Love of God

Clyde White

Holiness and God’s Love

1 Peter 1:15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

This is the command of God for every believer. Love, like holiness, is an inseparable part of God's essence. Love and holiness are simply different aspects of the same thing: Godness or deity. We are commanded over and over again to live, act and think in a godly and/or holy manner. Let's look at just a few of those passages.

Psalms 4:3 But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him.

Talk about a special relationship! A relationship like that is beyond the scope of this world! Think about it: the Lord, personally, takes the ones who are godly out of the bigger bunch, and sets them apart in a special bunch for Himself. I want to be in that set-apart bunch, don't you?

Please note the responsibility of the believer and the response of God. God does not force a believer to be holy. The believer chooses to be holy. Once that choice is made, God gives the believer spiritual power that allow God's holiness to be lived. The only way to be a part of that special group is to live in a godly manner.

We are not all on the same plane with God, nor will we all be equal in eternity. Remember, salvation from sin is our possession by simple faith, plus nothing. But spiritual rewards and many spiritual blessings, now and in eternity, are based on living or acting according to the Word of God, by faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit while still in this godless world. The Word of God has a lot to say about how we can live a godly life in this godless world. We cannot live the godly life by any merit of our own. Our action is obedience to God's Word, God's action is the miracle of the life of Christ living in and through us.

Learning to Love

1 Timothy 1:3-5 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

We are looking at a few passages to establish the fact that our conduct is to be holy, godly, and in love. All of these are part of one whole. One of the popular trends in Christian circles, today is to talk about love. However, many are not talking about God's perfect love, but rather luuvvv. That touchy, feely, sentimental, drippy type of love. We need love, but not the sentimental sap the world offers, we need real love: God’s love.

1 Timothy 1, as well as many other passages, tells us that the way to gain the knowledge of, and how to demonstrate God’s love is through teaching and heeding solid doctrine. We are commanded not to teach any other doctrine. This is from the perspective of the teacher. From the perspective of the hearer, we are not to give heed to these fables.

This Greek word for fables is used 5 times in the New Testament, and each time it refers to turning away from the pure unadulterated Word of God. All 5 of these references have to do with:

  • something entirely strange to the teaching of the Word of God,
  • the mixing of worldly wisdom with the Word of God, or
  • the improper use of the Word of God.
fable (Greek)
A tale or fable. It is the Greek word from which we get the English word mythology. The emphasis of the word is not that the fable or tale is necessarily false in all aspects, but that it goes against or is without the established facts of the event from which the fable or tale is derived.

A fable is fabricated by the mind and set against the real and the actual facts. There may be much logic and reasoning in a fable. A fable may contain many facts and a great deal of truth. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, the teller of a fable confuses and deceives the hearers, and leads them in a path other than the truth. Fable does not reveal the truth. It cloaks the truth with words and thoughts that draw the attention away from the real facts.

It is important to see this! One of the reasons we are not to give heed to fables is that fables cause disputes, rather than godly edification, which is in faith. 1 Timothy 1.5 gives us the purpose of this commandment, and how and from where that purpose should proceed.

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

What is this commandment? This is not referring to the 10 Commandments, although I'm sure that the same purpose could apply, in part, to those.

commandment (Greek)
a mandate; a message that is transmitted as a charge or military directive

This Greek word is used only three other times in the New Testament. Let's look at the other usages of this word, and I'm sure it will bring a great deal of light to the subject.

Acts 16:24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

This passage is in reference to the Philippian jailer, who received this charge from the magistrates of the city. This was not just information, or something to be taken lightly. As a matter of fact, if he did not carry out this charge, he would be in danger of losing his life.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Notice, once again, the intensity of this passage. Paul said we urge and exhort not just from his standpoint, but they (and us) were urged and exhorted in the Lord Jesus that they should abound more and more. These commandments were given by Christ through Paul. That makes them important and binding.

1 Timothy 1:17-19 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,

Paul’s sense of urgency is very clear here. This was not a message that would leave one with the choice of whether or not to comply.

Let’s look back on our original passage.

1 Timothy 1:3-5 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

We are to be very careful what we teach and to what we give heed because the purpose of this commandment (or mandate or doctrine) was love. This love is agape love.

The purpose of all doctrine is so the believer can and will live in, act by, and be motivated through this very special love described throughout the New Testament and attached to the Greek word “agape” and its derivatives. This special love can only flow out of a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith.

The pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith are not the source of this love. We will not track that, right now. But please mark it well! The only source of agape love is God, Himself! We will see later, that each believer experiences this special love from God, but this love cannot be passed to others by a believer except that it flows from God through the believer by means of a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith. Each of these we will examine in the process of the study.

Demonstrating Godly Love

We could spend several lessons in any one of these great eternal passages, plumbing the depths of their wonderful truths. But I want us to see a thread of truth that weaves its way through the entire Bible. But especially, we want to see this truth in the New Testament.

The truth we want to see is that the holy life and life of godly love go hand in hand. For holiness or love to be true in our lives, there are certain factors and conditions that also must be present. To complete this part of our examination in a reasonable length of time, we will move rapidly through a number of passages to see these facts. Then, we will draw on those facts as we move through the continuing study. Please keep these references and the truths gleaned from them in readiness as we move through this study.

Don't despair! These facts, some which seem to be unrelated right now, will all weave into a very nice and complete pattern as we continue our study. Later in the lesson, I will explain when, how, and why we will use these facts. Your job right now is not to try to tie all of these facts into a neat little package, but to look at, understand and remember these facts.

Know What God Says

1 Timothy 4:6-8 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

There is no way we can teach the truth of the Word of God without the facts of the Word of God.

Tragically, in Bible study today, we are in a drought when it comes to Biblical facts. As a matter of fact, there is almost a vacuum when it comes to real Biblical facts taught from today's pulpits. Part of the reason for this is that many teachers are not taught by our schools of theology to glean Biblical facts. Part of the reason is that many listeners want to be entertained rather than to study and endure sound doctrine. They have “itchy ears” according to the Word of God. Learning sound doctrine takes time and work to glean facts and correlate them properly.

Over and over again, the Bible tells us that doctrine is what is needed to live a spiritual life in this foreign hostile environment of a world controlled by Satan. Yes, we are to act on those doctrines in our living - that is the definition of faith! However, if we are not continually learning and growing in the teachings of the Word, which are doctrines, there is no way we can act properly in our walk, and be equipped to live holy lives in a unholy world.

I keep hearing from some who I'm sure are sincere, that we need move beyond the Bible and learn practical ideas of how to live with one another. Without knowing it they are saying that the teachings of the Bible are not practical. I also hear that we need some practical application of how to live godly lives in an ungodly world. Well, my friend, if the Bible is true (and it is!) then the Bible says that understanding doctrine is the key to our living spiritually and overcoming sin.

We can share all our troubles, talk about our hang-ups, and we might learn to live like a community, or a village, but we will never learn to live as the Body of Christ. Living as the Body of Christ will not take place until we turn away from fables, and turn only to the doctrines or the teachings of the Word of God. I didn't write it. I only teach what the Holy Spirit had written for our benefit. Take one more look at what the Holy Spirit had Paul write in this passage.

1 Timothy 4:6-8 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

Just a closing thought from this passage. Paul told Timothy that if he instructed the brethren in these things, he would be a good minister. God's standard of what constitutes a good minister is the ability to instruct in the area of doctrine. My, my, we've come a long way, haven't we? Our standards for a good minister have so far surpassed God's standard that God's standard doesn't even seem to be much of a standard any more. Aren't we something? Oh, yes! We've come a long way, all right. However, it might have been better if we had stayed with God's standard to begin with. Is it any wonder that Christ, while here on earth, asked a question that was hard to answer? But if the trend of modern Christianity continues, I think the answer will be quite obvious.

Luke 18:8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

Remember, faith is based on, and proceeds from the hearing of the Word of God.

Flee and Pursue

1 Timothy 6:3-11 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of [personal] gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain... 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

According to this passage also, it is the doctrine according to godliness that we are to teach and consent to. There are many other doctrines floating around that are not according to the doctrine or teaching of the Word of God. That's the context. I trust that past teachings will help fill in the truths that we are not taking the time to examine, now.

That brings us to 1 Timothy 6:11. There are some things we are to flee from; they are found in verses 4-5 (he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of [personal] gain.). There is an action we are to be involved in concerning those who feel that the Christian life of godliness is lived so that they can have personal benefit. We are to flee certain things, withdraw from certain people.

We are also to pursue certain spiritual qualities. Even though the spiritual qualities found in 1 Timothy 6:11 are separate items, they are parts of a whole. The love mentioned here is agape love. You can't have agape love without having or pursuing all that's in the list. All of these qualities are a part of the whole, or the complete life in Christ.

The Fruit of the Spirit contains individual items, but together those items make up the Fruit of the Spirit. Any one item in the Fruit of the Spirit would not constitute the Fruit of the Spirit without the total.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 proving what is acceptable to the Lord.

Lovers of God

Let's move on to another passage and other aspects of what's needed, and what must be avoided if we are to demonstrate agape love.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

Look at the first part of v.2 and the last part of v.4. These were lovers of themselves (v.2), rather than lovers of God (v.4). Everything between those two statements describe a person who is in love with self, and not with God. However, the assumption of the passage is that this person thinks they are in love with God.

As we scan these things, if you find a profile there that fits the one you see in the mirror, you need to make it right with God, now. You also need to change your attitude about where your affections are directed. They should not be directed toward self, but toward God.

Only a Form of Godliness

Let’s continue reading in that same passage.

2 Timothy 3:5-7 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Let's look at another parallel found in the first part of v.5 and v.7. Everything in between those two points describe the potential of a person in the condition described by these two book ends. These people had a form of godliness (v.5), they were always learning and yet were never able to know the real truth of what they learned.

The power of godliness as we have already seen is the truth of Scripture, or what we call doctrine. This truth from Scripture must be taught by the Holy Spirit, Himself, through comparing spiritual with spiritual. Some believers soak up Biblical information like a sponge. Yet, so many of those same believers never learn the spiritual truths the Holy Spirit intended to teach by that Biblical information. As we move along in this study, we will see reasons why some are preoccupied with knowledge, yet are not able to know the truth of that knowledge.

Deny Ungodliness

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

We have seen several things of a positive spiritual nature that we are to do in order to demonstrate this godly love. In this passage, we see something that we are to do that is of a negative spiritual nature. We are to deny ungodliness.

deny (Greek)
to say "no"; to contradict; to disavow; to refuse; not to know or recognize; to reject either in the face of a former relationship and/or better knowledge.

Once again this denying is based on teaching. It's because of teaching that we are to say "no", and can say "no" to ungodliness. We are to reject ungodliness because of our former relationship with it, and because we have learned better knowledge as seen in the definition above.

Notice what happens when we deny ungodliness, we are to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age, and are totally occupied with Christ's return. Then, Christ purifies for Himself His own special people who are zealous for good works. That sounds about like where we started this lesson.

Live Godly, Be Holy

Psalm 4:3 But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him.

Well look at that! All the way from the Psalms to the Epistles and we find that God wants to set apart those who will live godly as special people for Himself! Some time ago, a person said that they sure would like to have been one of the inner circle of Christ's disciples. They wanted to be either Peter, James or John, because those three got to be with Christ in a special way, go with Christ where no one else could go.

Well, we can too! We can even have it better than the inner circle. However, to get into that special company, Christ requires that we live godly.

1 John 4:16-20 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love] abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

We often call 1 Corinthians 13 the Love Chapter, and it is. However, 1 John 4:16-20 is a pretty good Love Chapter, also. As I pointed out earlier, love and holiness are inseparable parts of God's essence.

Ephesians 1:4-5 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

We are to be Holy before Him.

Ephesians 2:21-22 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

believers are referred to as a holy temple.

Ephesians 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Our new man was created in true holiness.

Ephesians 5.26-27 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Paul refers to the church in Ephesians 5:7 as the Bride of Christ holy and without spot.

The Bible has much to say about Holiness, our holiness. Are we listening?

Knowing God's Love

As with any aspect or attribute of God, God's love is unique. The Love of God has no equal in all of creation. There are no examples to hold up, in a show-'n-tell session, so we can see what God's love looks like. The only place we can find an example of God's love is to look at the Person of God, and to examine His plan and work. Looking at the Person or essence of God will reveal His love. Looking at His plan and its execution will reveal the effects of that great eternal love.

To have any understanding of the Love of God, we must have at least a kindergarten level understanding of God, Himself. So let's get out the spiritual Play-doh, blocks, and colors. I don't intend any of that as demeaning, or belittling of our Bible knowledge. However, many believers have what they consider a post graduate degree in Biblical things such as predestination, election, the antichrist, things to come, etc. Tragically some, in their spiritual genius, have skipped all the basic grades that make it possible to understand the greatest Biblical subject of all: the wonders of God, Himself.

Matthew 18:4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

All of us need to come down from of the ivory towers of spiritual and doctrinal knowledge we have built by our own egos, and become as little children in faith. We need to examine as fresh and brand new the elementary truths of God and His person. In this way, we will be equipped to see, and comprehend the love of God.

Some of the passages in our search of the Scriptures for this subject of God's Love will be used to further confirm a truth. Others will need some detailed examination in order to bring clear understanding of the subject. Our search is to discover basic truths concerning the Love of God, not to exegetically work our way through each of these passages. To do so, would require another life time for all of us. There will be times when we will have to spend considerable time in a passage in order to properly see the truth concerning the Love of God.

This passage of Ephesians 3 will be our launching pad for this study. Let's take a walk around our launching pad and see some factors that are needed if we are to comprehend this love of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3 tells us that God will grant the ability or right to know this love. A human does not have the ability or right to know God's love. Just being a believer does not give you the ability or the right to know God's love. A non-believer or a believer can experience God's love, they can know about God's love, but to really know God's love comes only through God granting the ability and right to do so.

This granting by God is not based on some whim of God, or how He's feeling on any particular day. God will grant us the ability and right to know His love based on some well-defined criteria. As pointed out, we don't have the time to tear all of these verses apart, but please see some very important things as we move along.

This granting of the privilege to know and comprehend God's love is based on:

  • God's riches
  • strengthening the inner man
  • being rooted and grounded in love

God's riches

There are no greater riches of God than His love. For God's love is a very part of His Person. Contrariwise, if you don't know this love, if you can't comprehend this love, if you are not experiencing this love, then your spiritual bank account has little or no balance.

Strengthening the inner man

The condition of the inner man will make a real difference in whether or not we can know this love of God.

Colossians 3:9-11 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Lying to one another drains the spiritual strength from the inner man. Over and over again, in the teaching of the Holy Spirit throughout the Word of God, believers are prohibited from using or living a falsehood. None the less, many believers not only continue in such a state of falsehood, they hone that skill to a fine art. God help us!

Over and over again the Bible says that it is through knowledge, teaching or doctrine, and the application of both that we grow, overcome sin, live holy lives, find strength for the inner man, etc. If the Bible says it over and over again, then I had better teach it over and over again, and we had better heed it carefully.

No matter how many times, or in how many different ways the Holy Spirit states that fact in the Word of God, someone is sure to say, "Yes God, but we need to add just a little to what You've said." When we say, "Yes God, but...", we are actually telling God that we know better and more than He does.

