|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|Have you ever noticed that one of the most identifying marks of a believer is not how loud he can shout or how high he can jump, but it is evidenced by the way he lives? It is evidenced by his relationships. That is a principle that follows throughout the New Testament. Galatians says the fruit of the Spirit working in a person’s life is love. Immediately you find when you are walking rightly with God your relationships become what God orders. We are going to see that loving our brother is evidence that we know the Lord Jesus Christ, that we are walking in the light in which He is.|
Have you ever noticed that one of the most identifying marks of a believer is not how loud he can shout or how high he can jump, but it is evidenced by the way he lives? It is evidenced by his relationships. That is a principle that follows throughout the New Testament. Galatians says the fruit of the Spirit working in a person’s life is love. Immediately you find when you are walking rightly with God your relationships become what God orders. We are going to see that loving our brother is evidence that we know the Lord Jesus Christ, that we are walking in the light in which He is.
Now remember this, 1 John is a book of contrasts to show the people who are of the faith and to show the people who are not of the faith. There is one thing to remember as you study 1 John. We must remember as he draws these distinctions, a believer by his own choice can choose to walk in the darkness; a believer by his own choice can choose not to love his brother. But if we choose to sin, if we choose to walk in the darkness, if we choose not to love our brother, then our testimony to the world that we know Jesus Christ becomes bogus at that point. The world looks at us and says, “Wait a minute. This is the way we live. You couldn’t know Christ. You are in the darkness. You are not supposed to be in the darkness.” There is a fine line that you have to draw. Is a person saved or is he not saved? If he is walking in the darkness, does that mean he is not saved or does that mean he is a Christian who has just chosen to walk over in the darkness? Remember, a Christian can sin. He can step over into the darkness, but he cannot live habitually in the darkness and claim to know Christ. We have already established that in 1 John. It will come up again in chapter 3.
So there is a fine line as you go through 1 John. He draws the contrast. Yes, a believer can sin. We know that. But he cannot live that way habitually. That is what John, I believe, is trying to draw out. The Gnostics said they were the enlightened ones. John says, “Do you want to know who the enlightened ones are? Look at their obedience to God. Look at them and how they deal with sin. Look at them in their relationships and you are going to see who the true enlightened ones are. You will see who the True Light is. It is not some mystical knowledge. It is Jesus who is the Life and the Light of the world.”
We must test the confessions of those who say, ourselves included, who say they know Christ. In 1 John 2:7 notice what he says: “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” John wants them to know that what he is about to write is not something new to them. He uses the word kainos, which is qualitatively new. In other words, I am not writing something to you that is qualitatively brand new. It doesn’t come to you as a surprise. It is not something you have never heard of before. As a matter of fact, what he is saying is, “The commandment that I am writing to you comes out of the Old Testament. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you. The command to love your brother, which we are about to get into, is not something new. Why, it is an old commandment. Not only did I write to you in my gospel, but it is all the way back in the Old Testament.” In its simplest form, the command to love one another is found in Leviticus 19:18 where it says, “Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”
One day Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He quoted that verse as the second greatest. He said the first greatest commandment is in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” But the second greatest commandment, He said, was the one found in Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” So this is not something new, loving our brother, loving our neighbor. It is not something new. It is in the Old Testament.
In John 13:25 Jesus spoke of believers when he said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you love one another.” So John says, “This is nothing new that I am writing to you. As I am contrasting those who are truly of the light and those who are of the darkness, what I am saying to you is nothing new.”
But look at what he says in verse 8: “On the other hand [or again], I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” Now wait a minute. He uses the word kainos again, which means qualitatively new. He just said he wasn’t writing something qualitatively new. Then he says in verse 8 that I am writing something qualitatively new. Come on, John, make up your mind. Is it new or is it not new? What is he trying to say?
Well, he says, “which is true in Him and also in you.” You see, there is something qualitatively new about this commandment. Even though they were told to love one another in the Old Testament and this is not something new, this is not something foreign to them, they have already been told that, it has taken a different dimension in Him. In other words, Jesus came and through His teaching and by His example He raised that commandment, the standard of that commandment of love one another, to a standard no man had ever heard before. It was qualitatively new in its emphasis. It wasn’t a new commandment in the sense of loving one another, but in the way they were to love one another, to love “as I have loved you”.
