By William Y. Beasley
Do you have eternal life? Would you like to know? You can know: “These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). This should be not only an interesting study (everyone has a vital, personal interest in it), but also a profitable one (we can change our condition). As we continue our study of 1 John together, ask yourself, Do I know, from God’s standard, that I have eternal life?”
“We Love The Brethren” (1 John 3:13-18)
This section is based on what has proceeded: The murder of Abel by Cain (3:12). Being hated is to be expected (“Marvel not . . . “-3:13). Such is the way of the world. When one passes from death to life in Jesus, he will love his brethren: “We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren”(3:14). According to R. C. H. Lenski, “This is the same perfect tense that was used in 2:29 and 3:9, and it has full present connotation” (Interpretation of Peter, John, Jude, pp. 468-469). In fact, Lenski translated a part of the verse: “. . . because we are loving the brothers” (Ibid.). Have you passed from death to life? Do you have eternal life? Do you love (are you loving) the brothers? The above is not three, but one question.
Lest we misunderstand the full significance of loving the brethren, the reverse is also stated: “He that loveth not abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and we know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (3:14-15). John said that this was something that “ye know”-perhaps because of the teachings of Jesus as recorded in Matt. 5:22 and John 8:44.
To know what love is we need but look to the example of Jesus Christ who “laid down his life for us” (3:16; Rom. 5:6-10; John 10:11, 17, 18). We are to love one another that much: “. . . we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:16). This is the same thing that Jesus preached: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). The new thing about the commandment of Jesus was its degree or intensity-“even as I have loved you.” I pray God that I misjudge my brethren, but right here each of us needs to work on our love. We might pick and choose some for whom we would die, but what about the others? There is no question that some would not “lay down his life for the brethren” (3:16) if needed because they will not or have not shown compassion for them in benevolence. They “love in word . . . with the tongue” but not “in deed and truth” (3:18).
An Un-Condemning Heart (1 John 3:19-24)
The immediate, textual application of this section is to love the brethren (benevolence). The heart, perhaps what we call conscience, is 100% accurate only in showing condemnation. A clean conscience does not in itself prove righteousness because “God is greater than our hearts” (3:20). Our hearts may or may not be properly taught, may or may not be spiritually inclined at all. Our hearts tend to forget, but God “knoweth all things” (3:20). We are limited, we are finite. God is infinite and unforgetting.
An uncondemning heart gives us “boldness toward God” (3:21). It is all too possible that the uncondemning heart should be condemning. Many of us have heard statements like, “I’m satisfied with my baptism or marriage” and we know that they ought not be satisfied. One should have an uncondemning heart when and only when it is “because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight” (3:22). This is limited only by the things which Jesus has commanded. One cannot “believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ” and reject the Son’s authority. The second commandment is to “love one another” (3:23). When we keep His commandments (plural), we abide in Him (God) and He in us (3:24). We know that God abides in us “by the Spirit which He gave us” (3:24). Is this speaking of a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Is it even speaking of the Holy Spirit? It is speaking, we are convinced, not of the Holy Spirit, but of the same idea we found earlier in 1 John 2:24 and 3:9, i.e., seed is equal to word of God which is to abide in us.
Do you know you have eternal life? Do you love the brethren? Are you right now loving the brothers? Do you love to the degree, with the intensity that you should? God, help each of us. Are you benevolent to your brother and sister in the Lord? Do you have an uncondemning heart? Do you “keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (3:22)?
Truth Magazine XXII: 49, p. 793
December 14, 1978