Monday, 27 April 2020
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15
John now sets forth another proposition to be considered, beginning with, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” This is similar in thought to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 –
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Matthew 5:21, 22
Society evaluates man based on his actions. If he has an inclination in his heart to kill another person, he is not guilty of killing that person. However, God is evaluating the heart and intent of the person. The hatred of a brother is as if he has committed the act. In his words, John uses a term which signifies a manslayer. It covers both intentional and unintentional killing, and it is only elsewhere found in John 8:44 –
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
John is tying the person who hates his brother in with the devil, showing that they bear the same nature. Because they do – both are murderers – he then says, “and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Of this, the Geneva Bible rightly says, “A confirmation: Whoever is a murderer, is in eternal death: he who hates his brother is a murderer, therefore he is in death. Thereupon follows the other side: He that loves his brother has passed to life, for indeed we are born dead.”
Further, and again rightly stated, Cambridge says, “Here, as elsewhere, S. John speaks of eternal life as something which the Christian already has, not which he hopes to win: comp. … Eternal life has nothing to do with time, and is neither lost nor gained by physical death.”
An obvious reason for such conclusions is that a person is positionally “in Christ” the moment he receives Christ. Sin is no longer imputed to him for actions which violate law (2 Corinthians 5:19). However, it is certainly true that Christians have – throughout the church age and to this day – murdered (intentionally or unintentionally) others. And yet, they remain saved and they possess eternal life.
Therefore, what John is speaking of is either one being like Cain and of the devil (see John 8:44 above), or they have moved to Christ and are of Christ. There is only one of two states for all humanity. We can either choose Christ, and therefore love the people who are in Christ (and what they are doing to bring people to Christ), or we will remain in the devil and hate those who are in Christ (and reject what they are doing to bring people to Christ).
What is being done in Christ and for Christ cannot be separated from who He is. This is evident from the entire surrounding body of what is said in John 8 –
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” John 8:42-47
Life application: Jesus uses the same type of analogy concerning adultery – the intent of the heart is what is judged by God. Even the Ten Commandments search the hearts for intent – such as coveting. When we have such heart problems, they are evaluated as such.
Thank God for His grace and mercy in Christ Jesus who no longer imputes to us sin for the thoughts which we continue to bear in our hearts.
O God, You know that our hearts tread in unsafe waters from time to time. You know the deepest secrets they hold and the depths of wickedness that we are capable of. So, Lord, please keep us from allowing these thoughts and intents to grow. We know if they do, we could easily act upon them, bringing great shame to Your name in other’s eyes. Guide us from such paths of waywardness and lead us on paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Amen.