The Origin of Love
Since God is the highest and absolute of beings, His happiness, joy and love must be perfect and complete. Perfect happiness lies not in solitude, so personal distinctions in Deity are necessary for perfect happiness. Without which this most glorious complete nearness and communion between perfect Persons would not exist. (John 10:38;14: 10, 11)
God’s glory, is reflected in His wisdom, knowledge, and power. But His fullness of Joy, is the Son. (Ps. 16:11) The Father delights in His Son, who is “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” before whom He was always rejoicing. (Pr. 8:30)
The Father Himself called His Son “God.” (Heb. 1:8) And the Son joined himself to the Father, and thought it not robbery to be equal with him, being of the same nature, power, and glory. (Ph. 2:6) And the Son “made himself of no reputation” (Philippians. 2; John 1) taking human nature. Which did not change His Divine nature, the Son remained what He ever was, and became what He was not, a Man.
There is no equal to the love of God. Jeremiah called it eternal love. (Jer. 31:3) John called it perfect love. (1 John 4:18) The love of Christ surpasses all knowledge. (Eph. 3:19) “God is Love” tells of the love of the father seen in giving all things to the Son. The love of the Son to the Father is seen in returning all to the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24)
Love has no birth, three Persons in the one God, living in one eternal nature, loved in heaven, and are called LOVE. (1 John 4:8, 16)
Love is expressed by our Lord during His life. How many have been inspired by the recorded life of the Nazarene? Even the unconverted have studied His love for people and how He wept over the city of Jerusalem.
Love existing before creation must be unveiled. Creatures, angels, and men were created to display the love of God. The sustainment of life, and provisions made for all creatures, supplying and supporting angels and men, is the creator’s love on display.
There must be more, and after creation came redemption love. (John 3:16) God moved in mercy and the cross is the ultimate display of love. “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down His life for His friends.” (John 15:13) But “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) the measure of love is the Son taking the sinner’s place. “Christ died for our sins…” (1 Cor. 15:3)
But there yet must be more, and love must continue through long ages and into eternity. Today we are in the midst of the love of God. Redemption love is displayed and received by the sinner. The display of the love of God commenced with the creation of angels and cherubs, is continuing in redemption love to man and will never end, for in eternity there will be the display of creation and salvation love.
As in the work of creation, the work of regeneration included three divine Persons: The Father bestows grace in giving His Son. The Son gave himself and gave man the power to become the sons of God, (John 1:8) and the Spirit has so much to do with salvation, that he is called the Spirit of adoption. Today the Holy Spirit comes to the sinner, patiently convicting of sin and righteousness, and revealing the Son. He reveals the grace of God to our minds. He influences our lives, without forcing our will.
The Love of God is like a pure river, from the throne of God. (Re. 22:1) It begins at birth, the gift of life. It continues in the offer of eternal life, and will continue in heaven. God changes his dispensations and dealings with man, but never changes his love. Man will sin but God will love. Not even sin, and His hatred of it, will alter his love; God will punish sin absolutely while loving the sinner perfectly.
The Human Engine of Love
The heart is referred to over eight hundred times in the Bible, using twenty-five Greek and Hebrew words. Often the word heart means thoughts, the spirit, the conscience and the mind. The heart is the centre of man. It is the emotional engine. It is the mind for the Psalmist said; thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119)
Many creatures are capable of non-intelligent emotion, expressing love in their family realm. If your cat could tell you that he loves you maybe he would. Intelligent creatures can, but often will not. Of course the devotional or emotional part of us was formed to love God. And the Lord spoke of love with all our soul, our heart, our strength and our mind. (Luke 10:27) The exhortation is to love intelligently, willingly, not as the animal creation who are programmed to do so.
