In chapter three of John’s first letter, he draws a clear line between the righteous and the unrighteous. He lays it out in black and white, not black and shades of black, or white and off-white. Those who practice sinning are of the devil and those who practice righteousness are of God, children of God. He provides great comfort to the righteous. He does not demand sinless perfection, but rather breaking off the practice of sinning. It’s not a matter of “I don’t read my bible enough” or “I don’t pray enough” or even “I got short with the kids.” If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything. Repent and rejoice! You have been forgiven.
But this should be a terror to those whose lives are characterized by habitual, unrepentant sin. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t as bad as the next guy. The unrighteous can’t get off by saying, “It’s not like I’m a murderer or anything.” He is a murderer. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.
Both the righteous and the unrighteous are tested on the same point; do you love your brother? The righteous one is the one who loves his brother. The wicked is the one who hates his brother. He uses Cain and Abel as an example. Again he draws a very clear line. Cain was of the devil. He hated his brother and murdered him. He was evil; his deeds were evil. In some very clear and probably very public way, Yahweh accepted Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s. Cain felt the sting of rejection, anger, envy, and fear. Rather than admit his own wrong and repent and seek reconciliation with God, he rose up and built a city on his brother’s blood.
The city of God is also built on the blood of the innocent brother, but this blood speaks a better word the the blood of Abel. Abel’s blood cries out from the ground, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” But the blood of Christ washes us. It is the water of life. His blood says, “Come, drink. The water that I will give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”