Rooted and grounded

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

This process of knowing God's love is truly a growing experience. We can't really know God's love until we are rooted and grounded in that very love. As our roots grow deeper into this love of God, then we can and will know more of the God's Love. Knowing and growing go hand in hand.

Colossians 2:6-8 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
rooted (Greek)
to cause to take root -- but not the root itself (root stimulator)

Folks, there is no way of getting away from it! Our rooting in this love comes as a result of having been taught. If we allow philosophy, empty deceit and the basic principles according to the tradition of men to be the mode of operation, we will be robbed of our rooting ability, and will have no way of surviving in this spiritually dry world.

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight-- 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
grounded (Greek)
to lay the base for; a substructure or foundation.

This same Greek Word for grounding is used of a solid rock in:

Luke 6:47-49 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.

The cause or power of our grounding in Colossians 1:21-23 is the good news preached. Notice also the foundation of the rock was based on hearing and doing what was heard. The reason the foolish person built on the sand was hearing but not doing what was heard.

Both houses did quite well at first. As a matter of fact, the one on the sand would have been a much more enjoyable place to live. The homeowner didn't have to climb up on the rock to get in, every time. Besides that, he could walk in his sandy yard and squish the sand through his toes. It was a real vacation pad! The difference in these two buildings is seen when the real pressures of life must be faced. The one who heard and acted on what was heard was able to stand when the real test came along. I'm sure it was much more enjoyable to build the house on the sand, because building on rock is difficult: you have to endure sound doctrine. You see, the point of the Christian life is not the immediate pleasure of building, but the future stability produced by the process. It is the process of building that is important.

Paul continued with the picture of building when he said we are to take heed how we build on the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

Motive

When these things of Ephesians 3:14-17 are active in the life of a believer, then that believer can comprehend and know the Love of God. Please read again the passage we are using as the launching pad. What I have to say is of little importance compared to the Scripture, itself!

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
comprehend (Greek)
to lay hold of so as to possess as one's own; to appropriate. Hence it has the same twofold meaning as the English to apprehend
apprehend (Websters)
To seize upon or take possession of with a beneficial effect. The beneficial effect is a result of seizing upon. The benefit is not the motive for the seizure.
know (Greek)
to know experientially in contrast to intuitively or academically.
knowledge (Greek)
to have information through inquiring or investigating, this is present and fragmentary information often acquired from someone else

We are at a very important juncture in our quest to know the Love of God. That juncture is motive. We've already seen a little of God's concern about our motive expressed in the meaning of the word comprehend. The question we must answer is, "Why do we want to comprehend God's love?" Is it really to know the only wise and true God, or is it because we think that by knowing God's love, we will have our personal needs and desires met? Thereby, gaining some benefit for self. This should not be our motive! When our motive is wrong, God will not give us the ability or the right to know this love.

God is very concerned with our motive. Even the words that the Holy Spirit uses in this passage bear out His concern. The great spiritual blessings of God's Word cannot be understood by many believers, because they come to the Word of God with the wrong motive. Therefore, they cannot know the spiritual truth of those facts.

When facts of the Word of God are presented, and someone says that they aren't getting anything out of those facts, I know something about that person's spiritual condition and their motive. A great deal of the fault of not receiving blessing from the facts of the Word of God lies with the person who is bored with those facts.

Hebrews 3:17-4:3 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest," although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

The Word preached by Moses, did not profit the Israelites in the wilderness, because they did not mix what they heard with faith. We want teachers to do and say things so we will enjoy our time spent in the teaching session. That's called entertainment. However, the Bible says we are to be doing something during each teaching session. During a Biblical teaching session, we need to be in the spiritual kitchen doing some cooking with the ingredients given, instead of sitting the dinning room enjoying the show that's been prepared, or complaining about it.

Hypocrisy

2 Timothy 3:5-8 ...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;

You remember the story from Exodus 7-11. Moses was sent by God to Egypt to deliver the people of Israel. God used miracles to demonstrate that Moses had been sent from God. God also used miracles, in the form of plagues, to bring about the deliverance of the people from Egypt. Several of the miracles that God performed through Moses were imitated by these two Egyptian magicians, Jannes & Jambres. The outward evidences of these magicians were the same or similar to what Moses did, but the divine commentary, the Bible, says,

2 Timothy 3:8 ...these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith

The Holy Spirit said that these men were similar in nature to people today who have a form of godliness, but deny the power. Even though the outward form was similar, that outward form did not make them able to come to the knowledge of the truth. There are several reasons why some believers are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. We will only look at a few.

God does not give this ability and right to know the better or deep things of God to spiritual hypocrites. God is very careful to whom He gives His pearls or to whom He gives those things that are holy.

Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

That verse says a lot, but it doesn't really say all that much to us… until we put it in its context. Then it says far more than we often want to hear!

Matthew 7:2-5 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck out of your eye"; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.

You know, there aren't many churches that would want Jesus Christ as their pastor. Yes, we talk a good fight! We know that Christ is not available to fill the pulpit, so we say we'd sure like to have Him as our teacher. But Christ shoots right from the hip to the heart. He's not always positive in His presentation, either. Take a deep breath and let the sting of Christ's cutting remarks and their truth settle just little bit. Then, let's move on to see some of the other truths taught by Christ in these statements.

First, let's see that Christ is talking about relationships between believers. That is seen in the reference to these as brothers. This was not in the sense of blood relative, but socially and/or spiritually.

There are at least two or three months’ worth of lessons in this passage, but let's only spend enough time in the context to set the stage for our further understanding of receiving from God the ability and right to know the deep things of God. For this series, that deep area, we're looking at, is the Love of God, but these truths apply to most other areas, also.

Notice two things in regards to this relationship and our corrective judgmentalism:

  • We will be judged and measured by the same standard we judge and measure others in our personal relationships.
  • God will judge us from the same perspective as we judge others. This judgment is not for salvation, but for eternal rewards, position and discipline.

Before we start the Biblical journey, we need to adjust our spiritual glasses so we can clearly see what the Scriptures are saying. We will not spend time on the first one on this list, because most people understand that social fact. However, even many who know better, do not always admit to, or at least live like they know the fact of the second one on the list.

Therefore, even before we look at the Biblical evidence, we need to set our minds to the fact that we are looking at the God of Love, and God's actions in pure love. This little journey will not only give us more evidence of the fact that God gives us the ability and the right to know the deep things of God, based on certain criteria, but it will, also, establish a real and true aspect of God's love that is often overlooked even by believers.

The realization, the knowledge, and the experiencing of God's love will be effected to a great extent by our relationship with other believers.

Mark 11:26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Notice the sequence: If you do, then so will I or vise-versa. This passage is not talking about a childish demonstration of a spoiled brat trying to getting revenge. These are facts and actions of a holy God acting in pure love.

Obadiah 1:15 For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.

This is God's response, in love, to nations that have not acted in righteousness. There is no direct application to the believer, except this passage continues to be established a principle of God's actions for believers and non-believers, as will be further established from other passages, also.

Revelation 18:4-7 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix for her double. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.'"

There is no way we can teach all these passages and their contexts, but please see a principle that we'll not spend time on now, which is mentioned in this passage. If you are a part of, or in close association with those who are marked for God's judgment, you will share in that judgment, by the fact of proximity.

If you find yourself in this situation, you had better come out from them. That is a great truth, and we need to heed it! It only has an indirect relationship to our present subject. For this lesson, notice the "If you do in like manner your judgment

2 Thessalonians 1:4-8 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of their response in patience and faith as they experienced persecution and tribulation, these people were counted worthy by God. They weren't counted worthy for salvation because of their response, but for position and/or service in the Kingdom, yet to come. We know this Kingdom is yet to come by the context in v.7-8. I hope you will spend a day or two in this passage on your own. I don't dare even mention some other wonderful truths in this passage, because it would take us far from our present subject.

Psalms 18:24-27 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight. 25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; 26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. 27 For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.

That's pretty clear, isn't it? It would be nice if we could relegate this passage to some other deeper meaning, or maybe an application to those in the Tribulation or the Garden of Eden or to someone else or someplace else, rather than to me, personally, and to this time, right now! However, it applies to you and me, right now, right where we are.

James 2:12-13 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

There are many, many more clear evidences of these facts in the Scriptures. However, I think that we have seen enough for now.

We took this little journey to establish a principle that our salvation is freely given to us, based on the work of Christ only. However, our rewards, blessings, service, knowledge, etc. are very individualized according to our actions and attitudes toward the truths of God, through faith. I trust we learned much more than that in this study, but I hope we learned at least that much. Let's go back and finish what we started in Matthew 7.

Matthew 7:2-5 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4"Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck out of your eye"; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.
Matthew 7:6 Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

If we want God's pearls, we must remember to be honest in our motives in all things, especially in our relationship and judgment of others in Christ.

God despises hypocrisy. If you are not living honestly, and if your motives are not honest, then don't expect God to give you the ability or the right to have God's pearls, or the deep things of God.

Definitions and Illustrations

Because the love of God is often referred to in the Greek New testament by the Greek term agape or its derivatives, some people have taken the term agape, and built doctrines around it that reflect what the word might mean if they were to give it definition. Sadly, more often than not, their definition has little to do with the Greek definition or the use of the word in the text of Scripture.

There are two Greek words that often cause some Christians to sigh, roll their eyes to half-mast, have spiritual vibrations, and pay a lot of money to go to conferences where those two Greek words are used, often improperly.

Those two Greeks words are: agape and koininia.

Someone said, "Just listen to those words. Don't they have a real spiritual ring to them! They sound like the words of angels." Folks, those are just Greek words. Words used to express the very thoughts of God who is spirit, to mankind who is mortal. These are words used by the Holy Spirit to explain God's love to believers, and the unsaved, if they are so inclined.

There is nothing special or spiritually significant about these words until they are properly understood in the context that the Holy Spirit placed them. Often, when those words are seen in the context used by the Holy Spirit, they convey different shades of thought in different contexts.

A word study is a valuable tool for Bible study. The purpose of a word study is to know what that word means by definition, and how that word is used by the Holy Spirit throughout the Word of God. We study a word so that we can know the spiritual truth of the passage where that word was used. Word-studies are not an end in themselves.

What happens too often in word studies is the teacher, speaker, or writer reads or refers to the passage containing a word, then removes the word from its context, and makes that removed word the text of the study instead of the passage itself. In that type of study, very seldom does that word find its way back into the context, so that the text from which it was taken can be understood. Instead, the speaker or writer gives definition to the word by means of illustrations, instead of the lexicon definition and/or its usage.

Maybe we should take a moment to define define.

define (Webster)
to mark the limits of; to determine with precision or exhibit clearly the boundaries of; to discover and set forth the meaning of.

An illustration cannot give definition to a word. In some circumstances, an illustration can give clearer understanding to a definition. In word studies, illustrations should be used to throw light on an already established definition. If the definition of a word has not been established and an illustration is used in an attempt to establish the definition, usually the definitions emerging from such a process will be based mostly on a personal experience and/or an experience of someone else. However, that type of definition will not mark the limits, determine with precision the boundaries, or discover the meaning of that term.

The use of an illustration to determine the definition of a term usually creates a new definition rather than discovering the already established definition. If you are interested in developing a new language, that process might be acceptable. If you are trying to discover the meaning of a word in an already establishing language, this process is of little value and often a detriment. In the study of theology, when the method of giving meaning to a word through illustrations is used it usually results in a new theology, which usually results in what the Bible calls a false doctrine. This has certainly happened in the case of the word studies presented by some teachers concerning the Greek words of agape and koinonia.

Koininia: Fellowship

Don't leave me, this all has significance to our study and the understanding of God's Love. Let me illustrate the above facts in the use of the term koinonia by some teachers. Then we can see the dangers to be avoided in our study of God's Love associated with the Greek word agape.

In an effort to bring understanding to Biblical fellowship, or to connect with her audience (I don't know which was of greatest importance to her, God only knows), a speaker gave a very good illustration of Christian fellowship. That illustration has become almost a cardinal doctrine. To the best of my knowledge, this illustration was based on:

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The English word fellowship in v.42 is translated from the Greek word koinonia. To make a long story short, this speaker was trying to illustrate the difference between how some believers fellowship, and how believers should fellowship. Her illustration was that when most believers get together, they are like marbles in a bag. When you shake the bag of marbles or believers, they touch or bounce off of one to another, but they never become part of each other. She went on to say that in believer's Fellowship we should not be like bag of marbles. Instead, we should be like a bag of skinned grapes. In that way, when the bag is shook, or we have fellowship, we don't just touch and bounce off of one another, we become one with the others. We blend with each other by means of personal sharing or often referred to as bleeding. It's a real good illustration. There is nothing wrong with the illustration, except that's not what the Bible says, if that makes any difference.

I don't know if this lady was the originator of this illustration, or if she was just passing it along. That makes little difference. It was through her books and lectures that the illustration became a standard. Preachers, teachers and lecturers, all are desperate to find good illustrations that capture their audiences. So, this illustration along with many clones made their way into pulpits, lecterns and books all across this country, and even around the world.

The illustration does point out a partial truth that should be examined in the study of Biblical fellowship. Nonetheless, the illustration is not the definition of the Greek word koinonia, although it has become so to many. This may not have been the intention of this speaker, but that is one of the dangers of using extra-Biblical illustrations when teaching the Word of God.

The basis of this so called non-biblical koinonia or fellowship is personal sharing or bleeding in a public, or semi-public manner of their deepest inner thoughts, emotions and sometimes their sins. The release of emotions often leaves a person feeling better, or at least different. For some believers anything different would be better than they are experiencing, now. However, the practice of sharing our deepest inner being in a public or semi-public manner goes contrary to Biblical directives for public gatherings or church fellowship.

Too often, the illustration, itself, takes center stage, and becomes the truth studied, instead of being an illumination of the Biblical truth. In cases of this nature, the Biblical truth becomes less than a stand-in for the featured illustration, and the Biblical truth is forgotten, altogether.

fellowship (koinonia - Greek)
partnership i.e. participation or social intercourse or pecuniary [monetary] benefaction; a communion, fellowship or sharing in common. (This word is used for fellowship at the Lord's table.)

Biblical fellowship for a Body of believers, called a church, is that all those assembled share in common the same thing at the same time. The Word of God is quite clear concerning what type of information is to be shared in public or semi-public church gatherings. That would not be too hard to figure out even from the definition, to say nothing about the clear teaching of the Word of God.

Then what is to be shared in the public meeting of the church? To find that answer, we must go to the instructions of the Word of God, and only the Word of God, not some one's personal preferences or experiences.

1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

The church experiences koinonia (or fellowship) when the entire body is sharing in unity (or one mind) that which is being publicly presented. According to Scripture, we can share a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation, etc. but there is no mention of those assembled all sharing in my personal experiences, or the experience of others. We will not follow all the Biblical instruction for public church fellowship (koinonia). However, you will never find Biblical instructions to the effect of publicly taking off your grape skin, and becoming part of the other grapes in the meeting or assembly of believers, whether in small groups or the whole congregation assembled.

Any time personal experiences are recorded in the New Testament, it is to illustrate a truth that has already been established, or a truth that will be established in the text. Personal experiences are never recorded in the Bible so that we can derive, from those experiences, spiritual strength, etc. Spiritual strength does not come from any human source, personal experiences included. Believers are in fellowship (koinonia) when they are of one mind in the study of the Word, or singing, or prayer, etc.

