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July 29, 2014

THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 29 July 2014

The Epistle of First John emphasizes the importance for a believer in Jesus Christ to affirm "the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (2:7; 3:11). The Lord Jesus declared this message, and He is the perfect example of love (cf. 1 Pet 2:21). The new evidence of this old command is that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on behalf of sinners (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-4). Jesus' work of salvation is the superlative example of the message to "love one another," and, therefore, provides better understanding of the message than either the Old Testament (Lev 19:18) or the Gospels (John 15:12; 13:34).

Prior to stating what is love, First John 3:11 states that it is "not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother." The righteousness of his brother, Abel, resulted in overwhelming resentment from Cain. The resentment was so great that it culminated in murder. Those who strive to live righteously (godly) among those who do not know God will certainly experience the same resentment. One reason why people act with anger toward others, as opposed to demonstrating love, is because they abhor the contrast that often exists in their own life. Contrast is the measure of difference between light and darkness; therefore, light by its nature exposes darkness, so that all that is hidden becomes visible (Matt 4:16; Luke 8:17; John 1:1-5; 3:20-21; Eph 5:13). 

If you “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light,” there is fellowship with God, “and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Please understand that when you encounter difficulty and opposition for walking in the Light, it is often because people love the darkness rather than the Light, which is one reason that Jesus was murdered. The Lord Jesus was the Light that sinful human beings sought to extinguish because His very life contrasted and exposed the sinfulness of those who hated and resented Him. When you encounter someone who has very fervent antipathy toward you or another, (as a Christian) you should seek discernment as to whether the Light/Darkness dynamic is the reason.

The life of a true Christian will be an entire contrast to those who do not know God. Therefore, verse 14 applies love and hatred in a manner that grants assurance to the believer. Salvation is received by God’s grace through faith/trust in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9). Loving others does not grant eternal life; however, if one does possess eternal life, it will be evident in his/her interactions with others; it may be challenging to love certain Christians, but a fundamental desire to love will be evident, if we possess eternal life. If someone’s life is characterized by hatred that person does not possess eternal life. In contrast to such a life is the remarkable love of Jesus (1 John 3:16-18).

Although the laying down of one’s life may be rare, the necessity to help with another’s needs is not. The true evidence of eternal life is not mere expressions of creeds or doctrinal statements; rather, it is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of another “in deed and truth.” The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible, enables the believer to interpret and understand Scripture, and He empowers the Christian to live the divine commands through divine provision.

Interim Bible Study

REMINDER: next Tuesday (5th of August) is
the monthly (interim) Capitol Commission Bible Study
Room 123 CAP, Georgia Capitol, @ 12 Noon