1 John 3:16-18 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Laying it all Down
Jesus demonstrated his love for us by laying down his life for us. He willingly accepted a human body, physical and emotional pain, suffering, temptation, rejection, persecution, false accusations, betrayal, harassment, false arrest, a mock trial, severe beatings, false imprisonment, and being crucified on a cross, as though he was a common criminal, although he was God in the flesh and completely without sin, but so we could be set free from our sin.
Not only that, but when they crucified him on that cross, he became sin for us. He felt the weight of the sin of the whole world on him. I just can’t imagine what that would be like. My own sin alone, if I had to bear the weight of it all, would be enough to be the death of me. But, he did this because he loves us, and because he wants to see us go free from our bondage (addiction) to sin, and to now walk by his Spirit in victory.
And, this is the kind of love we ought to have, one for another. We ought to be willing to be hated, persecuted, falsely accused, and thought crazy; abandoned, betrayed, treated as a criminal; and mocked and stabbed in the heart with an invisible knife in order to see others be saved from their sins and to have eternal life with God in heaven.
Their Spiritual Needs
Although we must certainly be concerned about other people’s legitimate physical needs, yet what is most neglected, I believe, at least here in America, is people’s spiritual needs. We have all kinds of ministries in America geared toward the physically needy, such as food pantries, clothing stores (free), help with paying bills, help with housing, etc., but people’s spiritual needs are often pushed aside because we don’t want to offend.
Yet, if we see a brother and sister in Christ with a spiritual need, or if we see anyone in need of Jesus Christ, and God gives us the opportunity and the means to help them to draw near to God for salvation, or to draw near to God to help them in their time of need, and we close our hearts to them, how does God’s love abide in us? How are we laying down our lives for others as Jesus did for us so that we could be free from our addictions?
We need to do more than just tell people that we love them or that we care about them. We need to show it by our actions. And, we need to do so with all truthfulness and sincerity of heart, too. And, we need to do it the way in which Jesus did for us, too, not in the way that humans may expect us to do it. For, Jesus wasn’t looking for human approval at all. He did what was right in the eyes of God, and not necessarily “right” in the eyes of mankind.
And, that is why he knocked heads (met with strong disapproval and opposition) from the Pharisees regularly, because he didn’t do things the way they thought he ought to do it. And, that ticked them off (angered them).
And, if we are loving others the way Jesus loved us, a lot of people aren’t going to approve of us, either, and they may be offended by the gospel message we are sharing, or they may be insulted that we didn’t do it the way they thought it ought to be done.
For, a lot of people are more interested in making others like (approve of) them than they are concerned about seeing people come to faith in Jesus Christ. Or, they care more about being accepted and praised by others than they care about people being delivered from their bondage to sin, to see them walk in righteousness and holiness, in victory over sin.
1 John 3:19-22 ESV
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
When we love God and others in deed (conduct, behavior) and in truth (honesty, sincerity), and not just in talk (words), and by following Jesus’ example of laying down our lives for others to meet their legitimate needs, and in laying our lives down in surrender to our Lord to do what he says, then we know we are of the truth, and we can reassure our hearts before God whenever our hearts condemn us.
For, our hearts will condemn us sometimes when we truly aren’t guilty of wrongdoing. This, I believe, is usually a result of Satan whispering lies into our ears, and trying to convince us we are stupid, silly, too this or too that, or too caring, or that we said it wrong, and we should have said it this way, instead, etc.
For, he wants to keep us from rescuing “the perishing” and caring “for the dying,” and from snatching them “in pity from sin and the grave.” And, so he will do all he can to discourage us from sharing Jesus Christ and his salvation with others, and he will try to keep us from showing them love and compassion and mercy, too.
And, Satan, too, will try to dishearten us when people don’t respond to the gospel message, and when they continue to reject the Lord and to hold on to their own lives, instead. For, he wants us to give up on them. He wants us to stop praying for their salvation, too, believing the lies that it is impossible, but nothing is impossible with God according to his perfect will. And, he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
So, we need to keep on praying, and keep on believing God for the salvation of our loved ones, and keep on sharing God’s love with them, and keep on being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s opening of opportunities for us to talk with them about Jesus, too.
1 John 3:23-24 ESV
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
To love God is to do what he says, to obey him. To love others is also to do what God says, to obey him, and by showing them the love of Jesus, and by being willing to lay down our own lives and reputations, and to be willing to be hurt emotionally by their rejection of us, too, for their salvation.
But, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us, too, which brings salvation, instructs (demands) us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).
It is not those who profess faith in Jesus Christ who abide in God, and he in them, but it is those who walk in obedience to his commands. It is those who have died with Christ to sin, and who are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh who have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
For, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we still walk (conduct our lives, in practice) in the darkness (in sin), we are liars who do not live by the truth. If we make sin our practice, and we don’t make righteousness our practice, then it is not heaven which awaits us, but it is eternal punishment in hell, no matter what we profess with our lips (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).
For, we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit of God, from the Spirit we will receive eternal life. So, please know this, and believe this, for your eternal life depends on you knowing the truth, and you doing what God says (Gal. 6:7-8).
Rescue the Perishing
Fanny J. Crosby, 1869 / William H. Doane, 1870
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Though they are slighting him, still he is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
*Copyright status is public domain
Sunday, April 7, 2019