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Chapter Three - God Is Love
The Father’s Love and Christ’s Appearing (1 John 3:1-3)
What beautiful words are written to believers in the opening verses of 1 John 3:0. First comes the “manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” This is something different from the general love of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That is infinite love to lost men everywhere. If you are not a believer, be assured of this: the love of God goes out to you and he has extended His love to you in that while you were yet a sinner Christ died for you. However, there is a love sweeter and more precious than that, but it is not for you until you trust in Christ. But if you have already trusted in Him, then you can enter into the Father’s love. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” It is the children who are addressed, not sons. It is a peculiar thing in the King James version, that often in the translation of John’s writings, the word sons is used where it should be children: “That we should be called the children of God.” And because we are the children of God “the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
If you are using a revised version you will notice that there are several words added, which were found in some old manuscripts that were not known when the King James version was translated, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.” It is not that we hope to be, but we are. Are you clear about that? If you are, you will never sing,
Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love my Lord or no?
Am I His, or am I not?
I would not dishonor my Lord by singing words like that when I read, “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Therefore, because we are-because we have been born of God and regenerated-the world does not understand. The world does not know us because it did not know Christ. If it did not know Him, we cannot expect it to recognize us. Because He passed through this world a stranger and a pilgrim, we too go through it as strangers and pilgrims, refusing to look at things from the world’s standpoint.
“Beloved, now are we the [children] of God”-not we hope to find that we are such when we get to Heaven but-“ Now are we the children of God” (1 John 3:2). But there is something we are waiting for. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Soon every believer will be fully conformed to His blessed image-this is our great expectation. What a wonderful day that will be! Even now God looks at His people as they are going to be when He gets through with them. We look at each other as we are now, and get discouraged with ourselves and with one another. But God is looking at us as we will be when we see our blessed Lord and are changed into His glorious image.
A story is told of an artist who had in his mind the conception of a great picture he was going to paint. He stretched his vast canvas straight across one side of his large studio, put up the scaffolding, brought the big, thick brushes, and prepared the paint. It looked like a job of house painting. He painted with great sweeps of his brush as he put in the background. Day after day he would walk back and forth putting a dab of gray here, and dab of blue there, and some black there. One day he came down from the scaffolding to look at it. He kept moving back, and back, and back. A visitor had come in unnoticed, and as the artist moved backward he bumped right into him. He turned around and said, “Why are you here? I didn’t know you had come in. What do you think of my picture? It is going to be the masterpiece of my life. Isn’t it magnificent?” The other said, “I don’t see anything there but a lot of great daubs of paint.” “Oh, I forgot,” said the artist; “you can see only what is there, while I can see the picture as it is going to be.” The blessed Lord sees us as we are going to be when we see Him, for then we will be just like Him. Even now on earth, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). And when we see Him as He is, we will become just like Him.
“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). It is literally, “Every man that hath this hope set on Him”-looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus, the blessed hope of His return. I do not know any incentive to godly living like the hope of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. People must be weaned away from the world by heart-occupation with the coming Savior. You cannot be occupied with Him and occupied with the world at the same time. It is impossible not to be weaned away from the world when your heart is totally surrendered to Him. You do not have to give up the world for Jesus’ sake. The fact of the matter is that, “The things of earth will grow strangely dim / In the light of His glory and grace.” When you are looking for His return, you cannot enjoy the things of the world that crucified Him. Conversely, if you are a Christian and trying to enjoy the world, forgetting that you are called to be separate from the world, you cannot enjoy Christ. You cannot enjoy Christ and the world at the same time. In the flyleaf of John Bunyan’s Bible he had written, “This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.” And so we may say, occupation with Christ will save you from worldliness, or worldliness will hide the glory of His wonderful face. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
The Two Natures (1 John 3:4-10)
We have in the fourth verse what appears to be a definition of sin. What is sin? There was a little boy who when his Sunday school teacher asked him this question, said, “I think it is anything you like to do.” That is not far from wrong, because in our natural state we are so utterly out of touch with God that we like to do those things that are contrary to His holy will. The definition of sin is given in 1 John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” The King James translation is not very accurate. The verse should read, “Whosoever committeth sin committeth lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness.” In other words, sin does not consist merely in the breaking of a revealed law. The King James version seems to indicate this, but if we turn back to Romans, we are told that “where no law is, there is no transgression” (1 John 4:15), but “until the law sin was in the world” (1 John 5:13).