More Than Physical Presence

The fellowship of believers is not just physical, it is spiritual. When we attempt to relegate Biblical fellowship or koinonia to the physical aspect of being active in the presence of the others, we have missed the greatest part of Biblical fellowship or koinonia!

1 John 1:3-7 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Just a quick run through this passage will reveal a great deal about this aspect of Biblical fellowship. Go back and read this passage again.

John is writing these things to people (including us) who are not in his physical presence. John can't see, hear or feel those he is talking to or about. He is writing to these unseen, and in some cases unknown people with the purpose of having fellowhsip with them.

This fellowship was not only with those John did not see, and some he would never see in his lifetime, but this fellowship was also, at the same time, with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ Whom he could not see or hear either.

This three-way fellowship (John, God, and others) with those he could see, and some of whom he would never see is based on John (and the other humans involved in this fellowship) receiving and obeying the message of the Word of God and walking in holiness. When you, as a believer, are receiving (obeying) the message and walking in holiness with Christ, you are at that time in koinonia with the Trinity, the apostle John, and all other believers who are at the same time acting in a like manner, etc. Adding to all of that your joy will be full!

Has your joy level been a little low lately? Possibly the cause is your lack of real koinonia or true Biblical fellowship. Your lack of Biblical fellowship may have come about because you've been sitting around skinning off the outer layer of your grape (your life experiences) in an effort to have some koinonia, of some kind. You should have been sharing in the message, and walking in holiness with Christ. Many believers spend their entire Christian life searching for koinonia, instead of participating in what is already available to them. We miss so much when we try to put our own spin on the truths of the Word of God instead of seeking to discover what the Word of God really says by comparing all Scripture with all Scripture.

If you don't know what you're looking for, you probably will never find it. Some believers have spent a good share of their life looking for koinonia, or what someone told them koinonia was like. All the time they were looking and striving to find koinonia, they were stumbling over the real thing and didn't even know it! What a shame to waste a whole Christian life in that manner and tragically, many drag others with them through that waste land.

A Private Matter

When you know what God's love is, and what true Biblical fellowship (koinonia) is, then this First Epistle of John comes alive with understandable truth, and its beauty is unfathomable! But if you are still trying to get koinonia through some false means, or worse, you don't even know what koinonia is, then the Epistle of John will be a closed book to you, as well as most of the Word of God. Under those conditions, the best you can expect from your search is shared experiences of other humans. Let me tell you! There's not much joy in that! I can guarantee you that the experiences of yourself and others can never make your joy full. Instead of trying to gain spiritual strength through what God may have done for others, why not have personal fellowship with God and draw on the spiritual strength that God has for you, personally?

There is a time when we can and should share what God has done for, through and to us. Very seldom should this personal sharing be done in a group meeting, whether small groups, or the church assembled.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Our experiences of God's comfort can and should be shared with those in trouble in a very personal and private manner. We are "to comfort those who are in any trouble..." This is not a general declaration to the whole assembly, but only to those who are, at that time, in trouble.

Never are we to get together to share our experiences with the church or Body of believers with the false notion that sharing will bring fellowship (koinonia) or fullness of joy. When you try the personal experience route in an effort to arrive at koinonia, you are barking up the wrong tree!

Let me call your attention to a couple of other passages.

1 Corinthians 12:7-12 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Notice something is absent from those lists of things that are profitable for all the body. When I read 1 Corinthians 12, I didn't notice any phrases that said, "and to another the relating of personal experiences". I did notice several phrases that said, to another the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning or spirits, etc. but there was no mention of personal experiences.

Our Common Life

Let's take a real quick peak at some other ways this Greek word for fellowship (koinonia) is used. The highlighted words in these passages are the translation to English of the Greek word koinonia. These passages will speak for themselves, if you will read them with the attitude of seeing first what the Word of God says, instead of using the Word of God to support what you've already read. There are more such references where this Greek word koinonia is used, and many more references where the concept is presented.

Hebrews 13:16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Philippians 1:4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
Ephesians 3:9 and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
Galatians 2:9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
Romans 15:26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.

My dear Christian friends, please don't settle for an emotional high caused by some human's experiences. This roller coaster of emotional highs and lows does not compare to the "joy inexpressible" God wants you to know through this koinonia, or true Biblical fellowship. You can have real fellowship with the believers who are in your presence, and the Apostle John, and believers of the past and present who are not with you at the time, and the Holy Trinity all at the same time! That's not pie in the sky by and by. It is a spiritual reality that God wants every believer to experience on a continual basis.

It's time believers understood that we are a body, not a bag of skinned grapes. True Biblical fellowship is through and because of a common life, not similar physical experiences. That common life is the Life of Christ flowing through the believers as they function within the Body of Christ.

If you are searching for fellowship through personal sharing of experiences, then the best you can hope for is a bag of skinned grapes, and whatever emotional strength you can gain by the bleeding or confessions to one another. That type of fellowship is only external and terminal at best, but it's all the world has to offer.

However, Biblical fellowship comes about through a bleeding of a different type: the Blood of Christ. You have to make your choice which koinonia you are going to seek and participate in.

Agape: The Love of God

Theology and the Christian life should be the same, but sadly are not always are built on and sustained by God and Who He is. Who God is will determine what God does. The Scriptures do not contain long discourses describing Who God is. However, there is much information in the Word of God declaring the Who of Deity. Just as Who God is will determine what God does, what God does will reveal a great deal about Who God is. Christ declares that truth in John 14:11 and elsewhere.

John 14:11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

Christ was talking with His disciples shortly before His death, and was setting forth many spiritual truths that were essential if they were to live the Christian life and spread the message after He was gone. In reading this conversation, you will see the disciples interrupt Christ over and over again. Basically they said, "Christ, we're sorry, but we just don't get it! Please be a little more practical!" Christ was giving them many facts about Who He was, and based on this Who, His disciples should have known what He was doing and was about to do. The disciples, very much like us, indicated that these deep spiritual truths were going right over their heads. Over and over again, they said or indicated to Christ that He should, "Get it down to earth! Be a little more practical."

John 13:31-37 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said [to His disciples], "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 36 Simon Peter said to [interrupted] Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward." 37 Peter said to [interrupted] Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake."

In v.31-32, Christ was stating doctrinal facts that give understanding to a subject that would be mentioned over 200 times in the New Testament. The subject referred to is the glory of God, and it's being imparted to believers.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

We don't have the time for review. I just want to remind you that all Scripture has a bearing on the interpretation of any other Scripture. Because the disciples didn't get it or listen to those facts, they missed most of what Christ was teaching at that time. This is same reason many of us miss much of the great truth of the Word of God.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

It is in the setting or context of the truths in John 13:34 that Christ states an operating principle of the Christian life. This operating principle is also the power, the message, the means, and the only way we can reach a world through so called evangelism and/or missions. Living in and by this operating principle is a key to Christian living and Biblical fellowship or koinonia that we briefly looked at earlier. If we are not living and functioning by this operating principle, we are as carnal, of the flesh, as any dead carcass hanging in the butcher shop waiting to be carved into steaks or ground into hamburger, and equally as spiritual cold.

As you can see by reading v.34, this operating principle is God's Love or agape. Word of God uses the Greek word agape to distinguish God's love from the human affection.

God does not do something in order to be love. God is love. God does not have to act in love to be a lover. God acts in love because that is Who He is. Love is part of God's essence. Anything God does is in and through love. God cannot act in any other way than in or by love.

I cannot look in depth at the Love of God as some mere sterile fact of history. Over and over again in the preparation time for this subject, my eyes filled with tears until I could no longer see my material. They were tears of joy for the greatness of His love. They were tears of shame for my abuse of His great love. They were tears of concern for those whom God has called me to shepherd. I will endeavor to present this love in as factual a manner as I can, but this love is not just facts.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Christ is giving a new commandment, not new in the sense that nothing similar to it had ever existed before, but that it was new as to freshness, or being re-freshed. The old commandment, from the 10 commandments, was love your neighbor as yourself. This new commandment is love one another as I, Christ, have loved you.

Let me tell you, that puts a far greater spin on the subject of loving one another. As we will see, this new commandment is fresh, different, and it cannot be accomplished by any human effort.

The standard of the old commandment was self-love

The standard of the new commandment is God's Love

We have two different, but similar Greek words used for love in these verses. In this case, I'm going to use the English spelling of these Greek words. I'm doing this, not to teach Greek, but so we will have a handle on these definitions, and because agapa or agape has been thrown around so carelessly by some teachers, and then it has been misused by many who have been taught by those careless teachers. As this series moves along, I will use the English spelling of these Greek words less and less, replaced by the English term God's Love or The Love of God.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

The three references to love in v.34 are the Greek word agapao. The reference to love in v.35 is the Greek word agape. Both are God's love, but the two words have a different shade of meaning. These two words are used throughout the New Testament to distinguish the Love of God from human love.

Seeing the definitions of both, will give us a clearer picture of these words used by the Holy Spirit to distinguish God's love from the Greek phileo, meaning friendship or human love. Neither of these two Greek words are used exclusively to represent God's Love in the New Testament, but rarely are they used of any other type of love. Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, these words do represent God's Love, either emanating directly from God or through the believer.

agapao (Greek)
to love. Agapao indicates a direction of the will and finding one's joy in something other than self. (That fact, alone, will eliminate a lot of believers from having this type of love.) It stands in contrast to phileo which means to be contented with, and denotes common interests, hence a befriending. Agapao is often used in the sense of social or moral love resulting from a deliberate choice of the will.
agape (Greek)
benevolent love

Agape is not in the classic Greek, only in the common Greek of the New Testament. This benevolence is not shown by doing what the person loved desires, but what the one who loves deems as needed. This benevolence is not dependent on friendship. It is God's willful benevolence toward mankind. For a human to show God's love, that person must first appropriate God's love.

Agape is built on or made up of three Greek words. These three words in combination and correlation give agape its Greek definition. The use throughout the New Testament gives agape its Biblical meaning. Please, don't miss those facts. The Holy Spirit is using these Greek words in a special way with far greater meaning than their simple definition.

Remember, when the Holy Spirit gives special spiritual meaning to a word, that special meaning will not go contrary to the original definition. Neither will that word be limited to the simple definition. The new meaning will be the definition plus the usage by the Holy Spirit in the text of Scripture.

The three Greek words that make up agape are:

  • agapao to love in a social or moral sense
  • phileo to be a friend or to be fond of i.e. to have affection for, as a matter of feeling
  • philos dear i.e. friend or friendly; an associate or neighbor

All of these or any one of these words, making up agape, play a role in the spiritual meaning of "agape". The intensity or shade of meaning of agape, in any one passage, will depend largely on the context. As with any Greek word, the context is of equal or greater importance to the understanding of that term than just the simple definition.

The Holy Spirit, in giving the text of the New Testament, used agape and its derivatives in a unique and limited manner. It is used of the supernatural love of God, and of that love imparted to believers, and the demonstration of that love by one believer to other believers.

No human action can demonstrate or substitute for this divine love. Agape can be demonstrated in a believer's life only as they are living in fellowship with Christ, and walking in the Spirit, and partaking of the divine nature through the proper use of the Word of God.

John 13:31-37 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said [to His disciples], "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 36 Simon Peter said to [interrupted] Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward." 37 Peter said to [interrupted] Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake."

This new commandment is that believers must have and demonstrate God's love for other believers. In the same manner or same way that Christ loved us, we are to love other believers.

Remember the definition. This type of love is a determined choice of the will. It is not based on whether we like the other believer, or if the other believer is even our friend. We are to have and demonstrate this love to other believers in the same way or manner as Christ has and is demonstrating this love for us.

Romans 5:6-10 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

If God had demonstrated His love for us, in the same way some believers demonstrate God's love to other believers, there would be a lot Christians today who would have never had the opportunity to become believers. If God had demonstrated His love for some Christians, the way those same Christians demonstrate God's love to others, they would be burning in hell, right now. We are not to withhold the demonstration of God's love from a fellow believer, simply because they are not living the Christian life or have not asked for forgiveness.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Peter, like some of us, thought he would demonstrate his great knowledge of spiritual things. Therefore, he ask how many times he should forgive someone sinning against him. Then showing how spiritual he was, he answered his own question with a question type statement. I'm sure Peter didn't think there would be an answer to his question-statement. He was probably expecting a compliment from Christ to the effect that he had heard and remembered what Christ actually said.

Generalizing Truth / Forgiveness

Let me step aside from the main topic of this lesson, to look at a very relevant truth. This truth is not directly involved in the Love of God, but it has a great deal to do with our living in and demonstrating the Love of God. Don't forget where we were when we stated this little side trail.

What Peter did is so typical, and so very, very human. I'm sure Peter heard what was said at other times during Christ's ministry, but Peter tried to generalize a teaching that was very specific. Look at a teaching of Christ's that Peter probably heard on a number of occasions.

Luke 17:4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.

This is not a parallel account of the event in John chapters 13 & 14. It is an entirely different situation, but the lessons taught are parallel. We need to keep in mind that Christ sometimes taught several times a day and several times a week. These teachings were often repeated and were heard by the disciples many times over during those three years of ministry.

Christ had taught that if you've been sinned against 7 times a single day, and 7 times that day the sinning person asks for forgiveness, you are to freely give forgiveness. Therefore, Peter thought, as you and I would, that 7 was the magic number. So Peter asked a question, that he thought he knew the answer to, and even suggested that answer in a second question-statement. Peter made a mistake that can happen so easily. This mistake has happened often in this matter of agape or God's love, as well as other Biblical subjects.

Luke 17:4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Peter had heard Christ give the answer to similar questions on many occasions. Therefore, he naturally thought that the same answer applied to all such questions. It is important to know the Greek definition of agape, but we must remember that the simple definition is not the full meaning of God's love in every reference to it.

Notice in Peter's question an obvious omission that was in Christ's teaching in Luke 17. Christ was teaching about a sinning person who repented and ask for forgiveness. Peter makes no mention of any repentance or requests for forgiveness in his question. Peter assumed that one-size-fits-all. Yes, it is a small thing, but it is those small things that make a great deal of difference between knowing the facts of Bible and knowing the truths or doctrines of the Bible.

In the Luke passage, we need to understand that Christ was not setting a limit as to the number of times forgiveness can or should be given. The parallel use of the phrase seven times is an indication that no manner how many requests there are for forgiveness, we are to give it.

There is another subject that should be studied in this area. Forgiveness is not the same as acceptance. We should forgive a person for their sin, but we should never accept the sin of that person.

This parallel use of seven times is a Greek language idiom that was understood by the Greek speaking people of that day, just as some English idioms are understood by our culture at this time, but might present a problem to some historian in a 1,000 years from today.

We say an item, event or speech just "blew me away". We know this English or really American idiom is an expression that has meaning other than the definitions of the words used in the expression. A historian some 1,000 years from now, on the other hand, may spend a lot of time trying to find where we blew away to, but that will be their problem.

Peter asks about an entirely different situation than was used by Christ in the Luke 17 passage. Peter, in Matthew 18, simply asks how often should he forgive, or what are the limits that should be placed on his forgiving. Christ says to Peter, "There is no bottom line when it comes to forgiveness."

