In his first epistle, John writes in absolute terms. He generally presents the Christian not as the person who has become a Christian, but simply as that in him which is distinctively Christian. In 1 John 3:10 he contrasts the children of God and the children of the devil. Unsaved persons are viewed as children of the devil, whom the Lord in John 8:44 terms “a murderer from the beginning.” They, like Cain who murdered his brother, make evident the characteristics of this dreadful father. Someone who hates his brother is here termed a murderer. Love, on the other hand, characterizes the new nature and is evidence of a person having divine life. As Christians, we love one another. This love is not a matter of mere words or emotions, but a love “in deed and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18). It may even involve laying down our life for a fellow Christian, and certainly would involve sharing what we may have of this world’s goods with a brother in need.
For the early Christians, these were very practical matters. When persecuted and arrested by the authorities they were sometimes brought to the arenas, given weapons and pitted against one another to fight to death like gladiators for the entertainment of the blood-thirsty crowds. Christians customarily refused to fight for their lives against one another in this manner. While this conduct disappointed the spectators, it also drew appreciative comments such as, “Behold how these Christians love one another.” Many became Christians through this practical demonstration of love.
Moses and David were not, strictly speaking, Christians, but were Old Testament saints of God who had their failings just as we do. They committed murder, Moses directly (Ex. 2:11-15) and David by proxy (2 Sam. 11:15-17). And yes, sadly enough, Christians have committed murder too. Where this was done before they were saved, we cannot rightly say that Christians committed murder, for they were not yet Christians; their sins were not yet forgiven. But it is undeniable that true Christians have murdered.
Murder and its specialized categories of suicide and abortion are not the fruit of the new nature. Such deeds do not come from, and are not consistent with, abiding in Christ. The Christian’s new nature received from God cannot sin. Yet as long as he still has the old nature inherited from Adam, the possibility of committing any wicked act is present. However, God does not view the believer as a murderer, but as one who has been forgiven and has life from above.
Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org