1 John 2:9, “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.”
As the Apostle is apt to do, he is reiterating what he has put down in the previous verses and in this instance is comparing darkness to hate as it is in reality. Remember previously he stated as found in 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” He is showing the truth that when you hate your brother, it is exactly the same and is in essence “walking” in darkness. In darkness, we as people are blind. Simple yet full of truth.
Just as our relationship to sin and/or obedience is a measure of our fellowship with God, so is our love for God’s people; if we say we are in the light, yet hate our brother, our claim to fellowship with God Who IS light (1 John 1:5) is hollow – but the one who does have love for his brother does demonstrate that he abides in the light and is NOT stumbling about blind.
Any of you who have followed my teachings on love, have seen me write or heard me speak time and time again that love is the opposite or lack of (in demonstration and action) selfishness or as a dear brother once pointed out, selflessness. True, Godly, Agape love, is putting aside one’s own self aside for that of another. That is the example that our Heavenly Father showed us by sending His Son and the example Christ Jesus demonstrated by laying down on the Cross for OUR sinfulness and unrighteousness. I have stated it many times before and I’m sure you think I’m a broken record, but the love the Bible, the Living Word of God talks about is not a/the feeling, but rather the actions, the demonstrations we show one to another!
But now, keeping that in mind, I want to exhort a bit on hate. Again, the world and those devoid of spiritual discernment consider hate to be a feeling, an intense dislike for another. In the spiritual realm, the feelings always FOLLOW one’s actions, but in the world or in the natural realm, people try and rely or trust in their “feelings” first and apply their actions based on those feelings! This is one of the many reasons why the world we live in is so messed up. A spiritually enlightened person can still love someone despite how they feel and they can hate the same sin that God abhors, without denying love to the person who sins; just as God, Himself did for each of us who have accepted His gracious Gift!
Now if love is the absence of selfishness or selflessness, than it stands to reason that hate is the preferring one’s own self above the concerns of another. Hate is not always an action of doing, but can also be considered an action of abstaining from doing. I don’t want to jump the gun so to speak but 1 John 3:17 speaks on this. So does, James 2:14-16, when speaking of us having faith: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” James states that faith without works is dead, of no value, but we can say it the same way without losing any impact or changing the Scriptures if we state, “faith without love is dead!” Again, love IS works, it is action! Hate is lack of action when the need is clear. This is NOT a contradiction, but rather emphasizing and confirming what others have taught in their writings.
With these perspectives in mind, you can understand why John likens and compares hate with darkness. When you only care about yourself, your own condition, you become oblivious, blinded to the circumstances and needs of others around you. This simple, single short verse is powerful in all of its connotations!
I guess you can also add the question, “who exactly is your brother?” But I am here to tell you that if you see someone, anyone in your circle of influence in need AND you have the means to help them, NOT doing so is the same as NOT doing so for Jesus Himself! Jesus spoke this as found in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”
The enemy has done an amazing job in this day and age to blinding people to the true meaning of both love AND hate. We have become so involved with our “feelings” so much so that the very nature of what love and hate truly are escapes many of us and sadly this goes to many who claim to be Christians. The REAL disciples of Christ Jesus, those that truly follow His Words and His examples do not lack in this understanding! As John spoke in previous verses, this is not a NEW commandment in that it is still as it was from the beginning, but our understanding, since Christ Jesus has come and shone His LIGHT upon the truth has revealed to us who follow Him the “newness” and the true depth of what love and thereby, what hate truly is!
1 John 2:10, “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
In this verse the Apostle is using the inverse of the previous verse. Now understand something here; you will find this grammar technique found throughout the Bible and I believe with my whole heart, the Holy Spirit inspired it to be written that way so the reader will have to give it some thought and take it to heart. Many times you will find this written out literally and other times it is to be assumed, but it is a style that can’t be glossed over when read, it is meant to cause one to think. An example I am always using in my teaching of this grammatical style can be found in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” In the inverse, it can than be correctly assumed that “to walk in faith it IS POSSIBLE to please, our Father in Heaven!” If without it is impossible, than with, it is possible!
