A Deadly Sin
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).
Adapted from a discourse by Br. Paul Mali
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- Murder results from behavior. Behavior is caused by five factors acting alone or in combination with each other. When we want to change a behavior we need to change one or more of these causative factors.
- Thoughts (good or bad)
- Heart Condition (healthy or unhealthy)
- Attitudes (good or bad)
- Faith (strong or weak)
Accomplishments (high or low) These factors can be an index, measuring high or strong, versus low or weak
- Thoughts — gauged by beliefs (Psalms 39:17-18)
- Heart Condition — gauged by words (Matthew 12:34)
- Attitudes — index to our frame of mind (John 14:15, 20)
- Faith — gauged by works or accomplishments (James 2:17)
- Character — index to our spirituality (Matthew 7:16)
Murders occur every few minutes somewhere in the world. It remains one of the most serious, repugnant, and offensive crimes that one can inflict on another human being. Many
rank murder as the number one crime. To remove life is to assume the role of God. Murder is really a triple crime.
(1) Removing the life of someone else
(2) Losing your own life from the process
(3) Assuming the role of God
God gives life and thus has the right to remove it. For someone else to remove it is to play God. To remove this possession of a person, his life is an enormous tragedy. People do anything to avoid the loss of life.
Among brethren, we do not have murderers. As the Lord’s people we are committed to the great value of life; to protect, nourish, and sustain it. We wish one day to attain eternal life.
No true believer wants to play God; we do not have a right to remove a life.
If we ask how many have ever committed spiritual murder, would there be any among us? Would our response be different for spiritual murder? Some would respond, “what do you mean by spiritual murder?”
Let us examine this. 1 John 3:15 reads, “He who hates his brother is a murderer.” These are the words of the Apostle John. Can hate be so important? Can hate be as powerful a force as
to be termed murder? Friends, this is powerful material!
Hatred is a mental state of revulsion for someone that offends. It is a complex reaction that includes fear, insecurity, revenge, and hostility. Hate is a strong dislike, a feeling of ill will, intensified by a desire to harm or injure or bring to an end the one who is hated. Hate is not just a passing mood, but a settled attitude or disposition of mind. Hate can determine behavior, even by one unaware of the motivation.
We can hate and not even know it. Watch a person’s behavior and you can diagnose hate as a motivator. If you know hate is the motivator, you can predict behavior. Hate is a working of
the flesh (Galatians 5:9).
Anger can be a manifestation of hate. Incidentally, anger produces high blood pressure. If you are frequently angry, your blood pressure is kept high. Here is good therapy. Get rid of anger, temper, and hostility, and your blood pressure will drop.
Mental and emotional qualities are connected to longevity, good health, and life. Here are some that we should avoid. Self-pity, anger, defiance, intolerance, false pride, selfishness, greed, blaming others, indifference, dissatisfaction, impatience, fear, self-hate, envy, disdain.
Qualities that we should cultivate are — forgiveness of others, self-forgiveness, love, understanding, acceptance of reality, tolerance, humility, service, generosity, honesty, compassion, satisfaction, faith, not judging, concern for others, gratitude. These qualities will produce joy, energy, laughter, warmth, love, optimism, usefulness, and purpose.
There is also a connection between good character and health. Poor characters tend to produce ill health. Perhaps this is a reason why so many in the world are often sick!
How many of us have ever hated? How many of us have disliked someone with a strong emotion? We may get some admissions here, for hate is the practice of imperfect humans. We have all experienced it. Some may honestly admit that it still continues with us as impulses of the flesh.
Does this mean that you are a murderer if you hate? Does the Apostle John tell us that this emotion of hate, as frequent, elusive, and uncontrollable as it is, condemns us as murderers? I don’t think so. Let us examine what John was trying to say and get to the bottom of it. Let us see what the Apostle had in mind and what lessons we can learn as members of the divine family.
1 John 3:15 from the New Living Translation makes John’s point more clearly. “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is …
a murderer at heart.” That clears it up. Jesus stresses the importance of the heart in Matthew 15:19: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts — murder, adultery … immorality, theft, lying, and slander” (NIV). In Matthew 5:28 he said, he that “looketh on a woman to lust … hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Our hearts are the basis from which we
are judged. The heart is the new creature in us and we must guard this heart with our lives.
It does not take much to see hate around us. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and loneliness multiplies loneliness, in a descending spiral of self-destruction. Evil
begets evil, producing wars which beget more wars, plunging the world into circuitous darkness of misery and degradation.
Hitler hated the Jews. His hate contaminated the German people. This hatred brought death to six million people. This hatred generated counter hate by others. World War II brought
the destruction of 17 million soldiers and 34 million civilians. The hatred of one man, Hitler, brought the destruction of millions of people.
