John 13:34-35 ESV
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
What is love? Understanding what Jesus meant by the word “love” here makes all the difference in how we will interpret this passage of scripture. For, if we have a worldly perspective of this word “love,” we are going to interpret Jesus’ words entirely different from what we would if we have a godly perspective of this word “love,” which is agape (God-like) love.
For, there are many people who are teaching that God loves us and that we need to love one another, but many of these people are teaching human love which is based in feelings and emotions and in what makes us feel good about ourselves. They are not teaching agape (God-like) love which sacrifices our lives and our reputations in order to see others like us go free from our slavery to sin and to walk in holiness, purity and righteousness.
So, what is agape love? Well, for one it is selfless. It thinks first about the other person and what is truly in their best interest, i.e. it considers what is God’s best for them and what truly is the most beneficial for them in light of eternity, not in light of this sinful world in which we now live.
Secondly, it prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, faithful, honest, moral, and upright, etc. For, the believer in Jesus, it prefers to live through Christ and not through our own flesh. It embraces God’s will for our lives, and it walks in obedience to his commands, through God’s power and strength. It is love defined by God and by his holiness, and not by our human flesh. It chooses what God chooses, not what the flesh wants.
How Jesus Loves Us
In summary, it is loving others like Jesus loved/loves us. For, He gave his life up for us so that we could be delivered out of our addiction (slavery) to sin so that we could walk (conduct our lives) in his holiness. So, he told people the truth about their sin and about judgment. He confronted sin in sinful human beings, and he called for repentance (Lu. 9:23-26).
And, repentance is not merely a change of mind. It is a complete turnabout (180 degrees). It means you were going left, but now you turn the opposite direction, and now you go right, i.e. the way of righteousness. You leave your sinful lifestyle behind you, you turn, and now you walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands, in his love, and in his power and strength within you.
For, this is why Jesus died, that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. And, this is the ultimate in love! (1 Pet. 2:24)
Jesus’ message to us was not a “feel good” message that tickled itching ears. In fact, the majority of those who were following him stopped following him because they said his teaching was “too hard.” So, what was hard about it? Jesus demanded death to sin and living to his righteousness in submission to him as Lord (owner-master) of our lives (Matt. 10:32-39; Matt. 16:24-27; Lu. 9:23-26; Jn. 14:23-24; Jn. 8:31-47; Jn. 10:27-30).
So, if we are going to love others the way Jesus’ loved us, and still loves us, we are not going to lie to them by telling them what they want to hear and what will make them feel good about themselves in their sin. We will not coddle them in their sin or make excuses for it, either.
But, we will lovingly and caringly tell them that God’s love for us leads us to forsake our sins and to follow him in surrender and obedience to his will for our lives, because this is what is best for us, because this is what brings us into union with God, and this is what satisfies the deep longings of our souls. And this is what brings us true peace and joy, too, and it is what fulfills in us God’s purposes for our lives to live in his love.
And, then we will help one another to grow in that love and to forsake sin and idols of men and to follow our Lord in surrender to his will, and to learn what it means to please him in all that we do. And, included in this will be to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness and to show them for what they are and to teach the truth so that others will be able to walk in the truth. For, this is what we all NEED, for this is God’s design and purpose for our lives.
A Distorted Love
The Lord Jesus gave me an interesting picture of this distortion of his love this morning. While true cleansing of sin is going on within the lives of those who truly love, honor and obey their Lord, by God-given faith in him, there are those on the outside who are having a very powerful influence on the church and in people’s lives in a way that is contrary to what Jesus is doing – in a way that is contrary to his agape love.
The picture the Lord gave me was of someone just outside the house in the backyard watering the dirt, the mud, to the point to where there were puddles of stagnant water all over the dirt yard.
Water, in scripture, represents our spiritual cleansing from sin, as well as it represents the Holy Spirit welling up within us like a spring unto eternal life. But, Paul also used the term water in the sense of watering spiritual seed in people’s lives which has already been planted in order to help it to grow to maturity and to bear much fruit for God’s eternal kingdom (1 Co. 6:3-8).
But, in this illustration the Lord was giving me, they were watering the mud (sin, wickedness), to help it to increase, instead, which is an accurate picture of what this cheap grace gospel does.
For, it demands no repentance, no obedience to Christ and no submission to Christ as Lord. So, there is no spiritual cleansing that takes place in those who buy into the cheap grace, and there can be no true growth in the Spirit, either, for the Spirit is not within those who believe the cheap grace.
Living in The Mud
Basically, what takes place with this cheap grace gospel is that it permits its followers to continue in their sinful lifestyles unhindered without guilt. They can continue living in the mud, while there are messengers out there who are reinforcing and who are feeding (watering) the mud (smut, immorality) so that it can continue to grow and to increase and to spread.
The pure water of the Word which helps us to grow in our walks of faith, and the Holy Spirit of God who cleanses us from sin are being muddied, made unclear, darkened, and turned into something that is filthy, immoral and wicked and which allows for sin to increase and to grow and to thrive in the lives of those who believe in the cheap grace (no repentance necessary).
And, so our Lord is calling for this to cease! He is calling out these lies and deceptions which are leading many people astray, he is exposing this cheap grace gospel for what it is, and he is calling people to true repentance, and to true faith in him, which is based (founded in) his true and abiding (agape) love for us.
And, if we love people like Jesus loves us, we, too, will expose the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are, which are just mud puddles being watered (nourished, fed), and we will be telling people about God’s true love and grace which delivers us from out of the mud and mire, and which gives us a new place to stand, which is on the righteousness and holiness and purity of God, in submission to him as LORD and MASTER. AMEN!
Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer
Lyrics by Margaret Becker
Music by Keith Getty
“Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.
May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.
*Caution: This link may contain ads