GOD’S LAW OF LOVE

One definition of the word “law” is how something works. For instance if you let go of a book you will discover that it falls to the ground every time…every time. This is gravity. When you observe this take place time and time again and it never fails, we then call it a law, the law of gravity, right? Well, what if we took this same definition and applied it to God?

In the book of 1 John the Bible tells us “God is love.” If God is love then it is safe to say, love is God’s law or the way God operates. God’s kind of love is not necessarily the same kind of love the world thinks of. In fact there are several ways to define the word “love” but what we’re talking about is “agape” love which is an unconditional love which is a sacrificial love which is always for others.

If love is the law of God, or the way He operates, then anything that is attempting to operate apart from love is what we would call broken law. Therefore since God is love and we are made in His image, it just stands to reason that we were originally designed to operate in love, by love and for love. Sin therefore is something that defies how the universe was designed to operate therefore it brings in death.

Many say, “God created everything from nothing”, and in a sense that is true, but the truth is everything came “out from” Him. We read in Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” So we see here things were made from “unseen” things which isn’t the same as something that didn’t exist. God is love and everything was created by Him, through Him, and for Him. Love is the fulfillment of the Law of God.

You might say, well that oversimplifies things a bit doesn’t it Louie? I would say, yes and no. Yes because all that is required of us is to “love God with all our heart, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves.” No, because without God Himself dwelling within us and loving others through us, as us, we are looking at an impossibility. The good news is “what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law (loving God and loving your neighbor) might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4 NASB).

Louie

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INVITATION TO A LOVE TRIANGLE

The Bible tells us, “God is love”, so I thought I would try something. If we were to take the word “love” and insert it into scripture passages talking about God what would happen?

“In the beginning was the Love, and the Love was with God, and the Love was God” (John 1:1). “Love came to His own, and those who were Love’s own did not receive Love. But as many as received Love, to them Love gave the right to become children of Love, even to those who believe in Love’s name” (John 1:11-12).  How about this one? “And the Love became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw Love’s glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Love, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Love by its very nature requires more than one person, right? I mean, I can’t love by myself, there has to be an object of love. This I think is why God as a Trinity, (Father, Son and Spirit), makes sense. Although God is one, just by the mere fact we are told He is love reveals we are dealing in some sense with more than one doesn’t it? Think about it this way; in the scriptures we read where the Son is well pleasing to the Father; and the Spirit’s role is to point to the Son. Jesus said on numerous occasions “I only do what I see the Father do”, “the Son can do nothing on His own”, etc. Then He turned around and, speaking of the Holy Spirit, said, “He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that He takes of mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-15).

While defining love is not so easy to do, one thing is for sure; love is always “for others.” If you take that to be the defining point you will see clearly how God the Father was well-pleased with the Son and the Son promises us the Holy Spirit, who will always take what is the Son’s, which is really the Father’s, and reveal it to us. So the Father points to the Son and says, “look to Him”, while the Son says “Oh no, I can’t do anything apart from the Father”; and the Spirit says, “Pay attention to the Son; because He is the exact representation of the invisible God” (Colossians 2:9).

How does all this apply to me you might ask. Well, this brings us to what the Bible calls “The Gospel” or “good news”. The Good News is this God, who is love, has come to invite us to join Him in this “Love Triangle.” According to Romans six, we that have been baptized into Christ have been joined with Him in His death, therefore we have been joined to Him and raised with Him to walk in newness of life. So we have been co-crucified with Christ and that’s not all. Reading in Ephesians 2 you will discover we have not only been raised, but in fact we have been “seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We as a born-again believer, or receiver of Christ, “may now have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). This is all the work of the Holy Spirit through the Son’s full obedience to the Father, who is Love.

“Whosoever will let him come.”

Louie

IS SIN A PERSON?

I wonder what the average person would say when asked, “What is sin?” I think many would say it means missing the mark or breaking the law. Both of these may be good definitions but let’s look a bit closer at what breaking the law really means.

