The one who keeps saying that he is in the light yet keeps hating his brother is in darkness until now. The one who keeps loving his brother remains in the light and there is no offence in him. The one who keeps hating his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
There are practical things that flow from trusting Jesus. One important thing is that we love our fellow Christians.
This is good indication that we are in the light. If we are Christians, we will love our fellow Christian.
Why is this a good indicator?
If anyone is regarded as a brother, that person says they trust Jesus Christ.
If someone trusts Jesus, that person has been
- reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- loved by God with an everlasting love.
- brought into the true light, and the work of Christ is true in him.
To be a Christian is to be in the light. To be in the light is to be in Christ.
Christians have fellowship with the Father and the Son simply because of God’s mercy to them.
If we keep on hating a person who has received the very same love from God as we claim, how can we really be in the light ourselves? How can people keep saying that they are Christians and still keep hating someone whom God loves for Jesus sake?
John says that if anyone hates his brother — fellow Christian — they are in darkness until now.
This means that such a person is not really a Christian and has all the basic motivations of a non-Christian. Such a person needs to be changed by God’s love in Christ. Such a person can be changed, and this is implied by the words “until now” or “up to this point in time”.
Haters of Christians are in darkness until now, but they might yet be brought to repentance and truly trust Jesus alone for salvation.
Remember what the risen Lord Jesus said to Saul as he travelled to Damascus? “Why are you persecuting me?”
Saul thought he was serving God, but he hated those whom God loved. He was in darkness. He thought that he was better than they, but God showed him his sin, converted him and brought him to trust Jesus Christ.
If one hates those whom God loves, such a person can be said to hate God. If any hate God, they are still in darkness. They are still in their sins and lost. They do not know where they are going.
John says a little later in this letter, (1 John 4:20) “If we do not love our brother whom we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see?”
A sign that we are in Christ, that we are really Christians, is that we love Christians.
Our love for our brother ought not be in words only but also in the things we do. Such an attitude is free of offence.
This is where the 10 Commandments flow out from the gospel.
The 10 commandment show us love in action:
- respecting the person and authority of people
- preserving and seeking to improve the lives of people
- maintaining the boundaries of marriage
- promoting the prosperity of others
- respecting the reputation of others
- being happy for others who have good things that we don’t have.
Why should we do these things? Because God in Christ has done everything for sinners like us. In him alone can we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
To put it another way, as Jesus replied to Paul. “My grace is sufficient for you.”
God’s mercy to us in Christ is the reason why we are to love our fellow Christian.
Christ loved unlovely people like us, not only in words but in actions.
By his good life, his death in our place and his rising from the dead, he has saved sinners from condemnation. We also should love our brother in words and deeds
Are you in the light? Are you in Christ by faith, or do you still demonstrate your hatred of God by hating his children?
If you find that you have been walking in darkness until now, the gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness.
Repent and come to the light. Understand that it is Christ alone who makes anyone acceptable to God.
If anyone is acceptable to God — loved by God — that person should be acceptable to and be loved by every other Christian:
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.