My men’s bible study group is in 1-3 John. I have already been encouraged by 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify (cleanse) us of all unrighteousness.” Yet chapter 2 brings a challenge to me. I love the verse that “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:8). But then the next verse brings a huge challenge to me. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother (sister) is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness, he does not know where he is going, because darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:9-11). In the next chapter John brings more clarification to this challenge, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in Him. This is how we know what live is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:15-16).
This hatred is speaking to those who have left or divided the church of unity with Jesus as He commanded. In Romans 12:9 Paul further addresses this with saying Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another above ourselves.” John is talking about living in peace and harmony with one another. Those who love their brother walk in light. But there are tests to walking in the light that start with trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior to begin. Moreover, John continues to say, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue without actions and the truth” (1 John 3:17-18). Scripture often emphasizes that we need faith and deeds (James 2:18). The love of Christ in us will bring good deeds. Also true faith is in Jesus who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus is the truth. The beginning of the gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is saying through John that Jesus is God and He is the Word of God or the Bible. Therefore if we know the truth we know the Word of God and its truth.
Divisions between brothers and churches have been rampant in our society, most of it in the last 70 years. Today we have more than 3,000 protestant denominations. It is true that all believers could not sit under one roof, but Jesus wanted one denomination, one church. He wants us to love one another and not be separated by interpretations of Scripture. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). John in writing Revelation said, “I warn everyone who hears the words of prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
Today, it seems that churches are changing the Word of God to fit their purposes or a current social trend. This disqualifies you are being in the light and truth and separates you from His promised land. But we are not to hate our brother when they fall away from the truth or do not even know it in the first place. It is hard to love someone who does not believe what you do, and even harder sometimes when they don’t believe what God says. But we are commanded to do so through the anointing of the Holy Spirit within us, as we trust in Jesus, the truth and the lawgiver.
Romans 12:18 says, “If at all possible, as much as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone.”