Character Traits of the Believer

First Epistle of John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  54:04
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Character Traits of the Believer # 4
1 John 2: 7-11
Luke 6:43–45 KJV 1900
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
In these verses Jesus reveals that the true nature of our hearts, is known by the lives we live, the words we speak, and the actions we perform.
What we possess on the inside will eventually, and inevitably, make its way to the surface.
If we were to survey the community around us, I am certain many of those surveyed would claim association with Christ and consider themselves to be a Christian.
But, we must ask:
what do their lives reveal?
Is there any fruit that bears witness to such a claim?
Are their lives lived in light of God’s Word?
Simply, Christians will be known by the life they live. That is not to say we are perfect, or that we never sin, but there will be evidence of our conversion.
In our text John speaks of such evidence, the fruit born by believers. He reveals two characteristics that ought to be present in the life of a Christian.
Some commentators see this section of verses as only being about the command that John is giving to them. But I see that actually John is laying out two important characteristics that every believer should have.
With that in mind
I want to consider these characteristics as we think on: Character traits of the Believer.
First we must consider:

I. Obedience to the Scriptures

(7-8) – A genuine believer, one truly born again in Christ will embrace the Scripture as the Word of God. and accept that he or she is to live their life according to the dictates of it.
Having a characteristic of obedience to the scriptures first involves a general understanding of them.
The first thing we see John speak of is:

A. The Authority of Scripture

(7a) – Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning.
The words John has written and the thoughts he hopes to convey are nothing new. He is simply rehearsing to them commandments given of old from the Lord Himself. He was not asking the reader to embrace these words because he had written them, but because they were founded in Scripture.
 A genuine believer, whose heart is right with God, will accept the Word recorded within the Bible as the very word of God.
It is given directly of Him, literally God breathed.
It was penned of old by mortal men who were supervised by the Holy Spirit.
2 Tim.3:16
2 Timothy 3:16 KJV 1900
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
We must accept the Word, as it is written, to guide our lives whether it comforts, confronts, or convicts! God’s Word is the final authority for our lives.

B. The Application of Scripture

(7b) – The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
As we saw, John was not offering something foreign to them. He was giving them instruction consistent with the Scriptures, the very words they had heard since childhood.
He knew a genuine believer would be reluctant to discredit or ignore God’s Word and he urges them to apply these truths to their lives as well.
 I will admit certain portions of Scripture are easier to embrace than others.
We love the thought of being able to do all things in Christ (Phil.4:13),
but we don’t relish the thought of being unable to do anything without Him (John 15:5).
We boldly proclaim those portions we assume apply to others, but rarely mention the verses that bring conviction to our lives.
God has given His Word for our benefit.
We have no problem embracing it as the Word, but often we have difficulty making application.
A mature, victorious Christian will embrace and seek to apply the Word.
(8) – Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
If there was any doubt or reservation, John sought to put those to rest here. Notice:

1. The Presentation

(8a) – Again, a new commandment I write unto you
Some view this statement as contradictory to the previous verse, but there is no contradiction here.
Again it has the idea of “on the other hand, or from a different point of view.
As we will see in a moment, John is referring to Christ, the living Word.
His life confirmed the Word.
He came not to discredit the law and writings of old, but to fulfill them.
 Since God’s Word was given to humanity, men have sought to discredit and disprove it. Skeptics and scoffers remain today.
They claim the Bible is filled with inaccuracies and contradictions.
In fact, it possesses neither.
God’s Word is pure.
It will remain when all else has been destroyed.
If you feel you have found a contradiction, you have erred in your interpretation.
Scripture must be considered within its context.
Measure your thoughts of Scripture against the Scripture.
It will always reveal truth and accuracy!

2. The Person

(8a) – Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you:
John speaks of the person of Jesus Christ.
Keep in mind that John walked with Jesus.
He experienced His miracles, His life, and the authority with which He spoke.
John stood at the foot of the cross; he witnessed the empty tomb; and he spoke with the resurrected Lord.
Jesus is the affirmation of the Scripture. The written Word became the living Word in a body of flesh.
 You may wonder what the significance of this verse is. It is very significant in fact.
God gave the law to humanity to reveal the holiness of God and the utter depravity of mankind.
Through the Old Testament writings we discover that God demands absolute righteousness and that we are incapable of obtaining that within ourselves.
Had there been no gospel record, we would all remain in sin, condemned of God.
Christ came to earth, lived a prefect life, offered Himself the atonement for sin, bore the judgment of God as He died on the cross, and rose in victory.
That was done for our benefit. The gospel of grace is extended to us. Christ came to fulfill redemption’s plan! Had there been no Jesus and no sacrifice, we would have no hope!

3. The Perfection

(8b) – because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
John reveals that Jesus secured our redemption.
The darkness of humanity, the sin that created separation and condemnation, has been dispelled by the Light of the world.
John 3:16–20 KJV 1900
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
His sacrificial death and victorious for our salvation and eternal life!
We have hope and the assurance of salvation in Christ our Savior.
His light also brings perfection by shinning through us so we are to fulfil the two greatest commandments.
Matthew 22:37–40 KJV 1900
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Jesus reveals that these two commandments literally sum up the Scriptures. We cannot love and serve God if we do not accept His Word and embrace it. and when we accept it and embrace it I believe we become that light that is sat on a hill.
Now John addresses the second characteristic, consistent with the great commandment.

