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The DEEP

Hate = Murder?

How's that?

1 John 3:10–15

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John twice relates hating your brother to murder. They’re surely not the same to your brother. Isn’t this comparison a bit much?

No, Jesus did the same thing.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” — Matthew 5:21–22

There’s something to this—something important. But what? How can these two things be the same?

First off, this comparison is between a feeling and an action. Hate and murder don’t exist in the same realm. Feelings are the roots of actions. One leads to the other. They are as different as cause and effect.

And one is inherently invisible, while the other is as visible as anything can be. Your brother may not even notice that you hate him. He’ll definitely notice if you murder him.

So, these two things look to all the world as different as night and day. But John’s point, and Jesus’s, is that they’re not so different to God.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” — 1 Samuel 16:7

The murderer and the one who hates his brother have the same heart.


This continues yesterday’s point about sanctification. While old habits die hard, the Holy Spirit changes the heart more quickly. That’s where the real change is anyway.

So, it’s appropriate for Jesus (and John) to nudge us on this.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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