The Bible tells us “God is love” and He gave us the Ten Commandments which are really just a written out version of who He is which is love. Jesus himself said, when asked which commandment was the greatest, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Now that we know the law is love we might need a working definition of love don’t you think?

God’s character, which is defined as love, is always for others. Love as defined by God is sacrificial by nature and will always go the whole way for those He loves. Hence we have been given that most famous of verses, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). You see love is for others even if it means the ultimate sacrifice.

Okay so now we’re getting somewhere. If God is love and the Law is love, which is always for others, then sin which is broken law must be categorized as being selfish or being for ones self, right? So, if God is love and sin is for itself then could it be said that “Sin” is a person? Let’s think about this for a minute. God is love which is for others and breaking this law is sin then it means someone is being selfish which breaks the law of other-love.

In the old, old story of Cain and Abel found in Genesis, God speaks to Cain saying, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” Genesis 4:7 NASB). Then in Romans 7 we read, “But sin, taking opportunity…produced…deceived me…dwells in me.” The Apostle Paul said, “If I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:20 NASB). So we have sin crouching, desiring, taking opportunity, producing, deceiving and dwelling in me. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a person to me.

Someone might say, “If sin is a person who might it be?” I’m glad you asked. I would say start by looking in Isaiah 14:13-14 where we read about Lucifer’s fall. It reads, “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God…I will make myself like the Most High.” So the original “sinner”, if you will, is described right here as being all about exalting himself above God and making himself like God. You see this is the root of that self-for-self nature which is also known as sin. We might even call Satan “Mr. Sin” himself.

In Ephesians 2:1-3 we discover all of us used to “walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Just like Cain, “Sin” crouches at our door and desires to have us, but thank God Jesus Christ has provided deliverance from sin if we would only receive Him.

We have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and been joined to Mr. Sin himself. Since the fall of Man in the Garden, everyone is born walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is working in the sons of disobedience. You see “Mr. Sin” took up residence within mankind, but he’s the father of lies so he’s done a pretty good job of hiding it from us. In fact most just think they’re independently making their own decisions when according to the Bible we have all at one time or the other really been doing the “lusts of our Father the Devil” (John 8:44).

In summary let me say, God is love and everything came out from Him so everything is designed to love and be loved. Lucifer, attempting to be his own god, exalted himself, found himself cast down, manipulated our forefathers into joining him in his folly and even now lives his self-for-self life through fallen man. Of course God knew the depth of our deception so He gave us His Law, or the written version of “Love God and others” so we might learn we couldn’t keep it. Upon discovering we can’t obey this perfect law of love, we cry out to Him and He delivers us. Just as Paul said when he finally came to the end of his trying to keep the commandments in his flesh. He said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 NASB).

The good news is now we see that on our own we cannot keep God’s love commandments but we also discover He always knew that and never expected us to. You see His plan all along was to live in us and live out His love-for-others life through us. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4). So Mr. Sin has been condemned and replaced by Mr. Righteousness. The requirement of the Law of loving others is fulfilled, now that God Himself has moved in and lives His very own self-for-others life through us.

Louie

MEN LOVED THE DARKNESS

Most are familiar with the words of Jesus as recorded in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” While that is an amazing verse, and I don’t want to dismiss it in any way, what I would like for you to notice is the verses following.

In John 3:17-21 we discover even though God loves us so much, and he gave us his son in order to save us, many will still not come to him. The problem and solution is found in love. You see God loves us so much he gives but as Jesus said in v.19 “men loved darkness rather than the Light…” So the question is “What, or who, do you love?”

As I pondered loving the darkness I remembered the many years of my own life in which I lived and loved it. I had extremely dark tinted windows on my car, kept the blinds pulled shut at my house, wore dark sunglasses most of the time and even my clothing was black. Looking at me you would think I was a vampire. Just as Jesus said, I loved darkness rather than light.

