Main point summary
Loving one other Christians is a test of legitimate Christian faith. The test is demonstrated in the sin of Cain's murder of Abel. The love test is worked out practically in our lives through practical and real efforts to support each other in this life.
1 John 3:11-18
It may be helpful to summarize the teaching in this passage about hatred and love. Hatred characterizes the world, whose prototype is Cain. It originates in the devil, issues in murder and is evidence of spiritual death. Love characterizes the church, whose prototype is Christ. It originates in God, issues in self-sacrifice, and is evidence of eternal life. — John Stott
The concession here is in two parts. We concede that we have the means to help and we concede that we have a brother who needs that help. In spite of those two concessions, we don't care.
For v this is the message that you have heard from the beginning,
The test for true Christianity is the same as it has always been,
w that we should love one another.
that is true christians should love other Christians.
We should not be like x Cain,
The evidence for this test has been around since Cain, whom we certainly shouldn't immitate.
who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.
We know we shouldn't be like him because he is the one who murdered his brother.
And why did he murder him?
But why did Cain kill Abel? (If we understand Cain's motives we will understand why loving Christians is a test of true faith)
y Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
The answer is that Cain killed Abel because he was jealous that Abel was righteous and he was in sin. In other words , the second sin in history came from a sinner being jealous that someone else loved God and was accepted by God. And every time someone can't find love in their hearts for Christians, they are following in Cain's footsteps.
Do not be surprised, brothers, 1 z that the world hates you.
By the way, this also means that if you are like Abel, you shouldn't be surprised that there are people like Cain out there who will hate you for it.
We know that a we have passed out of death into life,
So, using Cain as an example, we can recognize an implied test to show true conversion, or true movement from death to life.
because we love the brothers.
And we pass that test by loving other Christians. (i.e. how do you know that you passed the test? On the grounds of loving my brothers in Christ!)
Whoever does not love abides in death.
On the contrary , to not love our brothers in Christ is to abide in death, which is the opposite of passing from death to life.
b Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
This is because hating a brother in Christ makes us a murderer, since it is the same root sin as the one that motivated the very first murderer.
and you know that c no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
And obviously, since murderers don't have eternal life abiding in them, they must be abiding in death.
By this we know love,
(The question that remains is, how do we know if we love our brothers in Christ? After all, we can't make love a test if we don't know what love is.) But of course, we do know what love is.
that d he laid down his life for us,
Love is defined and demonstrated for us by Jesus. God literally demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
and e we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Therefore , our definition of love has to be the same. We have to be willing to sacrifice ourselves for other Christians.
But f if anyone has the world’s goods
To explain further , this doesn't always mean literal physical death. It could have to do with physical goods.
and sees his brother in need,
For instance, if you see that another brother is in need, and you concede both that he is in need and that you could help,
yet g closes his heart against him,
But you just don't care enough to bother to do anything,
h how does God’s love abide in him?
Then the implication is that you don't love your brother the way Christ loves them.
Little children, let us not i love in word or talk
Therefore , truly loving other Christians can't be just some kind of flowery speech or cultural nicety.
but in deed and j in truth.
Instead , we need to truly love people by actually doing things to help each other out.