Christ also adds another factor to this business of believer's forgiveness that is consistent with the love of God.

  • We are to forgive even before the offending party asks.
  • We are to forgive even if the offending party never asks.

Let’s look again at Christ’s love for us.

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Romans 5:7-10 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

I trust we learned some good spiritual lessons from this side trip. I also hope, we will do more that hear these lessons. My prayer is that we put these lessons to work.

Just in case there is any confusion about the importance of forgiveness, read the following to see the importance

The major reason for the side trip was to, once again, establish the need to carefully categorize, compare and divide (or sort) the truths of the Word of God. In this subject of the Love of God, it is imperative that we know and apply the Biblical truths to each Biblical reference of the Love of God, or we will find ourselves teaching and practicing doctrines that are not taught by the Scriptures. According to the Bible, his type of doctrine is called the commandment of men that can only lead to more ungodliness.

Do your actions show the love of God, or the sin of stubborn self-pride and revenge?

Secure in the Love of God

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If our salvation was only as secure as the way we demonstrate God's love to other believers, most of us would be getting saved all over again, and again, and again, and again...

Stop and think. If God demonstrated His love to you, in the same manner that you are, at the present time, demonstrating God's love to some other believer, how much of God's love would you have? Stop reading for a moment and let your mind wander over the list of believers you know. Then think of the believers in your church.

Have you been or are you demonstrating God's love to those believers in the same way and manner as Christ demonstrated His love to you? If not, you are presently living in gross sin. That sin needs to be confessed to God right now. Also, you need to go and confess that sin to the one to whom you have not been demonstrating God's love. May I encourage you to take a few minutes and allow God to speak to you on this subject.

Knowing God

Understanding God

Who God is will determine what God does.

What God does will reveal a great deal about Who God is. 

John 14:11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

For us to learn much about Who God is, we will have to examine what God has done. Christ, in a confrontation with some of the religious leaders of His day, told them basically the same thing He told His disciples in John 14:11.

John 10:24-25 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me."

Notice these non-believing Jews said the same things about the teaching of Christ as the disciples said in John 13. They simply used different words to say the same thing. Both the Jews and the disciples said in effect, "We can't understand what you, the Son of God, are teaching. Please make it practical."

Does this sound familiar? I’m sure it sounds a lot like most natural people who are trying to understand spiritual things in a practical manner. But you see, spiritual things are not understood in a practical manner.

John 10:30-37 "I and My Father are one." 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods" '? 35 "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? 37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 "but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

These religious Jews wouldn't understand what Christ was teaching. The disciples couldn't understand what Christ was teaching. Both groups wanted Christ to put His teaching down on a practical level.

Most people, who ask for the teaching of the Word of God to be made practical, do not know what practical means. It means to bring spiritual things into such a natural state that those spiritual things can be practiced, or easily used by the ones hearing those spiritual things. That makes a nice cover story. Sadly that is exactly what the Church in general is doing: They are making spiritual things earthy enough so the natural person can do them.

The more practical you make spiritual things, the less spiritual those things will be. That is even a conflict of terms to say nothing of the reality of such an act. We are not to down-grade the spiritual to the level of the natural person. Our job is to elevate the person to the point they can understand spiritual things.

In this portion of John chapter 13 through 17, Christ is giving to His disciples some of the deepest and greatest spiritual truths of all eternity. Over and over again, the disciples interrupt Him with a comment or question in effect asking Christ to make the spiritual truth a little more earthly.

Christ finally explains to them that He can't make spiritual things practical, but soon they will be elevated spiritually so they could understand these heavenly things. Here is another great “Love Chapter.”

John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. 25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 "You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I. 29 "And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.

It would be exciting to take this Love Chapter verse by verse. We only have time to see that, after many interruptions to ask Christ to make what He was saying practical, Christ tells His disciples that He spoke these things while still present with them. But or literally you can't understand these things now, but the Holy Spirit will make it possible for you to understand them, because the Holy Spirit will teach you.

That will not happen by making the information more earthy or practical. Understanding spiritual things can only come about by teaching that information in a more spiritual manner, by comparing spiritual with spiritual. 

John 13:31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said [to His disciples], "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 "If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you. 34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 36 Simon Peter said to [interrupted] Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward." 37 Peter said to [interrupted] Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.

Let's close by looking once again at John 13:34-35. As believers, we are to love one another as Christ loved us.

If we, as believers, are following this new commandment, then all will know that we are Christ's disciples. Do they all know? Then we must have failed in following this new commandment. It would be good to make a daily status check to see just how active this new commandment is in your life.

Spiritual Understanding

Love is part of God's essence. Anything God does is in and through love. God cannot act in any other way than in or by love.

If I fail to make this fact understandable to your human mind, it is still needful to accept that fact, even if we can't comprehend it with the knowledge we now have, or our present level of spiritual maturity. This fact is taught throughout Scripture, and we must accept this fact even if our human mind cannot comprehend it. There are many aspects of the Person and work of God that we cannot understand from a human perspective. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures indicate that the more we try to understand the deep things of God by natural practical humanistic means, the less we will know and understand the real truths of God's Word.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
unsearchable (Greek)
not able to search out i.e. cannot be found by searching. (This is the only time this Greek word is used in the New Testament.)
past finding out (Greek)
past or beyond tracing out, literally - beyond the ability to follow the footprints to their source

I want to re-establish the fact that the more we try to understand the deep things of God by natural practical humanistic means, the less we will know and understand the real truth of God's Word.

If you don't know this truth, if you don't accept this truth and if you don't live, study and teach in the reality of this truth, you will never get even begin to understand the truth of God and His essence. The depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God are unsearchable and past finding out by any natural means. Christ declared this fact to the religious leaders, His disciples and many others while He was on earth.

John 5:38-39 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for [or because] in them you think you have eternal life; and [however] these are they which testify of Me.

Notice just a few facts from this passage that will help in our understanding of what Christ was telling those Jewish leaders and us. These men were well educated religious leaders. They spent their lives in the study of the Old Testament. Many of these, to whom Christ was speaking, knew the Old Testament far better than most of us.

In spite of those facts, Christ said that they had learned the wrong truth from the Scriptures. They had the right facts, but facts alone cannot bring spiritual understanding. Therefore, the truth that these religious leaders learned and taught was not truth at all. It was false doctrine.

These well-read religious leaders had drawn conclusions from the facts of Scripture that were the exact opposite of what God intended. Christ not only confronted these leaders with what they had done, He went on to explain why they were in this condition and, by comparison with His other teaching, how to avoid such a situation.

In spite of the intense study by these religious leaders, they concluded that the Scriptures, themselves, or the law produced or was eternal life. This example alone should send a chill down (or up) our spiritual spine, and should bring determination to our lives to make sure we are using the facts of the Word of God correctly.

The Scriptures never claim, for themselves, to be the agent of eternal life. Instead, the Scriptures give testimony to the fact, work, and Person of Christ, Who is Eternal Life. Notice several facts in this passage, that when compared with other information presented by Christ, gives us spiritual understanding of this portion and others.  Verse 38 says the Word of God was not abiding in them.

abiding (Greek)
not to depart or leave; to continue to be present; to remain as one is; not to become another or different.

These leaders were not allowing the Word of God to remain as it was given and intended by God. Instead, they had changed or made it different, so it was more useable on a human level.

Christ called those changes, the Traditions of the Elders, and said that such actions made the commandment of God of no effect. It is of greatest importance that we leave the command of God as intended by God, and not alter that command to accommodate human wants.

Matthew 15:3-9 But [Christ] He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 "For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' 5 But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated to the temple"-- 6 is released from honoring his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "

When we alter the Word of God for any reason, we make the command of God of no effect. And our teaching, no matter how pleasing, is no more than the commandments of men.

Those commandments of men will probably be more emotionally enjoyable, than the pure Word of God, but like any spiritual discipline, the personal value and enjoyment comes later, and is eternal. The commandments of men usually bring immediate gratification, but can never effect spiritual growth, and the emotional effect is very temporal.

These religious leaders did not have the Word of God abiding in them. This thought from John 5:38 is echoed and expanded in Matthew 15:3-9. These leaders could not know the spiritual truth taught by the Word of God, because their acceptance of and experience in the Word was only external.

In Matthew 15:8, Christ says that these leaders showed honor to Him by their talk or teaching, but this outward talk was not the same as their motive. They talked a good walk, but their walk was not effected by their talk.

Christianity also has a Tradition of the Elders, as a matter of fact we have many such man-made doctrines. One says that we can use any one verse or any part of a verse to prove our point, even if it doesn't agree with all the rest of Scripture. We complain loudly when the cults or the skeptics use a passage of Scripture out of context to prove their point, or to disprove our point. Yet, we have perfected this type of misuse of the Scriptures to a fine art.

Christ, in John 5:38, said there was a reason these leaders did not have the Word of God abiding in them. For this abiding to take place, they must first believe what God said and had done. In this particular case, they did not believe what God did and said in regards to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at another verse about faith.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

In spiritual things, believing must always come before understanding.

It has always been so. First, we must believe by faith Who God is and what God has done, then the understanding follows as we grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. That was the way it was in the Garden with the first human. That was the way it was in the call of Abraham, the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River, and everything until the present time.

We humans want instant answers and understanding, without the personal discipline of gaining that knowledge and allowing the Holy Spirit to minister that knowledge within our lives by being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). We seem to want instant change without the pain or the time needed to grow. Wait, let me correct that statement a bit. Most of us are interested in instant change in the other believers, so the other's change will make our lives more comfortable. Somehow we fail to have the same interest in instant change in our own lives to be transformed into the image of Christ Who is love, Life, truth, etc.

You can stack physical facts on top of physical facts, but those facts will not bring spiritual understanding until first, by faith, you accept what God has said and who God is.

The last fact we want to see from this passage is a fact that is not in the text itself. This fact is only seen because of what did not take place according to the text. Then by comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can see why it did not take place in the lives of these religious leaders. We can also learn from this event what we should do in order to experience what did not take place through the intense study of these religious leaders.

Even though these leaders studied and knew the Scriptures that testified of Christ, these leaders never saw Christ or the information about Christ in the Scriptures. That tragedy is something we must avoid, at all cost. We study the Bible intently.  But if our study is not correct, our teaching will not be correct, and our living will be in hypocrisy.

Help for Our Understanding

Let's back through the great Last Bible Class Christ had with His disciples, and see why these religious leaders missed those deep spiritual things concerning Christ in their study and teaching.

As we do so, I want us to see how Christ built a spiritual truth that gives us the information needed to avoid making the same mistake as those religious leaders. We will not, by any means, look at all the information given in this Last Bible Class that applies to our present subject. We want to see enough of that information so we can get the flavor and application of this great truth.

John 16:12-14 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
bear (Greek)
to support as a burden or pressure, literally - to endure, sustain, receive. It is built on a Greek word meaning to pace, as one would in a race to increase speed or endurance.

Even though these religious leaders were searchers of the Scripture, they missed two great truths of the Scriptures:

  • We must believe Who God is and what God has done before we can have spiritual understanding.
  • Eternal life (Spiritual life) is not in or of things - not even the Scriptures. Spiritual life is Christ.

The disciples, as well as those religious leaders were not, at that time, able to bear these deep things of God. Christ told His disciples (and us) earlier in this Last Bible Lesson why they weren't able to bear it now, and how the disciples would be able to bear it later. Follow the progression of this teaching and the building of this spiritual truth.

John 15:24-26 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.' 26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

Notice in John 5:39, Christ states that the Scriptures testify of Him. Yet, these religious leaders could not see or understand about Him through their searching of the Scriptures. The Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, will also testify of Christ (John 15:24-26).

Don't miss the descriptive title of the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of Truth v.26. The Holy Spirit is the only One Who can reveal or teach the truth of God and His plan. However, He will only testify of "what He hears" from the Scriptures (John 16:12-14). How will the Spirit of Truth testify of Christ? This fact is one of the first bricks laid by Christ in the building of this spiritual truth (John 14:25-27).

John 14:25-26 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The Holy Spirit will teach us by bringing back to our memory what we already know. For some of us, the Holy Spirit will not have to put in a full day’s work (certainly no overtime) to bring back to our memory the few things we really know of the Bible. Paul gives us more details concerning the process and method of this teaching and bringing-back to memory by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2.

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

God reveals these truths through His Spirit in two ways:

  • Through the original inspiration of the text, as given through holy men as they penned these truths.
  • Through the ongoing illumination or teaching by comparing spiritual with spiritual within the believer's mind.

These truths, or deep things of God (v.10), are not and cannot be understood by natural or practical means. These things can only be understood by this process called spiritual discernment v.14.

Please note something that we do not have time to follow in this lesson.

The religious leaders searched the Scriptures and failed spiritually.  The Holy Spirit searches the Scriptures so that we can know what God has revealed and so that we may succeed spiritually.

To thoroughly and completely lay out this precious doctrine of the Spirit's illumination would take more time than we have set aside to teach the Love of God. This doctrine must be continually refreshed in our minds and hearts, if we are to understand this deepest of the deep things of God, God's very Essence, His Love.

Man Is Separated From God

God is love. God does not have to act in love to become a lover. God acts in love because love is Who God is. Love is part of God's essence.

Mankind is wicked. Mankind does not have to do anything to become wicked. By the very fact of being human, a person is wicked beyond measure. A wicked person cannot have God's true love, they can only have lust, at best. There are several types of lusts

  • the lust of the flesh
  • the lust of eye
  • the pride of life,
  • and many sub-categories within each.

It matters not what type of lust, or what degree of lustfulness is demonstrated, it is still wickedness.

Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Some may say, "Yes, that was true before the flood, but the flood took care of that problem."

That would be a nice thought, but according to the Bible, wickedness is still the condition of the natural person. That is the condition of the natural person before salvation. And that is the condition of a believer after salvation when they are not walking in the Spirit.

Genesis 8:21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma (of Noah's sacrifice after they came out of the ark). Then the Lord said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Jerimiah the prophet lived long after Noah. No, the flood did not take care of the full and complete wickedness of mankind.

The facts remains:

  • God is love and is incapable of acting in any manner other than love.
  • Mankind is wicked and is incapable of acting in any manner other than wickedness, and is totally void of Divine Love.

Who God Is and Isn’t

Who God is will determine what God does.
What God does will reveal a great deal about Who God is.

Christ not only established those facts as spiritually true, He invited us to examine His works. Because of that examination, we can believe Who He is because of the facts of what He has done.

John 14:11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

Mankind thinks of the works of God mostly as the creation of the universe, along with the creatures and nature within that universe. There are basically five general views of the existence of matter and the things composed of matter known as nature:

  • Nature is eternal and its forms have existed forever with only minor environmental changes.
  • Matter has existed forever, but its present form has been a result of self-development.
  • Matter is eternal, but its present arrangement and order is the work of a higher being or power referred to, by some, as a god.
  • Matter and the universe have evolved out of nothing.
  • Matter is created. This creation was caused, designed and directed by the engendering power of God for a specific purpose.

