Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back To 1st John - Another Test

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

As we return to our study of 1st John we come to the next test of genuine Christianity - love for fellow Christians. You will notice in these verses that once again John is making a contrast between light and darkness. If you remember, back in chapter one John told us that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5) and then he went on to say that if we say we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness we lie an do not practice the truth (1 John 1:6).

Now John gives us another test to show us if we are truly walking in the light - if we love one another we are in the light, but if we do not love we are in the darkness, we walk in darkness, and our eyes have been blinded. And to take this back to the truth from chapter 1, we are out of fellowship with God as well.

So what does John mean here when he says love? And for that matter, what does he mean when he contrasts this with hate, is not loving your brother or sister in Christ the same as hating them? Let's look at both of these words and see what we can learn. First, the Greek word translated as hates in verse 9 & 11 is the word miséō, which means malicious and unjustifiable feelings towards others, whether towards the innocent or by mutual animosity. In the Greek language this word is the exact opposite of agapáō, the word that is translated as love in this passage. In order to better understand what John is teaching us here let's look at agapáō to see how Christians are to treat one another.

The Greek word agapáō, the strongest of four Greek words translated as love in the English versions of the New Testament, can best be understood by looking at how the apostle Paul defined it in 1 Corinthians 13; he wrote:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
As we read through this passage we see that the overriding characteristic of agapáō is that it is concerned with the welfare of others and has the best interest of the other person as its foremost motivation. This is the same word that John uses here in the passage that we are looking at today, and he says that if we do not have this type of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ then we are not walking in the light. This is the same word that Jesus used when He said:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love [agapáō] one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love [agapáō] one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
And then:
This is my commandment, that you love [agapáō] one another as I have loved [agapáō] you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love [agapáō] one another.

So what can we take away from these few verses today; what is our practical application here?

We can all use this as a measuring stick to see where we are in our walk with Christ; these verses say here that if we say we are in the light and yet we hate our brother we are not in the light - we are still in darkness. John said that followers of Jesus love, Jesus said that as we love one another the world would know that we belong to Him, and Paul showed us what that love should look like.

You say you are a Christian, do you love your brothers and sisters in the Lord? If you can't answer yes to that question you had better check your salvation because this passage tells us that you are not walking in the light. And since that is where God is, you are not walking with Him.
Print This Post

No comments: