“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him
The word “know” means to know something intuitively as axiomatic. We know axiomatically that murder is incompatible with eternal life in the Christian. We can make a sweeping declaration that murder is fundamentally against his nature as a Christian. As everyone knows that murder intuitively is axiomatically wrong as a generally accepted principle so that we can know this of hatred as well.
John does not present the idea that a Christian could never murder. Rather, he argues that the nature of a child of God does not murder. We know a Christian by his love, not his hate. The very nature and quality of eternal life that he received at salvation is contrary to taking someone else’s life.
It is unimaginable that a child of God would commit murder. Yet, it is possible for a believer to murder. David murdered Uriah the Hittite, but he was out of fellowship with God when he did it (2 Sa 12:9). It is inconceivable that God would accept fellowship with a Christian who commits attitudinal murder [hate].
A Christian operating in the carnality of attitudinal murder abides in “death” (3:14). He stays in carnality as long as he continues to hate his fellow Christian. He lives like he did before he became a Christian – in death (3:13). He is deeply out of fellowship with the Lord.
Ro 8:6-8, 13, 6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God…. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
God does not fellowship with Christians who commit mental murder.
Genuine believers do murder fellow believers. David murdered Uriah the Hittite (2 Sa 12:9; cf. 1 Pe 4:15).
The object of hate in this verse is “his brother.” When a genuine Christian hates a fellow Christian, he commits mental murder. Jesus said that hatred toward other Christians is a form of murder (Mt 5:21-22). Hatred is the unvarying pioneer to murder. It reveals the attitude of the heart. Murder and hate differ only in degree. The believer wallowing in hate is seriously out of fellowship with his Lord.
Do you burn in anger toward another Christian? You wish him harm? You fancy some awful thing would fall on him. You cannot stand the sight of him. Almost no one knows about this because if they were to know about it, it would be a blight on your reputation. Your only motivation for not making it known is fear of reprisal from others. The only prohibition is public opinion.
This mentality is the mentality of murder. Mental murderer controls his life. Christ does not control his thinking because hatred obsesses him. He justifies this because he was “hurt” by the object of his hate.
Suppression will not solve this problem because he will suppress it here, but it will pop up there. The only way to truly deal with this is to call it what it is – sin. Acknowledge that the sin of hatred violates your fellowship with God. Confess it and move on.
We dare not justify ourselves by rationalizing hate away, “If you understood why I hate him, then you would understand my situation and my hate.” Even if we fool other Christians, we cannot fool the Lord. If we do not love our brother, then we hate him.
Hatred not only hurts the person hated, but it also hurts the person who hates. This is self-induced misery. It will put the hater ultimately into spiritual bondage.