There are innumerable combinations of those five concepts of the origin of matter and the universe. However, these five categories pretty well summarize the thoughts of mankind as to the beginnings of all things material and physical. The five categories, with the exception of #4, have some reason and show the better part of human logic. However, except for #5, none of those categories give any explanation of how that matter began. The basics of the scientific aspect of cause and effect can be summarized in three areas, with many sub-areas within each:

  • Every effect must have a cause.
  • Every effect is dependent upon its cause for its existence.
  • Nature or the first cause cannot produce itself.

By man's conclusions from his own logic, mankind has condemned themselves. The Bible also concludes that:

  • You sin - you die. Whatever you sow, you reap (cause & effect)
  • We are dependent on the Creator for our existence (effect dependent upon its cause)
  • We didn't produce ourselves by our own will or by chance (nature cannot produce itself)

To assert that anything has caused itself to exist, is to maintain that it acted before it existed. Of course, that would be total absurdity. Yet, many intelligent, but morally blind people hold to that view, without shame. Non-existence cannot gender existence.

The atheists, who say that there is no God, are compelled to conclude, whether knowingly or not, that matter is eternal, therefore self-existent. Thereby, making matter their eternal god. Atheism is a religion with a god of nature or matter. The assertion of the atheists that creation of matter by a self-existent Being would be impossible, is based on the human observation that creation of matter is impossible by mankind. An observation to which the Bible agrees. By that conclusion, the atheists assert that mankind is the highest form of intelligent life. Therefore, they conclude that creation cannot happen because mankind is not capable of doing so.

Unless a person is willing to accept that matter is self-existent, and therefore the supreme force of all, that person must accept, that a self-existent Being created, ordered and sustains all things.

If that is our conclusion, and it is the only reasonable and logical conclusion, then the questions follow:

  • Who is the supreme Being?
  • What is His character?
  • What control does this supreme Being have over His creation?
  • Did this supreme Being bring these things into existence with purpose, and is there purpose beyond the act of creation?" "
  • What is this supreme Being like, and how does He treat and relate to His created beings?, etc.

Incorporated in that last question is the subject of our study; The Love of God, what is it, what it's like, how does it function, etc.? To understand a characteristic or attribute of God, we must understand the Person of God. Taking far too little time, let’s do a very quick review of some of the basic facts of the Person of God

Trinity

God is three persons, yet only one God. We refer to this union as the Godhead, or the Trinity.

The Trinity is composed of these Three: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These are names or descriptive titles taken by the members of the Godhead. These names have to do primarily with God's relationship with mankind, and especially in the area of redemption.

Essence

The members of the Godhead, even though distinct in person and work, are all one in essence. I have listed some of the aspects of the essence of God. God is:

God is Sovereign
one that exercises supreme, permanent authority

God is Righteous
upright, virtue, without guilt

He is Holy
the opposite of and apart from all that is evil or wrong

He is Just
moral rightness in action and attitude

He is Love
non-egocentric tenderness, affection and kinship

He is Eternal Life
always existed and always will: the ultimate source of all life

He is Omniscient
is all-knowing, literally the source of all knowledge

He is Omnipresent
is present everywhere at all times

He is Omnipotent
has and is the source of all power

He is Immutable
does not change

He is Absolute Truth
true in motive, thought, and action; the source of all truth

These are just a few of the characteristics or aspects of the essence of God. We will not study them individually, now. Please understand, God does not just do these things, He is these things. God cannot do or act except when all of these aspects of His essence are in perfect harmony. God cannot act in love, except when that act of love is in perfect harmony with His righteousness & justice, etc.

Man's Creation and Act of God's Love

God created mankind in love while all the time that act of creation was in perfect harmony with His righteousness, justice, and the rest of His essence. In His love, God made humanity like Himself. That likeness was a shadow image, a full study in itself!

God personally breathed into Adam the breath of life, and said that what He had done was very good. God, in love, gave mankind all that they could possible need or want. Yet, mankind chose to turn away from being and living in the likeness of God, to fulfilling their own wants.

Once mankind chose to no longer be and live as the shadow image of God, but instead, to gratify the very human or earthy desires of their flesh, mankind became deprived of all that was godly and eternal, leaving only the corruptible and mortal. Mankind, in the natural state, is the very opposite of all that God is.

After the sin in the Garden, there was no longer any hint of godliness in the human life. Instead, they became hopelessly depraved, and without any godlikeness. In this mortal state, their physical and moral condition could only deteriorate further and further into corruption.

The only eternal aspect (the breath of God or soul) of this depraved life was waiting its final corruption, the Second Death or eternity in the Lake of Fire.

God’s Love toward Us

God loved and wanted mankind back in fellowship with Him, but God cannot act in love apart from the perfect harmony of His justice and righteousness. God's righteousness and justice demanded that sin and disobedience be properly punished and paid for.

John 3.16 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.

What does this agape love, God’s love, look like?

God so loved the world that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to accept sin's penalty, and make the payment for my sins and yours. God the Son, Who was holy, omnipotent, omnipresent, just and so much more, became sin for me. He Who had never known sin, willingly took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.

God the Son, Who for all eternity had been one with the Godhead, experienced total separation and loneliness, because God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit had to turn their backs on, or reject Jesus because He had taken upon Himself my sins.

There on that cross, God's righteousness and justice met in perfect harmony with His love. Therefore, God was free to love the world, which includes you.

This is agape love. If your actions are any less than that, then don't claim, from your own sinful pride, that you are acting in agape love!

This love is oh so precious! Please don't throw the term agape around in an effort to justify your carnal actions. When I hear speakers and read authors who carelessly use this term as though it were a toy to be played with, or a goal to be achieved, I become broken hearted.

Don't claim any part of your actions to be remotely associated with agape, unless you're living is honest, godly, and your love equals that of God's. To make a claim that your love is agape, when it does not measure up to God's love, is blasphemy.

Romans 8:31-35 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

The Riches of God’s Glory

Over and over again in his prayer for the Ephesians, Paul uses these phrases: The Love of God, The Love of Christ, Love as Christ loved us, etc. Therefore, we had better know what love is, and how we can love like Christ. So, let's put it in high gear and run over some facts that are essential, if we are to have a clear spiritual understanding of our topic, The Love of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

This granting of the privilege to know and comprehend God's love is based on God's riches, strengthening the inner man, and being rooted and grounded in love.

We must be granted the privilege of knowing the love of Christ by God v.16. Any granting of a spiritual privilege, blessing, gift, etc, by God is always based on certain criteria, or conditions being met either wholly by God, or by the person receiving such, with empowering from God to do so. Here, we see God grants this rooting and strengthening (so that we may know His love) according to the riches of His glory.

Most spiritual blessings received by a believer after salvation are based on that believer fulfilling some condition through the provision and enabling of God. If you, as a believer, do not meet those conditions by the empowering grace of God, you will suffer eternal loss. No, you will not lose your eternal salvation, but neither will your loss be insignificant.

Look God square in His eyes, and allow Him to transmit this truth from His Word to your mind, if it is not already established there.

Our Responsibility

Strengthened in the Inner Man

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Please note several things in this passage that relate to our subject at hand. Each believer is building. The structure we are building is none less than the temple of God. That temple is our lives (vv.16-17), which includes body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This building process, and the building are not trite matters. Verse 17 tells us that if we defile this temple, God will destroy us. This is not a maybe, it is an absolute.

defile (Greek)
to shrivel, wither, spoil and decay, the word is associated with Autumn when plants stop growth, output and the production of the plants fall to the ground to rot

This Greek word is used 8 times in the New Testament, and is associated with the improper use of the Scriptures in one's own life, or through teaching.

destroy (Greek)
the exact same Greek word as defile.

Why did the translators use two English words for this one Greek word? I don't know! This type of Biblical translation sometimes makes for more enjoyable reading but it also makes real Bible study from the English translations more difficult. More and more we see a style of Biblical translation directed toward selling books, rather than the ease of study and understanding.

Let’s look at and understand a truth declared here that will help solve a nagging problem that is not directly associated with our subject of the morning. First, get the principle firmly in your mind.

If you defile your body, the temple of God, (literally allow your spiritual growth to stop, shrivel, decay or fall into ruin) then God will continue the process that you willingly and deliberately started of your own volition. (1 Corinthians 3:17)

Remember, it is the same Greek word for defiles and destroy in v 17. Please, read the verse again, with that in mind. If you start the process, God will cause it to continue until you meet certain criteria. In this case, that criteria was building properly, using the right materials, and building on the foundation of Christ.

This principle is not a brand new principle starting with 1 Corinthians. It was true in the Garden of Eden with the first humans. God said that they could eat of every tree in the Garden except the fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then God stated this principle before mankind ever sinned. God said, "You eat, you die."

It was true with Israel when they came into the Land. God told them, that while in the Land: If they obeyed, they would be blessed. If they disobeyed, they would be cursed. All through the Old Testament and the New Testament this principle is stated and demonstrated in many, many ways. What you sow, you reap. This is God's mode of operation. It never changes.

You start it, God will finish it. We see this principle at work when we remember Pharoh in his encounters with Moses. Some ask, “How could a just God harden the heart of Pharaoh?”

In most cases, God provides the conditions or criteria that, if followed, will stop and often reverse what you started. God can turn cursing to blessing, but only as we follow in obedience what God has provided. We could spend a lot of time here, but I want to show you how the study of one portion will help in the understanding of many other portions.

1 Samuel 6:6 Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?

Well, how ‘bout that? Pharaoh and the Egyptian people started it, and God finished it! It shouldn't seem strange, or confusing if you have rightly divided the Scriptures, correct?

Please remember that no one portion of Scripture can be interpreted of itself, alone, without all the rest of the Scriptures in perfect harmony.

2 Peter 1:19-21 We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private (of its own) interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

These hardening-of-the-heart types of manmade problems would be clear and understandable to us, if we first understood the person and essence of God. We wouldn't have these types of Biblical problems, if the teachers of the Word of God made sure that all they taught, agreed perfectly with all Scripture. Some sincere, and often very good person teaches something, other than the pure Word of God in harmony, and some honest person follows those teachings, and both fall into the spiritual ditch together.

Matthew 15:13-14 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

It behooves us to be very careful what we plant and how we teach. Who are you teaching now? The ones that "fall into the ditch" with you, may be your friends, or they may very well be your own children! Teaching is not just the words you say, but the life and attitude you live before others.

I wish we could forever lose the phrase, "Give me a chapter-'n-verse to prove your point". If we would stop trying to prove what some human said, and study diligently to see what the Bible says of itself, we could learn so much, and would not have to spend time correcting improper teaching and putting out Biblical brush fires.

There is no manmade theory, or theology that is worth trying to prove or disprove. The purpose of both, theories and theologies, should only be to shed light on, and bring understanding to the Scriptures. Neither should divide believers into the camps of Paul or Apollos or Cephas (1 Corinthians 3) or Calvin or.... well, the list is quite long.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 says, that if you don't meet the criteria, you will:

  • not receive the granting of certain blessings, and
  • will lose a lot;
    • by being revealed as a hypocrite before all
    • through the loss of eternal rewards
    • by God continuing the defiling and destroying process you started
2 Corinthians 5:9-11 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well-known to God, and I also trust are well-known in your consciences.

Here, Paul gives us another warning to meet certain criteria to be well pleasing to Christ. The result of not meeting the criteria, is experiencing the terror of the Lord.

This terror or fear is not just something that God causes. It is instead, more of Who and What God is, or His essence. This fear, as used here, belongs to or is part of God and should motivate us either by dread of not meeting the criteria, or motivate us by the joy of fulfilling the criteria set forth by such a glorious God. However, it would be pretty hard, in a short phrase, to give both a complete meaning of the portion and an accurate word for word Greek to English translation.

This word terror, as used in the phrase terror of the Lord, could mean several things depending on context, use, etc.:

  • it can be the terror or fear that belongs to, or is of God, His essence.
  • it can be the terror or fear that we should give to God, because He deserves such respect, our worship.
  • it can be the terror or fear that should permeate a life because God will judge every person's works, God is the final Judge and that judgment will be in righteousness, justice, holiness, etc.
  • it can be all of the above, plus more
2 Corinthians 5:9-11 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well-known to God, and I also trust are well-known in your consciences.

By the context of 2 Corinthians 5, knowing about the Judgment Seat of Christ and that God will judge according to their works, as Paul wrote to them earlier in the first epistle, should have persuaded these believers to properly live with others in the Body, and to properly care for one's own temple of God, their lives.

Mankind, even believers must be persuaded to live in harmony with the total of Christ's essence, of which each believer is a part by virtue of being in the Body of Christ. This type of living does not come naturally, and it takes a great deal of persuading to bring a person to the point of willingness to do so.

On the other hand, God's actions must and will be in perfect harmony with all of His essence. Therefore, if we are to be granted the privilege of knowing the deep things of God, we must be in harmony with Christ and Christ's Body, of which we are a part. These things must be true, if we are to "know this love of God which passes knowledge" v.19.

Colossians 3:9-11 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

When we are not in harmony with Christ's essence and other members of His Body, we do damage to the whole body, and to our personal temple, or our part of the Body Christ. Paul demonstrates this principle, in Colossians 3:9-11, by the act of lying to one another, living in falsehood or hypocrisy.

Lying to one another drains the spiritual strength from the inner man.

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

This granting of the privilege to know and comprehend God's love is based on God's riches, strengthening the inner man, and being rooted and grounded in love. To have this grant, from God to know His love, requires these three criteria. If we drain the spiritual strength from our inner man through speaking and living a lie or being a hypocrite in our motives, we have failed in one third of the criteria needed to receive this grant from God to "know the love of Christ". If we are not living by 1/3 of a divine command, then I'd say we are living in a carnal state. Would you agree with God on that point?

Rooted and Grounded in God’s Love

1 Timothy 1:4-7 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

In 1 Timothy 1:4-7, we have another list of three criteria that must be met, if we are to know the purpose of the commandment. That purpose is love: agape, or God's love. This knowing is not simply to be cognizant of the fact, but to be experiencing the fact. As we saw earlier concerning the defiling of our Temple of God, these have in a similar manner failed to meet the criteria set forth.

These people strayed from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. They deliberately turned aside to idle talk. Therefore, they don't even know or understand what they teach, or what they are confirming to others as true. That sounds like false teachers. Would you agree with God on that point?

There are many God given lists of criteria throughout the New Testament. It would be a good exercise for your personal time, as you are reading and studying the Word of God, to look at these lists of criteria and place them in an orderly manner within these three:

  • God's riches
  • strengthening the inner man
  • being rooted and grounded in love

There certainly would not be anything wrong with making other categories of criteria. However, for ease of study, these three make a very good file cabinets for all the others.

Let’s look to see what 1 John 4, a Biblical love chapter, says about love. As you read, please apply the information you have already learned concerning God's love. If you have only learned a small portion of the teaching on the Love of God, this passage will mean a great deal more than before we examined these things. If you missed those truths, this passage will seem to have many contradictions.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;

Love has only one source, and love is an inseparable part of God.

1 John 4:7b-8 and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

To be able to show real love, a person must be born again. However, there are many born again believers who do not know this love by experiencing it on a continual basis.

1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

The greatest manifestation of God's Love was seen in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ. The purpose of that manifestation of God's Love was not just as a fire escape from Hell. The purpose of the manifestation of God's Love went way beyond that fact, to having life abundant through Christ. This part of the purpose is sadly ignored by many believers. Even when we do give a little thought to this abundant life, we seem to think it means living without cares, pressure, commitment, holiness, truthfulness etc.