If sin is the transgression of the law, how could sin have been in the world before the law was given? If we accept the more accurate rendering, all is clear. “Sin is lawlessness,” and that is the very essence of sin. It is rebellion against God-taking my own way. This is something we all do naturally. Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
I was a wand’ring sheep,
I did not love the fold,
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice,
I would not be controlled:
I was a wayward child,
I did not love my home,
I did not love my Father’s voice,
I loved afar to roam.
Rebellion characterizes every man or woman who has never been subdued by divine grace. Sin therefore is self-will-it is taking my own way and not subjecting myself to the will of God.
1 John 3:5 tells us, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” Here John declared more than he did in his Gospel. In John 1:29 John the Baptist exclaimed as he pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In his Gospel John directed us to Christ’s work on the cross. There He settled the sin question and because of that finished work He is able to show grace to all men everywhere. But here in the Epistle, we have deliverance from the practice of sin for those who are already saved: “He was manifested to take away our sins.” “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). The Word says, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Our blessed Lord not only saves us from the guilt of sin through the work of His cross, but He has provided the means whereby He may save us from the power of sin. He takes away the habit of sinning through the indwelling Holy Spirit after the new nature has been communicated to us through the new birth. People who loved to sin and go their own way, now delight in holiness and find their joy in doing His will. This is the characteristic mark of a Christian. A man who has professed to accept Christ as his Savior, to have been justified by faith through His atoning blood, and yet goes on living in the world and liking the world, shows that he has never had a renewed nature. He is simply a hypocrite because he is pretending to be what he is not. A real Christian is one who has been born again, one who has a new life and a new nature and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore has learned to hate the sin in which he once lived.
“Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). It was said of the sin offering, “It is most holy” (Leviticus 6:17). If our blessed Lord Jesus would become the great sin offering for the world, He must be the Holy One- the Lamb without blemish and without spot, both outwardly and inwardly. The Spirit of God is careful to insist that this perfection is true of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again and again Scripture dwells on His infinite beauty and holiness. “He did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22) and, “In him is no sin.” And now this absolutely sinless One, who in grace became sin for us that we might be reconciled to God, dwells by the Spirit in the believer. Our new nature is really His very life imparted to us. It is in the power of this life that we triumph over sin.
There is a friend of mine who has been for a long time a confirmed addict to the disgusting cigarette habit. He has tried to free himself from this habit, and wants to be free, but this thing has such a hold on him that unfortunately physicians have told him it would be best to continue smoking. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at him and said, “Oh, how I wish it were possible for me in some way to get control of your will so that this habit would go away, because I detest it so! If I could only get within you so that my mind could control yours, and my feelings toward this thing would take possession of you, then you would never smoke again.” That is exactly what the Lord does for those who trust Him. He dwells within us, and as we yield to Him, He takes full control. He dominates the believer so that he lives to His praise and to His glory.
Next the apostle went on to show what holiness really means in the Christian’s life. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not [is not characterized by sinning]: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him” (1 John 3:6). This verse used to trouble me, because I was not clear about it. I used to read it as though it said, “Whosoever committeth a sin hath not seen him, neither known him.” Verse eight was particularly disturbing: “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” And as I got my eyes off the Lord and allowed myself to fall into something that dishonored Him, those words were the torment of my life-“He that committeth sin is of the devil.” This verse seems to says that whoever sins has never been a Christian at all. I was greatly troubled, for I knew I had not gotten to the place of sinless perfection, even though I was trying to get there in those days. I was so sure I was born of God-that I was converted-but wondered if it had all been a mistake. I went to a teacher and asked him about this, and he said, “You have been converted all right, but every time you commit a sin you become unconverted again, and a child of the devil once more.” That made me even more bewildered than before, and I wondered how I would ever know when I was converted to stay. If I were converted over and over again how would I know for sure that I was still converted just before I died? I might suddenly become a child of the devil again and miss everything.
