The Murderer Within
A daily devotion for May 20th
15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him (1 John 3:15).
Does your heart burn with hatred toward another today, or has it this week? You just cannot stand him. In fact, if the circumstances were right and the penalty could be avoided, you would murder him if you could! This verse reveals the implications of hatred. All that keeps you from committing murder is a fear of reprisal from God or humans. If you could get away with it some way, hatred would always, invariably, lash out into murder—as it did in that first scene between Cain and Abel. Wherever hate is, murder is always the possibility, and, in the eyes of God, it is as good as done. God reads the heart, so He does not need to wait for the actions. This is what the Lord Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 5:21-22 in the Sermon on the Mount.
What does it reveal when a Christian hates? Let's be honest and admit that it is all too frequently true. Christians hate one another and show hatred toward each other and toward others outside of Christ. But John tells us,
You know that no murderer has eternal life in him, meaning that the eternal life that Christ has given is no longer in control of that individual; it is no longer
abiding in him.
This relationship of abiding is an additional one to that of the indwelling of God's life. It does not mean that people cease to be Christians when they hate, but they cease to act like Christians. They are no longer living like the Christians that they have become. Eternal life is no longer abiding in them, and they have slipped back into the control of the devil. It is not that love is not available to them but that it does not abide in them. If we hate someone, we have become the temporary slave of Satan. We are God's child doing the devil's work, and we need to face it on that level.
What is the way to control hatred? For the world in general, there can be no answer apart from the regenerating work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the cross of Calvary. It takes the power of God to break the power of hate. But what about with Christians? Do you resort to the folly of trying to suppress it? Do you bite your lip and say nothing but go away with your heart burning, seething, miserable, and unhappy? You are still under the control of the evil one, and, sooner or later, he will take you farther than you want to go. The only control is what we read about here in the epistle of John. Judge this thing. Deal with it as God sees it. Call it what it is—hatred—originating from the devil. Then confess it, agree with God about it, tell Him so. You will then receive the answering power of love from the Son of God who dwells in your heart. The fount of the Holy Spirit is ever ready to pour out words of love and appreciation, approval, and acceptance in place of hatred. Until we live on these terms, we have not begun to demonstrate the life that is in Jesus Christ. That is why the exhortation comes:
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).
Lord, may I be drawn to You to understand anew the power of love over hate, and the need to be open and honest with myself in these areas. Help me not to excuse these attitudes but to remember that every manifestation of hate is an attack against You and Your rule in my life.
Life Application: In our season here on earth everyone will have times filled with hate for another; and suppression just increases it. How do we return control to the One who is Love?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.