In other words, “if you love your brother you abide and walk in the light,” but – “if you do not love your brother you are blind and walking in darkness.” This has the effect in the person who is studying the Word of God, to reaffirm the truth and allows us to consciously apply it to our practical lives. Remember, the Word of God isn’t just something to use to memorize for the sake of memorization but rather we take it in to apply it to our lives. This is the very thing that makes it alive and growing within our renewed spirits.
Christians in other words, can NOT sit on the proverbial fence, so to speak. It is very important in our everyday lives that we evaluate through prayer and meditation our standing in relation to those around us and especially our brothers and sisters in the Lord. I heard someone many years ago preach on this and a statement they made has never been far from my heart and this relates to God, our Heavenly Father as well as those around us; “No relationship, is STILL a relationship!” When we see those around us and make no move in one direction or another towards their circumstances or situations as discussed in the previous verse, it is called by another word, apathy. Apathy can be summed up as a negative, selfish or self-centered relationship; one that is concerned only with yourself as an individual and no one or anything around you. This again is what John refers to as walking in darkness, or hating.
Another point in this verse; when we truly walk in the light that shines before us motivated by real love, there is no way to stumble or to cause stumbling. If one stumbles, whether yourself or another, then they are not focusing on the Light that shines forth from Christ within us! The ONLY way someone can stumble is if they are focused on the darkness and trip over the obstacles that are littered in the dark! Remember this from the Psalmist, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105 (*NASB).
I’ve not only seen this illustration before but have experienced it; when you light a little stick match in a darkened cave, the walls around you light up with that little flicker! It is amazing how God Almighty, our Heavenly Father can give us just a little light (though His light in us shines like a beacon) and it chases what once blinded us, the darkness, completely away!! Darkness NEVER quashes the light, but light will ALWAYS chase away the darkness!
1 John 2:11, “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.”
Some would tell you that John is consistently using circular reasoning, but he is not! To deny this point that he continues to reiterate is what from the very beginning has caused division and discontent within the church-world. This concept of walking in love, in the Light of Christ, the Living Word is so important that it needs to be constantly and consistently reinforced within each of us who claim to be disciples of Christ Jesus!
My father-in-law, who was much more a father, when he got to the point in his hard-lived life where he started to surrender more and more to the working of the Holy Spirit made a comment that I cannot even to this day contradict and it goes right to the heart of what the Beloved Apostle John is trying to make a strong argument for. My father-in-law was a Navy man through and through and had seen not just combat, but horrific situations stemming out of that military conflict. He didn’t like to talk about it much as the memories truly did haunt him. But this is what he used to say from observations of those who liked to parade their “Christianity” without the deep-seated love that identifies a true Christian: “Christians are the only soldiers or warriors he has ever witnessed that will when in battle and see another injured will go and deliberately kill or try to kill the injured one.” He used to compare it to that old adage of “kicking a man when he’s down!”
You know, thinking of that even all these years after he went on to be with the Lord, STILL brings tears to my eyes, for though he witnessed horrific battle in the natural, he also witnessed it in the spiritual. Sadly, this is a scene that even today is easy to pick up on. But I submit this to you, my reader, in the light of John’s lesson; those that actually do “kick a brother (or sister) when they are down” are NOT walking in the light as John has written, but rather walking in the darkness and are BLIND to those things around them.
Have your ever considered this? In the spiritual realm, unlike in the natural world, there is NO gray area. There is NO middle road. You are either walking in the light or living in the darkness. You are either demonstrating love or expressing by actions or inactions, hate!
Consider this that the Apostle Paul wrote, Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” If you are stumbling around in the darkness, allowing apathy and hate to blind you, how CAN you be pressing forward towards the ultimate prize?
In closing this lesson let me remind you of something I have taught in many lessons in the past; God has blessed you and created within you the ability and the freedom, the liberty as it were, to choose! He has not, nor ever will take away your free will or your ability to make decisions based wholly upon your own choosing. We KNOW what the Light consists of and the benefits associated with it, we KNOW the clarity with which it gives our vision, both spiritual AND in the natural. We know the outcomes of willingly being blinded and trying to walk around in the dark. As the Apostle John has so aptly put forth, the choice and the direction is totally up to each of us as individuals. I CHOOSE to be a disciple of Christ Jesus and though not perfect, I am striving and willing to strive toward that end, it is the ONLY wise thing to do.