1 John 4:10 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.

It is important that we notice and live by the progression of this Love of God. Our response to God's love is to be a response. Our response is not to give our love to God (we have nothing worthy of God to give), but we are to give to God the same love with which God loved us. We are to pass, or reflect God's love back to Him. We, first must be experiencing, or knowing this Love of God, then, we can respond to God by agape. Our love of God and to God is not our own. Our response to God's Love is to be God's love reflected or mirrored back to God.

When we try to drum-up a love response to God from our own being, it is nothing more than passion. It is pure human emotion. No different than the emotional response to a sad and/or happy movie, a ball game, a tragedy, etc. That type of response is not agape. It matters not what motive brings about that emotional response, or where it takes place, it is pure human passion or lust.

The Christian community has moved so far from the realities of Christian living that they are desperate to try to produce something they think might be like real Christianity.

If you write study material for some of the major religious publishing houses today, you will be instructed, among other things, to write in such a way as to evoke emotion, and please don't use a lot of Scriptures, because Scriptures take up a lot of precious space.

The truths of God found in the Word of God are emotional, but when we deliberately try to work-up, or evoke emotion so the unsaved and/or believers will be drawn near to Christ, it is not of God. If it is not of God, I will leave it up to your discretion as from where or from whom it precedes.

Christ said that if He would be lifted up, then all men would be drawn to Him. Christ was lifted-up, and all have been or will be drawn to Him. All have been drawn to Him, not necessarily for accepting Him as Savior, but drawn to Him. Those who do not come to Him in adoration in this life, will come before Him in fearful adoration at the judgment. This fact of lifting Christ up has application far beyond the physical cross, even though that is the main application of the passage.

The only proper display of emotion, or love to God comes as a result of seeing Who Christ really is, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. These truths and many more will be brought out in this Love Chapter. We will not have time to point to all of those truths as we move through this passage. However, we will glance at several, and I encourage you to read and re-read this portion many times over with the understanding given by the Holy Spirit.

Before we move on, please understand that contrived emotion is at best only from the soul of a depraved nature. That emotional response may be pleasant and even life changing. But that change in life, brought about by human emotion, is not the transformation spoken of by the Holy Spirit in Romans 12, and elsewhere.

Let's face it, the bombing in Oklahoma City, the shootings in the schools, etc. bring great emotional feelings. For some, the emotion evoked by these circumstances brought life changing results. However, the spiritual transformation of the Bible starts only when a person truly sees God for Who He is, and sees one's self for who they really are, and reflects that back to God.

Human emotions will be involved in our proper love to God, but only as these emotions follow and are incorporated in the reflection of God's love, not the other way around.

Moses was transformed, even in his physical being, while with God for those 40 days on Mount Sinai. The transformation, or glowing face, was a result of being in the presence of a holy God, not by or through his own emotions. The tablets of stone were broken as a result of the emotions of Moses, not the love of God. Let me tell you, there are a lot of commands of God broken because of our human emotions.

When we see Christ for Who He is and we see ourselves for what we are, the emotions and the changes that follow will be real. We could point to Biblical illustration after Biblical illustration of this truth, but let's look at just one illustration from the Scriptures. Isaiah experienced seeing Christ high and lifted up. That experience a changed his life, his ministry, his motive, etc.

Isaiah 6:2-5 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

This was not some contrived, evoked, emotional atmosphere. This was reality. Notice at the same time Isaiah saw Who God was, and he saw what he was.

He didn't make excuses for what he said. He didn't try to explain it away. He didn't try to blame someone else. He didn't try to make himself look better by manipulation of the facts. etc. Those things are lies that drain the spiritual strength from the inner man. What Isaiah did is called true confession, or saying the same thing God says about the facts.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

True confession plugs the drain so the spiritual strength will not be lost from the inner man. Confession to man or God does not produce spiritual strength, it just stops the continual loss, and puts us back in fellowship with Christ and His Word. In that condition we can be strengthened in the inner man.

Many Christians will never see Who Christ is, high and lifted up this side of eternity, because they spend their time and energy trying to lift themselves up. As long as we spend our time and energy trying to make ourselves look good, our efforts and our pride will block our view of Who Christ really is. Please don't try to build-up or evoke some emotion in an effort to imitate the real-thing.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us [and He did], we also ought to love one another [all inclusive].

My Christian friend. If you are not loving others, you are not experiencing God's love, and you are not loving God, you are only in love with yourself.

1 John 4:12-16 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Notice the conditional phrase, "if we love one another.." then.. There is way too much in this portion to even mention, but notice loving others brings assurance that we are abiding in Christ. If we are not loving others in the way Christ loves them, we are not abiding in Him!

1 John 4:17-18 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

We have already looked at this fact, but it cannot be emphasized too much. Unless you are living in and experiencing God's love now, you should have fear of the Judgment. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you need not fear the loss of your salvation. However, there is so much you can lose, and it will be lost for eternity.

1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Who God is will determine what God does.
What God does will reveal a great deal about Who God is.

Love

Too often, we think of God's Love in association with, and compared by human love. Even the best of human love does not hold a candle to God's love. Humans think of love as a relationship, i.e. "I love someone and they, in turn, love me back". From a human perspective we speak of: being in love, having love for another, rejected love, passionate love, Love triangle, it was love at first sight, and the list goes on and on. When we speak of human love, it is in reference to some thing , some force , some emotion.

Human love is something we do, say, feel, think, etc. Humans fall in love, and fall out of love. Love is something we give or withhold. We speak about a person who is easy to love, and someone who is lovable. We speak of a person, and say that their love is growing. The Bible speaks of people who lost their first love.

If we were to try to give a definition to human love, it would take page after page to describe this thing we call love, because love is many things. Love to one person is different than love to another person. We could use illustration after illustration of the acts of love, but when we were through, we would be no closer to having a definitive definition of love than when we first started.

Webster, in his dictionary, makes an attempt to define love. After all, that's what he's paid to do, you know. Even after he went on and on for a column or so, you really don't have a good handle on this thing called love from any of the many different shades of meanings.

love (Webster)
the attraction, desire, or affection for a person who arouses delight or admiration or elicits tenderness, sympathetic interest or benevolence

There you have it! Webster's #1 definition of love. It sounds more like a romantic sitcom that a definition of love. Webster, in his dictionary, does go on with some 20-30 more shades of meanings of this word love. Even putting all those shades of meanings together in one pile, they still do not give us a good handle on love. About the 7th on Webster's list seems to summed up the whole process of trying to define love.

love (Webster #7)
a score of zero, (in tennis and other games).

That is usually what we do when we try to describe love, we score zero. We strike out. We get a big goose egg. That may be taking Webster's definition out of context, but if some so called theologians can take a portion of Scripture out of context, then it should be all right to take definitions out of context, shouldn't it? No, it's not right to take either a definition or Scripture out of context. Nonetheless, as I was reading down the dictionary lists of meanings, it just struck me as appropriate, and a little humorous.

Even the fact or act of human love is far beyond the definitive comprehension of a human mind. That being the case with human love, can you understand how much more incomprehensible God's love is to the human mind? Like it or not, we humans equate love with such things as sex, passion, romance, desire, etc. (as was indicated in Webster's definition).

I've had young people, and sometimes not so young people come to me, and tell me they would like to get married. In the process of that conversation, I have a standard question I ask. "Why? Why do you want to get married?" Usually, the couple has a standard answer for that standard question, and it is: "Because we are in love!" There have been times when circumstances other than love was driving them to marriage. After the couple gives me this glowing and somewhat giddy response of "Because we are in love", then comes the zinger. I ask them, "What do mean? What is love?"

After they stumble around for a while with no real answer, I tell them that they probably aren't really in love, but that's all right! With the right preparations and determination they can probably approach the beginning of love after about 25 years of marriage. I go on to tell them that is one reason why they need pre-marriage counseling.

Many people go all through life and are never in love. Some people never learn to love, and some people never know the security of being loved. Some of you may have spent most of your married life without being in love. It breaks my heart to see so many Christians who know very little about giving and receiving even human love, to say nothing of divine or God's love. We have too often, as Webster did, equated love as desire, attraction, arousal, or passion.

Let me tell you, you don't have to have passion to have love. Passion is not love, and love is not passion. You can be in love and have great passion. However, if you try to get love through passion, you only have lust in its worst form. Because of this human mind-set, it is next to impossible to understand love, real love, God's Love. When humans talk or joke about love, it has little if anything to do with holiness. As a matter of fact, to the human mind, the greater the un-holiness the better the love. That is, if TV and the movies tell us anything.

The Bible gives definition to love, real love.

1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

That is about as definitive as you can get: God is Love. Therefore, as we learn about Who God is, or His essence, we will know more about the love of God. The Bible not only tells us what love is, it tells us how we are to love.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

All aspects of God's essence are important. However, the Word of God does not instruct us to emulate or reflect all aspects of God's essence. We are instructed to emulate or reflect God's essence in love, holiness, truthfulness, etc.

God cannot demonstrate any aspect of His essence, without that aspect being in perfect harmony with all other aspects of His essence. Likewise, we cannot emulate or reflect any aspect of His essence, unless we are living in harmony with all other aspects of God's essence that we are instructed to emulate and reflect.

We are to love as Christ loved, and our living and conduct, which includes love is to be in holiness, because God is holy (1 Peter 1:13-15).

Joshua 24:18-20 "And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, even the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord , for He is our God." 19 But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.
Psalms 99:9 Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.
1 Peter 1:13-15 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

God is holy. God is love. God is truth.

Truth

These must be in harmony, if God is to act by any one of: love, holiness or truth. Likewise, the believer cannot emulate or reflect love, real love when in a state of unholiness or truthlessness.

We can't take the time to establish each of these facets by a step by step study of the Scriptures. A reasonable study of God's essence would take a year or so of weekly lessons. Even then we couldn't chase each detail through the entire Bible. Therefore in this series we will only look at some of the more obvious aspects, and take a look at God's essence in general.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

This verse is taken from the account of Balaam and Balak (Numbers 22-24). We wouldn't dare take the time to replay this account. If we did, that would be the end of this lesson. On the other hand, if this account is tucked away in your memory, it can shed a lot of light on this statement.

Notice the negative approach the Holy Spirit uses to this subject. A popular humanistic approach to spiritual things is that of approaching everything from the positive. We must not be negative, you know. It is nice to have that power of positive thinking, so we can see and present everything through rose colored glasses, even if it has nothing to do with reality.

That approach is all right for a pep rally, but if you are going to teach or read the Word of God, you had better be prepared for many negative approaches. The first recorded words of God to mankind, even before sin, leaves a negative taste in the academic mind, and leaves a big dent in the self-image.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

Now, surely an all knowing God could have put that in a positive context, so that Adam could have roamed through the Garden with a healthy self-esteem. The next recorded words of God are negative, also.

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

For the Holy Spirit to teach spiritual things that are beyond the human mind, He must start with what the human knows. What humans know naturally, is almost always negative compared to the spiritual. Therefore, God starts with the very familiar negative position of mankind, and leads to the spiritual, which is unknown and positive. Some want nothing more than religious fluff. They don't want to start in the slime pit of mankind's daily life and be instructed and empowered by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God to move from that carnality to spirituality.

Many want to have only nice thoughts, and by those nice thoughts to elevate themselves to positions of heavenly grandeur. But the Holy Spirit says that there is nothing spiritually good or nice in the nature of mankind, and that no person, on their own, is capable of achieving spiritual things. The Holy Spirit tells us that the very essence of mankind is spiritually corrupt, and there is nothing of spiritual value in any of their actions, thoughts or motives.

Romans 3:9-17 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one." 13 "Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 and the way of peace they have not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

You know, I can't find very much in this passage that is positive, except, I'm positive that everything about the natural human is worse than negative. Humanity in essence is as different from and as far away from holiness as can it be. That is the best positive spin I can put on it.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

There are a number of factors in this passage that apply to God's essence, and the essence of mankind. We want to look at one of these aspects, and build on it.

God is not a man, that He should lie...

God is Truth

In contrasting what God is not, by comparing Him to mankind, the Holy Spirit points out an integral part of the essence of mankind, also. Humans, by their very nature, are liars! That is the opposite of the nature of God, or it is what God is not.

Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
Hebrews 6:17-18 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

God in His essence is truth or veracity. God doesn't just speak the truth, God is truth. What God says or does is more than just right and true, it is truth. Nothing that God does or says is anything less than truth. On the opposite end of that spectrum is antithesis of all that God is Satan.

John 8:43-44 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

There is so much in this passage, as there is in any of words of Christ. The great doctrinal truth of Satan and his nature is in the setting of a common complaint concerning Biblical truth, both in Christ's day and to this very time. These religious leaders could not understand the teaching. Therefore, it was the fault of the Teacher. In some cases, that could be true. But in this case, the Teacher was the Lord Jesus Christ. The problem of lack of understanding was not the material, nor the presentation, and certainly not the Presenter.

The problem lay with those receiving the teaching, and their inability to listen, or to hear with understanding. This was an internal problem, within the hearers. As Christ explains this situation, He gives great insight into the nature of mankind and Satan, along with many other lessons.

These religious leaders could not listen with understanding to what Christ said, not because of their lack of information, but because of a lack of equipment. They did not have the One and Only spiritual Hearing Aid, the Holy Spirit.

We know from the Scriptures that the things of God are only understood, or discerned by spiritual perception. That spiritual perception comes only through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2). These religious leaders did not have or were not willing to have the ministry of the Holy Spirit. These religious leaders had only the nature and perceptive ability of their spiritual father the Devil.

Our Two Natures

I realize that this next bit of information and its application is out of order as far as teaching protocol is concerned. However, for the protocol of time, I'm going to stick it in here, and ask you to remember it, and apply it at the proper time.

As believers, we have both the spiritual nature of God through the new birth, and we also have the spiritual nature of Satan through the natural birth. There are many Scripture passages that bear this out. You have heard and hopefully know some of them.

As a believer with these two natures, we can choose by our volition to allow one or the other to power our perception. Only one of these natures can be in control of our mind at any one time. If we are living and thinking by our old nature, we will not be able to understand or perceive the truths of God's Person or His essence.

I want to point out the two most prominent features of Satan's nature, and they are opposite of God's nature. Those features are self-pride and truthlessness. Truthlessness, or lying, is the result of self-pride. Satan's self-pride was derived from desiring to be someone other than who God made him, and to have a position other than God had given him. Humility is the recognition and acceptance of who and what we are in Christ. Self-pride is the rejection of the same, along with the attitude that I am worth more than what people or God see in me. (Romans 12:3)

These two features of Satan's nature (self-pride & truthlessness) are also the two most prominent driving forces of the human nature. If these two features of the human nature are in the driver's seat of your life, then you are allowing the desires and resources of Satan to control your life (John 4:43-44).

The only positive thing we can say about this situation is that we are to put to death the works of the flesh, and live spiritually. Otherwise, you are dead to any real spiritual activity or knowledge.

Romans 8:12-13 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Colossians 3:4-10 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you also once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

We will not take time to study these passages. However, please notice at least one truth brought out here. In verses 6 and 8, Paul lists some of works of the flesh. Then he sums up all of these works of the flesh into a package or an effect. That one effect is the basic nature of Satan: the quality or attribute of lying.

