1 John 3:11-24 (#8)

Gene Heacock

13 verses that can revolutionize your church but as someone said the only church you can build is the one that meets in your heart…

Have you ever had a bully in your life?

Recall who it was when it happened and how did you get over it? Can you still feel the relief as well as the initial angst when I asked that question? Why is that so real for some who experienced it decades ago?

Most of us are aware of the national epidemic of bullying and the tragic effect it has had upon children as well as college students.  There have been a string of teenage suicides over this issue. There are middle school, high school, street corner, financial, economic, highway road-rage bullies, cyber-space as well as political bullies.

There can also be spiritual bullies as well. It is always about power and intimidation and who is in and who is out. Churches can be that way as well…

This text says there are at least three spiritual bullies (see 2:26) to overcome and John will tell us how to overcome them.

The text says the three are:

  1. V. 12 The Spirit of Cain
  2. V. 15 Passionless Christianity (also v. 17)
  3. V. 20 A condemning heart.

Some of the spiritual bullies we have encountered so far are:  The Legalist, The Gnostics, Greek Philosophy, Roman humanism but most critical has been these tender new converts.

Have you been a believer less than five years? Do you ever feel like you just don’t measure up? Perhaps they have more access to the father than you do?

Have any of you ever felt like a second class Christian? Do you ever allow other Christian to do that to you? Why are you so vulnerable?

Or are you the one that makes others fell less than accepted like your specially special to God?

Beware grace gone sour that says, God you made good soup but after all, look at the great stock you had to work with. –Haddon Robinson quote

ASK you if you were John what would you say to this vulnerable small group with all these factions and obstacles in their midst?

John writes them a letter and tells them why they are strong he reminds them to whom they belong and to whom they will become like and how that over time they will become his strong band of believers.

Listen to these verses. I will read the verses and allow us to soak in the word. I will read the verse and add the names of the transition team members 1:1 2;1-2;12 2:13 2:14 2:26 5:13

How does God refute and give biblical correction to the spiritual bullies?

v 11 From the beginning – a few possible meanings bottom line get back to basics John 13:34 or the church? Jesus only taught twice in his earthly ministry Matt 16 and Matt 18

Core Christology and a reconciling community how are we doing with those basics?

Spirit of Cain – story of Cain rooted in comparison (Galatian problem Galatians 5:15 and judgment)

Legalism drives us away form God and destroys the body of Christ while true Christ-likeness is winsome and attractive and draws others to Christ.

Spirit of Cain is rooted also in judgment – as Luther said he who practices judgment becomes the self-accuser and self-justifies simultaneously.

John makes the transition to defeats the spirit of Cain and confront the second bully of passionless or loveless Christianity v. 15 and 17.

He focused them on Jesus v. 16 laying his life down.  Who is writing this? Son of thunder an angry man who shared the last supper with Jesus who reclined heart to heart on his chest. Who knew everything about John’s sin and yours and mine – He knows our hearts v. 20 but he still dies, he still sacrifices, he still loves us.

This is not the Gnostic Jesus but Jesus incarnate who died on a real cross for real sin and was tied to real life He laid it down to bond us to himself as I illustrate in the story of Plough boy…

This is not a fake grenade but this is the passion of Christ saying there passion and suffering was real to break the outer man to recapture our hearts. His passion for us becomes our passion for Him and each other.


  • Christ death forgives our sins
  • Christ death bonds us to one another
  • Christ death calls us to common service’

Love that is practical says John is not theoretical and love that is demonstrated – “When one Christian cries another should taste salt.”  Have you tasted any salt lately?

John moves to dethrone the spirit of intimidation on the third bully v. 20 a condemning heart. If God knows everything about your heart and He still died for you and forgave your sins then why are you condemning yourself?

Just pause for a moment… DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH A DREAD OF DIVINE  RETRIBUTION?? An awareness that if you saw God your desire would be to run from Him rather than to run toward Him? That judgment is real and your are fearing God’s judgment upon you?

Perhaps you are not converted?

John is dealing with another type called a condemning heart – feelings of condemnation, worthlessness, spiritual inferiority or not ever measuring up spiritually. It is called a condemning heart or as John Fletcher said an over scrupulous conscience, let me read Fletcher’s fears and that John Wesley’s advice to him and to us…

Romans 8:1 says there is now…

Where does it come from? Our flesh, others flesh -(comparison and judgment) and the enemy – the devil himself

Important concept is to know the difference between condemnation and correction

Family illustration child baseball, rather than a cinder block through the bay window from juvenile delinquents

One will get correction the other justice, and condemnation.

What is John’s final antidote from all the spiritual bullies and insecurities? Intimacy the inward witness testimony of the Spirit’s witness

John emphasizes obedience repeatedly verses 21,22,23,24 but it positioned in this way: become who you are, become who you love and become more like the one you are bonded with.

Story during the civil war – a woman freed – like the slave woman freed by Abraham Lincoln… she said I want to go with you…

Holiness and obedience the term used here is set in the metaphor of hospitality in your relationship with the God of the universe. It is relational dynamic and beautiful and draws us

He lives in us and we in Him it is Johanine all the way

Taking it Home To SBF

Time to break The Spirit of Cain?

If you lift anything higher than the cross in the end it will cause enmity within the body of Christ (doctrine, experience, manifestations, signs, systematic theology, worship practice, etc.)

Passionless of loveless Christianity?

Any one you don’t like, don’t love avoid her in the hall, grocery store, Get real get honest  (you avoid pray you don’t  have to room with on the retreat and avoid at that one aisle in the grocery store??)

God has every right to ask you to do what He knows you can not do because HE IS GOD, but take heart He has not asked you to do anything in your Christian life that he has not promised to give you the power to do

Condemning Heart – are you candidate for a richer, fuller free-er  relationship with Jesus??

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