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Author:Pastor Ted Van Raalte
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 Canadian Reformed Church - CanRC
 
Preached At:Redeemer Canadian Reformed Church
 Winnipeg, Manitoba
 www.redeemer-canrc.ca
 
Title:Walking in the Light with the Lord of Life is only possible when we love our brothers
Text:LD 40 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 6th Commandment (Murder)
 
Preached:2004-03-07
Added:2004-03-11
Updated:2007-08-19
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Liturgy 3:00 p. m.
Hymn 34:1,2.
Hymn 1A
Read: 1John 2:3-17; 3:11-16.
Psalm 36:1,2.
Text: Lord's Day 40 (6th comm.)
Hymn 34:3,4,5,6.
Psalm 11.
Psalm 134.
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Ted Van Raalte, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Medicine has made advances by leaps and bounds. People are staying alive longer and often living better. Mental illness is being controlled much better than ever before. Science has enabled modern man to understand diseases better than ever, scientifically speaking.

But the complaint is heard that we have lost our sense of community. People are expected to get well simply by taking pills. Pills have helped many people and we are thankful. But pills are treated like wonder drugs. The doctor used to say: take one before you go to bed and call me in the morning. Now the doctor and the family both say: take one before you go to bed every night and you'll never need to call us again.

This past Friday a funeral was held for 51 year-old Jim Galloway, an RCMP corporal of Edmonton. Last Sunday he was shot dead by one Martin Ostopovich, a man who suffered from schizophrenia. Ostopovich was one of many people who have benefited from modern medicine. But he was refusing to take his medicine, said his family. His world closed in on him more and more until finally he shot an RCMP officer. He, in turn, was also shot dead. Since this shooting, some people have been calling for forced administration of the medicine. This is a discussion in and of itself. But noteworthy for the sermon this afternoon is the fact that many doctors are emphasizing that the drugs themselves are not the answer. Medicine cannot replace the loving community of family and friends. People need to care about each other. Love, patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness can work wonders like no drug is able. But all of those are things which depend on loving and caring people.

This afternoon the Lord addresses us as his chosen people, people whom he has loved. He has been patient and gentle with us, shown us mercy and friendliness, and given us peace. He does so in order that we might live in peace and show this love to others as well, rather than hating others or killing them. Among us there ought to be a community of love and compassion better than anywhere else, and we ought to care for others such as Mr. Ostopovich and Corporal Galloway, whenever they come across our path. We should practice such love because the LORD's command not to kill comes to us with special force through Christ who loved us by giving his life for us on the cross. He gave himself up to hatred and murder, to give us life and love. I preach God's Word on the sixth commandment, "You shall not murder," or, "You shall not kill."

To Walk with the Living Lord of Life We Must Uphold The Life He's Given Others:
1. Whoever hates his brother walks with Satan in the darkness of death;
2. Whoever loves his brother walks with God in the light of life;
3. Whoever walks with his Lord Jesus can walk in love for others.

1. Whoever hates his brother walks with Satan in the darkness of death:

We confess that God has laid upon us the command not to dishonour, hate, injure, or kill our neighbour. This command has come upon us with strong force because of the love God has shown us in Christ. It was already true in the Old Testament that when God forbade murder he also forbade the root of murder, namely hatred. Lev. 19:17, "Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt." This is all the more true in Christ who taught us that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment (Mt. 5:22). Let us not doubt, then, that this commandment will address our daily lives this afternoon.

We must begin by carefully defining what kind of killing the commandment prohibits. For instance, we know very well that Israel fought many wars, whether in defence or offense. Killing in war is not prohibited by this commandment. We also know that in the Old Testament God commanded the death penalty for certain crimes such as murder, kidnapping, blasphemy, bestiality, homosexual acts, adultery, and even breaking the Sabbath. Such killing was not murderous since it was in keeping with God's law. However, when the commandment says not to murder it inludes what we call manslaughter, eg. due to drunk driving. In this commandment that would also be called murder. The meaning of the Hebrew is somewhere between "kill" and "murder," which is why English translations vary between these two words. It would not even be wrong to include in this commandment the wasteful or cruel killing of animals. In Proverbs 12:10 we read that "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals." The Lord does not want his people to delight in death or in the act of killing. Ending the life of man or beast may only be done if it is lawful and yet it should not be a delight. Even when many sacrifices were brought to the temple of the Lord, it was not his purpose to teach his people to delight in death. The purpose was solemn - to teach God's people about their own sin, and about his righteous wrath against their sins. No one was ever to gloat in killing or enjoy it for what it was.

We can summarize the meaning: When the LORD commanded, "You shall not murder," then he forbade all unlawful killing. If the killing was not done in agreement with the law and if it was not in service of the community, then it was unlawful.

Where does unlawful killing come from? It begins in the heart. Therefore murder and hatred belong together, as we learn in Scripture. We read in 1John 3:15, "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." And in chapter 2:11 we read that, "[W]hoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him."

