Text: 1 John 1, 3, 4; Matthew 18; Romans 5
1 John 4:19-21: “We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
(Observation): We are commanded to love our brother. One cannot love God and hate his brother.
(Interpretation): I suggest to you that the word brother in the passage means a fellow adoptee into the family of God, by faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, a fellow Christian. Therefore, the conclusion is that hatred for someone who has the Spirit of God in them precludes the possibility that the hater could love God. Further, it is by God’s love that He sacrificed Jesus to pay for our sins.
Therefore, the statement: We love because God loved us first, as it says in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Consider Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
The purpose of the Matthew 18 passage is restoration (1 John 1:7-9).
Consider 1John 3:16,18: “We know love by this that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
(Cross-reference) 1 John 4:10-14: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
(Application) As a practical matter, how do we know if our “brother” is or is not a fellow Christian? I suggest to you that we cannot know, except by his or her confession of faith in Jesus Christ. So, we respond to them accordingly, loving him or her, as commanded. If he or she is practicing sin, then out of love, we follow the instructions of Matthew 18 in love, for the purpose of restoration.