1 John 3.14,15 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 4.20,21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
The new birth is a spiritual resurrection from death unto life through faith in Christ that is made evident through the love it produces. This love is the acid test of regeneration. John writes that to hate a person is equivalent to murder. Cain is used as an example. John writes in chapter 2, He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eye. Thus, to hate a person is equivalent to being in darkness and being blinded by darkness.
This acid test of love is of great importance, beloved. It is the proof of the new birth. John leaves us no wiggle room on this point. The church is made up of fallen, imperfect people like me. We make rash statements and do stupid things at times. We hurt others and have been hurt by others. No exceptions. In the realm of doctrine, we have differences that have been the cause of divisions and dissensions that produce hostility and rejection of individuals that produces an attitude that is more like that of an angry Hells Angel towards an angry Iron Horseman than a professing Christian. There is room to disagree with one another. There is even room to not like another person for one reason or another. But there is no room for the absence of love in spite of the disagreement or lack of “chemistry” with another person.
Three tests prove the genuineness of a person’s conversion: the test of belief (4:2), the test of obedience (2:3), and the test of love (4:20). The same affirmations are stated negatively. The one who professes to be a Christian, but who cannot pass the test of belief (2:22), the test of obedience (1:6), and the test of love (4:20), is a liar. John brings all three tests together in 5:1–5, where he indicates that a profession of Christianity is false unless it is characterized by correct belief, godly obedience, and brotherly love. The same tests are valid today.
Jesus put it right out there for us in Matthew 5.44-46: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
In others words, regenerating love is not simply a matter of sentiment alone, but blessing, prayer, and doing good that is extended to friend and enemy alike. Just as our gracious Heavenly Father indiscriminately sends rain and sunshine upon the just and unjust alike, so as Jesus’ disciples, we must be indiscriminate in our extension of love to both friend and “enemy.” Love forgives. Love reconciles. Love looks for ways to heal. How do I know this? I look to the middle cross of Calvary. If any of us think that another person has hurt us more than we have hurt Jesus, we have yet to understand the gospel.