Learned men tell us that there are four chambers in the human heart. Blood must filter through these chambers to maintain life. There are also four chambers in the spiritual heart. Our Lord spoke of the knowledge or input chamber. (Mt. 12:34; Luke 6:45) Paul wrote of the will, or, the output or decision chamber. (Rom. 6:17; 10:10) Luke wrote of the heart as the conscience or the warning valve. (Acts 2:37) it first smote us when we were controlled by the power of darkness. Now under light control our conscience is still at work. The heart is usually described as the emotional part of our being. The Lord and many scriptures tell us of our emotion or affection chamber. (John 14:1; Luke 24:37)
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Rom. 1:21)
“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Mt. 12:34-35; Luke 6:45; 2 Cor. 4:7)
“Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Acts 5:3)
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:25-32)
“…now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. (John 16:5-6)
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. (2 Cor. 2:4-5)
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Rom. 6:17)
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (Ps. 45:1)
“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:8-10)
“Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” (Ps 119:11)
As the four parts of the human heart are necessary so are the four figurative chambers of the heart brought before us in the above scriptures. Our intellect, our will and our conscience are interwoven to produce right affections or love to God and men. We store knowledge, we process and meditate on the knowledge of truth. We screen out or filter out sin with our conscience, and we love.
Man was made an emotional being capable of love, the creator desired voluntary love, not forced or programmed love. Also, true love is not an exchange for reward. Salvation is a gift, not an exchange for love or worship. Man’s religion teaches devotion to God hoping that God will reward man with salvation, others have somewhat understood the gift of salvation, but are exchanging devotion and worship for a keeping of salvation. But true love cannot be associated with any reward. It must be completely voluntary and independent of any benefit received.
So the Scriptures have much to say about the heart. Paul writes of a melodious heart. (Eph. 5:19) Of a single heart. (Eph. 6:5) Of an enlarged Heart, (2 Cor. 6:11) or a love for straying saints. John writes of a rejoicing Heart. (John 16:22) Luke tells us of a burning heart. (Luke 24:32) Peter writes of the hidden man of the heart, (1 Peter 3:4) which is the hidden true character of the person. We should be on the outside, what we are inside.
Love is demonstrated by deeds. “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” (John 14:23) “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him ” (John 14:21)
In these verses, the verb “keep” means guard, as well as “obey,” which means that the test of love includes defending God’s Word as well as keeping His commandments in our lives. To compromise and try to fit Scripture into modern philosophies or practices, is to fail the test of Love. To fear is also inconsistent with love for there is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear: He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
The Motivation Factor
The great expression of love is rooted in the constraining Love of Christ; “For the love of Christ constrains us: because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)
There are many motivating reasons for serving the Lord. It is only reasonable to serve the One who gave his life to save us from hell. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1)
There is the incentive of rewards. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12). There are also many rewards even in this present life for dedicated Christian service. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8)
The great need of the lost is also motivation for witnessing and Christian service. This was the burden of Paul. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more … I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:19, 22)
But the greatest of all motives is the constraining love of Christ. His great expression of Love has been imbedded in our souls. It has not only affected us, it has arrested us. The great price paid, (1 Cor. 6:20), the never equaled suffering and cruel death of the sinless Son has captured our hearts. We have been won by a man who died for us. We believe the love of a man who was God. Of God who became man. We are overwhelmed, we are constrained, and we say with the apostle; “for me to live is Christ.” (Phil. 2:1)
“Love Thy Neighbour”
The Lord tells the well-known story of the Good Samaritan, (Luke 10:37) When we preach the Gospel we say that the Samaritan story is a story of RUIN, (verse 30) all have been ruined by sin. It is a story of RELIGION, (verse 31) the two religious men did not help this man. It is an illustration of the REDEEMER, (verse 33) the Lord came from far, and came our way. It is a story of REMEDY, (verse 34) He picked him up. It is a story of RECOVERY, (verse 34) there was total rescue, not back on the road to get robbed again, but to the inn. The Good Samaritan story illustrates Jesus coming from heaven. The Lord is telling us of his own journey, of his complete salvation. Not a giving of rules and telling the man to be more careful the next time. But a lifting up the sinner and placing him where he sat himself.
But this story was in answer to the surprising question: “who is my neighbor?” The man who specialized in the interpretation and application of the more-than-600 commandments of the Old Testament did not know who his neighbour was.