What a relief of mind it was to get a better understanding of the tense of the verbs! Contrast 1 John 3:6 with 1 John 2:1, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He does not say if any man sin he ceases to be a child of God, but, “We have an advocate with the Father.” The word sin is in the aorist tense, and refers to a definite action at a given point of time, “If any man should fall into a sin.” But chapter three verse six (1 John 3:6) is in the present continuous tense, “Whosoever goes on practicing sin, whosoever makes it the habit of his life to live in sin, hath not seen him neither known him.” Peter fell into grievous sin, and that sin was repeated and repeated. But when the Lord turned and looked at him, he went out and wept bitterly. His heart was broken because of his failure, and he was soon restored. True believers fall into sin if for a moment their eyes are taken off the Lord Jesus Christ. But the advocacy of the Lord Jesus begins at that moment, and He restores their souls.
The fear of losing his salvation troubled a dear Irishman who had been wonderfully saved. The thought came to him, “Dear me, if I am so happy in the Lord now, what an awful thing it would be if something happened that cut me off from Christ and I should be lost after all!” He went to a meeting, and a preacher read these words, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). The truth of that verse dawned on the Irish brother with such clarity that he shouted, “Glory to God, whoever heard of a man drowning with his head that high above water!”
“Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Children [this is the word that takes in the whole family of God], let no man deceive you: he that [practises] righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that [practises] sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth [has made sin a practice] from the beginning” (1 John 3:6-8). All through his fearful history the devil has been characterized by rebellion against God. He practiced sin from the beginning. Those who are children of the devil exhibit the moral characteristics of their father, while those who belong to the family of God exhibit the moral characteristics of their Father. They delight in holiness even as the others roll sin as a sweet morsel under their tongues.
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy [undo or annul] the works of the devil.” Dear believer, there is not only deliverance from the judgment due your sin, but deliverance has been provided from the power of sin. He provides deliverance over sin that He might annul the works of the devil. He sets His people free from the power of sin and Satan that they might live in this world to the praise of His glory.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin [practice sin]; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin [cannot be sinning], because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). When I think of justification, I think of a forensic act of God by which I am cleared of every charge of guilt. When I think of regeneration, I think of the imparting of a new nature through the power of the Holy Spirit in which the whole direction of my life is changed.
Years ago when I went to California as a boy, the only oranges we knew were the ones with seeds. But then two of the Washington navel orange trees were brought to Riverside from Brazil and cultivated. Cuttings were taken from these parent trees at Riverside, and orange trees were budded with the Washington navel shoots, and their character was completely changed. A man having a forty acre orchard and not wanting to be left completely without fruit, would have the tops of one half of the trees cut off. Twenty acres would go on bearing the oranges with the seeds. But he would cut under the bark of the lopped trees, and put in the navel orange cuttings, and in a couple of years all those trees would have new branches and would be loaded with oranges. I might say to the owner, “What kind of oranges are these?” “Washington navel oranges,” he would reply. “Is that the only kind of oranges they bear? Don’t they sometimes bear oranges with seeds?” “Oh no,” he would say; “A budded tree does not produce seeded oranges.” But even as he speaks I stoop down and see a little shoot under the branches coming out of the trunk of the tree, and say, “Look, what is that shoot?” He would snip it off, or taking his knife out of his pocket would cut it away, saying, “That’s from below the graft. It must be pruned off.” You see what is characteristic of the budded tree is that it bears the navel oranges, but if one does not watch, below the grafting there will be a shoot of the old nature. Likewise as children of God we cannot go on living in sin. If you ever find a Christian slipping into anything unclean or unholy, you know that this comes from below the graft- it is the old nature manifesting itself!
How can you keep the old nature from producing sin? By using the pruning knife of self-judgment. Whenever you find any tendency of rebellion against God, any tendency of self-will, any tendency to think of unclean or unholy things, get out the pruning knife and use it unsparingly on yourself. These tendencies are of the old nature, not of the new, and they must not be allowed to grow and develop, or they will destroy your fellowship with God. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin,…because he is born of God.” The new life given to him is eternal life. It abides in him, and he cannot continue in sin because he is born of God.
The tenth verse summarizes it all: “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” We must face the fact that there are two families. Men talk about the universal Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and would have us believe that all men are considered by God as His children. But it was our blessed Lord Jesus Christ who taught the very opposite. What did He mean when He said to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the [works] of your father ye will do”? (John 8:44) What did He mean when He said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”? (John 3:3) John walked with the Lord for three-and-one-half years, drank in His testimony as perhaps no other, and is referred to several times in the Gospel of John as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He wrote his Epistle when he was an old man, and gathered up what he had been taught by the Lord and what he had experienced through the years. He said in effect, “Here are the two families. The family that loves God and delights in righteousness is the family of God. But the family that hates, that harms, that loves sin and iniquity is the family of the devil.”