The Apostle John was earnest when he said, he who “hateth his brother is a murderer.” Love enhances life. Hate diminishes life.
Also, he who hates “abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). Here the danger is for the one harboring hatred, for his own spiritual life and a new mind.
The latest thinking from science indicates there are three parts to the mind — the rational, the emotional, and the spiritual. When one quality is strong it subsumes the others. Thus hate, as a factor of the emotion, will subsume the others.
Spiritual life means newness of life. The newness of life results from spirit begettal. The new mind is called the new creature. Three scriptures speak of the spiritual life. James 1:18 — “He chose to give us birth [new life] through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created” (NIV). The truth becomes the seed of a spiritual life. Spiritual life results from consuming the truth. If we condemn the truth of a person, we condemn the very thing that gave them spiritual life.
Revelation 3:5 — “I will never erase his name from the book of life … before my father and … His angels” (Holman Christian Standard Bible). The new life once started is recorded in the book of life in heaven. This is identity and name. If we injure or condemn the identity of a person, we move to erase the name
of the person from the book of life.
1 Samuel 10:6 — “The Spirit of the LORD will come powerfully upon you, and you will … be changed into a different person” (NIV). The new life is a new character, a new person. It is a character reputation. If we condemn the character of the spirit-begotten we assassinate their character.
Therefore, the new mind is the new spiritual life, which consists of four components, and is a living entity. They are integrated in a network. If you destroy any one of these components you
destroy the life.
(1) A system of beliefs which nourishes the new life.
(2) A name with a reputation.
(3) A new character.
(4) A package of experiences.
Four Sources of Hate
Let us examine some of the sources of hate, this deadly frame of mind.
(1) Differences. One source of hate is differences. Note — they can be if we permit them to be. Differences can produce conflicts. However, interestingly enough, differences are also a source of beauty since differences are the exhibition of God’s doctrine of variances in the universe. Just think, if our creator made us with no differences. This world would be boring and even robotic. Our creator said variance, change, and differences will give His creatures beauty and fascination to life.
Who wants to argue which is the most beautiful flower of the garden? Is it the rose or is it the carnation? Is it a lily or is it a gardenia? Is it the daisy or the mum or the tulip? Do you think we can settle these questions? Are they not all beautiful in their own way? Why can’t we accept differences as beautiful?
Similarly, who wants to argue which is better, my way or yours; my preferences or yours; my interests or yours? Of course, there are times when the choice is right or wrong and we should contend for the right. But do not be too surprised if most of the conflicts are my preferences versus your preferences or my
way versus your way. Romans 12:10 says, “In honour preferring one another.” Preferring others keeps preferential differences down, keeps watch over our hearts, keeps conflicts with others under control, and purges the heart of hate and animosity.
(2) Jealousy. Jealousy is bad, but as a resulting product, hate can be lethal. We have four observations about jealousy. (a) Jealousy is an emotion closely aligned with envy, though these are not exactly the same. Jealousy results from uncontrolled envy. This is the reason we must be careful of envy, and even eliminate it, as it may move to the second stage of jealousy.
(b) Envy of others emerges when others have certain privileges, opportunities, recognition, and resources that we do not have. If you envy resources that a brother may have, and you experience frustration acquiring similar resources, jealousy emerges, and hate is right around the corner.
(c) Envy tends toward hatred of the individual. We must guard against it. We tend to hate the very thing that generates a feeling of deficiency within us. We can develop elaborate justifications for our feeling of deficiency, and elaborate condemnation of others whom we envy.
(d) Envy can relate to leadership. The scriptural process for leadership among us comes from Matthew 20:27. “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Service is the road to leadership. Do not be jealous of those who serve, you can serve too! Truly the work of the vineyard is great and the
laborers are few.
There is another jeopardy in this serious issue of jealousy among the Lord’s people. If we believe God has chosen each of us (John 15:16), that God is in charge of developing each of us (John 17), that God will ultimately evaluate each of us (Matthew 22:14), then any prior evaluations, prior judgments, or prior condemnations are working against God. Friends, this is sobering. Any prior evaluation diminishes God’s work, subtracts what God does. We must allow God to finish what He desires in each of us.
The third jeopardy is that hate not only affects the hated, but also the hater. Hate can affect our own spiritual life, health, and well-being. There is a personal interest here. Hate can be more injurious to the hater than the hated.
(3) Lying. Another source of hate is lying. Many people engage in lying without knowing it. It is part of their lifestyle. It is a habit. Lying is speaking falsely or saying something that is
not true. Here are some examples.
(a) A person says he can speak in five languages when all he can do is say good morning in five languages. This is a lie of exaggeration. (b) A person fails to give a good reason for the declining of an opportunity for service. (c) A person fakes sickness as an excuse to avoid going somewhere, such as a meeting or work, is lying. This is a compensatory lie.