Jesus underlines that the neighbor is not necessarily someone whose home is near ours, or even one who is an acquaintance. The Samaritan of the parable had never met the unfortunate traveler who had been robbed and wounded, nor was he even a fellow-countryman. He was a neighbor because circumstances made it so. He was a neighbor because of a real need. He was a neighbor because the Samaritan had the ability to meet that need at that time. Such an action is loving, as we love ourselves. It is doing what we would desire to be done for us if the roles were reversed.
Why did the Lord tell this story to this teacher of the law? Because he was not practicing love toward the non-Jews all around him. There was therefore need of repentance. To go and do likewise would show repentance and would open the way for God to reveal salvation to him.
To have the capacity to love is to be like God. And even sin has not annihilated this inner God created emotion. Sin has misdirected love, but we still see deeds of love every day. Demonstrating that indeed, man is created in the image of God.
“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, woman, behold thy son! And to John, behold thy mother! (John 19:26-27)
These words from the Lord show His love and concern for His mother even when He was dying, for He knew that a sword was piercing through her soul, as Simeon had prophesied 33 years before (Luke 2:35) His half brothers and sisters did not believe, (John 7:5) and it is possible that this had created a problem in the home. Jesus knew that they later would become believers, and that this family division would be resolved. The Lord asks John to treat Mary as his own mother, and Mary to rely on John as her own son. Despite the fact that John’s real mother was also there at the cross (Mt. 27:56) John gladly accepted this responsibility. Mary was probably in John’s home on the morning of the resurrection, so John and Peter hurried to their own home, (John 20:10) no doubt to tell Mary the glad news. Mary was with all the disciples in the upper room as they waited and prayed. (Acts 1:14) So Mary was loved, cared for by John, and all the saints. Jude was later saved and wrote of being preserved until salvation. No doubt Mary was loved again by her sons and daughters, and Christian and family love became one. Mary’s spirit which had rejoiced (Luke 1:47) before the Lord’s birth, rejoiced again in her older years.
Another case in point is the servant who would exchange his freedom for family love. “He loved his wife, and children, and would not leave them. (Ex. 21:5) Family love is underlined in scripture, and the apostle wrote; “…if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Tim. 5:8)
Misunderstood, Mis-administered Love
As before written, love in exchange for salvation is false love. The religion that preaches love as a keeper of salvation is also a false religion. To preach that loving our neighbor is loving God is false preaching. To preach that loving Jesus, (John 14:23) is salvation, is twisting the Lord’s words. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) is the test of salvation obtained and not the recipe to get salvation.
Forced professions of faith are practiced on children of professing evangelicals. The child grows to mature years thinking he or she is a Christian. When a gradual slipping into the world and sin occurs, and meeting attendance is forsaken, the parents and others try to encourage, and try to make church attendance more entertaining. Some come back and continue a little more, but the world is too strong and the young adult is eventually swallowed up by its charm and sin. Parents sincerely loved their child, but tried to do a work which the Holy Spirit alone can do. Difficult to admit, the child or young adult was forced into a profession of faith and was never born again.
Because of this often problem, other evangelical churches have added a following Jesus program. But it is not adding a following Jesus teaching to an altar-call or ceremony salvation that will correct the problem. It is admitting that the Holy Spirit did not do His work in the conscience and heart.
Is this not the subtle work of Satan who cannot stop the Gospel, so has reformed it? Indeed, which is the greater deception? To be blinded to the need of salvation, or to be blinded in trusting a false experience of salvation?
Godly parents will pray with their children. They will teach and discuss spiritual matters. They will subdued self-will and promote God-will. They will not allow rebellious or sinful acts to go unchecked. It is said that life building for God begins at conversion, but character building begins on a mother’s knees. Godly parents will push Gospel meeting attendance, but will not push their children into a profession of salvation.
The first example of marital love is Adam and Eve. There was true love for they were given to each other by the Lord. The second is the case of Rebecca and Isaac. More seeking and more of the will of man is evident in the second love story, but the will of God is clear, and we are sure that Rebecca and Isaac loved each other. It seems that sin progressing through the ages gave less assurance of divine will, and today even if the will of God is sought diligently there is less true love in marriage.