We must apply this to ourselves even though it will hurt. What does it mean to hate one's brother? To hate someone is to think angry thoughts about them. Hatred is having an aversion to someone. Anger could be towards a thing just as much as to a person. I was sinfully angry with my computer recently. I repented of that. But to say I hated my computer would not really fit. Hatred, I think, is directed towards people.

Imagine that a father must rebuke his daughter. She responds in a godly way, but a day later the problem returns. The father covers the same ground with his daughter, rather more frustrated, and matters are once again good. But on a third occasion the father is ready to lose his cool. He realizes what is happening to himself, and he goes away fuming and muttering to think it over. I've painted the picture rather nicely, you must admit, for often the truth is that we don't walk away when we should. Nevertheless, keep the picture as it is. Very often an angry person - be it the father, the mother, the daughter, the son, the student, the teacher, the friend, or whoever it may be - very often the person feels deeply wronged. We then think ourselves justified to speak some very angry words. We are ready to put the other person down, to drag up a list of their failures, and so on. So we walk away. That is a good thing to do, for it spares the other from the effects of your own sinful thoughts. However, we need to admit that the murderous thoughts are already there. The anger is already within us. Generally speaking, anger has its source in frustration because something is not going our way. If we could just remove that other person, then it would go our way. If we could just have a different person, say a different husband, a different wife, a different child, a different teacher, a different student, and so on, then everything would go our way. This is the root of murder itself, for what I have described is actually hatred, the desire to get rid of someone else. It grows because we want something a certain way and we can't get it. In our better moments we will of course think differently. But we can't pretend away our sin, or balance it out with good behaviour. Sin is sin, and we need to repent of it before we recommit to holiness.

How humbling this is! Truly there is not one of us who could claim that we have never hated someone. The Lord commands us to put away all desire of revenge. He forbids envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge, and he regards all these as murder. They are not the act of murder as such, but since they lie at the root of murder, in God's eyes they are evil and heinous. We must humbly conclude that we make ourselves evil and heinous in the sight of God by such sins as I just described. The first response must be humble repentance, asking God to forgive us.

Who is the father of this sinful hatred? It is Satan himself. He was a murderer from the beginning, says our Lord Jesus (John 8:44). How is this so? Satan envied God soon after the beginning. He was jealous of God's majesty and desired it for himself. His desire could only be fulfilled if he would remove God from the heavenly throne, indeed, if he could murder the Holy One. His heart was full of hatred for God. Satan could not overcome God, but he has tried to take the creation. He introduced Eve to the idea of envying God. By Satan's instigation, we brought death upon ourselves. We are guilty, yet he is the murderer.

Therefore whoever hates his brother walks around in darkness, together with Satan. Our anger leads to murder. Whom are we pleasing whenever we blow up with one another? Not the Lord, but Satan! We are not walking with the Lord in the midst of our anger, but with Satan. In our anger we do not know where we are going - it would end in the act of murder were it not for God's restraining hand.

In this sense literal blindness is a parable for hatred. With hatred we lose our eternal perspective and we just count our immediate moment, our immediate gratification, to be most important. We see nothing and know nothing. Indeed, we make ourselves higher than God because what we want in that moment becomes more important than anything in the world. Therefore when David writes about being in the presence of the wicked in Psalm 39, and when he says, "My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue," you expect an explosion of anger from him. But by the leading of the Holy Spirit, David showed spiritual insight instead of the blindness of a rage. He sang this, "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." This is a good way out of the blindness of our rage, when we meditate upon the shortness of our days. Suddenly we are standing before the eternal God, and all things are put back into perspective. We are here only for time, and we are here to serve him. We ourselves will be gone in a moment, so we need to use our time for better things than hatred, anger, envy, jealousy, and desire of revenge. All these things are nothing but walking with Satan in the darkness of death itself.

We can be righteously angry against the evils of abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and human cloning. In fact, we must be righteously angry against such evils, for they all involve murder in some way, ultimately. But it behoves us to begin with our own hatred and anger.

The LORD God has called us to walk with him, the Living God. Hating our brother is not walking with the Living God, but in the darkness, with a Dying and Evil Satan. Let us therefore number our days rightly and seek to love others.

2. Whoever loves his brother walks with God in the light of life:

"Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." So wrote John in 2:10. How positive this is! Whoever loves his brother. This is for all who would love their brother. By the word "brother," John here is especially referring to love within the church, where we find our brothers and sisters. But he says that this is not a new command, rather, it is an old one we have had since the beginning. He is therefore referring to the command that we ought to love our neighbour as ourselves. This command is not restricted to our love within the brotherhood of believers, but includes the need for us to show love to all people. What needs to be done towards all people, must surely be done first of all within the communion of saints! Therefore John speaks of loving our brothers and sisters. If we cannot love one another here in word and deed, then how shall we in good conscience love those outside of the fellowship?

Look at the promise here: Whoever loves his brother. All who do so are included. We admit that we are sinners who fall into anger and hatred. We repent of that. But now we do sincerely seek to love one another. The Lord then states a truth: Whoever loves his brother - as many as there may be who show love to others - they live in the light.

