Living of the Right Side of Love

Bible Book: John  3 : 16-21
Subject: Love of God; Salvation; Judgment
Introduction

This entire passage, in fact the gospel, presents a dualistic contrast. This is one of John's favorite methods of expression regarding the kingdom of God in Christ. Here he is quoting Jesus, so this must have been an approach John learned directly from our Lord.

Note in verse 16 the two sides of love:

Perishing and Life

Also, in verse 17:

Condemnation alongside Salvation

Again in verse 18:

Not Condemned and Condemned

Once more in verse 19:

Darkness and Light.

Then verses 20 and 21:

Verse 20 speaks of one who hates the light while verse 21 speaks of the one who comes into the light.

These verses begin with the love of God and they continue by revealing the outcome of our reaction to that love. The premise is that we are either living on the right side or the wrong side of love. There are only two sides and every one of us chooses one or the other - there is no middle ground.

During WWII many German people fell in love with the Nazi party. They enjoyed seeing their beloved Deutschland as a world power instead of the world's whipping boy. They loved Hitler because they saw him as the savior of Germany. But when the war went against them, Germany and Hitler were defeated. A list was discovered with 8,000,000 names upon it, and they were the names of the members of the Nazi party. Many of them were hunted down, some imprisoned and some even put to death. They had lived on the wrong side of love.

You can love the wrong things. One can choose the wrong side and it can be of eternal consequence to his or her soul. That is certainly the case with the passage of scripture before us today. I want us to understand spiritually the right side of love versus the wrong side of love. It is so important to determine that one is living on the right side.

Let me say from the outset of this message, if someone in this service today realizes that he or she is living on the wrong side of love, an opportunity will be granted for you to change sides today. Getting on the right side of God’s love is a momentous and everlasting decision.

Now let’s note two different contrasts in our scripture for today.

I. Rejection or Reception

As I said from the beginning, there is no neutral ground when it comes to God's Love. It is a matter of rejection or reception of His love found in Jesus Christ. Through sin, everyone of us has chosen the wrong side of love (Romans 3:6) - for we all have sinned and we all come short of the glory of God. Looking at God's love with an open heart, will reveal just how wonderful HIs love is and have available it is.

Note three things with me about the love God's calls upon us to accept.

A. So Love

“For God so loved the world...” God's love is a "so" love - meaning it is more than most of us think about when we use the word love in today's world.

If I tell my wife Jayne that I love her, that is one thing, but if I tell her that I love her 'so' much, that is quite another thing altogether. 'So love' is deep and profound. In our text it is doubly so. For this is the love of God!

God is love! He is telling us that He loves us with all the love He has in Himself! To reject God is to reject this profound, amazing, eternal love. To receive the Lord Jesus Christ is to receive this love and all that it means into your life!

B. Son Love

“...that He gave His one and only Son...” - God's love is so profound that He, through that love, sent His Only Son to prove it.

God's love is so extreme and intense that it moved Him to send His only Son to be our Savior. Would you do that? Would you provide your only child to offer life to people who hate you and despise you? Would you do so knowing that many, and in fact most will not receive your gift? God did that knowing that most people would hate and despise His Son! No, you would not do that. You and I would not do that, but God did. He did so for one reason and only one reason - He loves you and He loves me!

To see the love of God is too look at Jesus Christ and realize that He is God. He was God before He came to this world. He was God (yes, and man) when He was on this earth. He is God now resurrected and back in heaven. God loved you enough to send His Son to redeem you from your sin.

We’ve seen “so love” and “Son love,” but look at one other thing…

C. Shall Not Love

“...Shall not perish...” - God's love is a 'shall not' kind of love. What does that mean?

The text tells us that anyone who receives Jesus Christ 'shall not' perish. It is quite clear that God does not desire for any to perish and that is why His Son came. God’s 'shall not' love simply means that He loved you enough to give His Son that you might live and not perish. Many people read the Bible and condemn the idea of judgment and hell. Yet, those who do so are abosorbed with and concentrating on the wrong subject. If a person who being swept away in a great flood, and a caring soul jumped the water to pull the poor individual from certain death, what do you think would be the story on the news? The flood might be mentioned, but the heroic rescue would be the major emphasis. Now, consider that the person rescuing the person in the flood waters died during the rescue. Tributes would flow into the news centers of the world. Likewise, to understand the love of God is to see that the entire reason God's love came ot this earth was to rescue us from the flood of judgment for our sins. It was never His desire for one of us to perish!

