VERSE 9: Still in the Darkness
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
“A brother or sister”: John again employs the vehicle of repetition to elucidate what he means by “our brothers or sisters” (See 1st John 2:9-11; 3:20, 15, 17; 4:20; 5:16); the supernaturally high calling of love in which Christians walk is the direct result of their ongoing personal relationship with Christ (See 1st John 4:7-8). The kind of love that John is talking about cannot be accomplished outside this deeply-penetrating and ongoing personal fellowship with Christ.
Just as appears in the beginning of John’s epistle, we find here that there are some who claim to be children of God and are not; the ultimate test of whether or not one is God’s child is one’s love for his children.
Jesus said that the world will hate (“exclude”, “insult”, and “malign”) God’s children and John establishes this as one of the tests for being in Christ. If you walk in hate towards your brother or sister in Christ, then you are not in Christ because Christ does not hate his brothers and sisters; his love secures them in the presence of God and those who have been secured in the love of Christ will love those who Christ loves in the way that he loves them.
“Is still in the darkness”: here John intends to drive the sword of the spirit deep into our hearts and pierce us with Holy Spirit conviction: anyone who walks in hate towards their brother or sister in Christ is still unregenerate and does not yet know Christ!
John’s irreducible message is that whoever walks in hate towards their brother or sister in Christ still lives in the perversion of the divine nature, is still severed from all holy fellowship, and has still rejected God’s truth in an exchange of unrighteous deception.
I will record only one prayer in this exposition, and it is at this time that I wish to pray: “Our Father, who is in heaven, deliver us from the power of self-deception and show us by this test whether or not your eternal life abides with us; Lord Jesus, shine the light of God’s glory in our hearts and fill us with the joy of your salvation; Holy Spirit, strike swift and true with your conviction and set the captives free! In Jesus name I pray, amen!”
To cover the real condition of our hearts with artificial facades to justify our carnal hate as “righteous indignation” or “the Spirit’s leading” is a fatal flaw of terrifyingly profound eternal consequence.
The evidence of the darkness within is the expression of hatred towards the children of God.
Someone may take offense by their brother’s or sister’s actions and justify their “insults”, “exclusion”, “slander”, and other malicious actions towards them as righteous indignation for their sin, but the children of God express the divine nature, fellowship, and truth of God in love towards their brothers and sisters in Christ by forgiving and reconciling with them.
One can manufacture many demonstrations of great righteousness as evidence of their salvation from darkness, but if they do not have love, all these displays are worth nothing:
1st Corinthians 13:1-8a (CSB) If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…
One could possess great spiritual gifts, understand the deepest spiritual mysteries, possess all spiritual knowledge, show great displays of charity, and even endure martyrdom; but all these things are worth nothing without love.
Someone is not shown to be in the darkness because they failed to display the full love of Christ to their brothers or sisters. Someone is not even shown to be in the darkness because they offended their brother or sister in Christ. People display their darkness within by the hate they live in towards the brothers and sisters of Christ. Likewise, the light of Christ is displayed in the life of the believer by the love they exercise towards others, especially towards the children of God (1st John 3:10).