I John

I John 3:11-15 Love Or Hate.

There is an old commandment which became new when the Son of God incarnate entered human history-to love one another. The beginning is really the beginning of history, this is why John hearkens back to the first family’s departure from it (v. 11 Cf. 2:7-8; Jn. 15:12). Cain murdered his brother because he hated him, and he hated him because he “was of the wicked one,” the wicked seed. More particularly, he murdered Abel because Cain’s “works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (v. 12). If we go back to Genesis we see that the great divide was a covenantal one, and in particular the acknowledgment of the reality of sin. Cain thought that his offering of the “fruit of the ground” was equal to Abel’s “firstborn of his flock” (Gen. 4:2-5).

Abel’s offering was a sacrifice of blood-that was necessary for a relationship involving the covenant of grace. This truth was laid down with our first parents when God sacrificed animals to clothe them after the fall (Gen. 3:21). It has always been the case, since Cain and the ungodly seed, that they seek to justify themselves in God’s sight, remaining dead in the original covenant of works, a covenant that we all broke in Adam at the fall. Fallen man continues to think that the offering of his own works is enough. The fact is, in order for Cain to offer an offering consistent with the covenant of grace, would have required of Cain that he go to his brother and ask for an animal of his to offer.

Cain hated his brother because he hated Abel’s God. He hated God because of his judgment on sin, and he hated Abel because Abel had the only sacrifice that was acceptable to God. If he had offered the same sacrifice as Abel, with the same heart, he would have done well and been accepted (Gen. 4:7). This is why John can say “do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you” (v. 13 Cf. Jn. 15:18; 17:14). It began in the first family. However, love for the brethren is evidence that we abide in him and he in us. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren” (v. 14a). This is a matter of life and death (v. 14b). Hatred is a violation of the 6th commandment-incompatible with those who claim eternal life (v. 15 Cf. Mt. 5:21).

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