Monday, 23 March 2020
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 1 John 2:9
Again, as he has done elsewhere, John now pens a thought antithetical to the previous thought. In the previous verse, there is a positive statement first which says, “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” In this verse, there is a negative which says, “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.”
The light of Christ is shining, and someone may say, “I am in the light,” claiming that he is a true follower of the Lord. However, John shows the illogical nature of such a statement if he also “hates his brother.” Here, a “brother” is certainly speaking of a saved believer in Christ. It can, at times, extend to all people. In this case, the true believer is in the light. Light and light complement one another, but light and darkness do not.
John equates darkness with hate. But if God is light, and the gospel is the means of transmitting His light to the world, then there can be no darkness in it. So, how can someone who hates one who is in the light be in the light? John is asking his reader to think this through logically, and to understand that in hating a brother, one is hating what is good. As that which is good is light, then such a person who hates one in the light “is in darkness until now.”
In the heart, there is only room for one or the other. We cannot love as instructed (see 1 Corinthians 13) and also have hate at the same time. But this is the contradictory thinking of humans. We do not think critically, and thus our minds are obscured with darkness.
John will take this thought and expand on it, and he will further clarify it in the next two verses.
Life application: We simply cannot hate our fellow Christians and claim we are walking in the light of God’s love. The two are incompatible and John is immensely blunt in what he writes.
We need to be careful though and not take this to an unintended extreme. If a brother has bad doctrine, if a pastor teaches what is inappropriate, if a preacher fails to preach the truth, we aren’t asked to simply roll over and cover their waywardness with a blanket of gushy love. Rather, such teachings need to be addressed, rebuked, and even excommunicated from the fellowship lest they poison the minds of those who are seeking out the truth.
Balance is needed in the Christian walk – love for the brotherhood while maintaining doctrinal purity. To have love without proper doctrine is a demonstration of untrue love; to have doctrine without love leads to only coldness and condemnation. When the two are properly balanced, Christ is in His rightful spot as the Giver of truth and the Sustainer of the fellowship. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and we will be well rounded in our walk, which is in His light.
Jesus, may we never forsake love when speaking Your word to others. But surely may we also keep from compromising Your truth for the sake of false love and tolerance of what is not right. Give us the proper balance when discussing Your word. May we properly and faithfully fellowship with our brothers in Christ, loving them as is proper and fitting. Amen.