Recently I have come to the conclusion this love of the darkness stems from a misunderstanding of the character of God. After all if you think God is a fun-sucker, and he’s out to get you, why would you come to him? On the other hand if you came to see how much he loves you, and is for you, that might change things a bit.

In Romans 2:4 it says, “It’s the kindness (goodness) of God that leads to repentance.” Once you start to see how good God is you will begin to trust him and maybe then you will start to move toward the light. You see it’s only through the power of a greater affection that we are able to let go of the deeds of darkness. Looking in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 we read where he commended them because they “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God…” You see once we come to understand the things we’re clutching so tightly to in the dark can’t hold a candle to the living and true God we’ll be willing to let go of the one for the other.

After the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Peter went back to fishing. One morning Jesus met them on the beach with breakfast already cooking. He asked Peter on three occasions “Do you love me more than these?” While it doesn’t say explicitly in the text I think Jesus was probably talking about the fish. You see Peter was a fisherman by trade when he met Jesus and it seems he went back to his old routine after the crucifixion. Maybe Jesus was doing a little fishing himself in order to find out if Peter’s love for fish had taken first place over his love for Christ. Jesus told him if you love me “feed my sheep.” It seems Peter may have been in danger of turning back but thank God Jesus was there to redirect his thinking. Changing your mind is what repentance is after all. In this case the question is do we love Jesus more than our old life?

When it’s all said and done everything boils down to love. What we love shows up in what we talk about, where we go and how we spend our time and money. In 1 John 2:15-17 we read, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world, If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

God is love and all he created came out from him. Therefore everything was created by love, for love to be loved. Since the fall mankind has lost touch with his purpose so he has misplaced his love. The love of this world shorts out our love for the Father but it’s ultimately based on a lie. You see the enemy has blinded us to the true nature of God so we live our lives for what is very temporal. Men kill for power and prestige only to leave it behind one day as their funeral procession winds through town on the way to the graveyard. Thankfully, while no one wants their friends and family to die, it is a great opportunity to be awakened to the fact we’re not going to live here forever. We are on our way to another place; the same place Abraham was looking for “which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Louie

GARMENT OF DECEPTION

When God first placed Adam and Eve in the Garden he gave them only one law: “Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” One law and they just couldn’t keep it. Isn’t that the way we all are? We simply don’t want to be told what to do. We want to make up our own minds about what we can and cannot do and that’s it. We say things like “It’s my life, I’m not hurting anyone but myself, I’ll do what I want to do.” Back in my rebellious days I used to tell Tracey that all the time.

Since being born again I have learned the truth, and everything is different now. If you think about it there is still really only one Law in the universe. The Bible tells us “God is love” therefore loving others is the rule. God is love means he loves, lives and even dies for others. The love of God is a self-giving, other love kind of love. It is the kind of love that will go all the way to the cross for others, even those that hate and despise him. If God is love and he created everything it means everything was created by and for love. When the light comes on and you really see what I am talking about here you will come to realize anything that isn’t coming from this self-giving, other love is broken law.

Sometime in the past Satan apparently became filled with his own sense of self-importance and chose to be his own god. He wanted to be master of his own existence so he led a rebellion which ended with him here on the earth. Of course most know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Well, there was a serpent there too. Satan, the one who had deceived himself into thinking he could be “like the Most High”, enticed mankind through Adam into the same deception. You see the desire and longing to be our own god didn’t originate in man. If the truth is told Satan is the Father of lies and he tempted man into siding with him. Sin then is really his “Garment of deception”, which is only fitting because it is the idea that we can be G.O.D.

Since the one law of the universe is self-giving, other love it is only fitting that sin, which is breaking that one law, is recognized in us as self-getting, self love. It is the idea that everything and everyone is here to serve me and my agenda. It is the ultimate in self centerdness. Sin is based on deception, and when deception takes hold in someone only a miracle can release them. This is why God, who is the ultimate other-lover, gave his only begotten son for us. Without his undeserved, unselfish, sacrificial love we could never be freed from the Garment of deception. The whole idea that we are our own god and we are running things in our own lives is deeply rooted in us since the fall so it takes a radical display of unconditional love from the one who is God.

