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.

1 John 2:11 NKJV

It’s a love thing

Last week we took a look at the kind of love that can bring a community together and lift up everybody in a community – the correcting kind of love. Today, I want to take a look at the saving kind of love. This is the kind of love that is unbiased and is the kind of love that the Lord showed to the world when he gave the world (all people) His only begotten Son. It seems I am always preaching, teaching, or talking about love and I feel that now is as good of a time as any for preaching and teaching about love. No matter how long I have lived and the things I have seen, it seems that the old dreamer and idealist inside of me is not quite ready to give up on love just yet.

John’s first epistle (1 John) is my favorite of the 66 books that make up the protestant bible. My love for this letter comes from the way that John wrote and taught about faith and love – two things that are of the utmost importance to me. John wrote about faith and love very brilliantly and as a man who had lived a long life learning the way of faith and love. John, by the time of the writing of this first letter, was referred to as the elder – he was the elder statesman of the faith by this time. Let’s take a look at some of the things John says in this particular passage of scripture that I used for my responsive reading for today’s sermon (1 John 2:1-11).

John writes (1 John 2:7), “I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.” This commandment that is not new but is an old commandment from the beginning is the focus of my sermon for today. John is talking about the commandment to love – the commandment of love has been around since the beginning. God, when He created this great creation that we are a part of, created all of this out of love. God did not create any of this from a place of hatred. God is love. God’s only begotten Son is love. All of God’s children should also be about love as well. In the Ten Commandments, the Lord commanded Israel to honor their fathers and mothers. Within the Mosaic Law, we find the commandment to love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). The commandment to love others is not something that is brand new to mankind.

Yet, we see John then write (1 John 2:8), “a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you.” This commandment to love, John also says, is also a new commandment. One could look at this and say that John is talking in riddles and creating a paradox. What’s going on here? Jesus, when He was teaching the disciples, told the disciples (John 13:34), “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus introduced an “old commandment” as a “new commandment” and we see John re-iterate this same teaching to us.

I believe, what is being taught to us, is that the command to love one another is a command that is constantly refreshing. What do I mean by this? I believe we are constantly commanded to love – there is no quota for love. You see, many of us would try to be like Peter when he was wondering about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21). If there was a number, a goal, that we were commanded to reach on how many people we should love, or how long we should love, we would reach that goal and then we would stop! If we were commanded to love somebody for only a year, we would hit that goal and then we would quit loving them as soon as a year is over with. We would treat loving another person as a job – once we get our hours in, we would run out the doors. I believe the commandment to love each other refreshes constantly and is always new. If we fail to love someone today, we have the opportunity to love someone tomorrow. The command to love is a command that calls for the constant striving of the believer.

Hate leads to darkness

However, many of us find that love is simply too hard to do and so we refuse. However, I want you to see what John says here about the one who refuses to love. John says (1 John 2:9), “He that hates his brother is in darkness”. I am going to look at a few words in a couple of the next verses here because I want us to see what John is talking about. John goes from talking about love to talking about hate in this verse. Love comes from a place of caring for another; hate is the complete opposite of love. Hate simply does not care when it comes to other people. In last week’s sermon, I mentioned how the church, the pastor, the deacon, and the mother would “get on people” from a place of caring about others and wanting to see others do better. Hate doesn’t care for you to do better. In fact, the hater can see you fall into a pit and not bother to lift a finger to help you get out of the pit because they don’t care if you make it out or not.

There are many people who are filled with this kind of hate. I tell you that hate goes against the way and the values that the Lord created you with and to have. Hate degrades the soul, the human spirit, and in this degradation you will that these sort of people become very miserable human beings. Hateful people are some of the most miserable folks to be around. It gets to a point where you can start to see the hate manifesting on the outside – we are not to be this way. Though we see their eyes open, John writes that the hater is in darkness.

John says (1 John 2:11), in our key verse:

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.

1 John 2:11 NKJV

Notice that John uses the word “walks” within this scripture. John says that they are not only in darkness but they are walking in darkness. This is a reference to living. Only living creatures are able to walk around, dead creatures don’t walk around. Even though we see the hater walking, talking, and have their eyes wide open, John says that they are living in darkness.

I want you to also notice the use of the word “brother” as well, “he who hates ‘his brother’”. Who is the brother that John is speaking of? Is he talking in the literal sense of a blood brother or is John talking about a different kind of brother? Who is your brother? Would you consider a fellow believer to be your brother? Would you consider an unbeliever to be your brother? Is a person of faith your brother? Is a person that does not share the same faith as you considered your brother? Would you consider a sinner to be your brother? Would you consider somebody who is white to be your brother? What about black, Asian, Mexican, Arab, Indian, Dominican, or Latin – would you consider them your brother? If you haven’t caught on to where I am going, everybody, regardless of race or religion, is considered to be your brother (your fellow man). All of us are connected to the brotherhood of mankind. The real shame is that this very connection is simply not recognized in our world today.

I am not picking on anybody when I say this, but I have noticed that we seemingly have a greater affinity for helping the “poor innocent animals” before we lift a finger to help a brother. I watched this video the other day where these people were going through this great effort to help cut a whale loose from a net that it had gotten stuck in. Sadly, I wondered, why don’t we ever put so much effort into helping feed the hungry and shelter the homeless? I wanted another video where people were putting forth a great effort to help this mother duck and her baby duck that fell into a sewer be connected again. I then wondered, why is our history so filled with man dividing another man’s family because he thought himself superior to that family? This, again, is not to knock the affinity that we have for the “poor innocent animals” but to call attention to the fact that some people will treat a dog or a cat better than they will treat their fellow man. Some will free a whale before they will help to free their fellow man. Some will even try to feed a shark before they help try to feed their fellow man; it seems that love doesn’t run that deep after all.