(d) A person has his wife say he is out when he is in is lying. This induces someone to lie for him, a substitution lie. (e) A person falsifies information on government forms, such as social security or welfare qualifications, is lying and dishonest. This is an exploitive lie. (f) A person makes a false statement to get
even for some prior injustice, a lie of revenge.
A practical definition of the holiness of a person is to be devoid of lying. Holiness is truthfulness. Holiness is not having the stigma of deception, lying, or dishonesty. When God says to cleanse ourselves and be holy, He does not mean to take a shower, he means to rid ourselves of lies.
(4) Gossip. Another source of hate is gossiping and slander. Gossip is about people. Gossip is idle talk, trifling talk, and chit-chat about another person’s affairs. Gossiping is not all bad, as it shows interest and care for people and it can be a way of passing time and is often harmless. But it can be condemnatory.
Why do people gossip? Have you ever wondered why? We see several reasons. First, they have nothing else to do (1 Timothy 5:13). The brain is an organ and it must function one way or another. A person thinks up to 5000 thoughts daily. If you are not learning, you are more open to gossip. Second, their lives are boring and an excitement factor is needed. Third, they have very few interests, talents, or habits to occupy their intellect. Fourth, they may have a desire to advise, investigate, chide, or reprove, like mothers or fathers when children are growing up. They cannot stop being mothers and fathers to other people.
But what is it about gossip that becomes dangerous? First, it is dealing with partial information, incomplete information, distorted information, and misconstrued information. We call these rumors. We may mentally fill in the missing information incorrectly.
“Wasn’t that Br. Smith on Route 34 yesterday parked behind a State Police cruiser?” That is not enough information. People want to know the complete story. “What happened?” “I don’t know. He must have gotten stopped by the cops and got a ticket for speeding.” That’s it! Br. Smith is known to have a heavy foot. He does not obey the laws. The truth of the matter is, all Br. Smith did was to stop behind a parked State Police cruiser to tell the officer of a disabled vehicle in the middle of the road.
What is dangerous about gossip or rumors is that people add, which is lying. People take the behavior and spill it on their reputation, and thus give people a reputation that impugns their character.
Another reason why gossiping is dangerous is that it is behind peoples’ back. They are not there to confirm the data or supply the missing information. Since the person is not there the
assassination process begins.
Slander — a Weapon of the Hater
Slander is lying intentionally to hurt someone. A slanderer wants to defame and ruin a person’s reputation or name. Let us list eight seeds of slander that are prompted by hate.
(1) A slanderer charges others with faults they are not guilty of. (2) A slanderer characterizes someone in a way they do not deserve. (3) A slanderer profanes another. (4) A slanderer perverts what another person said to be disadvantageous to him.
(5) A slanderer may misrepresent, conceal, or suppress part of the truth so as to put someone in a bad light. (6) A slanderer will make sly suggestions to prejudice the hearers. (7) A slanderer will magnify or exaggerate the fault of others. (8) A slanderer will impute evil motives without a foundation.
The seeds of slander can both corrupt the speaker, and impugn the subject.
The standards that God places on the called ones are extremely challenging. If we think the Ten Commandments were challenging to the Israelites; if we think the Decalogue was overwhelming for Israel; if we think the Law was over-demanding for the Jewish people; it is minor compared to what God expects of His chosen ones. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jews, but we as Christians have a higher law; a law beyond humans. It is a spiritual law more challenging than the Decalogue. Why are we to follow this higher law?
(1) God Himself follows this spiritual law and we want His godliness. (2) To be given a spiritual body means we must conform to spiritual laws. (3) Jesus himself asked us to. In Matthew 5, 6, 7 Jesus said, “You know it has been written [referring to the Law Covenant] — but I say unto you [referring to the higher spiritual law].” He did this many times. The spiritual
law goes beyond human law.
If we damage the name and reputation of a consecrated spiritual life, we can damage the recording in the book of life. If we injure the character of a consecrated spiritual life, we damage a developing new creature. If we condemn the truth of a consecrated spiritual life — condemnation, not disagreement or criticism — we damage the very seed, fragile as it is, which produces the new life.
The spiritual life of a consecrated one is the most precious thing in the eyes of God. It is truly the only life as God sees it on earth. Everything else is dead. Spiritual life is a fragile life and can be broken easily. Since this life is sacred to God, it must be sacred to us. If we do anything wrong or right, just or unjust, which
will cause someone to leave the Truth, we work against God. We subtract what God is doing. We will be held accountable.
On the other hand, anything we do to nourish a new life that God has started, to water it, enhance it, help and sustain it, is working with God. We add to what God does and we are
part of God’s plan. God will surely bless us.