II. Affection for the Brethren

(9-11) –
John is known as the “Apostle of Love” because in his Gospel and his epistles he gives such prominence to this subject. However, John was not always the “Apostle of Love.”
At one time Jesus gave John and his brother James, both of whom had hot tempers, the nickname “Boanerges” (Mark 3:17), which means “sons of thunder.”
On another occasion these two brothers wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village (Luke 9:51–56).
Since the New Testament was written in Greek, the writers were often able to use more precise language. It is unfortunate that our English word love has so many shades of meaning (some of them contradictory).
When we read in 1 John about “love,” the Greek word used is agapao (ah-GAH-pay-O), the word for God’s love or care toward man, a Christian’s love or care for other Christians, and God’s love or care for His church (Eph. 5:22–33).
Another Greek word for love, philia (fee-LEE-ah), used elsewhere, carries the idea of “friendship love,” which is not quite as profound or divine as agape love.
If we are truly born again in Christ, we will love the brethren.
John deals with that love here. Consider:

A. The Deception

(9) – He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
John speaks of those who deceive themselves and seek to deceive others as well.
This is a simple verse, easily understood.
We cannot walk in the light of Christ, being born again in Him, and hate our brother.
Light and darkness cannot inhabit the same space, just as love and hate cannot inhabit the same heart.
 A believer can be angry with someone, disappointed in their actions, and even grow bitter if they aren’t careful, but they cannot hate another!
If we harbor genuine hatred in our hearts for another, we remain in darkness even until now.

B. The Devotion

(10) – He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
Here we discover the contrast to those who abide in darkness.
Have you ever thought about how you use the word love?
I just love that hat!”
“Man, I really love the old-fashioned kind of baked beans!”
“But, Mom, don’t you realize that Tom and I love each other?”
Words, like coins, can be in circulation for such a long time that they start wearing out. Unfortunately, the word love (or, as it is now sometimes spelled, luv) is losing its value and is being used to cover a multitude of sins.
It is really difficult to understand how a man can use the same word to express his love for his wife as he uses to tell how he feels about baked beans!
When words are used that carelessly they really mean little or nothing at all. Like the dollar, they have been devalued.As John describes the life that is real, he uses three words repeatedly: life, love, and light. In fact, he devotes three sections of his letter to the subject of Christian love.
He explains that love, life, and light belong together. Read these three sections (1 John 2:7–11; 3:10–24; 4:7–21) without the intervening verses and you will see that love, life, and light must not be separated.In our present study (1 John 2:7–11), we learn how Christian love is affected by light and darkness.
A Christian who is walking in the light (which simply means he is obeying God) is going to love his brother Christian.
The believer will love his brother because he abides in the light.
The light of Christ has filled our soul and we now possess His love, and show that love to others.
In reality, we cannot truly know love apart from God, for God is love.
This also reveals a true measure of our faith. It affirms our relationship with Christ. 1 John 3:14a
1 John 3:14a KJV 1900
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Love for the brethren is a distinctive characteristic of those who are born again in Christ.
Christ tells us between John 13 and 15, 6 times and he eludes to it many more times, that we are to love one another if we are His disciples.
Our love for others also serves as an effective witness. John 13:35
John 13:35 KJV 1900
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Our actions speak much louder than the words we speak.
Many today are skeptical of the faith because of some who profess faith in Christ, but do not live in a way that represents Him.
The world can deny many things, but it cannot deny or ignore genuine love.
If you are interested in reaching someone for Christ, love them as He does.
Matthew 5:43–44 KJV 1900
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
We are assured by Scripture that love will not create any occasion for stumbling or offence.
Because love is the saint’s highest moral duty toward others, it is not only the ultimate mark of genuine salvation, but also provides the supreme assurance of that reality

C. The Despair

(11) – But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
Again John emphasizes a sobering truth regarding hatred for a brother.
A life of despair will always be present with a heart of hate.
Consider the aspects of such despair.

1. The Condition

(11a) – But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness.
We may not want to deal with the truth revealed, but this stands as a genuine measure of faith.
It cannot be denied.
If there is hatred, there is darkness.
Those who possess and portray hatred walk in darkness.
If you honestly harbor hatred in your heart, you have major spiritual issues.
We cannot walk in the light of Christ and hate others.
Hatred opposes the very nature of Christ.
If hate exists, conversion is needed.

2. The Confusion

(11b) – and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
Does this not picture those in sin, apart from Christ?
Prior to salvation we all walked in darkness.
We were blind to the truth.
We wandered about, not sure where we were headed.
Take a moment to reflect on our modern society. Is this truth not prevalent today?
Our world is headed in the wrong direction.
We are getting farther from God and His truth.
But, what else can we expect?
Those blinded by sin are pointing the way for others blinded as well.
There is no sense of truth or right.
Coming to Christ and walking in the light is man’s only hope!


We have considered two characteristics that believers possess.
If you have been saved, you have accepted the Word, but do you embrace it as you should?
Does it serve as the authority and guide for your life?
Are you committed to living according to the Word?
The saved love the brethren, but is our love all it should be?
Do we love as Christ would have us to?
Are we genuinely burdened for the needs of others?
We cannot say we love others as we should and ignore the desperate needs of our day. I believe we all could love others more.
If you are not saved, you remain in darkness. You may say you believe the Scriptures are the very words of God, but you have neglected them. The Bible teaches that we must receive Christ as Savior and Lord if we are to inherit eternal life. If you have rejected the gracious offer of salvation, you remain defiant to the Word.
Whatever the case may be, whether saved or lost, Christ is the answer. I pray that each of us will respond to the leading of the Spirit in accordance to the Word.
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