“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
This is the 31st session on the lectures on 1 John.
1 John 3:15 says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
This verse is the elaboration on the previous verses.
The murder of Cain that we learned about in verse 12 also began from the feeling of hatred.
Cain came to hate his brother Abel because God did not accept his offering but He was delighted with the offering of his brother Abel.
God did not discriminate against Cain unjustly.
God accepted only the offering of Abel because Abel obeyed God whereas Cain did not.
And yet, Cain did not think about his fault but he just held a grudge against God and also hard feelings and hatred towards Abel.
As this hatred grew he eventually killed his brother when nobody was around.
As said in verse 15, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,” the seed of hatred grew up as the fruit called murder.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the Old Testament times, people were punished by the law only when the sins were revealed in action.
As said ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, one who intentionally killed another person was put to death.
But in the New Testament, God says harboring sin in mind is as much a sin as committing sin in action.
Matthew 5:21-22 says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the Supreme Court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.'”
Jesus taught us that harboring hatred in the mind is a sin even though it is not actually committing murder in action.
It’s not just about hatred.
Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
God is warning us that just having adulterous thoughts is same as committing adultery in action.
It’s all the same with other sinful natures such as betrayal, greed, and changing mind.
We have to cast away not just outward actions of sin but also the sinful natures in our hearts.
If you misunderstand this, you may think that it might be easier to be under the law like in the Old Testament.
But it is not true.
In the Old Testament, they had to keep the law with their own willpower, but in the New Testament we have the Helper the Holy Spirit.
With the work of the Holy Spirit we can easily cast away not only sins in action but also sins of the heart.
When the unbelievers try to quit smoking or drinking, how hard is it for them to quit on their own?
But with the work of the Holy Spirit, you can quit so very easily.
If you are just full of the Spirit and grace, you come to hate what God hates, even if you used to like it very much.
The same goes for sins and evil.
If you scrub dry clothes to take the dirt out from them, the dirt will not come out easily.
But if you soak the clothes in water along with detergent, you can remove the dirt easily.
In the same way, if you try to cast away sins with your own power, it is hard. But with the help of the Holy Spirit it will be easy.
You can receive the help of the Holy Spirit when you diligently attend worship services and other meetings and pray fervently.
When you receive the power to cast off sinful natures in heart, the light of the truth will come into your heart so the darkness goes away.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The verse saying it is murder to hate our brothers does not apply to unbelievers.
Those unbelievers who do not know God cannot be saved anyway.
This verse is a warning against those who say they have received the Holy Spirit and believe in the Lord and know the will of God and yet hate their brothers.
But, it does not mean something like, “You hated that person once, so you are a murderer who has to go to Hell,” or “You committed adultery once and you must be stoned to death.”
God does not condemn those who try to cast away sins and love their brothers.
They still have unrighteousness remaining in their hearts, but when they accept the Lord and try to live a righteous life, God deems it to be their faith.
But the problem is with those who do not want to cast away sins at all whether it is hatred or an adulterous mind.
They hold sins and evil inside them and keep on accepting the works of Satan.
Some of them become jealous of others and slander others even though others did not do any evil toward them.
They hate others and try to bring them down just because they don’t have the same thoughts or tastes.
They have enmity, and they ignore and do not talk to each other as if they don’t know each other.
Today sin is rampant. People are left out and others tend to bully a particular person in groups in schools and in workplaces.
Just because they don’t like a particular person or a classmate, they leave him out, look down on him, and bully him with evil intentions.
I believe none of you here are doing such things.
Living in darkness like that, they should not say, “I have accepted the Lord and all my sins are washed away by His precious blood.”
Even if the other person has caused a great harm, or even if he is evil, you must not hate him.
The Lord’s Prayer also says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
But some say they believe in the Lord but they become like a Judge.
They think it is natural that they do not love a particular person because he has done something wrong to them and he is evil.
If you just put the blame on others and increase it, it means you don’t have life in you.
As in Revelation 21:8, murderers’ part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, and they cannot be saved.
Let me give you an illustration.
As a newborn baby grows up, he first toddles about and then stands up. Later he begins to walk step by step.
At first, he is not able to walk very well and often falls down.
But he just keeps on standing back up and walking again and again.
When the parents see him walk just a couple of steps, they are so proud of him.
They wouldn’t scold him saying, “Why do you keep on falling down like a fool? Can’t you even walk?” but they rejoice saying, “Our son is already trying to walk! He took three steps already!”
On the other hand if a baby is supposed to begin walking but just wants to lie down all the time the parents would be worried.
Or, if he tries to walk but gives up only because he falls down a couple of times, what would happen to him?
He wouldn’t be able to grow up normally.
It’s the same in our life as a Christian.
After having been a believer for quite a while and knowing the truth, if you still hate others just like unbelievers and you just give up loving others saying, “I tried to love my enemies, but I can’t,” then, God will be worried about you too.
