Divine Love

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to:

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

We Desperately Need To Understand What “Love” Is

One of the most misunderstood (but most popular) verses in the Bible is what our Lord Jesus Christ said to a Rabbi named Nicodemus. Yes, I’m talking about

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Children are taught this verse in Vacation Bible School and Sunday School It is well known and probably the most memorized of all scripture. But it is misunderstood, because people do not know what the word LOVED means. In our world the word LOVED refers to a positive emotional response that leads to happiness and satisfaction. Years ago it became popular to say in the pulpit:

God loves the sinner but hates the sin.

The Bible doesn’t say this. People are always quoting things from the Bible that are NOT in the Bible. For instance,

God helps those who help themselves.

Is not in the Bible. This actually comes from Aesop’s Fairytale “Hercules And The Wagoner”. Aesop was a Greek storyteller, and the actual quote is “The gods help them that help themselves”. Then I’ve heard,

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Our Lord Jesus told us to be more concerned about the sinfulness of our hearts than the dirt on our hands (see Matthew 15:16-20). “The evil which comes from the heart defiles a person, not to eat with unwashed hands”. The statement,

God loves the sinner but hates the sin.

Doesn’t come from the Bible is a loose quote of non-Christian (Hindu) Mahatma Gandhi, who said in 1929, “Hate the sin and not the sinner”. What does the Bible say?

Psalm 5:5 (ESV) The boastful shall not stand before your eyes {O Lord}; You HATE ALL EVILDOERS.

Psalm 11:5 (ESV) The Lord tests the righteous, but HIS SOUL HATES THE WICKED AND THE ONE WHO LOVES VIOLENCE.

Hosea 9:15 (ESV) Every EVIL of theirs is in Gilgal; THERE I BEGAN TO HATE THEM. Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house. I will love them no more …

Leviticus 20:23 (ESV) … You shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, FOR THEY DID ALL THESE THINGS, AND THEREFORE I DETESTED THEM.

Matthew 7:23 (ESV) And then will I {Jesus} declare to them, I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WORKERS OF LAWLESSNESS

I could go on an on. God hates sin – and God regards the sinner an enemy of His. You then say to me, “Well, why does it say that “God so LOVED the world”. I’ll tell you why.

Because we misunderstand Biblical Divine Love. We confuse Biblical Divine Love with emotional love. Part of our problem is that the Bible speaks of four types of love.

Eros – Sexual or Romantic love. This is passion, and emotional.

Phileos – love between friends. This is emotional.

Storge – love within the family. This is emotional.

But then there is a FOURTH LOVE that God references and commands. This love is not tied to good feelings or happy desires. This love – AGAPE – is a Divine Love.

AGAPE is a love that DOES GOOD regardless as to how you feel.

Divine LOVE Is To Do GOOD To Your Enemy Regardless Of Feeling

So let’s go back to …

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The word translated loved is the verbal form of AGAPE {agapaō}. AGAPE is not tied to emotional love. It is tied to doing the right thing. Since the world was doing the WRONG thing (chasing sin), GOD LOATHED THE WORLD. We were enemies of God. The Scripture tells us this:

Romans 5:6, 8-10 (ESV) Christ died for the ungodly. … 8 … God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Before God LOVED the world, God LOATHED the world. But even though God hates sin and is the ENEMY OF SINNERS (that is so clearly in our text just quoted), though we DESERVED WRATH (and rightfully so), God gave his Son for us.

So how do we PERCEIVE the love of God? How do we understand the statement:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Go back to today’s focal text.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Even though God despises sin – even though everything in His nature says to eradicate it, to purge it from the face of the earth – God laid down his life for us. When people began to reinvent God in their own image, God was not pleased. When God looked down on the world in Noah’s day, did God say “I will hate the sin but not the sinner?” No. The Bible says:

Genesis 6:5-7 (ESV) … The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Emotionally God hated what mankind had become. And yet – there was Grace. The Bible says that (Genesis 6:8) … Noah found GRACE in the eyes of the Lord. Grace is the undeserved LOVE (Agape) of God in action. God could have totally erased humanity from the face of the earth. Instead, God so LOVED the world.

God did GOOD to those Who do BAD to Him.
This is DIVINE LOVE. It is not emotion, but DOING.

God LAID HIS LIFE DOWN FOR US. Eternal God the Son became incarnate, that is, He took upon Himself human flesh. Why did He come to us? There are a myriad of reasons.

Jesus came to make God known. It is hard to understand God as a Person until we see Him. Jesus not only came from God, but came from the right hand of God to make Him KNOWN to us (John 1:18). Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen ME has seen the FATHER” (John 14:9).

Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament promises. Jesus is the “Seed of the Woman” prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. Jesus is the Son of David that reigns forever (2 Samuel 7:12). Jesus is the “Son of the Most High” God promised to Mary (Luke 1:31-33).