However if the will of God is sincerely sought, the Lord can direct, often in ways unexpected. Courting can help recognise the plan of God and common interests are more important than beauty. There should be compatibility and like-mindedness, there was no dating in the case of Isaac and Rebecca, but Jacob got to know much about Rachel before marriage. Spending much time alone must be discouraged, because of temptation and fornication, but prayer, conversation, and waiting on the Lord is important. Our culture does not encourage arranged marriages, but partner choosing, or partner suggesting, can be of God. To be forced to marry a chosen partner is wrong but the advice of parents or older believers can be of great value. Every believer should understand the difference between love and lust, and that sexual intercourse outside of the marriage union is sin. Sex before marriage (fornication) is an excommunication sin, and sex with another partner after marriage is called adultery, and also an excommunication sin. (1 Corinthians 5)
The Song of Solomon typifies our Lord’s love for the church, and love which the church shows in return. However the subject of the book is marriage love (S. of S. 3:4) “I have found him whom my soul loveth” is the language of marital love.
It is noted that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. (1 Sam. 18:20) And that Samson loved Delilah. (Judges 16:4) So the Scriptures are not one sided and suggest that both should love before marriage.
The scriptures also gives examples of divided marriages, (1 Cor. 7:13) and divided marriage loves, Hannah was loved more than Peninnah, (1 Sam. 1:5) and Rachel more than Leah. (Gen. 29:18; 29:30) Our Lord instructed to cleave to, and to become one flesh, (Mt.19:5) which, as Adam and Eve, was one man and one woman.
The Holy Scriptures record unholy conduct. Both the book of Hosea and Ezekiel figuratively used a sinful woman to illustrate Israel interacting with the heathen nations. (Hosea chapter 2 and Ezekiel chapters 16 and 23.) Another case of wrong love is Amnon with Tamar, his half-sister. (2 Sam. 13:4)
And we cannot forget Solomon’s many strange women. (1 Kings 11:1) Such being the custom in the 10 century (2 Ch. 11:21) does not excuse the wrong, and we read that Solomon was eventually brought to departure from God. There was restoration in later years and Solomon wrote of his vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 3)
The case of David and Bathsheba is also recorded for our learning. (2 Samuel 11) The fault was Bathsheba who revealed herself. The fault was also David who called for her. David did not pray when he arose from his bed. Had he prayed; “lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil” (Mt. 6:13) Bathsheba would have chosen a different time to wash, or David would have walked in the king’s garden and not on the roof of the king’s house. The lesson is two-fold. Prayer is essential before leaving our room and entering the world. And temptation should not be induced by any woman. The Godly sister will not copy the woman of the world, who will adorn for style or pride. Even teen-age girls from Christian homes little realize that revealing their body will cause temptation and sin. Male hormonal activity is natural, the creator made man and woman to be attracted to each other, to promote both love and to construct new families. Satan is familiar with this strong attraction and has influenced style and dress to entice men to sin. Well-meaning religion has counter-reacted and preaches a radical non-revealing of the woman’s body, as the Muslin woman, and in the Mennonite world.
Man has proven to be a creature of extreme and this fact is especially seen in woman who only show their eyes and hands in public.
The multi-million dollar clothing industry is familiar with the male hormone power, and is promoting attraction apparel in the sport world, and in the leisure social world. The woman of the world will dress to be desired by the man, will wear tight fitting clothing to entice sexual desire, and then will cry rape when the man falls out of control. The Lord said; if a man looks at a woman in lust, he commits adultery in his heart. (Mt. 5:28) A careful study of the Lord’s words tells us that the looking is natural and even sex desire is natural, what is sin is looking with intent. The sin is the meditation, not the seeing. So again, the lesson is two-fold; the man must not entertain his desires, and the woman must not provoke desires. Private teaching is much needed in this department, both from parents and older assembly believers. The unconverted social world will teach that the man is always 100 % responsible. But the wise Christian woman who will honestly pray Mt. 6: 13, will not become an object of temptation herself. She is familiar with the Scriptures that teach modesty and chastity. (Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:2) She is instructed as to the normal sexual desires of men, and will dress accordingly.