The enemy devil and Satan will keep on accusing you and bring you tests.
You might even lose that little faith that you had and thus lose your salvation, too.
I hope none of you here will be this kind of believers.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will diligently pray and practice the truth, cast off all hatred and evil and instead fill your heart with love.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The following verse 16 explains that we have to cultivate perfect love.
It says, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Jesus loved us, and He loved us even as He gave His life for us. So, we ought to do the same.
Just as there are different levels of faith, love also has different levels.
The highest level, which is the perfect love, is the love to give one’s life just as Jesus did.
John 15:13 also says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” And it tells us to cultivate such love.
Even the worldly people say they love somebody with all their life, but mostly it is fleshly love that changes.
In a rare case, they do sacrifice themselves for somebody else, but if they do not get anything in return, they get disappointed and their love turns into hatred.
Proverb 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” As recorded, everything is up to how we make up our mind.
We can change our mind and betray somebody, or we give our life to somebody, according to how we make up our mind.
If we can really give our life, we will not want anything in return, and this heart will not change even with the passage of time.
We will be able to give our life and sacrifice all we have to seek the benefit of others.
Jesus gave us such love.
Mankind had enmity with God for they obeyed the enemy devil and Satan, yet still God sent His only begotten Son Jesus to this earth for them.
The Son of God who created the heavens and the earth and all things in them forsook all heavenly glory and came down to this Earth in the body of a creature.
To redeem the sinners He was brutally flogged and wore thorns that were thrust down on His head.
In the view of everyone he was naked, He was nailed through His hands and feet, and eventually He shed all His blood and water and died.
It was the flogging that you and I were to receive. It was the thorns that we had to wear. It was the cross on which we had to be nailed and hung.
But Jesus took all those sufferings for us even when we did not even know about His love.
He gave His life not only for His disciples who loved and followed Him, but also for those evil people who were standing against Him.
Even after seeing that sacrifice, those foolish and evil people mocked Jesus. But Jesus did not give up on them either.
In Luke 23:34, He interceded for them saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
He believed that if they received the Holy Spirit later they would change and cast off sins.
With that love, countless souls were saved by the name of Jesus Christ and eventually received eternal life.
This is perfect love.
And God is telling us to have this love for we have experienced and received such love.
For example, suppose somebody is treating you like an enemy and hates you so much.
If you know the love of Jesus who died for you while you were a sinner, you wouldn’t confront him or hate him.
You wouldn’t want to decide who is right and wrong or try to pay back the pains you have suffered, but you would try to have peace and melt down the heart of that person.
Furthermore, you would understand that person and try to give him good things.
You pay back evil with goodness, so that you will move the heart of that person.
If you cultivate perfect love, you will love even your enemies, and you can love them to the point of giving up your life.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
If you cultivate the kind of heart with which you can give your life, you can act in love in everything.
If you can even die for the other person, then what would you spare?
You can humble yourself and sacrifice yourself as much as needed, only if it is for the soul of another person.
During the ministry of Jesus on this earth, He showed us His love in various forms.
Seeing the souls who were like wandering flocks being spiritually ignorant, He felt very sorry for them and shed tears.
He sometimes was hungry and sleepless, but He never said it was hard. He just kept on teaching the truth to the crowd that was coming to Him, healing them, and making the disabled whole.
He set the demon-possessed free and showed people only goodness and love.
To those who are suffering, He gave them the comfort and hope of Heaven.
He sometimes harshly rebuked those who were arrogant who did not realize their evil, but it was also in His love to change them and let them receive salvation.
He showed mercy to the woman who was caught in the act of committing adultery so that she could repent.
He performed the miracle of five loaves and two fish to feed the hungry.
His love that He showed on the cross was also shown in each moment of His everyday life through His sacrifice and devotion.
If we too love our brothers with all our lives, we will humble and sacrifice ourselves and serve them.
We would not insist on our opinions, nor would we judge what is right and wrong in arguments.
Even if the other person seems to look down on us or want to be served by us, we wouldn’t have any problem with it.
We can just withdraw our opinion, humble ourselves more to serve others, and believe them and bear with them until they repent and change.
Sometimes, we are cheated by people knowing they are cheating us.
We know we would suffer a loss, but we would want to give that person a chance to repent and receive salvation by knowingly being cheated by them.
If you can humble yourself without insisting on yourself, you are more than able to do that.
The unbelievers might think this kind of action will only cause a loss and that it will look like we are being looked down upon by others.
But God the Father is seeing everything, and He will not make our love useless.
If we really practice spiritual love and perfect love, God works for the good of everything.
People come to give glory to God seeing your good deeds.
Also, just as the souls can come into the love of the Lord and gain life from Him, many souls will be accepted and changed by your love.
I hope you will cultivate perfect love like that of the Lord so that you will be able to accept many souls and supply life to them.
I pray in the name of the Lord that, in doing so, you will come forth as true children who are pleasing in the sight of God.