When talking about a law I am talking about the way something works such as the Law of Gravity. Gravity works the same way every time. No matter how many times you drop something it is going to fall to the ground because it’s the law. With that in mind we discover love, being the one Law of the universe and God as the other-lover who created everything, means everything was created by and for other-love. Anyone that is attempting to live outside of this self-giving, other love is living in rebellion and will eventually find themselves at odds with there very own being. This reminds me of Saul’s testimony as he retold it in Acts 26 where Jesus said to him “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Saul was fighting against his very purpose for existing which is to love others and tell them about the God of unconditional, self-giving, other love. Thankfully, like Saul, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” and the reality is God is the only real other-lover it’s just now he’s loving others in and through us.

Louie

POWER THROUGH HIS SPIRIT

Knowing the love of Christ is where our power lies. Sometimes Christians think they need more power from God. For instance they are being tempted in an area so they reason, “God promises to give me power if I ask so that’s what I’ll do.” In one way this sounds good but in another it comes across as if God is going to give “you” the power rather than being the power in you.

In the letter to the Ephesians Paul wrote down a prayer he had been praying for them that lit up for me. In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul prays that God would grant them…to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, so Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith. This sounds great doesn’t it? I mean who wouldn’t want that? But this isn’t simply a prayer for power just for power’s sake. He goes on to tell us more…wanting them to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth…and here’s where it lit up to me–That we might know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…

When Paul prays that they would receive power he’s praying for them to know the love of Christ. That’s where the real power comes from. If we could just come to the place where we know how much God loves us we will know the power. In other words, the greatest power in the universe is to know the love of God in Christ. Once we believe how much God loves us we will start to see power displayed in our lives. Others will see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our daily lives. There will be no more condemnation, worry, fear of lack, jealousy, envy, hatred and so on; because we will have an inner sense of peace with God that comes from the Holy Spirit living within.

On the other hand, when we start to sense the power fizzling out we know the way back is to meditate on the love of God that passes understanding. This sounds like a paradox doesn’t it? How can you meditate on something that is beyond comprehension? One way I do this is by simply believing the Word when it tells me “God is love.” “He disciplines us for our good.” “He works all things for our good.” He loves us so much he sent his only begotten son to die so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one that this that one lay down his life for his friends” and that’s true but he took it even a step further in that “While we were yet sinners (enemies) he died for us.”

God is love, and as we begin to know this in our inner man we will in turn pour it out to others. Our perception of God always determines how we live. When we see ourselves as forgiven we will be quick to forgive others. Once we know we are loved we will love others. After the reality of Christ dwelling in us takes firm hold we will want others to have it too. The one who does not love does not know God…this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us…

Written by Louie

WHAT SPIRIT ARE YOU OF?

    The Bible tells us God is love therefore it stands to reason the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Love. One of the main characteristics of love is it is all about the other person. In Philippians 2 we read where the mind of Christ is defined as putting others first. It says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” So, if we have the mind of Christ as the scriptures tell us we do we ought to have love for one another.

   It seems most Christians don’t know this or maybe they have forgotten. There was a time in Luke 9 when Jesus was preparing to go to Jerusalem, so he sent some disciples ahead to prepare a place for him to stay. When the Samaritans didn’t want anything to do with Jesus the disciples James and John said, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” Jesus then turned, and rebuked them, and said “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” You see we are called to love others even if they don’t love us back. Or else we’re really no different than the world. Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”  

   I’ll admit I completely identify with these disciples from time to time. The temptation is always there to lash out at those that get in the way or reject Christ. Thank God his Holy Spirit lives within us and is there to reign us back in reminding us what our mission really is. If you’re honest you would have to say you would behave the same way if given the opportunity. Thank God for his Spirit. Thank God he has given us his mind and his Spirit in order to love others. If the truth was told it is really him loving others through us isn’t it?

Written by Louie