Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
Years ago on a family vacation, we visited Cathedral Caverns in north Alabama. During the tour, our guide turned off the lights exposing us to total darkness. Thankfully, that experience lasted less than a minute. But it made a lasting impression.
The Bible uses darkness to depict the absence of God. As Christians we live in the light of God which enables us to understand His word and helps us find our way as we navigate through the maze of life.
In our focus text, there is a jarring statement aimed at Christians who hate others in the faith. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” In other words, to hate another Christian negates salvation. The one who hates is still in darkness, has not been redeemed, and is NOT a Christian.
So is there hatred in the church? Does hatred exist between so-called Christians? Absolutely. The early church experienced it as does today’s church. And John wants us to know if we harbor hatred in our hearts, we are not in Christ, and we’re still dead in our trespasses and sins.
Later, in 1 John 4:20 we read, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” Put another way, it is impossible to hate someone and love God at the same time. You can’t have both darkness and light. If you are in the light, you are incapable of hate. That’s not to say that you won’t become angry or hurt by the actions of others, but the presence of God’s light will cause you to continue to love them.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27) That’s not the way of the world and can only be accomplished by those who are in the light of Christ.
I’m reminded of a song title, The Way We Were. Long before Barbra Streisand’s 1973 hit, Paul made a similar statement. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3) Before we came to Christ, while still in the darkness, we hated. That’s the way we were. If you’re still that way, pardon my bluntness, you are lost and need to confess your sins, repent, and give your life to Jesus.
Hate causes us to lie, manipulate, slight, spread malicious gossip, wish ill-will, seek to inflict hurt with our words, and rejoice in the misfortune of others. Hate destroys relationships, ruins marriages, kills friendships, and results in grudges and divisions that last for years, often without resolution. A lifetime of unresolved hatred ends in death without Christ and no hope of a heavenly reward.
Hate prevents us from doing God’s will. What if Jesus responded to those who hated Him with hate? There would be no salvation. He is our example of loving our enemies and blessing those who persecute us.
Christians don’t hate Christians. We can’t. It’s not in our DNA. The blood of Christ has brought us into His glorious light.
Hatred in the church or between Christians is the work of the unredeemed who are still walking in darkness.
The sobering words from 1 John challenges us to examine ourselves and gives us pause to consider: “Are we in the light?” The test is simple. “Do you hate anyone in the faith?” Are you afflicted with The Crippling Disease Called Hate?
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Find Peace in a Chaotic World
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.