To live in the light is to live in the presence of God. God dwells in light. We often pray for his face to shine upon us. By this we surely mean his grace and love. To live in the light is all about living in the presence of the Living God, who is full of grace and love. This is the promise: that when we love our brothers and sisters, then we are living in the presence of God. He is the One who commanded love, and to love as he commands is to walk in fellowship with him. For such a person, John writes, "there is nothing in him that makes him stumble."

As the man who loves his brother walks with the LORD, his walk is certain. He does not stumble. He does not fall. He lives and walks with God in the light of life.

What wonderful guidance we then have in our confession! "When God condemns envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves, to show patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness toward him, to protect him from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies." This is living in the light!

The way that obedience works, is that we need to replace our disobedience with something positive. Instead of just denying ourselves the desire for revenge, the envy, the hatred, and the anger, we need to fill our hearts and lives with patience, peace, mercy, and so on. We need to love our brother. We can't be neutral towards each other.

Say you don't talk to someone in the church very often at all. That happens because we're all busy and you know certain people better than others. But that doesn't mean we are "neutral" towards that person. That doesn't mean that when we actually do talk together we have to find out whether it will be possible to love each other or not. Not at all! From the start love must be actively pursued. From the start we must approach each other with an attitude of care and gentleness. From the start we must be ready to show love by word and deed. The relationship is already there by the act of the Living God who put us in the same church. He made the relationship. Relationships are not purely earthly things that we need to develop and feel. They are first of all made in heaven by God who calls us to live up to the responsibilities of the relationships he has put us in. So, we cannot just be neutral towards each other. We need to be full of love towards each other and in this way we will be walking with God in the light of life.

With love, we can see where we are going, for love serves the good of others. Love brings them closer to the day of Christ, closer to God. That is why love does not exclude but includes rebuke and admonition where necessary. It must be given within the framework of concern and friendliness, and then admonition is not an unloving act, but a loving act.

Loving acts might be defined as those acts which lead to life. Here again we may find that such knowledge comes from John's first letter. 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death." We have passed from death to life and this is evident in the love for one another. Loving acts must therefore be acts which express the fact that we have passed from death to life. We serve the Living God who is the Author and Lord of life. To walk with this Living Lord of life, we must uphold and promote the life he's given others.

This theme of walking with the LORD is, as we know, the theme of ICS for this school year. Let me then address the school children about walking with the LORD at school. Part of walking with the LORD requires that you love each other. You can prove that you love the LORD when you show consideration and respect for others at school. Not everyone plays sports. How can you include them? Sometimes you say something mean to each other. Love can overcome this. I don't mean that you need to right away feel good about that person. I mean that you need to say and do things that are special for them, especially when they don't expect it. Such love will be your way of walking with God. "What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

If we know ourselves to fail in this requirement of love, then we must walk humbly with our God. But if we also love mercy, then we will be ready to forgive others just as we have been forgiven. Forgiving others is part of upholding and promoting their well-being, yes, their very life. Wherever we are, in order to walk with the LORD of life, we must uphold and promote the life he's given others.

It's not ours to take or to ruin. Therefore love to our neighbour includes compassion and care for the elderly when they are sick. It includes care for babies that are born but not cared for. It includes care for mothers who are afraid they won't be able to care for their babies. We wish to help their babies see the light of day and live in the light of life. Ultimately, our goal is that God should use us to bring everyone who is his into the light of eternal life. This is the kind of love that is walking with God. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. Nor is there anything in him to make his brother stumble. Let us finish by seeing how this is possible, even in a sinful and broken world.

3. Whoever walks with his Lord Jesus can walk in love for others:

The apostle John knew that the command to love could not be kept easily. He calls it an old command, since God has always expected this of us. But he also calls it a new command, for he writes, "Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining." A new command; its truth is seen in him and in you. It is new in relation to the coming of Christ.

You must understand that no one has ever loved as he loved. He gave up his life for us, his enemies, to redeem us. Behold, what love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1John 3:1). But we are that only because God's Son didn't count his own rights to be important, but gave himself up for us all. Behold, "This is love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1John 4:10). "This is how we know what love is : Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." (1John 3:16).

It is in Christ that the command to love is a new command, for it is true in him. In him this command is possible for you, because by faith his obedience is given to you and by faith his Holy Spirit is given to renew you. Remember, this is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who comes after the completed work of Christ, who comes with all the power of Christ's obedience, to work that in our hearts. The truth of love is seen in him. And by faith it must also be seen in us, for John writes, "and in you, because, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining."

The true light is the grace of God in Jesus Christ. That is shining and it is overcoming Satan and the darkness of death that he brought. Let us walk with our Lord Jesus Christ, for he can take every moment of our days and turn them into moments of love in word and deed. This can be done, for its truth is in him.

As we uphold the precious life he has given to others, let us throw off all the sin that would weigh us down. Let us behold the light of God's presence so that we can see our way clearly. Let there be nothing in us that causes us or anyone else to stumble, and let us run this race to the finish. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Ted Van Raalte, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2004, Pastor Ted Van Raalte

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