However the Lord can use even the way of the ungodly to further his cause and glory. Esther, whom the king loved “more than all the women”, was eventually used to save Israel in her day. (Esther 2:17; 8:1-8) and Bathsheba became the mother of Solomon, of whom it is specifically written; “whom the Lord loved.” (2 Sam. 12:24) Solomon was later mightily used of God, to build the temple and to make peace with every nation around Israel.
The Christian display of Love
The great definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13; it is more than all preaching. It is greater than all religious works. It is greater than tongues of angels and greater than all gifts. It is characterized by patience, (James 5:10; Rom. 2:4) Is full of goodness, (Luke 6:35; Eph. 4:32) Is not jealous, (Acts 7:9; 17:5) Is not proud, (1 John 2:16; James 4;16; 1 Cor. 4:6,18,19; 1 Cor. 5:2; 8:1) Is honest, looks to the interest of others. Does not suspect evil, does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices with others in the same truth, ready to forgive, to cover, to hide, to support and to defend.
The word “agape” (ag-ah’-pay) which is used in this definition of love, is peculiar to the New Testament and was not found in the heathen writings of the day. The first century philosopher thought it impossible to define love as it is impossible to define life. But the apostle, inspired by the Spirit, defines it. And one philosopher reading the 1 Corinthian 13 description wrote that this New Testament love not only describes the commitment of the Hebrew aspiration and desire, but also should describe the affections of all men. Whilst it raised the affections of the Hebrew Psalmist (Paul) to the presence of God, it agrees with all humanity and must be the chief object of all men. He further wrote that the 1 Corinthian love is not God evaporated into benevolence, but benevolence given a reason, God. It is the practical exemplification of the two great characteristics of religion, communion with God, and communion with our fellow man.
The sounding brass was not a musical instrument. It was a piece of metal, which when struck will produce only noise. The tinkling or clanging cymbal cannot produce an intelligible tune. There is no enjoyment, but rather annoyance from such sounds. The same annoyance is experienced by the Lord when deeds of religion are done for the wrong reason.
The more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31) is the divine love way. The love of God shed abroad in the heart. Angels spoke the language of men and women but there is no indication that men ever spoke the language of angels. The apostle is saying; “even if he could speak the language of angels,” without love it is nothing.
The gift of prophecy, or foretelling future events is nothing. To tell or communicate mysteries and knowledge, to feed the poor, to give our bodies to be burned and not having love, or salvation, is nothing.
Almsgiving was the first century expression of true love to God and man. The open and lavish hand was the manifestation of a liberal and charitable heart. Doing good to others was regarded as doing good to the soul, it was thought that good-will to men was love to God. But if all such comes from the unconverted heart, it is nothing.
But Paul is saying more, the Corinthian man was a Christian, but as the unconverted, he had wrong motives. The many gifted actions in the Corinthian church were an over-show or maybe an over-zeal. But they had wrong motives and the apostle is emphasising that all operational gifts must have their roots in love.
1 Corinthians 13 has been called the New Testament psalm of love, as the forty-fifth Psalm is the love song of the Old Testament. Charity or Agape is translated “The love” in the Tyndale Bible translation, setting apart agape love. It has been named the long-term unselfish love. The love that serves the best interests of others without regard to any benefit in return. Agape love is used over 100 time in the N. T.
The word Phileo, is used about 50 times, taken from the Greek word friend, it expresses love of impulse, or love in action.
“The Father loveth the Son. (John 5:20) The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me…” (John 16:27) Jesus loved Lazarus. (John 11:3, 36; 20:2) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. (Rev. 3:19) Paul instructed Titus to greet them that love us in the faith. (Titus 3:15) And wrote the will-known statement; “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha.” (1 Cor. 16:22) Phileo, or present impulse love, is the meaning of these scriptures.
The Lord used Agape love when addressing Peter in John 21. Peter answered with Phileo love. The Lord did not dispute Peter’s Phileo love, and used the same word in his third question.
