He that saith he is in the light - He that professes to be a convert to Christianity, even in the lowest degree; and hateth his brother - not only does not love him, but wills and does him evil, as the Jews did the Gentiles; is in darkness - has received no saving knowledge of the truth; and, whatever he may pretend, is in heathen ignorance, or even worse than heathen ignorance, to the present time, notwithstanding the clear shining of the light of the Gospel.
He that saith he is in the light - That he has true religion, or is a Christian. See 1 John 1:7.
And hateth his brother - The word “brother” seems here to refer to those who professed the same religion. The word is indeed sometimes used in a larger sense, but the reference here appears to be to that which is properly brotherly love among Christians. Compare Lucke, in loc.
Is in darkness even until now - That is, he cannot have true religion unless he has love to the brethren. The command to love one another was one of the most solemn and earnest which Christ ever enjoined, John 15:17; he made it the special badge of discipleship, or that by which his followers were to be everywhere known, John 13:35; and it is, therefore, impossible to have any true religion without love to those who are sincerely and truly his followers. If a man has not that, he is in deep darkness, whatever else he may have, on the whole subject of religion. Compare the notes at 1 Thessalonians 4:9.
But gradually a change came. The believers began to look for defects in others. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and His love. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory than the practice of the faith. In their zeal to condemn others, they overlooked their own errors. They lost the brotherly love that Christ had enjoined, and, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives and that, having shut the love of God out of their hearts, they would soon walk in darkness. AA 548.1
John, realizing that brotherly love was waning in the church, urged upon believers the constant need of this love. His letters to the church are full of this thought. “Beloved, let us love one another,” he writes; “for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” AA 548.2
Of the special sense in which this love should be manifested by believers, the apostle writes: “A new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 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 eyes.” “This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” “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. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” AA 548.3Read in context »
The ambassadors of Christ have a responsible and sacred work before them. They are savors of life unto life, or of death unto death. Their influence decides the destiny of souls for whom Christ died. Brother and Sister K both lack experience. Their lives have not been unto holiness. They have not had a deep and thorough knowledge of the divine will. They have not been steadily advancing onward and upward in the divine life, so that their experience could be of value to the church. Their course has burdened the church not a little. 3T 60.1
Sister K's past life has not been of such a character that her experience could be a blessing to others. She has not lived up to her convictions of duty. Her conscience has been violated too many times. She has been a pleasure seeker and has given her life to vanity, frivolity, and fashion, in face of the light of truth which has shone upon her pathway. She knew the way, but neglected to walk in it. The Lord gave Sister K a testimony of warning and reproof. She believed the testimony and separated herself from that class who were lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Then, as she viewed her past life, so full of neglects and wrongs, she gave up to unbelief and stolid gloom. Despair spread its dark wings over her. Her marriage to Brother K changed the order of things somewhat, but at times since she has been very gloomy and desponding. 3T 60.2
Sister K has a good knowledge of the prophecies and can trace them and speak upon them very readily. Some of the brethren and sisters have been anxious to urge Brother and Sister K to go out as active laborers. But there is danger of their working from a wrong standpoint. Sister K's educational advantages have been superior to those of many by whom she is surrounded. As she has labored publicly, she has depended upon her own strength more than upon the Spirit of God. She has had a spirit of lofty independence and has thought that she was qualified to teach rather than be taught. With her lack of experience in spiritual things she is unprepared to labor among the churches. She has not the discernment and spiritual strength necessary to build them up. If she and her husband engage in this work at all, they should commence by exerting a good influence in the church at -----. Their labor should be bestowed where the work most needs to be done. 3T 60.3Read in context »