First John, chapter 3, part 6
Jan 23, 2018
The message from the beginning is “that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). This has been preached “from the beginning,” the apostle says, because it is a consistent message about emulating the nature of God as seen in Jesus Christ.
Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and put into a largely chaotic earth with the mandate to bring order out of chaos. It appears from Genesis 1:2 that the earth “became formless and void,” as so many commentators have pointed out. The implication is that there was an original order and civilization prior to this chaotic situation, an age that has remained in biblical obscurity.
Adam was called and authorized to bring order out of chaos and to restore all things. He failed through sin, of course, and so Jesus Christ came later to do what Adam had failed to do. Whereas all things originally had been placed under the feet of Adam (Genesis 1:26), he lost his position of authority, and Jesus essentially replaced Him as King of the earth. So whereas Psalm 8:6, speaking of Adam, says, “Thou has put all things under his feet,” Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:27, applies it to Jesus, who actually fulfilled this Dominion Mandate.
By looking at the manner in which Jesus succeeded, we can see also what Adam ought to have done, if this were possible. Jesus came to express the love of God and to win the hearts of the people through love. Hence, this was the message preached from the beginning. So we can extrapolate from Jesus’ example the mission of Adam himself. Being in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), he should have subdued the earth (Genesis 1:28) through love, for that is how Jesus has done this.
Hence, loving one another has been the consistent message from the beginning. The earth will not be subdued through fear, but through love. We should keep that in mind as we present the gospel to those who are yet in darkness. Fear does serve a certain purpose, as does the Old Covenant itself, but that purpose is temporary and not an end in itself. Fear may force compliance to the commands of God in His law, but only love can draw hearts to Him. Only love can actually change the hearts of men and fulfill the Ten Promises of God, which the Old Covenant calls The Ten Commandments.
Cain and Abel
1 John 3:12, 13 continues,
12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.
The apostle sets forth Cain and Abel as biblical examples of love and hate. They also serve as examples to show the difference between “the children of God and the children of the devil” (1 John 3:10). Abel, then, is a child of God; Cain is a child of the devil.
Some have taken this in a biological sense, but as we have already shown, the Hebrew way of thinking was much broader than that. So we see here that John does not attribute Cain’s murderous actions to a biological cause, but “because his deeds were evil.”
Again, some argue that Cain’s deeds were evil because he was a biological offspring of the devil. But “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), not just a few.
“But Cain killed his brother,” they may say, implying that those not guilty of murder are absolved from being children of the devil. So are we to believe that all murderers are physical offspring of the devil? Is that the criteria by which we know who is who? Jesus said in Matthew 5:22 that “everyone who is angry with his brother” is guilty of murder.
In the end, there is no good thing in our flesh (Romans 7:18), for we are all children of Adam or part of his household. Hence, we are all children of the devil, for we have all received the seed of the word that was first given to Eve. Eve believed the serpent’s lie, which has affected all of us from the time that our life on earth began. This is why we must receive a second word, the incorruptible seed of the gospel of truth, for this alone can make us children of God.
Did the Serpent Seduce Eve?
In Genesis 4:1 KJV, we read,
1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.”
The NASB of Genesis 4:1 reads this way:
1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.”
However, we read it, this is the clear statement of Scripture about Adam being the father of Cain. Any other statement must be interpreted according to Genesis 4:1. No passage ought to be used to reinterpret Genesis 4:1 to mean something other than what it clearly says. However, many have interpreted the story in Genesis to mean that the “serpent” had sexual relations with Eve, which conceived Cain. Even the Talmud teaches this.
But if that is what happened, John missed a perfect opportunity to explain it in 1 John 3:12. Further, Paul too missed his opportunity in 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4,
3 But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
Some point out that the serpent “deceived” Eve (Genesis 3:13) and that the Hebrew word that is used here can also mean “seduced.” Most words carry a range of meaning, and it is for us to choose the right meaning according to the intent of the author. Paul interprets it, not as a sexual act, but as a deception of the mind. He treats it as an alternate seed of the word, “a different gospel,” and as in terms of preaching “another Jesus.”
