We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.1 John 3:14–18
John, here, references his recorded words of Jesus in John 5:24:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.John 5:24
John also speaks about love for one’s brother or sister in Christ in 1 John 2:
On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.1 John 2:8–11
Notice the correlation between love and life contrasted with hate and death. Or, as I wrote yesterday, “lose your life to save it.” Also, if you compare 1 John 2 with 1 John 3, you find that light and life are interchangeable while darkness and death are interchangeable. This is why Paul said,
So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light [LIFE] both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.Acts 26:22–23
So, how does one know he has passed out of death and into life? If he loves the brethren. As Paul said, love is the fulfillment of the Law (Romans 13:10). When you are showing someone love as Christ has shown towards you, you are doing exactly what God wants. This is why love is the litmus test of a follower of Jesus and not right doctrine or anything like that. If you have studied the Bible at all, you know how much more complicated it is than some may let on. You understand why so many extremely intelligent people do not see eye to eye on some passages, even within your own congregation or fellowship. So, how do you tell who “knows the truth” versus who doesn’t?
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.1 John 2:4–6
What are the commandments?
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.1 John 3:21–24
Jesus said if we love Him, we are to keep His commandments? What commandments?
If you do a search of that word commandments in the book of John, you get a handful of results. All of them are dealing with two things except for one exception which deals with orders from the Pharisees: Jesus’s commandment given to Him by God and Jesus’s commandment to the disciples, that they were to love one another as He had loved them.
How do we show love towards Jesus? How do we show love towards God? How do we know if we have passed from death to life?
This is can be seen in three additional passages.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’Matthew 7:21–23
What did they lack? What was the will of the Father?
He had just spent almost three chapters talking about basically one thing:
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12
They did all these things but they lacked love, so it profited them nothing. Which brings me to number two:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1–3
I bet, like in Matthew 7:21-23, that there are a lot of people who just know they are pleasing to God because of long lists of things they have done or things they have right. What’s interesting about this, as seen in passage three, the people who Jesus said inherit the kingdom are surprised:
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’Matthew 25:31-40
Upon what basis were they judged?
This is why Paul says,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22–23
So stop making up laws to exclude people who should be included and including people who should be excluded.
In the church today, we will gladly “extend the right hand of fellowship” to the one who believes all the same things we do but has no love. Yet, there are people who do “love the brethren” and don’t have it all figured out (assuming we do), but we exclude them for what reason? Knowledge? None of us are getting to Heaven because of our knowledge.
The folks in Matthew 7 and Matthew 25 had plenty of that, but they hadn’t been changed by the gospel.
How do you tell if someone has been transformed by the gospel?
Well just read the passage from Galatians again. That’s the test. That’s how you know. Against such there is no law.
That’s the way to view the world through resurrection eyes.