Satan is Truthlessness

John 8:43-44 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

A question for you. If the Devil is controlling a person by his (the Devil's) desires and resources, should that be considered as gross sin?

If a person was being controlled by the desires and resources of the Devil, would that be considered the height of carnality, or maybe we should say the depths of carnality? Should a person in that condition be allowed to teach the precious Word of God, or participate in the Holy Service of the King of all kings, the God of all gods? Satan, after all, is the number one enemy of God and His word. That we all agree upon.

In the light of that fact, or should we allow the main destructive weapon of Satan to be operative within the work and service of God? There would be an outcry if we allowed a person to teach the Word of God while living in open sin (and there should be).

If the above is true, what about those gross inward sins? Is it all right to live in gross sin as long as it doesn't show on the outside?

Notice a couple of other facts in the passage of John 8:43-44 that are very important to our subject of today. We know from Scripture, that the fact and act of not recognizing or respecting the truth of the position of God, and his own position were the main factors in Satan becoming a liar. It was because of not standing in the truth that he attempted to dethrone or become above God. He wanted a position that was not his. Satan was being controlled by and was demonstrating his self-pride.

Therefore, in an attempt to obtain this position for himself, he destroyed or murdered one third of the angels. The human mind thinks of murder as killing the physical body. However, in the spirit realm murder has nothing to do with the physical. The motive for this murder was self-pride, and the weapon of this murder was The Lie. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that Satan fathered the lie.

Satan convinced one third of the angels to also leave the truth, thereby destroying their person or position as angels of God. Those angels and Satan will spend all of eternity in the Lake of Fire which God prepared for the Devil and his angels. This Lake of Fire is called by God the Second Death.

Satan tried, and is continually trying, to destroy God and God's work, so that he, Satan, can have what he thinks he wants, instead of standing or staying in the truth of God concerning where God placed him and remaining as who God had made him. Therefore, all that Satan does and is, is a lie, or probably better stated, all that he is and does is truthlessness. Satan, his work and his nature are void of any truth.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Remember that Satan's basic false motive was to have a position that was not his, and to be something that he was not (Self-pride). In like manner, these of 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 were those who did not live in the truth or stand in the truth of their God given position. Like these in Paul's time (2 Corinthians 11:12) who desired to be as Paul, the false apostles of today want the position of someone else, but fail to live properly in the position God has placed them. Therefore, they, like Satan, are workers of deceit untruth, and are false apostles. These false apostles, like Satan, falsely cloak, or sell themselves as angels of light.

This illustration that Paul gave us in 2 Corinthians 11:12 and following, is played out time and time again in churches today. Someone wants to be the music director, so they destroy or kill the reputation of the one who is. Someone wants to be the youth leader, the pastor, the Sunday School teacher, etc, or they just don't like the other person. So they duplicate Satan's desires or essence using Satan's resources (instead of emulating or reflecting the essence of Christ). Both Satan's desires and resources are void of truth.

Once we are void of truth in our motive, then all that we do, say or think will be a lie or truthlessness. When truth ceases to be an issue, then the only thing that matters is accomplishing our purpose (self-pride). Therefore, The end justifies the means, even if it is the destruction of God's purpose.

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

In this passage, Paul describes the mode of operation of Satan in the last days, and he is quick to point out that Satan's mode of operation is even at work today, and it will intensify in those last days.

This mode of operation is according to the workings (operation) of Satan. Then the Holy Spirit through Paul points our several aspects of Satan's workings (operation). However, He points out one of those aspects several times and from several different directions. The aspect that the Holy Spirit repeatedly brings to our attention in this passage is lying or truthlessness. Look again at the phrases bolded in the passage above.

I'm afraid that most of us are more interested in the power and signs that Satan is going to use and is now using, than we are in the truth. However, the Holy Sprit only mentioned each of those once, but this matter of truth and lies, He mentioned at least 5 times.

To any reasonable thinking person, they would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is more interested in the truth and lack of falsehood than He is in power and signs. It might be a good idea if we, too, took more interest in the subjects that God is most interested in.

Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
1 Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
Revelation 22:15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

These and many other passages give us lists of some of the worst sins. In many of those lists of worst sins, we find that innocent little Christian sin of not living and/or speaking the truth. If the Holy Spirit puts together a list of things, such as sins, and made no distinction as to the degree of each sin in the passage or anywhere else, then I would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit regards those sins as pretty much on the same par.

It is high time that we as Christians began to realize and act according to the facts that God hates lying, truthlessness is the very essence of Satan, God cannot act in love except He also act in perfect harmony with truth we cannot emulate, and reflect God's love if we have truthlessness in our lives

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.

In that list of hated things by God, twice we see the mention of lying or truthlessness, and the comparisons could continue.

Are you committed to the lie of Satan, or the Truth of God?

Man’s Choice

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Christianity would be less than a run-of-the-mill religion. Our Savior, Founder, and Sustainer of Christianity is not a dead leader. He is actively involved in every aspect of Christianity. He is alive eternally, and because he conquered death, we too will have life everlasting.

Our Eternal Life is not just eternal as to duration, but Eternal in quality. The real quality of eternal (without beginning or end) is only possessed by the Godhead. Life Eternal is an inseparable aspect of God's essence.

If Jesus Christ had not become a human, yet without diminished deity, and had not made a full payment for the sins of the world on the Cross and rose triumphant over death and the grave, you and I could look forward only to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. But Christ did make sin's payment and conquered death.

There were circumstances that brought about the need for such a payment and conquest. The beginning of the human race reveals many of those circumstances. God fashioned the body of the first human from the elements of this earth, the dust. God put His breath in that body and man became a living soul. Through that creative act, God made mankind in the likeness, or shadow image, of Himself.

That first human had within him the spiritual source or likeness of God so he could live like God in holiness. Adam, as he was called, was the first human and the rootstock of all who would follow. All who would be procreated from the line of Adam would have the nature of Adam. Those to follow would not necessarily express that nature as Adam did in every area of living. Their personalities would each be different, but the nature or the source of life and living would all be the same.

This account is well known to most. God took from that first human and made another in likeness or image of Adam. This newer creation, called woman, was taken from within Adam (not the dust) and she was a help comparable to Adam.

Through and because of the breath of God given to mankind in the original creation, the soul or immaterial aspect of each human has everlasting existence. Everlasting existence is different from Eternal Life. Everlasting existence speaks only of the duration. Eternal Life, on the other hand, has reference to the quality and/or source of life, God's life.

The account is far more complicated than this short thumb-nail sketch. Those details are for another time, but for this time, we need the basic concepts to understand the events and purpose surrounding the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead.

Mankind, fresh from the hand of God, had three sources of living, or three different types of life. Each of these had to be in perfect harmony with the others, yet distinct in their function. We learn these facts not from the definition, but by their use in context given by the Holy Spirit throughout the Scriptures.

The physical existence derived its sustenance from the chemical or physical life and was sustained by the food of the Garden of Eden, and later from the food outside the Garden.

The soulish existence derived its sustenance from information, and was designed by God to thrive on the Word of God or truth.

The spiritual existence derived its sustenance from the presence of God, and fellowship with Him.

Genesis 2:7-9 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:15-17 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
Genesis 2:21-24 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

God's made these first humans free of imperfection in any aspect. He also provided all they needed to keep every aspect of their existence in that original state. Remember, mankind was made in the shadow image of God.

God in His essence is sovereign or has the right of choice. Also, He is love, as well as many other aspects that we don't have time to mention. The shadow of God's essence is seen in the soul of mankind.

Genesis 1:27-29 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

God gave mankind the right of choice, or volition, and emotion, or the ability to love. God in His essence has the right of ultimate choice. Mankind, however, has the right of limited choice within the realm given to them for domination by God. The area of human domination was the earth, and everything on it. In Genesis 1:29 the scope of man's food supply is described. (By the way, the scope of the food supply was increased after the flood.)

Look again at the scope of the food supply. It was, basically everything that grows from the earth. That included the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Certainly, those first two humans had the right to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

That was their right of choice from the volition of their God given soul. However, the shadow image of God was not just a matter of rights. There was also that matter of love or emotion. For mankind to demonstrate their love, there had to be the choice or possibility of not loving.

The expression of love has to do with more than personal rights, needs, etc. When that same emotion involved in proper love is turned inward to the wants or desires of self to the exclusion of others, then that emotion is called lust.

1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

Yes, those first humans had their rights. However, in that first Garden God also provided all that was needed for them to express and exercise their love. We can talk about, sing about or write about love, but we know that we love when we keep His commandments.

How we demonstrate or talk about our love may be just hot air. Some who admit that they are not Christians, sing, write, and talk about God's love. That does not mean that they are living in and by God's Love.

The real test of love is in the keeping of what God commanded, not singing or talking about what God commanded. When we are keeping God's commands, then our singing, talking and writing, etc. will have real meaning not just words and emotions. In that Garden was all that mankind needed, including what he needed to properly express his love to and for his Creator.

Genesis 2:15-17 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

God gave them a commandment. He did not force them to keep the commandment. He also gave them information concerning what would happen if they disobeyed the command.

In spite of the dire consequences of improper love, God, in justice, respected their volition or right of choice. The Holy Spirit through Paul gives us more insight into the reasons for those (or any) wrong choices, and the consequences of those wrong volitional choices. When we understand even a little about the consequences, then we begin to understand just a little of the why God had to become a man, die and rise again in newness of life. The reason those first two made the wrong choice, and the reason we continue to make wrong choices is found in Romans 2:8 and many other Scriptures.

Romans 2:8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Here is the twofold reason for improper or immoral choices: Self-seeking and not abiding in the truth (Truthlessness.)

Sure enough, those are the same two major aspects of Satan's essence. Isn't it amazing how these truths keep popping up all through the Scriptures? No, not really. The Author of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, is very consistent in His Truth giving, and that truth is progressive and accumulative.

These first two humans chose to place self before God, and to place their own reasoning above God's direct command. Therefore, they chose self-pride or lust over obedience or love.

Consequences

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?

You don't have to be a down-'n-out sinner to be a slave of Satan. All you have to do is not present yourself to God. We are by birth born into slavery to Satan. Therefore, if we are not presenting ourselves to God, we are by nature presenting ourselves to Satan. This is a truth for believers, because non-believers can't present themselves to God. Only those in Christ can present themselves to God.

As soon as that first couple obeyed Satan and their own reasoning, they lost their freedom and became slaves to Satan. Because of that slavery, all that once belonged to the slaves became the property of the slave-owner. As you recall, the earth and all on it was given, by God, to mankind's domination, right after they were created. Among other things that Satan received in the slave transaction was the world, and all that's on it.

Before any descendants were born to that first couple, Adam rejected the spiritual life that God had provided for them so they could continue to live like God. They chose, instead, to follow the instructions or commandments of Satan in an effort to be like God.

What a situation. Adam and his wife became slaves of Satan. Satan then (and still does) possessed all that they had, the earth, and all future procreation by them, or their descendants will be born into this same slavery of Satan. Adding to their dilemma, was the fact of God's command, "In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die (literally -- dying you shall die)."

Remember that mankind, fresh from the hand of God, had three sources of living, or three different types of life. Each of these had to be in perfect harmony with the others, yet distinct in their function.

The physical existence derived its sustenance from the chemical or physical life, and was sustained by the food of the Garden of Eden and later by the food outside the Garden

The soulish existence derived its sustenance from information, and was designed by God to thrive on the Word of God or truth

The spiritual existence derived its sustenance from the presence of God, and fellowship with Him.

Because of the sin of disobedience, mankind became a mortal physically.

mortal (Webster)
subject to death; destined to die.

Humans are referred to as mortals, because all are in the process of dying, some sooner and some later, but all will die.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

Sometimes people ask me how I'm doing. I sometimes respond with, "Quite well, for a person who has that fatal disease called life." Mankind not only died physically, the soul was cut off from its only source of godliness, God and God's Word. Ultimately, that soul will spend all of eternity in the Lake of Fire, called the second death.

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.

Mankind, also, died spiritually. They were "dead in trespasses and sins".

Ephesians 2:1-2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

Mankind, in a very short time, made a mess of themselves and all they possessed. They lost their option of eating from the Tree of Life and living forever. Now they have a terminal physical life span.

They died spiritually (separated from their source of spiritual life), and ultimately would spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Without the restoring qualities of the words of, and fellowship with God, their minds and hearts could only be occupied with wickedness and became totally corrupt. All this, plus all they had, including their own lives, were mortgaged or in slavery to Satan.

Tennessee Ernie Ford used to sing of a miner who after mining 16 tons of coal was deeper in debt than before he started. As a result he owed his soul to the company store. That plight, many times over, was the picture of mankind and this world as a result of self-pride and truthlessness by the parents of the human race.

Reconciliation

To bring things and the human race into reconciliation to God and godliness would require:

  • The payment for all sins.
  • No less than a re-creation of that breath of God (man's soul) now totally depraved of godliness and completely corrupted by evil. This is far more difficult than the first creation, because now God must bring about this new-creation within the old corrupted creation of a person, on a one to one basis.
    You will notice the expressions concerning the first creation were such as: God created by His finger, by His hand, by His word, by His arm, etc. It required the life of God to bring about the Second Creation.
  • The renovation and recreation of the earth and the heaven around it.
  • Doing all of this and more while defeating the enemy of God, Satan and one third of angels who followed him, in the great conflict of the ages.

All of that and more was in motion by God as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of donkey that first Palm Sunday. To have properly laid the foundation for this great event and the ones to follow, would have taken months and months, but I trust that this very brief overview will lend some spiritual light to a seemingly physical transaction.

John 12:12-14 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' The King of Israel!" 14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
Luke 19:36-37 And as He went, they spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
Mark 11:9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

Christ's birth as a hypostatic union of humanity and divinity, was a necessity.

About 30 years before Christ's entry into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, a Roman governor took a count of the lambs slain in Jerusalem for the Passover, and found that the number was right at a quarter of a million. It was a Jewish regulation that there be a party of 10+/- for each Passover lamb. If the regulation was being followed that means that there could have been close to 2,500,000 people in and around Jerusalem at the Passover. The Law required that every adult Jewish male within a radius of 20 miles around Jerusalem come to the city for the Passover. Whatever the head count really was, it matters not. There were a lot of people in and around the city from all parts of the known world. It was an ideal time to announce His Messiahship.

This type of entry was not just a whim. Jesus had prepared ahead for this event with the owner of the donkey and her colt, and had even given him a password so the owner would know the disciples were sent by Christ. When Christ sent the disciples to get the colt and its mother, they were to say "The Master has need of them".

The stage was set for the events of the pivot point of all history to take place. By this entry, Christ would make His final offer to the Jewish nation to be their King and Messiah. The Messiah (the one sent from God) was to restore all things.

It was through this Messiah that the mess that Adam caused in the Garden would be brought back into harmony with God's essence and plan. That Plan of God involved far more than just the well-being of the Jewish nation. God's plan certainly included the Jewish nation, and it was through that nation that God would bring about this restoration all things.

However, these Jews did not realize that the restoration of the Nation of Israel could not take place until after the redemption for all things was provided through the death of the Messiah.

The Jewish people should have known these facts. These facts were told them by most of their prophets, and it was pictured in their temple worship. However, they, like us, were far more interested in the immediate and personal comfort than they were in knowing and participating in the eternal plan of God.