The context from 2 Corinthians 11:2 shows that Paul was speaking of presenting the church as a pure or chaste virgin to Christ. The church was being seduced by another gospel, not sexually. Paul says not a single word about any sexual seduction, missing a beautiful opportunity, if indeed he believed such a thing.
The problem with interpreting Eve’s deception as a sexual encounter is that it also distorts the truth about how we become sons of God. If a sexual encounter is necessary to produce children of the devil, then the children of God are likewise conceived in a carnal manner, not through the seed of the word, but of the corruptible seed of Adam, Israel, or some other man of flesh.
I have had considerable opportunity to observe the effects of this teaching in many whom I have known over the years. In fact, I was driven to search out this issue in the 1970’s and even wrote a book on the topic (now long out of print). Most of you were never caught up in this controversy, so it may seem foreign to you, but God brought me into those circles in order to observe, pray, and learn from the revelation of the Spirit.
I have been struck by the way in which this belief in Eve’s sexual seduction causes men to believe that they are sons of God by virtue of their descent from either Adam or Israel. Their view causes them to deny that anyone other than their restricted group may be sons of God. Further, they tend to say also that all (and only) who have pure bloodlines are the sons of God. Bloodlines, then, become the basis of sonship, contrary to what John 1:13 says,
13 who were begotten not of bloods [literally, “bloodlines” plural), nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
The reference to “bloods” has to do with having Adamic bloodline, because the root of the name Adam is dam, or “blood.” So John says specifically that the sons of God are NOT begotten of Adam in the normal, fleshly manner that involves the will of the flesh and the will of man. Hence, anyone claiming sonship on the basis of their descent from Adam has been deceived in his mind by another gospel in the same manner that Eve was deceived.
The World May Hate You
John says says that Cain killed Abel out of hatred. This hatred was not only about hating his brother, but by extension, it was also about the children of the devil hating the truth. Hence, we read in 1 John 3:13, “Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.” By this, the apostle implies that the world itself is “of the devil.”
There are two competing paths, each claiming to be the true path to sonship. One is fleshly and worldly, the other spiritual and heavenly. Those who are of the world hate those who are heavenly. This is the origin of martyrdom, for Abel was the first martyr. When Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in John 8:44, “You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father,” He was prophesying that they would follow the example of Cain, who killed Abel. A few verses earlier, in John 8:40, 41 He said to them,
40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father…
The Jewish leaders were not “chosen,” as they believed themselves to be. They were not children of God, regardless of their genealogy. This was not a question about whether they were descended from Cain or his brother Seth (who replaced Abel). This was a question of whether or not they were able to receive the word of truth. Jesus said in John 8:45,
45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.
Anyone who is unable to hear the word of truth is not yet ready to be begotten of God. To be begotten by God requires the acceptance of the incorruptible seed of the word. The world of carnality has rejected the word of truth, following the path of Cain, and therefore, the world hates the sons of God, seeking to kill them, even as it sought to kill Jesus for speaking truth.
If the world had been fathered by the devil in a biological manner, then how could the world be saved? Why would Jesus die for the sin of the world? Why would Jesus love the world? Would it not be the case that all who are fathered by the devil will be destroyed in the end? But Scripture speaks of the restoration of all things, telling us that all men will be justified in the end (Romans 5:18). Can the devil’s biological children ever be saved?
The apostle Paul himself had been one of the devil’s children in his early years, even to the point of agreeing in the murder of Stephen (Acts 8:1; Galatians 1:13). Was not Paul one of those children of the devil? If Paul had been descended biologically from the devil, would Christ have appeared to him on the road to Damascus? Could Paul have had the capacity to repent and turn to Christ?
Paul’s example shows that anyone can repent—and they will do so, once they have a genuine encounter with Jesus, as did Paul. The same will occur on a universal scale at the Great White Throne judgment, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess (profess) Jesus Christ as Lord (Philippians 2:10, 11; Isaiah 45:23).
Think about it. All the children of the devil will profess Jesus as Lord when the truth is fully manifested to them at the Great White Throne.
This is part 18 of a series titled "Studies in First John." To view all parts, click the link below.