Green Valley Sermons

Light and Dark, Love and Hate

Sunday, May 7, 2017         

1 John 2:1-11

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.

4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.

5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.

8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Integrity, honesty, truthfulness, caring about others, unselfishness: these are qualities that most everyone values. Even those who do not know God or have any idea what Christianity is all about, value these qualities. They know these are good things. These principles are built into us. God made us this way.

So, what does God offer, what does Christ offer that you need to know?

In this letter to God’s people, John, a disciple of Jesus, tells us some basic things we need to know. He speaks of light and darkness. He speaks of sin and righteousness. He speaks of confession and forgiveness. He speaks of love and hate.

John tells us that he wrote this letter so that we might not sin. So, what is sin?

I am sure you each have an idea about what you consider to be sin. There are actions and deeds that you consider to be wrong. Perhaps you think of sin as anything that falls short of the qualities I listed earlier: integrity, honesty, truthfulness, caring about others, unselfishness. Any of those things could be counted as sin.

Let me give you something to consider as a definition of sin. Sin is falling short of what God expects of you. John uses the terms light and darkness. John says we are living in the light of God when we are living in fellowship with Him. We are living in darkness when we are ignoring God. Our goal as followers of Jesus Christ is to learn to live more and more in fellowship with God.

When John told us that Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sin, He was telling us that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our failure to walk in fellowship with God. When we fail to walk with Him and He comes to us and reminds us that we are not living up to God’s expectations, we must choose to agree with His judgment of us. If we agree, God is faithful to forgive us because Jesus paid the debt we owe for our failure.

The Bible gives us lists of rules to follow. The purpose of these lists is to help us understand what God expects of us. These lists help us to know God and to know when we are falling short of His expectations.

Jesus summarized all these lists in two commands. The first and most important one is that we are to love God. This is to be our primary goal in life. We are to live for Him, not for ourselves. We are to live in fellowship with Him, to live in a relationship with Him. When we are living in this relationship with God we are walking in the light; we are walking in the Spirit as Paul puts it in his letters.

Any time we are falling short of this command, we are living in the darkness, we are not walking in the Spirit.

When we walk in a relationship with God, He will lead us to the second command that Jesus used to summarize all the other rules that God gave us in the Bible. That rule is to love other people.

When we walk in a relationship with God, He will lead us to the second command that Jesus used to summarize all the other rules that God gave us in the Bible. That rule is to love other people.

When we walk in a relationship with God He will lead us to live out the principles He built into us when He made us. You know, things like Integrity, honesty, truthfulness, caring about others, unselfishness.

The Bible uses terms like denying self, taking up the cross, living for the glory of God.

Here in 1 John, in the passage we read earlier, he said that if we love we are in the light. If we hate our brother or sister we are in darkness and the darkness blinds us to the truth.

Love and hate are not just feelings. When the Bible talks about love it is not talking about feelings. It is talking about how you treat others. The concept of hate is not just a feeling, it has more to do with how we treat God and one another.

Anger is not always a bad thing. But what do we do with that anger? Two Old Testament stories come to mind. The Old Testament is the part of the Bible that was written before Jesus was born. It tells about Creation and about how God prepared a nation for the coming of His Son to bring forgiveness and salvation to mankind.

The first story I think of when I think of hate is the story of Cain and Abel in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. Genesis says that Abel was a keeper of flocks and Cain was a farmer who tilled the soil.

They each brought an offering to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. Cain got angry about it. Read with me in Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

This was the first murder. Cain was angry and took out his anger on his brother. His brother had done nothing wrong. But Cain was angry. He was angry because, in some way, God had communicated to Cain and Abel that God had accepted Abel’s offering, but he had not accepted Cain’s.

Notice that God indicated that Cain had not sinned prior to the actual murder of his brother. God said that sin was crouching at the door and that Cain needed to master it.

Cain left God’s presence. He had allowed his anger to grow until he murdered his brother. God told Cain the ground would no longer yield its crops for Cain and that Cain would become a wanderer, a nomad.

What if Cain had gone to God and asked Him why He had not accepted his offering? Instead of turning to God, he allowed his anger to boil within him until he was overcome with anger and struck out at his brother.

God loved Cain. He would have forgiven him. Cain could have been restored to a relationship with God, but he refused.

You can be restored to a relationship with God if you have strayed from what He expects of you. If you are no longer loving God, or someone else, as God expects, you can be restored. God will forgive you and you will be enabled to forgive the one you hate.

The second story I thought of as I prepared this message was the story of David. He moved out of his relationship with God and took another man’s wife. He allowed his personal desire to move Him away from his relationship with God. He attempted to cover his sin by having the husband of the woman killed. He was blinded by the darkness in his heart.

When we fail to maintain our relationship with God we open ourselves to the darkness. Sin crouches at the door and we are prone to act in ways that are considered wrong even by the world’s standards.

When we accept that Jesus is our advocate and that He paid the price for our sin, we are saved, restored to our relationship with God. When God points out our sin, our response must be to agree with Him, to confess our sin and trust God to forgive us and to cleanse us, to bring us back into the relationship with Him that He desires for us.

We do not have to become wanderers in the desert. We are not alone. The light of God will flood us as we seek Him and love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

God used the prophet Nathan, to speak to David about the darkness in his heart. David repented. He was restored to a relationship with God. His sin was forgiven.

You can be forgiven today. Whatever has drawn you away from a relationship with God may be clouding your thinking and darkening your ability to believe that God loves you and that He is the Lord of your life. All you need to do is confess your failure to love God and or love other people. God is faithful to forgive and He will cleanse you and restore you to the light of His presence in your life.

God expects us to live in the light of His presence. When we go off on our own we are walking in the darkness, separated from the light, the truth of God. In order to be restored, we turn toward God, we agree with Him and He forgives us and restores us to the relationship with Him that He desires for us.

Are you walking in the light? Are you living in fellowship with God? Or are you living as if God and other people do not matter? Are you living in love or are you living in hate?

Light and Dark, Love and Hate.

Are you living up to God’s expectations for you? If not, you can begin to do so today. Turn to Him and trust Him to love you and to lead you.