judged and cast into the lake of fire, see Revelation 20:10-15.

On that day only sinners will be judged, and that at the end of time.

But the judgment seat of Christ will be a time of remorse when the Christian sees the opportunities missed and the things they were given and they did not use for Christ.

That day will be a day when rewards are given out for faithful service and also lost through faithlessness. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”

A good rule to follow when you find a passage that seems to contradict a basic Bible doctrine is to either write it down, or file it in the back of your mind, until you can find a reasonable explanation.

This is preferable to rebuilding your theology to fit a passage. Shoving square pegs into round holes has gotten a lot of people in trouble and is responsible for apostate churches today.

“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” I John 3:11.

The word love appears 40 times in these letters of First, Second, and Third John. When God repeats Himself so many times it has to be important, and therein lies the problem.

Often when something is repeated, the mind seems to scan it without actually taking it in; you may have experienced this while reading the book of Proverbs or Psalms.

When you lightly read these books everything tends to run together and often you find that you have gotten nothing out of your reading time, due to information overload.

Rather than read six Psalms all at once; try reading just one and concentrating on what is said, sometimes this will be food for thought for the whole day.

An interesting point about Psalms, some are linked together. One may end with a question and the next will answer that question, while others form a series of three or five.

Psalms 22, 23 and 24 form a triptych, a series of three, do not worry about things like this right away, but eventually you will find this is true. There are some wonderful Christian books on the subject.

Proverbs is different, many of them are divided into blocks of Scripture and at other times a few verses will cover a certain subject like adultery, bad company, laziness, dealing with those in authority, co-signing a loan (avoid it), or going to prostitutes.

If followed, the wisdom in Proverbs will make your life better because you will avoid many pitfalls. In fact, if followed, these words of wisdom may even lengthen your life.

But, as in Psalms this book should be read in small blocks, or a few verses at a time to truly take the things you read to heart.

Returning to love, the same thing applies here, God does not use filler words, everything in Scripture has a purpose, and as mentioned elsewhere, punctuation, sentence structure, words, their meaning, and context are very important in Bible study.

These things are also important when reading a contract, poetry, or your favorite novel; so getting into the habit of reading carefully will help you anywhere.

With repetition then, it is good to stop and consider the word in context for a few seconds more to gather in what God is trying to say to you, and He is talking to you personally when you read the Bible.

Pray for wisdom when reading the Scriptures and God will answer you, it may be small or life changing, but He will tell you something through His word.

“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” 1 John 3:11.

James chapter two expands this a bit and calls it the royal law.

“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well…” James 2:8.

This is a quote from the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 19:18, so it is definitely a message which was from the beginning.

Love for others and especially love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, which is the emphasis here in John’s epistles, is also basic to Christianity.

The Lord Jesus uses the word love sixteen times during the Passover as described in John chapters 13-17, beginning with this commandment.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.

It is crucial that Christians love one another, if not our gospel becomes a hollow thing indeed to the world.

“…we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” I John 3:11b-13.

Christians are not just adopted by God, they are considered nothing less than His children, and as such we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Alas, we often act more like Cain with Abel than we do as those in a loving family.

This is why the word love is being hammered into our brains; gossip, hatred, jealousy, and self-seeking have no place in the body of Christ.

Look at some of the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, and envy.

Have you seen these disgraceful things in church? These only serve the devil’s purposes and certainly are the opposite of love.

1 Corinthians 13 gives us the definition of love.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up [arrogant]; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own [not self-seeking], is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity [unrighteousness], but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things [without weakening].” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

This is what holds the church together and brings the truth of the gospel to the world in a way they can see.

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

This should not surprise us, Cain, who was of the wicked one, hated his brother Abel enough to kill him, because his deeds were righteous and Cain’s were not.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:18-20.

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” I John 3:14-15.

Again as stated in 1 John 2:

“He who says he is in the light [a Christian], and hates his brother, is in darkness [not a Christian] until now.” 1 John 2:9.

This word hate has the idea of pursuing with hatred, detesting; this is an aggressive thing, not passive as in disliking someone.

If a Christian thinks to himself, “I cannot stand brother so and so, he is arrogant.” This is not necessarily a definition of hatred, some folks are just obnoxious.

If, however, the Christian goes about telling everyone else this, then he is engaging in character assassination and crossing a fine line.

Perhaps not hatred but our Christian is now becoming no better than the one he dislikes, thus setting himself up as a judge, which we are commanded not to do.

So, a person may dislike another for good reason, or perhaps just a personality clash; this does not need to be hatred.

But if there is an aggressive campaign to do some damage to this individual, whether to their reputation, their position in life, or physically, then we are talking hatred.

Some Christians have anger problems, so it is possible to do this to some degree, but it is sin and a pattern indicates that they should examine themselves.

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Love of the brethren is the best indicator of eternal life and dislike of someone is not necessarily hate. There are folks you prefer to associate with because they have a personality that compliments your own.

If when calamity comes upon those you dislike they have your prayers, your condolences, your physical or monetary help, if possible, then you are showing Christian love.

If though, you inwardly rejoice, then you need to pray for love for them; and for yourself that you may not fall into the same pit.

“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15.

This is a very strong statement, but it is not an overstatement.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” I John 4:20.

The death penalty was enacted just after the flood of Noah because murder was rampant before the flood and was part of the reason for it.

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” Genesis 9:6.

This law gives government the right to capital punishment, which is not a deterrent; it is punishment and removes the threat of their killing others permanently.

If the murderer has no respect for man, he will have no respect for God. Those who hate their brother have no respect for man and as a result have no respect for God.

The love in these passages is God’s love and it comes from the Holy Spirit abiding in the believer, it is not something that comes naturally to us, it is God loving others through us.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole tho stretched from sky to sky. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure – the saint’s and angels’ song.” “The Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman, 1868-1953.

No Middle Ground, 1 John 3:10-15 taken from posted on 12-21-11, updated on 6-20-18.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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