Agape is used in Eph. 5, to describe marriage love. So Paul is referring to long term love, not Phileo love which is impulse or action love.
John writes of brotherly love. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”(1 John 3:14) Peter writes of the unfeigned love of the brethren. “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently, being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:22)
The Christian understanding of love will also include Old Testament definitions. At least six Hebrew words are used, describing love as sensual, desire, longing for. Love is also described as fulfilling, compassion, mercy, tenderness, and shepherd love.
Description of Love-Conclusion
We have noted that the love of God is Eternal. It is displayed in creation, and in salvation. It is displayed in church fellowship, in family relationship and in marriage.
The Bible also tells us of chastisement love. Pr. 13:24. Of hidden love. (John 19:38) Paul writes of lovers of God. (2 Tim. 3:4) Of lovers of the truth. (2 Th. 2:10) Of lovers of good men. (Titus 1:8) Of lovers of hospitality, (Titus 1:8) and of lovers of the rapture. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8)
We have mentioned the world, and the words of John; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” (1 John 2:15) Paul write of lovers of money. “For the love of money is the root of all evil, which some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:10) Paul writes of lovers of self. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” (2 Tim. 3:2)
Human intelligence strains to understand love, for “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor. 4:4). By the miracle of the new birth, the believer has the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16) He has been, and continues to be “transformed by the renewing of his mind.” (Rom. 12:2) The believer has and continues to “put on” humbleness of mind. (Colossians 3:12), and seeks to discipline his mind or, in the words of Peter, “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…” (1 Peter 1:13). For in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3) So we dwell not on “vain imaginations.” (Rom. 1:21-22) The wisdom of this world will come to naught. (1 Cor. 2:6) the Christian brings “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)
The LORD said to Israel: Fear the LORD, walk in all his ways, and love him, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (De. 10:12) Moses further told the Israelites what God said about keeping his law. “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear me and always keep all my commandments.” (De. 5:29)
The Christian has “such a heart.” For the law is no longer written on stone but written on our hearts. (2 Cor. 3:3) The Christian’s actions are from a willing heart, he has a built-in, an inner willingness, to do the will of God.
The unconverted church goer will train himself to do right, than try to get or force his heart into a love for God. His religion teachers will impose rules, hoping that love will come, if actions of rules are repeated. God imposes nothing upon his children, but is pleased when we do something we don’t have to do. The first and foremost lesson of the law is to prove that all are guilty of breaking it. A second lesson is teaching us the true motives of Christian living.
Alas the reader, maybe saved a while ago, now has a heart problem. You feel like the religious sinner who is living the Christian life by duty. You wonder why you have less love motivation. You practice because you want to show a good example. Because you want to help the assembly. Because you know it is the right thing to do. But you will readily admit heart motivation shortage.
What is the problem?
Is it the world? We have noted the world, with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. We are exhorted to separate from it, but there is a more deceitful side to the world. We remember Israel, who enjoyed the fruit of the land of Egypt while Jacob and his sons were alive, but the next generations Israel became slaves.
When Mr. B. Graham died the news media told of his son turning to drugs and three of his five children who were divorced. The world could find no fault in the preacher so they attacked his children. They said nothing of his long honorable life, of his long exemplary married life, or of his preaching Christ to one million people in South Korea.
If we love the world, the world may love us, but will forget us or even turn against us when we pass into the next world. The world may stand by you when you’re up. But will stand on you when you’re down.
We have heard preaching of the Ephesians who abandoned their first love. (Rev. 2:4) What was the second love, or replacement love? Was it not the world? Certainly the kind clean world, the promotion-of- respect, approval-of-good world.
Were the Ephesian believers not practicing the Christian life? Were they not an example of Gospel work, of Christian endurance, and of Godly discernment? They were by-the-book believers, but they were not heart believers.
What was the remedy? Remember from where we have fallen, Repent and Return to the first works. We were told of the 3 R’s, going to school, but these three R’s are more important.
To remember where I went wrong is essential. Repentance or to turn around, is admitting that I was wrong. Returning to my first activities is desiring the sincere milk of the word, (1 Peter 2:2) and practicing first Christian works.