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The Darkness of Hate (1 John 2:9-11)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 30 June 2013 00:00

Last Sunday we looked at 1 John 2:9-11 and considered the biggest barrier we face to getting close to God and enjoying fellowship with Him.

9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
John is writing to believers. To say he is in the light is not to claim “I am a Christian. It is to say, “As a Christian, I am walking in the light and having fellowship with God” (1:6).

What does John mean when he says that such a Christian is in darkness until now?
When a believer claims to be walking in the light, but hates his brother, that believer’s experience is like a person whose home (his life) is now shared with the Lord Jesus Christ, his Savior, but who chooses to lock himself in a sound-proof, light-proof closet rather than to walk (live) in the light that characterizes the coming kingdom age and in fact is already shining (2:8).
A believer who chooses to hate other brothers reveals that he has never really gotten to the place in his Christian life that he is living his life in light of the world to come. Rather he is choosing to live according to the spirit of this present age. To so choose is to waste one’s life on that which is passing away – this present age of darkness (2:8) – this present “world” (2:17).

Verse 10 is a contrast with verse 9. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. For John, then, the “abiding” life is one that is lived in the light of the coming new (kingdom) age by staying/remaining/abiding in close connection the Vine (John 15:1), who is the coming King.
The person who walks in love is abiding in Christ and in this light.
By loving as Christ loved, the believer is walking “as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

The believer who lives this way is also a person in whom there is no cause for stumbling.
The words no cause for stumbling translate a Greek word (skandalon) which basically means a trap or a snare of some kind, and came in Christian usage to mean whatever ensnares a person in sin.
In the person who loves his brother there is no such trap.
Although the reference here could be to something that causes others to stumble, in light of verse 11, (which is the opposite – v 10 “loves” vs. v 11 “hates” his brother) …
… and in view of the phrase in him, the reference is most likely to something that might ensnare the individual himself. That is, John is saying, ‘No trap is laid within himself.’
This, of course, does not mean that this person is sinless (1:8), but rather that in so walking (as Christ walked ~ 2:6) he lays no trap for himself; that is, he does not create an inner spiritual condition by which he can be trapped and ensnared in sin.
This suggests that the one who hates his brother sets up the inward spiritual conditions which make entrapment by sin extremely likely.
Our experience bears this out, does it not?
When hostility to a brother rules a Christian’s heart, it leads him readily and rapidly into sinful words and behavior. The spirit of hate toward a brother is a spiritual trap that the hater lays for himself!

11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
The Christian who hates has lost touch with “the true light” (2:8) which displays God’s loving nature. And he has also embraced “the darkness” which “is passing away” (2:8), with all it hostility to God and Christ and all who belong to Christ. Remember verse 8?
8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
A Christian who hates his brother easily becomes a tool in the hands of Satan, as so many have in Christian homes and churches, resulting in divorces, broken homes, serious divisions and church splits.
The person himself cannot anticipate the damage he may do, nor can he anticipate the seriousness of the divine discipline that may fall on him (Hebrews 12:3-11; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 1:19-20). As John says, he does not know where he is going.
It would be like living in a light-proof, sound-proof closet inside a beautiful home instead of sharing the delights of fellowship in the light of His presence, whose home (my heart) it has become.
Over the span of 1:5 – 2:11, he has reviewed for his readers basic truths which they have already been taught.

Simple fellowship with God takes place when the Christian walks with an open and honest heart in the light of what God is (1:5).
More advanced fellowship occurs when the commandments of our Lord are learned and kept so that we abide or dwell in Him, walking as He walked in love. The one who so lives knows God.
The opposite lifestyle, marked by hatred toward one’s brother, is a pathway to spiritual disaster, even though the disobedient Christian can never be lost by his Lord (John 6:35-40).
To live in darkness and hate is to make the Savior a stranger in one’s experience on earth.
Though saved eternally, such a Christian has forfeited the vital, intimate knowledge of his God.

Hatred has many possible manifestations. For example:
1. Cold indifference – acting as if the person doesn’t even exist.
2. Vengeance – often manifests itself in Christians as passive-aggressive behavior. “She hurt me, so I’ll show her! I won’t take out the trash, help with the dishes or give her any verbal or physical affection.”
3. Unforgiving spirit – Do you become critical of people in your past the minute their names are mentioned? Have you schemed about how to get back at the person who hurt you or to embarrass them publicly?
4. Bitterness – often beneath an unforgiving spirit is a root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).
There are other ways hatred may manifest itself. Hatred of our brother is a big barrier to intimate fellowship with God. And this barrier is in us. We must get rid of it before we can be close to Him.

In his book, Maximum Joy, Dave Anderson suggests some steps to remove this ugly stumbling block from within us:
1. Write down the ways the other person has hurt you.
2. Write down a few of the ways you have hurt Christ.
3. Thank Christ for His forgiveness.
4. Ask Christ to give you a spirit of forgiveness.
5. If possible, sit down with the one who hurt you, explain to them what you have been holding inside, and tell them that you would like to forgive them.
6. If you cannot sit down with them, forgive them as Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
“In Him” is the key. God forgave you “in Him.” You can forgive your brother because of your common position “in Him.”
7. Don’t confuse forgiving with trusting. You can forgive in a moment based on you common position in Christ, but trust must be rebuilt over time. This distinction has tripped up many people. A Christian wife is commanded to forgive her wayward husband (or vice-versa), but she is never commanded to trust him. He needs to earn her trust.

Thus, the biggest barrier to deep fellowship (that sense of connectedness ) with God is to hate one’s brother.
‘To dwell above with the saints we love – O! That will be glory!
But to dwell below with the saints we know – Well now, that’s a different story!’

BOTTOM LINE: “Coming to know God (in a growing, deeper way) depends upon my loving you!” Difficult? Yes! Even impossible in our own strength!
That is why Jesus, in His teaching concerning our need to abide in Him, explains to us that “… for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5b).”

 

 

 

 

 

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