What is happening here? If I am of the light, if I am enlightened, if Jesus is in my life, who is the Light and Life of the world, and if I am daily walking in His light, then something is happening to prove the fact that He lives in me. It is putting out darkness that is around me. Look in verse 8 again: “because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” Who is the true Light? John tells us in chapter 9; Jesus is the Light of the world. Now where is He shining? He is shining in people who are His own, people who are saved. When I choose to walk obediently and deal with sin, which we have already seen in 1 John, then something happens to me. It is like He turns on His light in me and the evidence of that light being in me is not some glow that I have. It is the love for people that flows out of me. That is His light shining in this world through people who are believers. To me the context is a beautiful picture of what he is saying. The light of God’s love in you and in me is putting out the darkness of hate that is all around us. The darkness is passing away.
Now you can look at that in many ways. We know that the world, because of sin, plunged us into the fact that we have a corruptible body. I know that every day I live, every breath I take, I am getting closer and closer and closer to an incorruptible body. Are you excited about that? I mean, one day we are going to die and one day we are going to have a new body. Jesus is coming for the church. He is going to glorify us. The darkness is passing away. There is going to come a day when the world is going to be absolutely perpetrated by light. Not only that, because of Adam’s sin, the world was plunged into corruption and it is getting more and more corrupt. But there is coming a day when that will pass away. There is a day that is coming when God is going to put out all that corruption and God is going to bring His Kingdom to this earth.
But also one of the other consequences of man’s sin was the immoral way man treats other men. If you are believer you can’t habitually live like the world lives treating one another. You can’t do it. He says, “It is My life in you. You can’t do it. It is My Light in you shining in this world, and that light shining in you will put out the darkness of the hate that is all around us.” You know, it is incredible to me how you can’t get lost people to understand this, and yet at the same time it is understandable why you can’t. They don’t have minds that can think clearly. The leaders of our country need to just sit down and understand the need for all mankind is Jesus Christ. When you get a man saved, he is delivered from the darkness. Now the Light is in him. He is in the Light. He has been made light, Ephesians says. Now as he walks in that Light, the love that God is loving him with and has loved him with begins to flow out of him and around him. The hate is being put down. The darkness of hate is being put down. If you will just follow the context, that is what John seems to be saying, that even though we are in the world of darkness, the Light that is in us is putting down the darkness of hate that is around us.
There is a contrast here. Who is of the Light and who is of the darkness? Many people say, “I am walking in the light.” Look at their lifestyle. Look at their relationships. It will speak loudly as to whether or not they are truly of the light or they are of the darkness.
There are three things I want you to see in verses 9-11. I want us to kind of look and see what John is trying to bring to the surface. You know, we have to test the confessions of people. Remember, it is not how high you jump and how loud you shout, it is in your relationships. It is in your relationships.
First of all I want us to look at a description of hate in verse 9: “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.” John uses the present tense here, “the one who keeps on saying.” There are three times that is used in chapter 2. Go back to verse 4: “The one who keeps on saying, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth in no way is in him.” Look down at verse 6: “the one who keeps on saying he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” If you are going to say that, let your walk match your talk. Then again in verse 9, “The one who keeps on saying he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.”
The Greek word for hate is miseo. I want to show you a description of what this hate is. Can a believer hate someone? Certainly they can. If they choose to walk in the darkness, this is the consequence of darkness. If you walk in light you don’t have to worry about the consequence of darkness. However, if they live habitually that way, it makes their confession that they know Christ bogus and it may be that they don’t know Him. Continue to remember, there is a fine line that we are walking as we are talking about these truths. Luke 6:22 reads, “‘Blessed are you when men hate you.’” What are they going to do when they hate you? There are three things that Jesus brings out here: “and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil for the sake of the Son of Man.”
“I am worried. Do I hate my brother? Do I really have hate within me?” Well, I don’t know. Let’s examine it. What does the word “ostracize” mean? It is the word aphorizo, which comes from apo, away from, and horizo, to define something, to draw a line. When I hate somebody, when I am walking in darkness, I draw a line and simply say, “I am never crossing that line to associate with you. I hate you. I will not associate with you.” That is what hate is. Hate always ostracizes people whereas love pulls them in. It is the exact opposite. So hate ostracizes someone. That is when we draw a line and refuse to associate with them.
When I was in youth work we had a basketball tournament in Memphis. I remember, we had a great time. They asked me to come back and do a camp for them and I did. The first night I gave an invitation. I opened it up to anyone who wanted to respond and a precious, black boy came walking down the aisle with tears just streaming down his face. He said, “Brother Wayne, I have never in my life given my heart to Jesus Christ. I want to receive Jesus in my life to be my Lord and my Savior.” He got saved at that camp. I want to tell you, that one boy getting saved to me was worth the whole trip and everything else that happened all week long. It seemed to set a climate for the whole week.
Well, a few months later, the fellow who was the youth man at that particular church called me. He said, “Wayne, let’s have a Christmas tournament. Let’s bring my team down and get your team together and get two other churches over there. We will have a ball. We will sleep in the gym. We will have cookouts. We will just have a great time and play basketball over the weekend.” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Wayne, do you remember the guy you led to Christ at the youth camp?” I said, “Yeah, how is he doing?” He said, “Super. He is on our basketball team.” I said, “Great.” He said, “Wayne, I know how you feel, but how does your church feel about having a black man in your church?” I said, “Certainly, man, if they love God they don’t see color.” He said, “Well, Wayne, will you do me a favor? Will you talk to your committee before we go ahead and plan this?” I called my committee together the next night and said, “Guys, we are going to have a tournament.” They said, “Wonderful. Super. What are we going to do?” I told them all the things and began to share with them. They thought it was the greatest idea. I said, “There is one more thing that I need to let you know but I am sure it is not going to be a problem to you, but they asked me to ask you. There is a precious black boy I led to the Lord when I was down there and he is on their team. Certainly it is alright for him to come on in and be in the tournament, isn’t it?” You know the rest of the story. The chairman of that committee said, “What! We will never let a black man walk in this church!” They made me cancel the tournament.
That stuck in me for a long time. I could tell you other stories about people who sit in churches like ours, people who sit on committees and make decisions, people who say they are missionaries, people who say they are believers but won’t allow a black person to get in their eyesight. You had better check out to see if you are saved if that attitude is in your heart. I mean it! God does not look at color. God sees people. People who draw those little lines, who step back and say, “I am not going to associate with you,” have nothing more than pure hatred in their heart. If they are a believer, they are walking a fine line from God taking them out of here to keep them from making a mockery out of Him. I would be venturing to say they are probably not even a believer.
That is hate. That is racial hate. There are other kinds of hate. There is hate when you have bitterness between somebody who has wronged you and you won’t associate with them. You won’t talk to them. You won’t even sit on the same side of the church they are on. You draw a line and say, “I refuse to associate with you.” Is there anybody like that in your family? There is family hate. There are families that won’t even talk to each other, relatives that won’t even call one another. They have drawn a line. What does that say? John says, “We are making a contrast here. These people have come in here and said they are enlightened. Who are they? Here is what it means to be enlightened. A believer deals with sin. A believer is obedient. But a believer has relationships that turn nobody away. He accepts; he doesn’t repulse. That is hate.”
The second thing in Luke 6:22 that Jesus uses for hate is that they will cast insults at you. This is to your face. To reproach, to defame, to assail with abusive words. You see, hatred at some point, shows itself with words meant to insult and to inflict pain, to verbally treat someone without any respect for them whatsoever. Have you ever been in a church business meeting filled with tension? Somebody gets up and begins to disparage somebody and points a finger at them and begins to cast insults at them without any respect for them as a human being? Have you ever witnessed that? That is hate. That made their testimony that they are a Christian bogus to this whole world. This whole world laughs at that kind of thing because that is the way they live. They may have been Christians, but I wouldn’t give you a whole lot of credibility for it. They could be. That is what I said. It is a fine line we are walking here, but if they are living habitually that way, John says no way.
Thirdly, they spurn your name as evil. Ekballo, means to cast out. Ek, means out of, and ballo, means to cast. The idea is to reject something. It’s like you had something in your body and your body rejected it and cast it out. That is the idea. It is the same as to slander someone, to speak against you falsely and spurn your name. Hate will cause you to tear somebody else down to make yourself built up. You see, one of them is to cast it in your face. The other one is to say it behind your back.
You say, “You mean to tell me that when I sit in the privacy of my home and I want to tear somebody down, that means that I hate them?” Yes. That’s hate. There is no in between ground here. You are either loving them or hating them. We don’t seem to understand that. If we are not committed for their best, if we are not committed to pay whatever price is necessary for their spiritual benefit, then that is hate. And hate is a signal that you are walking in darkness. You may be a Christian. I am not going to cross that line. But John says that is the picture of those who are not. They don’t have any light in them at all. They are walking continuously in darkness. That is a definition of hate. John shows that as the first identifying mark of a believer, as we see a believer and his relationships.
