How Do We Love?

1 John 4:1-6 NASB

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Test the Spirits

Not long ago I came to understand that testing the spirits is not just about testing to see if something is from the Holy Spirit or from evil spirits. For, we each have a spirit inside of us which is our soul, the essence of who we are. It is our inner self, the real us that is us even when no one else is looking. It is our general temperament and our character; our attitudes, thinking, and values, etc. And, it is our moral fiber, too; what we’re really made of.

I also learned that this “confession” is not just about what we say with our mouths, but it is what we say with our lives, by how we live day in and day out. For, many false teachers are those who profess the name of Jesus and yet deny him by their teaching and by their lifestyles. A good example of this was the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. For, the term “Pharisee” today is synonymous with “hypocrite,” for they did not practice what they preached.

The scriptures give us many ways in which we can test these spirits to see who is from God and who is not, yet we must be very careful that we don’t judge people falsely by human standards and traditions, or by ourselves, and that we don’t become people who just go around judging everyone, too.

For, the purpose of this is so that we do not fall into error and thus fall away from our pure devotion to Christ, because we believed what some false teachers said, thinking we were believing what was true. And, that is why scripture speaks often about our need to test what we hear against the Word of God, but in context. Context is everything! And, we need to test our own hearts, too, for we can be deceived if we are not careful.

1 John 4:7-14 NASB

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 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.

Love One Another

When we read the Bible, we need to understand that it was originally written in another language, and that (if you speak English) our English translations don’t always capture the essence of the meaning of what was being said.

For example, the word “love” can have so many different meanings. And, in America, I think we often see that word as some sentimental feeling or affection, or some types of kind acts where we do nice things for people. Or, it can have to do with some romantic feelings towards another, too.

But, the love that is from God has to do with selflessness, with putting others’ legitimate needs above our own stuff. This love, too, is rooted in moral purity, in honesty, faithfulness and in integrity. It always considers what is in the best interest of others, too, i.e. what is for their benefit, for their well-being, and for their physical and spiritual health and wholeness.

So, if we are “good deed doers” and we go around doing nice things for people, which is great, it does not mean we are of God or that we are born of him or that we know him. If we go around lovin’ on people, hugging them and smiling and saying positive things to them, which make them feel good, it does not mean we know God or that we are born of God.

Again, context is everything. We need to read this in the context of the whole of the book of 1 John, for it says many things in there about who knows God and who has been born of God. It says that if we claim to have fellowship with God but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars who do not live by the truth. And, it says that to love God is to obey his commands, and if we do not walk in obedience to him, we don’t really know God nor have we ever been born of God.

Now, I know, too, that to be born of God does not mean we will live in sinless perfection, but it does mean that we will not walk any longer in darkness but we will walk in the Light as He is in the Light. But, I also know that it is possible for true believers in Jesus Christ to fall back, for a period of time, and be in need of revival (Rev. 2-3). Yet, I also know that scripture teaches that we will reap what we sow, and that if we walk according to the flesh, that we will die in our sins, not have the hope of heaven.

The whole point of what I am saying here is that not everyone who is kind or nice or generous or giving of themselves to others is born of God, for there are many nice people in the world who do wonderful things for others who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ (God).

We are born of God if we have turned from our sins, and we have turned to walk with our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will and to his ways. Thus, he is now living within us. And, since he is love, love is also living within us, and should thus be evidenced through our lives (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

But, this love prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, moral, upright, and godly, and it cares more about others’ salvation from sin than it does about being liked by other people. This love, thus, gives up one’s own reputation in order to see others go free from their slavery to sin and walk in Christ’s righteousness.

1 John 4:15-21 NASB

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 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.

Hate Vs. Love

Do you know that you can do all kinds of good deeds for others and you can do it with a smile, and say all kinds of nice things which make them feel good inside, and that can be hate, not love?

If we, given the opportunity to share Jesus with others – and I mean the whole counsel of God, not the “nicey-nice stuff” many are sharing in the name of Jesus – if we refuse, and we back down, and we console people in their sin rather than confront them and show them the way to true freedom in Christ, then that is not love, but selfishness, and it is hate.

Basically, we can “love” people all the way to hell because we are more concerned with them liking us than we are concerned about them being delivered from their bondage to sin and having the true promise of eternal life with God.

For, if we tell them a half-truth gospel and we tell them that they can just pray a prayer and that they are “in” and it doesn’t matter how much they sin from this point on, but they are still going to heaven, then I would not call that love. For, we are lying to them and we are cursing them to hell as their destiny because we were not willing to risk them rejecting us in order to tell them the truth.

So, hate takes many different forms, in other words. When we choose our own personal comfort and acceptance over and above others’ true deliverance out of bondage to sin, we are not acting in love.

We are not doing what was modeled for us in Jesus Christ who was willing to be hated, rejected, falsely accused, mocked, spit upon, beaten and killed for our freedom from our slavery to sin so that we can live with him to righteousness. For, we allow fear of what others will think of us to overcome us and thus we are not perfected in love.

So, we need to pray for the courage to speak out, and to speak the truth in love to others, and to walk in the fear of the Lord instead of in the fear of man. And, we need to be Jesus to the world around us.

Draw Me Close To You
Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do…

You’re all I want. You’re all I ever needed.
You’re all I want. Help me know You are near…

Saturday, September 15, 2018 – Help us, Lord, to put aside our fears and to walk by faith and not by sight and to love others like you love us.

 

2 thoughts on “How Do We Love?

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