Let us challenge our own hearts. Let us face the question honestly in God’s presence. Have I been regenerated by divine grace? If we are really saved, we will find the answer in verse 14 (1 John 3:14): “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
Love, the Proof of Divine Life (1 John 3:11-24)
This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). We have noticed a number of times that this expression, “From the beginning,” is characteristic of John’s Epistle. In a day when men were trying to bring in false teachings and seeking to palm them off on unsuspecting people as Christianity, when in reality they were doctrines of demons, the apostle called the Christians back to what they had been taught from the beginning. He emphasized the teaching of our Lord Jesus and His immediate successors, the apostles.
There are three distinct words used for love in the Greek language. One of these words is never used in the New Testament. It is the word eros. This word was also the name of the Greek equivalent to Cupid. According to Roman mythology Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of sensual love and physical beauty. Among the Greeks they used the name Aphrodite for the goddess, and Eros for her son. This word for love is never used in the New Testament probably because it had been degraded among the Greeks. It would seem that the Holy Spirit of God stood guard over the pages of the New Testament, and said as it were, “Don’t pollute these pages with a word that has become so debased.”
The other words for love are phileo and agapao. Phileo means affection or friendliness-the kind of love that good-natured people feel one for another. This word is used frequently in the New Testament. It is used of God in one place-”After that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:4-5). “Love…toward man” is just one word in the original. It is really our word philanthropy. In other words, the philanthropy of God was revealed in sending His Son. Ordinarily phileo is the word that is used for love between friends, brothers, sisters, husband, wife, and sometimes between Christians. But it is not used in the sense that the word agapao is used. This word signifies a divine love.
God is agape. He Himself is love in His very essence, and “he that dwelleth in love [in this sense], dwelleth in God” (1 John 4:16). It is this highest of divine loves- agape love-that is brought before us in this portion of the Epistle. This love is the proof of a new nature, the evidence that we have been regenerated.
The one great command that is laid on us by our Lord Jesus is that we love one another as He loved us-unselfishly, in a Godlike, Christ-like way. “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12). Cain was stirred up by jealousy and lured on by envy. What a terrible thing is this sin. Scripture says that jealousy is “cruel as the grave” (Song of Solomon 8:6). Never allow yourself to harbor jealousy in your heart. Check it immediately. Go into the presence of God at once and confess it, and ask Him to fill you with Himself so there will be no place for it. I have seen jealousy among Christian workers and have felt it in my own heart in connection with other preachers. One man has a message from God and gives it in the power of the Holy Ghost, but another cannot bear to think that his brother’s message is appreciated more than his own. He falls under the power of the same sin that led Cain to slay his brother, Abel. I have seen it also among those who sing, among Sunday school teachers, and even among those ministering to the temporal needs of the saints.
I remember attending a fellowship tea where two dear sisters would not speak to nor look at one another because one had found that the efforts of the other were appreciated more than her own. What a wretched thing is jealousy! There is no room for it in love or in the new nature. Whenever you find it, it is simply an evidence of a shoot from the old nature that needs to be pruned and cut away. Jealousy is indeed as cruel as the grave. Because of it, people will tear one another’s reputations to shreds and go to extreme lengths in order to belittle and degrade them. It seems strange that we Christians, hated by the world and small in number, should ever allow ourselves to indulge in such unkind feelings towards one another.
The story is told of Nelson, who, as his ships were drawn up in battle array facing the Dutch fleet, saw two English officers quarreling. He threw himself between and pushed them apart. Pointing to the ships of Holland he said, “Gentlemen, there are your enemies!” If only Christians would truly love one another, then it would not bother us if the world hated us. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:13-14). Do we know that we have passed from death unto life because we are sound in the faith, because we are fundamentalists, because we are earnest Christian workers, or because we give liberally to missions or the Lord’s work? No. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” We love them in the divine sense-with agape.