Secondly, let’s look at the danger of not loving your brother. This is in 2:10. You don’t see it right off, but I am going to sort of sneak in the back door on this one. “The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” The present tense again is used. It is talking about somebody who loves and continues to love his brother. It is not a one time “I love you.” It is a “loving” of his brother. It is a lifestyle. He is the one in which there is no cause for stumbling.
There is safety in constantly loving our brother. What is the safety? There is no cause for stumbling. The word for “stumbling” there is the word skandalon. Scandal comes from that. It is the word that refers not to a trap that captures you, but it refers to the trigger that snaps the trap. There is a certain trigger which causes the trap to shut. It is not talking about the trap itself as much as it is talking about the trigger. In other words, you are going to pull the trigger on a trap that is already set if you choose not to love your brother. There is a trap there, and that trap will imprison you and that trap will injure you and may wreck your life like you have never known before when a believer chooses not to be consistent in loving his brother.
Let me show you how that happens. There is a trap set for us all the time. One of the things that I love about the book of James is it says to count it all joy, brethren, when God chooses to test you. Everything in life, to me, is a test. The key to it is relationships. That is the bottom line.
I remember when we were building our new Worship Center. We were sitting in a room one day, and somebody said, “You know what? I just found out that this church is not going to have windows!” Somebody said, “What? A church with no windows!” Now listen, when we walked in the trap was already set. It was waiting to be triggered and the only way it was going to be triggered was if somebody in there was unwilling to die to self at the expense of loving his brother. That is the only way that trap was not going to go off. It was already set. Well, somebody got upset and said, “I have never seen a church in my life without windows.” Before you knew it we had some of the best men in the church sitting in a room fussing over the fact that we didn’t have windows in the church. Some of us didn’t want them and some of us did want them.
We left that meeting and I was thinking, “What in the world have we been through today?” I got home and started praying about that thing. I was praying, “God, just shut their minds down and give us no windows.” That is not the way to do it. As I was praying it was like God was saying, “Son, son, son. It is just a test. It is just a test. Take all the books off the table and bring out a clean sheet of paper. Let’s just see if you are walking in the light. Let’s have a little irritation here. Let’s see who is going to pull the trigger. Die to it.” I remember praying. I said, “God, if you want to make it a glass house, help yourself. Just so our relationships can be back like they ought to be.”
The next day different ones called me and I called them and somebody stopped me in the parking lot and said, “Man, what are we doing?” It is just a test.
Let me ask you a question. What are you going through right now that is irritating you to the point that if you haven’t done it already, you are about ready to pull the trigger on a trap already set and it is going to imprison you and it is going to injure you and it is going to wreck a relationship that otherwise could be salvaged if you will just choose to love your brother. Boy, I tell you what, if we could just learn to live that way, we could rejoice and hold hands and go right on into heaven. But as it is, we fight each other. That is the way it is. Churches split all over the place and families are devastated. What happened? Somebody pulled the trigger and the trap snapped. Now you have an imprisoned individual.
I want to tell you something, in a church you can get upset with somebody and not only imprison that other person, you can imprison the whole body of believers just because somebody was careless and pulled the trigger. It holds the whole church hostage.
Back in Numbers 11, Miriam really didn’t like the wife Moses chose. She had dark skin. They had problems back then, too, didn’t they? God called them out and said, “Hey, Miriam, you. Come here. Aaron, you, come on, buddy, get out here. And Moses.” God struck her with leprosy. Moses began to pray for her and said, “Oh, God, don’t do that to her.” God said, “Alright, but she will be out of the camp for seven days.” The scripture records that over a million and a half people were held hostage for seven days because one individual pulled the trigger and chose not to love her own brother.
That is the way it works. It is just a test to see who is going to pull the trigger. Don’t pull the trigger. Walk in the light. Choose to die to your own rights. Choose to die to your own privileges. Choose to die and say, “God, you are the one who loves me and I will love this person regardless, whatever it costs me.”