Therefore, the people cried Hosanna. In the Hebrew this means save, we pray or save now. The word can be an utterance of praise, or a cry for help. The people's cry at the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem was taken from Psalms 118, which was recited at the Feast of Tabernacles in the great Hallel recitation of Psalms 113 - 118.

The priest would read a portion of those Psalms, and the people would respond. The people's response was accompanied by the waving of palm and willow branches. The last day of the feast was called the great Hosanna; the boughs also were known hosannas.

Ironically, in their very recitation of this passage, they recited the prophesy of their present actions as a nation, along with God's planned use of their rejection.

Psalm 118:21-26 I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now (hosanna), I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

Christ makes reference to this Psalm in His teaching. The apostles used this fact either directly or indirectly several time in the epistles.

Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the "stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone." 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
1 Peter 2:6-8 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

For the most part these people, on that Palm Sunday, praised the King because they thought He would bring them earthly benefits. Even though they were praising the position of kingliness, they were rejecting the Person of the King, and the program of the King. They, like us, were far more interested in their own little program than the eternal plan of God. Peter in 1 Peter 2:8 gives us the reason they rejected the Person of the King, and stumbled at the fact and program of the King. They were disobedient to the Word of God.

May we be very cautious that we do not find ourselves in the same position on this Palm Sunday, as they did on the all important Palm Sunday, so long ago. They praised the King for what they thought they wanted and He could provide. But they reject the Person for Who He was, and the Plan of God for what it was.

I fear that we, too, will fail to praise and adore the Person of Christ simply for Who He is without selfish strings attached. When I see Christ for Who He is, then the things I want Him to do will be for His benefit, and furtherance of His plan, instead of for my ego, and my comfort.

Acts 3:18-21 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

These in Christ's day, could only imagine a "time of refreshing" if the outward circumstances of the oppression of Rome were removed. I hope we will not ignore God's plan, and think that our comfort is the ultimate end of God's workings.

Too many think that unless they get what they want, then all is despair. Instead, when we see Christ for Who He is, and His plan for what it is, then and only then can we have those "times of refreshing".

Please don't miss the where those "times of refreshing" come from.

You may find times of happiness and pleasure when circumstances are right, or at least you may think you are happy. But the "times of refreshing" can only be experienced from and in the presence of the Lord.

Don't be like these Jews of Christ's time. Peter said that they rejected the Person of Christ because...

1 Peter 2:8 They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

We are to be in a continual process of obedience to the Word. When we are in a continual process of obedience, then we will experience these "times of refreshing". "Times of refreshing" cannot be ours because of some special event or emotional service. It must be a day by day, hour by hour experience.

Living the Love of God

Give No Place to the Devil

Let’s look at some things that would prevent the believer from appropriating that love, or would prevent the believer from demonstrating the Love of God.

Love is a characteristic of God's person, or one aspect of His essence. Love and holiness are inseparable motives and generators of every action of God, and must be in perfect harmony with each other as well as all the rest of God's essence. God cannot act in love unless He is also acting in holiness.

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

The study of the Love of God is an outgrowth of our study in Ephesians. Therefore, we need to go back to our base often. It is here, in chapter 4 of Ephesians, that we find a warning of one of the greatest causes of the believer's inability to appropriate and demonstrate the love of God.

Ephesians 4:20-32 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

In the middle of this great passage, Paul says in Epehsians 4:27, "nor give place to the devil". We need to get the setting or the context of this phrase, to see what it means to "give place to the devil", and most of all, see how we can prevent such an act.

Let's get a running start at v. 20. Paul says, of these people, that they had not learned Christ in that way, but instead they heard Christ (not heard about Christ), and were taught By Christ (not taught about Christ), because the truth is in Jesus. Before we find out about this truth that is in Jesus, we had better go back a little further and see how we should not be taught. To get the clearest picture, we really should make a full review of Ephesians to this point, but that is out of the question.

Ephesians 4:17-19 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Don’t Be Ignorance

The natural person, called the old man in the passage, learns of religious things through the futility of their mind.

futility (Greek)
inutility of transientness flowing from moral depravity

That was perfectly clear, wasn't it? It would be, if we still used those old English words. Let me try to put the definition in more modern terms.

futility (cw expanded)
there is no purpose beyond their aimless moving from one fad to another, this purposeless learning is based on and fueled by a morally depraved nature, totally empty of any spiritual quality

That is the mind-set of the natural man, or the Gentile as referred to in our passage. Their understanding of spirituality is in a total black-out. They couldn't see any spiritual truth if they wanted to, because they have no spiritual light to see it with.

This condition is true because of the spiritual ignorance that is in them. Remember that phrase, “that is in them”? It will be paralleled in the next portion of Scripture. This spiritual ignorance is perpetuated because they are continually hardening their hearts. This continual hardening comes as a result of giving themselves over to the works of the flesh. In a very small nut shell, that is the spiritual or religious learning process of the Gentile, or the natural man, or the old man.

Ephesians 4:20-27 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.

Look again at our passage in Ephesians 4:20 and following. It does not say, this is the way we learned of or about Christ, but learned Christ. These are not facts we are to study and learn. The Bible also commands us to study, memorize and rightly divide the Scriptures, which involves facts. However, the type of learning mentioned in Ephesians 4:20-21 does not come through the study of facts or information as such. This type of learning comes by experiencing the reality of Christ's Person. That experience comes by being with Him, by experiencing and observing His very essence through such things as "walking through the valley of shadow of death with Him" (Psalms 23), and the like. Because of this relationship with Christ, His essence is to become part of our being.

Those who have been married for some time can understand this concept a little better. You have learned the moods, thoughts, actions, etc. of your spouse. You know how your spouse will respond in certain situations. You know when they are happy, discouraged, trying to work through something, etc. This knowing of your spouse has not come about by book study, or even memorizing verses from their diary. You have been taught by your spouse. This teaching comes not so much from words, but by experiencing life with them.

In a similar manner, we are taught by Christ and have heard Him. If you are not walking with Christ, in the light as He is in the light (1 John), you will never experience this being taught by Christ. This type of fellowship does not replace our study of the Scriptures and rightly dividing them. Both are needed, and one will have far less value without the other.

Ephesians 4:18 "having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart;"

Spiritual ignorance is the norm of the natural person. Spiritual ignorance is in them. It is second nature to them. The natural person or the old man does not have to try to be ignorant. The natural person or the old man operates constantly by means of spiritual ignorance.

Spiritual ignorance is in them, it is a very part of their essence or being. Spiritual truth is in Christ. This truth in Christ, must be in us in like manner as spiritual ignorance is in the natural person. Spiritual truth should be second nature to the believer. The believer should not have to stop and think to function within spiritual truth. Spiritual truth should be the most natural thing and the most comfortable way of operation for the believer. This can only happen when we have in us the same qualities that are in Christ.

Know the Truth

Let me pause in this phase of our study, and comment on something that is not directly connected with this subject, but has a great influence on the subject of not "giving place to the devil", and will determine, to a great extent, the outcome of the believers struggle in this realm.

In this day and age of modern media, some believers seem to think that unless there is something new and different, or even spectacular, they have not experienced Bible study, or at least that Bible study was of little value. I've had people tell me that they know enough of Bible, already. What they need to know is how to apply what they have learned. (There is a measure of truth in the statement, but partial truth is not truth at all.) Because they think they know all the Bible they need, they want Bible study time to be a share-time of how others have applied the Word to certain situations of life. Those share-times usually end up with far more time spent on the details of personal experiences than teaching the Bible.

Bible study is for the study of the Bible, not so a person can vicariously live in the sins or experiences of others as the details of those things are described. If you are looking for that type of vicarious living, there are plenty of shows on TV built on that very purpose.

We need to see and live the very basic principles of the Word of God over and over again and again. We must become very familiar with those basics, and those basics must become second nature to us. When Biblical basics become second nature to us, we can apply them normally, naturally and automatically without stopping to think about what to do, when situations that need such spiritual actions present themselves. Until those Biblical basics become second nature to us, we cannot use them to move into the deeper things of God, either.

If you only took the time to see new, different, and spectacular things about your spouse, or you try to learn to live with your spouse by seeing how someone else responds to your spouse, well, you may as well check the Yellow Pages for a good divorce attorney.

You learn to live with your spouse by seeing the little things over and over again, until those things are so natural that they seem to be just the normal way of life.

If when you hear something in a Bible Study that you think you know well, and you give that truth the ho-hum treatment, you are sealing your spiritual downfall. If you feel that real Bible study must be something different, unique, spectacular, emotional, you will soon be mesmerized with the differentness, the uniqueness, the spectacularness, the emotionalism… and the Bible itself will become only a reference book at best. More likely than not, under those conditions, the Bible will become only a good-luck-charm, but not the living Word of God.

Ephesians 4:18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart;
Ephesians 4:20-27 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil

There are 80+ references in the New Testament to things and qualities that are in Christ. One of the more familiar passages is,

Philippians 2:5-6 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

The immediate context of many of these references to things and qualities that are in Christ, also tell the believer how we are to let or allow what is in Christ to be in us. Certainly the context of Philippians 2:5 gives such instructions. It would be profitable to look at the how of letting the mind of Christ be in us. We've looked at that in times past, and I trust you will review it on your own.

The context, of our present subject of "not giving place to the devil", starts as it should, with the believer not only knowing the truth, but having the truth in them. The truth that is to be in the believer is the same truth that is in Christ.

Next the believer is to put off certain types of conduct that were associated with their former manner of living. It is necessary to put off and keep putting off these things, because even though we have been born again, our old man, or our old nature continues to grow in corruptness.

Time and time again, we hear of some seemingly strong mature believer doing some of the worst things, simply out of the blue. The reason for that is, all the time that believer was living by the new man, the old man was continuing to grow in corruptness. Therefore, when the believer chose no longer to live and operate by the new man, the old man, now even more corrupt, is only too glad to provide that believer with the go power to do things that are worse than before they accepted Christ as Savior. Christ give an illustration of a similar situation, in,

Matthew 12:43-45 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.
Ephesians 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.

The old man, or the old sin nature is of its father the devil. The new man is the spiritual life created and given to us by God at salvation, called Eternal Life, or God's life.

Don’t Lie

John 8:44-45 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 4:23-25 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Notice how often, as believers, we are told to stop lying. Beside the simple fact that it is sin, there is another big reason: it indicates that the essence of Satan, the father of our old man, is showing through our actions.

Look again at John 8:44. The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking here. Speaking of the devil, Christ says that there is no truth in him. Christ also states that when Satan speaks a lie, it comes from his own resources or essence. Christ goes on to say that Satan is the progenitor or the father of the lie. When a believer speaks or lives a lie, that believer is speaking or living from the source or the progenitor of lies, Satan.

In association with that truth, look at the other two passages we have before us Colossians 3 & Ephesians 4. In Colossians 3 it says, "Do not lie," because it is of the old man that was fathered by Satan. In our current passage in Ephesians 4, we are told to "put away lying..." in the context we are told that it is of the old man. This truth is prominent throughout the New Testament. We believers would do well to take heed, and follow the divine instructions.

Ephesians 4:20-23 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

We have a few more items we need to see that are very important in the context of our passage in which we find the command "nor give place to the devil". I am not putting these things in a physical categorical list. Instead, I am giving them as mentioned in our passage. I trust you will retain these things in your minds.

We are to learn Christ, be taught by Him, and take off the old man. We are also to be in a continual state of renewal in the spirit of our mind. This is a Biblical subject far too vast to even outline in a short time. Let me give you just a few highlights from the Scriptures.

We are to have the mind of Christ, as we saw earlier in this lesson. I'm going to give you some passages without a great deal of explanation. These are to establish and expand this truth mentioned here in Ephesians 4:23. I trust you will take these few passages, study them well, and continue to follow this truth throughout the Scriptures.

Romans 8:27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Philippians 1:27-28 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

Old Man Off, New Man On

Take a quick look at Ephesians 4:22-24, so it will be fresh in our minds

Ephesians 4:22-24 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.

We are to learn Christ, be taught by Him, put off the old man and be continually renewed in spirit and mind. Not only are we to put off the old man with the conduct or manner of living associated with that old life, but we are to put on the new man and the conduct that is associated with that spiritual life.

Once again, I will not have the time to make any detailed comments on these passages, and I only have time to give you a few passages that deal with this important subject. I trust you will take these and do further personal study from them.

Romans 13:10-14 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Ephesians 6:10-19 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-- 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Colossians 3:8-15 But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

We looked at a small portion of Colossians 3 earlier, but let me point out a few things that relate, in a special way, to putting on the new man and the conduct associated with the new man. In this passage, under the subject of putting on the new man, there are at least two other categories of things we are to put on.

Notice v.12 therefore because we are in Christ, we are to put on certain things that relate to other believers in this same body of Christ. I wish we had the time to examine the Greek meanings and usage of each of these in detail, because that would bring an explosion of information and understanding to this subject.

Time only allows for the basic listing of the things that the believer is to put on, literally, before the new man can be put on, or at the same time it is put on. Remember, this is a list of things we are to put on that are directed primarily towards other believers.

Tender mercy - not just mercy, but tender mercy

I can't help myself I must give you the basic Greek meaning:

tender (Greek)
intestines, when used in conjunction with emotions or physical action indicates the deepest and most sincere tenderness

Our attitude towards other believers is to be the type of mercy that is the deepest and most sincere type possible. If it isn't, you ain't! If your mercy to others is not of this deep and sincere type, you don't have, or haven't put on the new man and its conduct.

kindness
this is not just something we demonstrate in certain acts, but it is an attitude that permeates our whole being and is seen in all our responses and actions
humbleness of mind
this is a true consciousness of what we really are, and not what we want others to think we are, it is demonstrated in preferring others better than ourselves. Philippians 2:3
meekness
the power and rights given us by God are under the control of the Spirit, and are demonstrated in a tenderness that stands firm for that which is right and proper in all situations
longsuffering
a self-restraint of the mind before it gives room to actions of passion, the power to avenge oneself, yet restraint from the exercise of that power
forbearing
to put up with, or to hold up in the face of the aggravation of others
forgiving
to bestow a favor unconditionally

Please note! Forgiving is the only one of these that is repeated and expanded. Not only does that show the importance of this factor, we have additional information concerning it, beyond its definition and use. We are to forgive in the same manner as Christ. It would take a long time to make any proper study of that subject.

Look at the closing remark of this whole list, "you must do", This is not conditional. This is not optional. It is not to be enacted after the other repents or makes restitution or anything else. If you aren't doing it, You ain't - If you are not forgiving other believers in this manner, you have not put on the new man. Listen to the Word of God, Christians, this is a most dangerous area!

Matthew 6:9-15 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I didn't write it! I only read it. What you do with what Christ said is between you and Christ.

Just in case there is any confusion about the importance of forgiveness, read the following. See the importance Christ puts on forgiveness.

Matthew 18:21-35 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

So much more could be (and needs to be) said regarding forgiveness. But that is for another study.

Conclusion

Love and holiness are commands of God for every believer. They are an inseparable part of God's essence. Love and holiness are simply different aspects of the same thing: Godness or deity. We are commanded over and over again to live, act, and think in a godly and holy manner.

1 Peter 1:15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
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