Dear friend, if you don’t have that testimony you better begin to investigate the foundations of your Christian profession. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” As unbelievers, some of us did not love Christians very much. I remember some Christian men who would come to our home when I was a boy. They were stern old Scotsmen, and would say, “Harry, lad, are ye born again yet?” I wouldn’t know what to say, and so I detested them! Then one day God came in grace and saved my soul. I could hardly wait to see some of them and say, “Thank God, I am saved!” Regeneration made such a difference. Being born again, being converted to God, is a real thing. It is the imparting of a new, divine nature, the very essence of which is love.
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). The same thing that leads you to hate your brother, produces the sin of murder. It may not have gone that far yet. I heard a professed Christian woman speaking of another, and between her clenched teeth, she said, “I wish she were dead.” That is murder! That is what sends men to the electric chair. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” “But,” you say, “you heard a Christian woman say that?” Yes, but that was just for a moment, when she allowed the old nature to assert itself. She soon judged it and put it away. If Christians get out of touch with God, there may be a demonstration of the old flesh, or carnal mind. But they are indwelt by the Holy Ghost, and He will soon make them intensely miserable, and they will judge their sin and put it to death. No one who willfully goes on in these sins has any business calling himself a child of God. No one who is characterized by hatred has eternal life abiding in him. No murderer possesses eternal life, and hatred is the root of murder. This does not mean that an actual murderer cannot be saved. It does mean that if he is saved, he will no longer live in hatred.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). You will observe that the words “of God” are italicized in the King James version. John was saying that if we want to understand what divine love is, we need to look at Christ’s example. We recognize what love is because, “He laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”-that is, if you want to know what is meant by divine love, Christ is the example. As a Christian, that which is manifested in Christ must be manifested in you. You must be willing to lay down your life for others, to endure any kind of hardship in order that you may help and bless others.
Years ago when I was a Salvation Army officer, General William Booth was over in London. He was an old, blind man. They had hoped to have him present at a great congress, but word was sent that he could not come. Then they asked for a letter from him- some message to read to the assembled officers-but no letter came. While the congress was in session, a boy came up the aisle with an envelope. It was given to the officer in charge, and as he held it up he exclaimed, “A message from General Booth!” He opened it, and said, “My comrades, it contains just one word-’Others.’” That was all. That was what the old man had lived for, and that was what he would impress on those who followed him. After all, that is the only happy life. The most miserable people are those who are trying to get the best for themselves, while the happiest people are those who give the most, sacrifice the most, and expend themselves the most for the blessing of others. There is real joy in laying down one’s life for the brethren. There are always those who will say, “You are working too hard; you ought not to do this, and ought not to do that.” The devil always has a lot of lieutenants to say, “Be careful; your health is much more important.” It is ten thousand times better to wear out for Jesus by blessing others, and hear a “Well done, good and faithful servant,” than to have to go to the judgment seat of Christ and give account for a lifetime of selfishness.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17) Do you say to yourself, “I know he has need, but if he had saved his money as I have done, he wouldn’t be in such a fix,” or “I know his clothes are shabby, but if he would take care of them as I do mine, he wouldn’t look like that”? We read in James 2:16 of those who say to the needy, “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” God is looking down and taking note of it all, and some day the one who turns down God’s poor is going to be poor himself. Perhaps not poor financially in the same way that the other was, but a time of great need will come, and he will go to God and begin to call upon Him in that hour of distress and wonder why the heavens seem silent above him.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:18-20). If in the secret of our hearts and in the presence of God, our conscience says, “You know you were selfish and inconsiderate, you did not act in love or show the Spirit of Christ,” remember that “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Then we read, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:21-22). Do you get the inference? When you do not receive from Him, perhaps it is time to ask, “Is my heart condemning me? My need is great, yet God does not seem to minister to it. Have others come to me in their need, and have I failed to minister to them? I have cried to God in the depths of my grief and sorrow, but He does not seem to listen. Did anyone ever cry to me in their grief and sorrow, and did I refuse to listen?” “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Christianity is intensely practical. We may ask, “Is it not true that all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved?” Yes. But we recognize real faith by its works of love. Do not forget that. If we have gone to Him in prayer and there has been no answer, then the secret of our unanswered prayer is in our own heart. Perhaps we have been selfish and indifferent to the needs of others. “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:23-24). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7), and when He dwells within the believer and controls him, that believer walks in love and manifests the kindness of God to his brethren.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 1 John 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent