Saturday, 25 April 2020
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13
John just referred to Cain who murdered his brother. He then explained that he did so because “his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” John, understanding that those in Christ are now imputed His righteousness, shows that what Cain felt toward Abel – meaning the enmity and hatred – is something to be expected by believers. In this, he says, “Do not marvel.”
The word signifies to be amazed or astonished. John is implying that those he is writing to may be incredulous at the enmity they were experiencing. He next says, “my brethren.” This is the only time he uses this particular word in the epistle. His usual address has been “little children,” or “beloved.” However, he certainly uses the term “brethren” here to contrast his brothers, whom he loves, to Cain who hated his brother.
One may have a brother by blood and hate him, but within the context of those in Christ, they are brothers who are to be loved – unconditionally. One may not especially like another believer, but those differences should in no way negate his loving him in a volitional manner.
John finishes the thought with, “if the world hates you.” Here, the word “hate” is in the present tense and in the indicative mood. There was hatred, and that hatred was a fact that was directed towards the believers. One might paraphrase his words, “if the world hates you as it does.” If Cain hated Abel for his right conduct in his offering to the Lord, how much more would one expect the world to hate believers who are “in Christ” and thus not of this world! As it is so, no believer should be surprised at the matter.
Life application: The believers John addressed had obviously been caught unaware by persecution from the nonbelievers around them. Nothing has changed since that time. The sons of disobedience who are under the devil’s power have been, and will continue, persecuting the sons of God. When John says “if” the world hates you, he is using the word as a foregone conclusion. It is a fact and not a mere possibility. The reason faithful believers are hated is because their lives are a testimony to the fact that the unsaved are… well, unsaved.
The problem with people is that they don’t want to admit that it’s possible that God has chosen one path, and one path alone, for men to be saved. Rather, man desires to follow the desires of his heart, knowing inside that this path condemns him. But the prospect of condemnation is something no one looks forward to. And so, a conflict rises which demands a choice –
1) Give up on self and trust in Jesus (with all that should entail, such as giving up on one’s favorite vice or perversion), or
2) Mentally blocking out the truth of the gospel and directing anger at the God who is intolerant of their behavior.
In the case of the second option, the anger at God is directed at the people of God. If you don’t believe this, simply go to the internet and type “Christian Persecution” into your image search engine. The horrors perpetrated against faithful believers around the world are astonishing – all because of the name of the One who can bring about reconciliation with God.
When a believer understands the depravity of the unregenerate human heart, he should in no way marvel when persecution comes. Be faithful to the Lord regardless of what you may face in the future. He has promised a far better eternal existence for those who love Him.
Thank You, O God, for Jesus! May we be willing to endure whatever it takes to remain faithful and obedient sons – bringing glory to You through His name! Regardless of what the world can do to us, we cherish above all else the title of “Christian” because it reflects our personal relationship with Jesus. And that makes being a child of Yours possible. Amen.