Well, what is the safety in it? The safety is there is no stumbling in it. But he goes on in verse 10: “The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” Let’s take issue with that. That little word “him,” auto, can be “him” or “it.” I think “it” is a better translation. There is no cause of stumbling in the light. We have already seen that principle back in chapter 1. In Him there is no consequence of darkness. There is no stumbling. There is no cause for stumbling in the light. None of us have arrived to the point that there is no cause of stumbling in us. But the light, if we will choose to walk in it, there is no trap that is going to be triggered. Although the trap is always there, it is not going to be triggered. We can walk in the safety of the light that He is. The danger of not loving my brother is the danger of triggering a trap and imprisoning me and him and whoever else that might be involved in the situation.
You say, “What is this love anyway?” Well, it is a love conditioned by how Jesus loved us. It has a measure to that. How did Jesus love us? Greater love hath no man but that he lay down his life for his brother. Let me tell you something about this love that is on my heart. I looked up all the verses and decided to do it like this instead of looking them all up. To boil it all down, do you know what it means to me to love somebody as Jesus loved us? It is not this mushy stuff that goes around making everybody feel better. I thought it was for years.
This lady in our church came to me and said, “Would you quit counseling my husband?” I said, “Well, okay, why?” She said, “You are ruining him. Every time he comes in you try to make him feel better. That is not what he needs. Back off.” The more I began to study what God’s love is like, the more I realized she was right. God loves me today. When I sin do you think He is nice to me and walks up and just pats me on the shoulder? Are you kidding me? Man, it is tough and it is difficult and it is raw sometimes. But see, His kind of love does what is best for the spiritual benefit of whoever the recipient is, no matter what it costs, no matter what He gets back. He does what He believes to be best for that individual. That is what real love is all about.
We have this idea that if you don’t make somebody feel better you haven’t loved them. But you see, there is safety in choosing to walk in the light because you are going to be loving your brother. The trigger is not going to be pulled. Nobody is going to be entrapped. Nobody is going to be imprisoned with that. The moment I choose to walk in darkness is the moment the trap closes. The harm, the hurt, oh man. You know the rest of the story because we are all human and we have all walked in that darkness.
There is the description of hate. It will ostracize you, yell at your face, insult you to your face and then talk about you behind your back and make you look little in the eyes of others so it can look bigger. The danger of not loving my brother is that there is a trap ready to be pulled. When I choose to walk in darkness that trap is going to be triggered and somebody is going to be injured as a result of it.
Finally, there is the disorientation of walking in darkness. People who choose to walk in the darkness think they know where they are going. But I want to show you something in verse 11: “But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness [notice how John equates the two all the way through here], and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” The picture here is of a person who hasn’t got a clue where he is walking. He has no clear goal. He doesn’t know where he is going. Why? Because he has chosen to walk in darkness. In the light you can see where you are going. In the darkness, you can’t.
Jesus said the very same thing in John 12:35-36. He says those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going. They are aimless. They have no clear direction in their life. That is another disorientation that comes as a result of people who walk in darkness. Now remember what John is doing. He is contrasting light and dark. He is saying, “Hey, these Gnostic people who say they are enlightened don’t have a clue where they are going. They are walking around in circles. They don’t have the light. You have the light. Walk in the light. The proof of that is the love you have for your brother.” But remember, a believer can choose to walk in the darkness and become disoriented and doesn’t have a clue where in the world he is going.
Is there anybody that you are not loving? That is a hard question, isn’t it? Is there anybody who somehow has harmed you or hurt you or inflicted wounds on you? That is usually where it starts. You pulled the trigger and now you are in prison and they are in prison and everybody is held hostage because you have chosen not to walk in the light. That is always the truth. It is not how loud you can yell an how high you can jump or what language you say you have in your prayer time. It is your relationships, bottom line.
When Hank Hanegraaff wrote the book, “Christianity in Crisis”, it exposed a lot of people and their false doctrine. One man was standing up in front of a whole congregation having them say, “I am God. I am God.” Another man got up and said, “Jesus spoke to me this morning and told me I could have been the Redeemer of the world.” He wrote the book to expose the error that is in this country today. Paul said, “Mark those who cause division.” That is exactly what he said to do. Some of these people he exposed got on television. One of them made the statement, “Hank Hanegraaff should go to hell for writing that book.” Let me ask you a question. Do you hear any love here anywhere? We want everything just to be so nice and nobody ever hurts our feelings. We just love to be around these people. They are so nice to us. That is a loving church. Right! A loving church is a church that takes your situation with great integrity and treats you and does to you what they believe to be spiritually beneficial to your life even though it may hurt you. It is meant to heal in your life. That is what love is. Love hurts in order sometimes to heal.