Now, note an important reality regarding the wrong side of love and the right side.

II. Condemnation or Salvation

Condemnation is the result of being on the wrong side of God’s love, but salvation is the blessing of being on the right side of God’s love.

A. Condemnation

Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:16-17).

In scripture we learn that condemnation is upon every person in this world because we are all sinners. We will not simply be condemned at the judgment bar of God – we are already condemned (“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"). Condemnation rests upon us all, and it is so because we violated the code of the Creator. A person hauled before a judge and jury for murder is not released because he loved everyone but the person he killed. The criminal is condemned because he killed one man. Likewise, no one is innocent before God for merely be good most of the time, but is condemned for being evil at any time! But, it is not God's desire that you and I be condemned. I watched a judge pass sentence of a criminal on television a few years ago. He told the condemned man, who had been found guilty by a jury of his peers, how sad it was for him to pass a sentence of death upon him. The judge talked of what a waste the condemned man's life had been and what potential for good had been wasted. Even the earthly judge was heartbroken that a innocent man had died and that a man with a good future had thrown it away in such a callous act. How much great is the sorrow of God over those who refuse His love - those who throw away God's love and eternal life in such a frivilous manner.

Think of a building that is condemned. If a building is found to be defective, it is condemned by the inspector. It may be changed and be used, but if it is not changed it is already condemned and it is just a matter of time before the wrecking ball tears it down. The lost person is condemned already. Unless he receives Christ, he is condemned to perish - not by the Lord but by his own rejection of the life that God has provided hrough Christ. You see that condemnation is due to the rejection of God's love found in Christ – nothing more and nothing less.

Look at verse 18 in our text for today. If you are lost, my friend, you are not lost by works, saved by works or kept by works. You are lost because you rejected God throrugh sin and you remain lost by rejecting Christ, His Son. I am saved, not because of anything I have done but by what Jesus did for me at the cross. He took my sins upon Himself. He paid my debt. My works do not merit me any form of a relationship with God, but my faith in Jesus, my repentance from my sin, and my willingness to profess Him as my Lord – that redeemed me! That, my dear friend, is the Gospel! That is the way that one comes into full possession of the love of God.

B. Salvation

Move from the idea of condemnation to the fact of salvation for a moment. Now it stands to reason that to be saved means to be saved from something. It means to be saved from our own sins and from an eternal separation from God. To be on the right side of love is to be lined up with Christ.

Think of a lion and her cubs. The mother lion is strong enough to crush those little cubs easily, but she does not do so because she loves them. They lie down beside her without a moment’s worry. But if another creature comes to the mouth of her den, where her little ones lie in peace, she will pounce upon that creature with destruction and death in order to protect her cubs. The cubs are on the right side of the mother lion's love.

We are either with Christ or against Him – that is what Jesus said about us. You are either on the right side of love or by rejecting Christ you are on the wrong side of love.

Think with me for a moment about a man who is caught by authorities stealing money. While he is in jail other crimes are discovered and he is charged with additional counts. The first charge against him is enough to condemn him, but the other charges add weight and embarrassment to the poor soul. One sin condemns us, but the multitude of our sins, once open to the public eye, is a terrible weight and awful embarrassment in the day of judgment. How wonderful that Jesus came to bear all our sins upon Himself. He removes the guilt, the shame and the consequences of our sins. Those who trust Christ have their sins removed as far as the east is from the west! Their sins are cast into the sea of forgetfulness. Their sins are buried and never brought up again. How wonderful to know the forgiveness of sin. How blessed it is to live life in the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It is interesting to see a public figure struting about before the cameras with power and popularity. He smiles before the cameras, with his head held high. Then, some illegal or evil act he has performed comes to light. We cannot help but think just now about those who have held secret for years the sexual predatory lives they lived for years. Many of those men have been respected for decades, and now that the sin is public, the weight of shame is palpable. What a change appears in the countenance of the guilty. The person that once walked up to the cameras with poise and pride, now holds us his hands to block the cameras from seeing him. He races to a car in order to escape being seen. Be assured of this, you may commit your sins today and scoff at God. You may walk in arrogance and pride before the world; however, one day the judgment will come. You can be assured that your attitude will change. But, you don't need to face your sins - Jesus has faced them for you. He died for you. He offers you eternal life and freedom from your sins. His salvation is the greatest gift in all the world.

Now, let’s look one more dichotomy found in our scripture for today…

III. Deeds or Done

We have looked at rejection and reception. We have considered salvation and condemnation. Now, let's look at deeds and done.

