For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
The point of 1 John is to reveal the true nature of believers. When John wrote this book, he included several things that would be characteristic of someone who truly had been converted by the power of the Spirit. One of those key things is that Christians will respond in love. Christ had left his disciples with one last commandment before He went to the cross to die for them, namely, that they love. He had told them to love. This is a true mark of a Christian. Attending church is good. Memorizing hymns is fantastic. Wearing nicer clothes to church than what you wear when mowing the lawn makes for good practice. But a true mark of Christianity is the transformed inside. John uses the illustration of Cain here in 1 John 3. Often Cain is seen as this Old Testament guy who was just a murderer and wicked. But when you read Genesis, you will find that Cain was a pretty religious guy. As a matter of fact, all of his frustration towards Abel had come from the church service where they had shown up to worship God. By all outward measures, Cain was a serious follower of God, but time revealed what was on the inside. When Cain did not receive the recognition he felt he was due, and when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice instead of Cain’s, Cain showed his true colors. In a murderous fit, he executed his ignorant anger against a misunderstood God on his own brother. John warns Christians in 1 John 3 of others who reveal this hatred toward them. His desire is that Christians be true followers of Jesus and not just religious impostors. He tells the Christian that we should love others and care for them. Hatred is for the fakers. Real Christians love. Look to Jesus as the great example. Let His self-less life and altruistic death stand as a testament to us of how we genuinely should live daily. Vengeance is not ours. Vindication is not required. Self-preoccupation and self-exaltation are meaningless. Let love be the rule of your life.
Food For Thought: What was the deep-seated problem of Cain’s life that caused him to become a murderer?