1 John 2:9-11
He that said he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now.…
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, etc. Our text teaches -
I. THAT THE EXERCISE OF BROTHERLY LOVE IS AN EVIDENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light." To be "in the light" and to "abide in the light" is to live a true Christian life, a life in harmony with the light of God. By the "brother" we are to understand here neither our fellow-man nor our neighbour, but the members of the Christian community, those who by profession are Christian brethren. We say, "by profession," because it is clear that in verses 9 and 11 persons are spoken of who are professedly but not really Christians. We show that we are in the light by our affection for those who are in the light. "God is Light" and "God is Love;" if we are sharers in his light we shall also be sharers in his love. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:34, 35). "In this one thing," says Stier, "and in no other, is discipleship approved. It is not knowledge which avails, not a so-called faith, even though, like that of Judas, before the devil entered him, it could cast out devils and remove mountains; rather is this knowledge and this genuine faith known by this love. As little avails the confession of my Name, or of all the truth concerning my Person and my kingdom. Where this walking in the truth is not found, the confession becomes an all the more frightful lie. As the disciples of the Pharisees were known by their phylacteries, and as the disciples of John were known by their fasting, and every school by its shibboleth - the mark of the disciples of Christ is to be love. And that a genuine love, as Christ loveth."
II. THE EXERCISE OF BROTHERLY LOVE PROMISES THE STABILITY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light." Love is an expression of faith; it also increases and invigorates faith. The outgoing of the heart in holy affection to the Christian brotherhood strengthens the new life within the heart. Pure affection for others augments the wealth of our being. "The heart grows rich in giving." The exercise of brotherly love promotes the sanctity and strength of the entire Christian life, the susceptibility of the soul to Divine influences, its firmness in holy principles, and fidelity and facility in Christian practices.
III. THE EXERCISE OF BROTHERLY LOVE PROMOTES THE SECURITY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. "There is none occasion of stumbling in him."
1. Brotherly love will give no occasion of stumbling to others. Love will keep us from doing any wrong to others, from giving any cause of offence to others, or from doing anything whereby they may be led astray from the path of rectitude or caused to stumble in that path. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour."
2. Brotherly love will preserve us from stumbling ourselves. Love is not quick to take offence. Love is forbearing, patient, humble; and humility walks peacefully and safely where pride painfully stumbles and falls. "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself," etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
IV. THE ABSENCE OF BROTHERLY LOVE IS AN EVIDENCE OF A LIFE OF SIN, NOTWITHSTANDING A PROFESSION OF LIFE IN THE LIGHT. "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now He that hateth his brother is in the darkness," etc. St. John mentions no middle condition between love of the brethren and hatred of them. As Dusterdieck says, "On the one side is God, on the other the world: here is life, there is death (1 John 3:14): here love, there hate, i.e., murder (1 John 3:15); there is no medium. In the space between, is nothing. Life may as yet be merely elementary and fragmentary, love may be as yet weak and poor; but still, life in God and its necessary demonstration in love, is present really and truly, and the Word of our Lord is true, 'He that is not against me is with me' (Luke 9:50): and on the other side, the life according to the flesh, the attachment to the world, and the necessary action of this selfishness by means of hatred, may be much hidden, may be craftily covered and with splendid outer surface; but in the secret depth of the man, there, where spring the real fountains of his moral life, is not God but the world; the man is yet in death, and can consequently love nothing but himself and must hate his brother, and then that other Word of the Lord is true, 'He that is not for me is against me' (Luke 11:23). For a man can only be either for or against Christ, and consequently can only have either love or hate towards his brother." Mark the characteristics of this life from which brotherly love is absent, as they are here sketched.
1. Darkness of moral condition. He "is in the darkness" - in it as the element of his moral life.
2. Darkness of moral action He "walketh in the darkness." His course of life and conduct is in keeping with the gloom of error and sin.
3. Darkness as to destination. He "knoweth not whither he goeth." He knows neither the way he is walking in nor the end to which it leads.
4. Darkness of the spiritual being. "The darkness hath blinded his eyes." Persons who have long been imprisoned in darkness have frequently lost their physical vision. So here it is said that the moral darkness in which the sinner dwells has destroyed his spiritual vision; and he walks on in moral night, imagining that he is walking in the light of day (cf. John 9:41). - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.