Some people think that the way to heaven is gained through living a good life or being better than the people we think of as evil. One thing you muse know is that you and I don’t set the standard for salvation. We don’t get to choose how one gets to heaven. God owns the place and He decides who and how we get into that eternal home. So let’s look at what God says about heaven and how one obtains the promise of a place there.

I know I’m repeating myself somewhat in this message, but I"m doing so on purpose today. You see, so many people misunderstand salvation. They think that those of us who are Christians consider ourselves better than others. Nothing could be further from the truth. We who have trusted Jesus as our Savior have admitted that we are evil, sinful and have nothing to bring to the Lord worthy of any gift from Him. No! Salvation is not available to us because we are good, and certainly not because we are better than any other person. We are all equally guilty before God’s Law.

The great question is this: What are we trusting for salvation, forgiveness and eternal life? Is it a matter of our 'deeds' or is something that has already been 'done' for us?

A. Deeds

Two times in verses 19 and 20 the word ‘deeds’ is used. This is speaking of the lost person who has tried to cover his guilty deeds rather than bringing them openly to God for forgiveness. The Bible teaches plainly that to conceal our guilty deeds will cause them to be revealed in the judgment, but to reveal our guilty deeds to God, and to ask for forgiveness, will conceal those deeds forever. You can open your sins to God now and never face them in eternity, or you can try to cover them up now and they will be brought up before you when you meet God at death.

Let me make something perfectly clear about sinful actions. Sinful actions do not condemn a person, for we are all sinners. I am a sinner, but I’m not condemned. How is that possible? I’ve have trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I’ve committed my life to Him and He has given me eternal life. His 'deed' at the cross covered all my deeds with grace and mercy. It is a rejection of Christ that condemns a person. To be sure, once I accepted Christ, I gained a deep desire to honor Him with my life. He placed the Holy Spirit, His very presence, in me to aid me as I live for Him in this world. But my actions didn't save me and my actions today don't keep me saved. He did the saving and He does the keeping. Yes, now that I am saved through the blood of Christ, I wish with all my heart to please Him and to live as He desires for me to live. But, even though this is true, I cannot be perfect. Perfection is in Jesus and He took my sin to the cross and gave me His perfection when I trusted in Him.

We are all sinners, and no one is actually better before God than another. God has no favorites! So, you can’t earn your way to heaven with your deeds or works, no matter how good they may seem to you or to the world. God has provided the only way to enter that eternal home called heaven – that way is Jesus (John 14:6)

B. Done

Twice in verse 21 the word ‘done’ is used. In Christ we experience a transaction performed by the Lord for us – it is already ‘done’ and not something we have done or can do for ourselves. He grants us eternal life when we have faith in Him and when we trust Him fully for our salvation. For the saved person, the great transaction is DONE!

You see, living for Jesus is not, “Do, Do and Do,” but rather it is, “Done, Done and Done!” What I do for the Lord now is because of what He has already DONE for me!

“Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe,

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow."

Conclusion

Are you living on the right side of love? By that I mean, have you turned from your sins and trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? You can do that – right here – right now. If there is any doubt concerning your salvation, today is the day to clear up the question.

I was talking with a person so time ago about trusting Christ. He said to me, “My grandfather was a preacher.” I complimented him on having such a wonderful grandfather, but again I asked the young man if he was saved. He then suggested that his father and mother had always taken him to church. I shared that I was grateful that he had such faithful parents, but my question was repeated. “Have you ever turned from your sin and trusted Christ as your own personal Savior? You’re grandparents and parents can’t provide you with forgiveness and eternal life. Why don’t you do what they did? Repent of your sin, trust in Jesus as the Lord who died and rose from the dead for your salvation. Why don't you here and now ask Him to come into your life and pledge to follow Him all your days.” At last, he dropped his head and admitted that he talking about his family to avoid making a decision on the matter. What he didn’t realize was that delaying a decision was in itself a decision against Christ. Finally, his heart broke in two and he prayed for Christ to come into his life. Peace came over his face and into his heart!

Have you trusted Christ? Perhaps you have, but you know family, friends of co-workers who have not done so.Today you should respond by bringing the names of those you desire to come to Christ to the altar of prayer and lift them up the Lord. We are to pray that the Lord of the harvest might thrust out workers into the harvest.

Now is the time to decide - Which side of love are the on - the right side or the wrong side? Jesus is the right side and He is calling you today.