So John says, “he that hates his brother is in darkness”. We keep seeing John refer to this “darkness” repeatedly in these two scriptures (1 John 2:9, 11). What is this darkness that John is talking about? Another writer also happened to write about this darkness, so let’s take a look at what this writer had to say. In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes (2 Corinthians 4:3) about them that are “lost”. He then writes:

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 KJV

I want you to pay close attention to these two verses. “Them that are lost” is a reference to those that “walk in darkness” – these people are one in the same. John wrote (1 John 2:11) that those who walk in darkness “does not know where [they] are going”. I want you to see the cross-reference of these two scriptures. Now I want you to see what causes this darkness: Paul writes that the darkness is caused by the “god of this world (age)”.

I want you to notice that Paul wrote “god” and not “God”. God refers to God Almighty, the Lord of Israel – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When you refer to the Lord as God you should always write God with a capital “G”. Paul, you notice in this translation, refers to the “god of this world” using a lowercase “g”. Who is the god of this world? The god of this world was cast (thrown) out of heaven prior to the creation of mankind and fell to this world – that being is the devil. Satan is the “ruler” of this realm, this world. Notice that Paul writes that the devil has “blinded” the minds of them which do not believe. So, in other words, the devil acts as a shield to the light and that is the light that Christ brought to this world when He revealed the truth.

Have you ever heard that saying, “pulling the wool over someone’s eyes”? You pull the wool over someone’s eyes when you don’t want them to see something – like a surprise gift. Better yet, you pull the wool over someone’s eyes when you have deceived and fooled them. The devil does this – he is pulling the wool over many people’s eyes today. You see, that light Jesus brought to this world is actually still in this world today; it hasn’t gone anywhere! Yet, the devil has put a blindfold over many people’s eyes so that they cannot see or recognize that light that is still in the world today. Therefore, the “lost ones” that Paul is writing about being blinded is also our brother and our brother is being blinded by not only their hate but by the devil. You see, these people, our brothers, would not be so miserable if they would simply open their eyes to the truth and to the way in which the Lord looks at His creation. Though we are sinful creatures, God still loves us!

So, what should we do about our brothers that are walking in darkness? Should we stand by and allow the devil to continue to pull the wool over their eyes and blind them to the true Light? Should we be our brother’s keeper and help them? Take a look at what Paul say’s next:

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV

I believe the command is clear: we should do our best to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to all of our brothers! To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, we cannot be a creature walking (living) in darkness. In other words, we cannot hate our brothers and spread the light at the same time. No matter what they believe in, we should love them. No matter the ways in which they choose to live, we must still love them.

Unfortunately, we live by bias. What do I mean? Well, folks will only like you, love you, when they find out you share common interests. It seems nowadays that some who say they are a believer are unable to love the gay man or the gay woman. It seems that some who say they are a believer are unable to love the person who may not share their political beliefs. It seems that some who say they are a believer are unable to love the person who may not share their heritage or believe in some of the traditions of their heritage. And so, these so-called believers now hate these people, their brothers, solely because they don’t fit inside of their bubble. I tell you today, these so-called believers who continue to hate their brothers are walking around in darkness. John says (1 John 2:9), “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.” The love that Christ shared with us did not have a bias – it was for everybody. To move about with such hate only perpetuates the darkness that Satan seeks to cover mankind with – all you’re doing is helping the devil win.

Share the light

We who have seen the light, believe in the truth of the gospel of Christ, have a saving kind of love embedded inside of us. In the beginning, God said, “let there be light” and there was light (Genesis 1:3). That light, you should know, did not come from our sun or from any star. According to the Bible, the earth was without form and void of life before any star ever occupied the heavens – space (Genesis 1:1). When God said, “let there be light”, I believe that light came from Him. When the Lord brings forth the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21), there will be light but there will be no stars, no galaxies filled with stars to illuminate anything – the light will come from God. John, in the writing of his gospel, describes Christ as the true Light that gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:6-9).

God gave this world the true Light and He, the true Light, gave witness to all we ever needed to know. Christ lighted the hearts of all of those who believe in Him. A torch is capable of lighting another torch. If you’re burning with the light of Christ in you, you ought to share that light with the other torches that are in darkness (your brothers). Again, I say, we cannot fight hate with hate, but that does not mean we have to allow hate to bully us and roll over our fellow brothers. We also do not have to conform to such hate. Even though this world is shrouded in darkness, we do not have to allow that darkness to overcome us because we have the light of Christ inside of us. I believe the Lord still looks down from His throne to see if His torches are lighting other torches in this world. Can you love your fellow brother?

I will conclude with a word that James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in his book; it is a good word that all of us, especially believers, need to see.

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

James 5:19-20 NKJV

Many of our brothers are lost in their hate, we have an obligation to turn them away from the error of this way. Many souls are being lost today because they are following a way that wanders from the truth by following in a way of hate. We have a saving love inside of all of us that can help turn our brothers from the errors of their ways, can turn them away from the second death, and can cover a multitude of sins. Can you be your brother’s keeper?

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