Expressions of the Divine nature within us
“They will know that you are my disciples by your love…” Even in passages that promote
Christian responsibility we can glean what God is like. Again, these passages are not a list of things that we are to do to please God or earn his blessings as rewards. Rather they are passages that show us what his divine nature is like which He has also placed within us. Let’s not get the cart before the horse. These things are in demonstration of the love and light which God has placed within our lives which need to be expressed to the world as a confession of our salvation, and are not to be confused with a list of things to do to earn that salvation as do other religions.
Walking in the light (continued)
1 John 2:7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our trademark question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who is Love and I AM the God who is Light. Light represents my Holiness, so I AM the God who is both Love and Holiness. My love will neither overstep my justice or the other way around. Don’t say that “a God of love cannot send someone to hell”. In Love I took upon myself the punishment for your sinfulness thus fulfilling my righteous demands. In other words, in my love for you, I went to hell for you so that you don’t have to. As a result, I have placed this “Agape” (unconditional) love in my true believers so that now they can lay down their lives by agape love for others benefits. “Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friend.” “If anyone would come after me he must take up his cross daily and deny himself.” “Consider others better than yourself”. “Honor one another above yourself”.
Since I have taken care of your real need for eternal life, you have nothing to lose. In confidence now, you can lay your life down for others without fear of loss. This is what agape love or my divine love does for others. My love has already satisfactorily fulfilled all of God’s law as well as the requirements of the sacrificial system in your stead. Thus the new command to love completely satisfies the requirements of the old commandments. However, you cannot do this in your own strength or will. This is only something that I can empower you to do. “Without me you can do nothing.” Your selfish sinful nature is still in effect and will prevent you from this goal. Only my Spirit in you can make you “love others as I have loved you.” I realize that I have commanded you to do something that is humanly impossible, that is the nature of my way. I don’t want you to do it in your strength. I want to do it in and for you by my Spirit as you let me control you. This is the way of the Christ life, and the Spirit led life. This is what it means to walk in the Spirit. “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.”
Just knowing this information is like learning to swim by just reading a book on how to do it but never getting in the water. This is why I provide you with difficult people in your lives, to give you opportunities to practice your faith by walking in love toward them and place their needs before your own. I AM the “author and perfecter of your faith” after all.
Hate is not the opposite of Love
Hate is a strong word. But our general concept of the word hate is not the opposite of love, rather selfishness is. In this passage John uses the same word that Jesus used as a condition for discipleship. “If any man does not “hate” his father, mother, sisters and brothers, yeah even his very life he cannot be my disciple.” Thus the definition for the word “hate” is “preference”. Preference is the opposite of selfishness. If we do not prefer our brothers over ourselves, we are not demonstrating love thus we hate our brother. Only God can put that kind of love into our hearts. We are selfish by nature. Thus only the new divine nature can make that change within us. It is true that people can forcibly control themselves to allow the other person to have their way in a situation, but that does not necessitate the existence of love…
Love is a command that we cannot obey
If love is an attribute of the character of God and is part of the fruit of the Spirit, then genuine agape love is not something which fallen man can conjure up. It is something that must be wrought within our hearts by God’s Spirit. Thus Jesus’ command to love others is a physical impossibility that only God can do on our behalf within us if there is to be lasting results. If you remember back, God gave the Ten Commandment to the Israelites knowing full well that they would not be able to do them (see Deut 5:29 NIV – Oh that their hearts would be inclined; New Century – I wish their hearts would always respect me; The Message – what I wouldn’t give if they’d always feel this way). Jesus told the disciples that love is the fulfillment of the commandments. But only God can love to the degree necessary to perfectly fulfill them. We on the other hand are sinful and incapable of such love. Only when Christ indwells us, his Holy Spirit controls us, and when we are filled with his fruit; can we live and work with others by putting their needs before our own.
Jn 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” Why do we think that we would die for our friends when we can’t even live for their interests and needs?
More to come,