The Love of Christ Resembled
March 27, 2022
1 John 3:1-18
Often we can immediately recognize the resemblance of a parent in their children. This goes not only for their physical features, but even mannerisms, attitudes, and behaviors also reflect those similarities. Likewise, in this section, John emphasizes that there is a striking resemblance between God and His children (1 John 3:1).
First, our resemblance to Christ is more than in name but in character. In other words, we don’t just bear the title “children of God,” but God’s children also resemble Him in character.
Secondly, therefore, it matters how we relate to other believers because our identity determines our activity. John is saying that our identity as children of God inevitably bleeds over into our relationship with others.
John tells us to avoid the model of “brotherliness” displayed by Cain toward his brother Abel. Cain’s was characterized by:
- A heart that was displeasing to God (Gen. 4:7) “if you did well will you not be accepted.”
- An offering that was displeasing to God (Gen. 4:5) “no regard.”
- Becoming angry when God told him what his problem was (Gen. 4:5-6) “very angry.”
- Being driven by jealousy and competition (Gen. 4:5) “so Cain.”
- Being overcome by anger (Gen. 4:8) “rose up.”
- Taking his brother’s life (Gen. 4:8) “killed.”
- Having no remorse toward his dead brother (Gen. 4:9) “I don’t know.”
- Forsaking the responsibility to protect his brother (Gen. 4:9) “Am I my brother’s keeper.”
To further underscore the correlation between identity and actions, John goes on to say that Christ-resembling love toward believers is evidence of our salvation. He is clear that our actions are an indicator of our identity. Finally, John emphasizes that intimately knowing the love of Christ moves us to also lay our lives down for our brothers.
In Romans 8:29 Christ is referred to as “the firstborn among many brothers.” Below is a portrait of His brotherliness, which contrasts the brotherliness of Cain:
- A heart that was pleasing to God (Matt. 3:17)
- Christ’s sacrifice was acceptable to God (John 8:29, Luke 23:46)
- God affirmed that He was pleased with Jesus (Matt. 17:5)
- Christ was driven by the will of the Father (John 4:34)
- Christ was overcome with love (John 14:31)
- Christ laid His life down for His brothers (John 10:18)
- Christ had compassion toward His brothers (Luke 22:32)
- Christ assumed responsibility for His brothers (John 10:11)
The only way we can resemble this kind of love is to have our identities wrapped up in the person of Christ. Only His seed abiding in us (1 John 3:9) can produce Christ-resembling love. May our prayer be that we abide in Him and that He produce the fruit of Chris-resembling love.