We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.( I John 3:14)
We have been discussing the theme of First John , which is the threefold test of eternal life, based on three simple theological propositions.
Firstly, because God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all, those who share in the gift of the life of God, hate evil and sin. Eternal Life is opposed to all that is false and evil, unceasingly exposing and repudiating it . Those who have eternal life confess their sins to God, they neither deny them or seek to hide them, rather they live in the light of God.
Secondly, because God is Love, those who have a share in the life of God , love the people of God. Eternal life causes us to love one another. Beloved, let us love one another, for everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God for God is Love.(I John 4:7-8) The one who consistently hates his brother, lacks evidence of eternal life.
Finally, in the proposition Jesus Christ has come (and remains) in the flesh, we are given the doctrine of Christ, the revealed teaching of who Jesus is and what he came to do. Eternal life gives us an inward affinity to the truth. Why do we believe in the Incarnation of Jesus? Because we have received eternal life! The third test is a test of adherence to revealed truth, to doctrine.
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 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. (I John 2:9-11)
To God there are only two kinds of people, those who Love God supremely and everyone else equally, or those who hate God and as a consequence hate their fellows. There is only love or hate for God , but there can be no neutrality. As the Law of God states in the ten commandments,
…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.(Exodus 20:5-6)
So it is with our fellow-man, in the I John passage above. One either loves his brother, or hates him. One is either in the light of God, or remaining in darkness. The evidence for either is in Love or the absence thereof.
Any confessing christian who can with impunity hate his brother, is fooling himself, he is certainly not in the Light of God, but remains in darkness. This means that regardless of what he thinks of himself, he is still estranged from true communion with God, unable to comprehend what God is saying and even set in opposition to God.
He doesn’t know what causes him to stumble , for hatred blinds his spiritual eyes to the true cause of his constant fall. Hatred has within it the seed of its own destruction, for bitterness, malice, envy, emulation and unforgiveness which is not repented of actually darkens and skews perception.
It is in knowing and believing the love God has to us, and responding in Love to God that clarity comes to us. Loving God as a response to His saving love, is the only deliverance sufficient to rescue us from Self Love, which is the ultimate cause of the loss of reality in our own lives.
In the gospel we can see that our deepest problems have consisted not merely in our various environments, nor of the multiple wrongs and injustices we have suffered from others. Rather it has been our own sinful alienation from God which has caused our deepest and truest sorrows.
Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 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.(I John 2:7-8)
The commandment to Love one another is not new, it is basic to humanity. We all know we should do it. It is the summation of the Law of God, Love God supremely and all else equally, If we would merely do that, we would never sin!
But we are told by the Lord’s apostle, that “The true light now shineth” upon the oldest commandment,(To Love one another), for in Jesus love has been fully demonstrated for all to see. To see Jesus is to behold love as it is meant to be. Jesus himself is “eternal life”, for the gift of God is a share in Jesus life.
As a man, Jesus has put God above all else, even his own life! This man who “knew no sin” was willing to be “made sin” as an offering for us that we might be reconciled to God! This man never broke faith with God, He is the embodiment of the commandment for man to Love God with all of his being!
In Jesus we are given the model, those who have eternal life, want to follow Jesus’ example, they now want to Love God, and to lay down their lives in large and small ways, as Jesus has done for us. Those who can hate, and nourish malice, envy and spite without spiritual anguish and conviction, are only demonstrating that they don’t truly have eternal life.