If I were to say that I had found the key that provides access to a wide range of spiritual blessings, I and sure that you would be interested. John gives us a key – brotherly love. He makes clear that such love is a defining distinction of the people of God, which separates them from all other communities.
It is very sobering to note how he describes all others – according to John, they are all children of the devil. This description does not mean that Satan fathered those people; instead it means that he has a very strong influence over them, that they so imitate his preferences that they can be identified as his children. We can easily tell who the children of the devil are in this sense – they do not live according to God’s law.
Perhaps we would then expect John to say that Christians are people who keep God's law, which would be a true description. Yet John, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, chooses to focus on the particular aspect of brotherly love as one of the central features of Christian identity.
There are many applications that can be deduced from John's teaching here on brotherly love. We will consider three applications over the next few days, beginning tomorrow with the claim that brotherly love is expected when there is trouble in the church.