14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:14-15)
One of the most effective teaching methods is comparison and contrast. When reading and studying the Scriptures, look for items, or individuals, that are contrasted with each other. For example, Proverbs 14:31 says, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” In the same way, look for items, or individuals, that are compared to each other. For example, Proverbs 25:26 says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.”
Throughout the Epistle of I John, the apostle has used numerous contrasts to illustrate the Christian life. Thus far, he has used the following: (1) Light and darkness 1:5’ (2) The New Commandment & the Old Commandment 2:7-8; (3) Loving the Father and Loving the World 2:15-16; (4) Christ and Antichrist 2:18-22; (5) Truth and Lies 2:20-21; (6) Children of God and Children of the Devil 3:1-10.
In I John 3:14-15, John uses yet another series of contrasts. In vs. 14 there is the contrast of eternal death and eternal life. In vs. 15 there is the contrast of love and hatred.
John said in 3:14 that the believer in Christ is no longer dead in sin but rather has passed out of spiritual death into eternal life. Therefore, this new life in Christ will be demonstrated by a love for fellow Christians.
In the same way, in 3:15, John said whoever hates a brother in Christ is a murderer (Matthew 5:21-26). This attitude demonstrates that the individual in question is truly not a believer in Christ.
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life, and a turning of hate to love (cf. Gal. 5:6, 22). A lack of love indicates that one is spiritually dead. Love is the sure test of whether someone has experienced the new birth or is still in the darkness of spiritual death (1 John 2:9, 11). Someone who is characterized by hate has never experienced the new birth. Hatred is spiritually the same as murder in the eyes of God, i.e., the attitude is equal to the act. Hate is the seed that leads to murder, as seen in the example of the hatred of Cain for Abel that resulted in murder (Matt. 5:20–22; cf. Gal. 5:19–21; Rev. 22:15).”
How has today’s lesson challenged you to be more loving to fellow believers? In what ways have you loved a fellow Christian? In what ways have you not loved as you should? Resolve to be more loving today.
May the Lord’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!