But the greatest reason that Jesus came was to bring peace between God and man. When man sins, he breaks the Law of God. Jesus came to pay the penalty for that breaking (Matthew 5:17-18). Because we sold ourselves to sin, Jesus came to be our Ransom for sin (Matthew 20:28). Whereas we were the enemies of God – and justly due His condemnation – Jesus came to put us in a right relationship with God.

We are reconciled to God because
God laid His life down for us!

2 Corinthians 5:19, 21 (ESV) God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation . . . he made him sin for us that we may be made the righteousness of God in him

We who are saved are no longer bound to Satan nor this world. We are bound to God by the LOVE DOING of God. We are bound to God by the Cross of Calvary.

What Does this Mean From A Practical Standpoint?

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

What should we PERCEIVE as a practical application of the Cross? Very simply, because he laid down his life for us, that is, while we were undesirable and sinful, Jesus died for us. Because he did that for us – and we are children of God – we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Illustrate Every time I pick up the Southern Baptist Paper “The Baptist and Reflector”, I cringe a little. The most recent article came across was, “Johnny Hunt Sues SBC, EC, And Guidepost”. The article states in part:

The suit seeks unspecified damages related to allegations of defamation and the invasion of privacy based on accusations made against Hunt in the 2022 Guidepost report stemming from an investigation into the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse by the SBC EC {Executive Committee}.

Hunt filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Nashville on March 17. Hunt is represented by Nashville-based Cole Law Group.

In the report, Guidepost stated, “During our investigation, an SBC pastor and his wife came forward to report that SBC President Johnny Hunt (2008-2010) had sexually assaulted the wife on July 25, 2010.”

I’ve heard Johnny Hunt preach. I’ve been to His Church. I was shocked to hear that not only he, but other well known pastors were accused of wrong doing and sexual misconduct. I’ve seen this more and more, not just within the Southern Baptists, but among numerous denominations and so called non-denominations. Ravi Zacharias, a preacher I well respected, was found guilty of sexual misconduct following his death. God used Johnny Hunt and Ravi Zacharias, even though deep flaws were found.

There but for the grace of God go you and I. Any of us can fall at anytime if we get our eyes off of Jesus! There is no need for you to tell me, “I’d never do that”. Pharisees are more likely to “do that”, because self righteousness blinds. Given the right circumstances, you can fail just as grievously!

But here’s the problem that I have with the article,“Johnny Hunt Sues SBC, EC, And Guidepost”. Even if Johnny did NOT sexually sin with another pastor’s wife, even if the allegations were totally false, Johnny has no right to sue Christians. The Bible is very specific on that. The Apostle Paul addresses this in:

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (ESV) When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

As Jesus laid His life down for us, we are to lay our lives down for others. Johnny Hunt has no scriptural right to sue the SBC, or any Christian. The lawsuit states, “[Hunt]’s life forever changed when the Defendants publicly released their report. He lost his job; he lost income from speaking engagements; and he lost income from publishing opportunities. His losses are substantial, and Defendants should be held liable.” Johnny’s focus should be on promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christians we are to “lay our lives down for our brothers”. We lay our lives down just as Jesus laid His life down. Even if Johnny was totally misrepresented, so was Jesus. We are told that when Jesus went on trial,

Mark 14:56 (GNT) … Many witnesses told lies against Jesus …

When Jesus cast out devils, the Pharisees spread the lie that

Matthew 12:24 (GNT) … “He drives out demons only because their ruler Beelzebub gives him power to do so.

Jesus was often falsely …

– accused of breaking the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:2, John 5:14; 9:14–16), and

– accused of blasphemy (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26; John 10:30-33)

accused of being insane (John 7:20; 10:20; Mark 3:21), and

accused of being illegitimate (John 8:41)

As Jesus hung dying on the Cross, He did not rail against His accusers, but prayed,

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do …

As He laid His life down for us, we are to lay our lives down for Him. We do this by “doing good” to even our enemies.

When Jesus was establishing what He expects us to do as Children of God, He was very clear. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

If you are saved, you were saved because “while you were an active enemy of God, God laid His life down for you”. If you are a Child of God by faith in Christ, then you are to do good to those who do bad even to you. You are not to compromise with the world and its standard of “truth” whatsoever. You are to look unto Jesus, believing and following Him.

In Conclusion

I gave you a white stone today with 1 John 3:23 written on it. The white stone is a reminder as to who you are, if you are a Christian. One day you will – if you are a Christian – stand in the presence of Jesus. Jesus said:

Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

In ancient Greece, if you were put on trial, at the end of the trial you were given a black stone if found guilty, but a white stone if found innocent. If you received the white stone your name was cleared. We who are saved are cleared of the barrier of sin because God laid down His life for us. The Scripture says:

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

The text doesn’t say this is his commandment(s) {plural}, but this is his commandment{singular}. What is His commandment? That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, because there is no other way whereby we might be saved. He laid His life down for me that I might be redeemed, a Child of God by faith in Him and Him alone. But His Commandment s ALSO to love one another, as he gave us commandment. The two go hand in hand. This is a supernatural thing. We see this in the next verse

1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

If you believe in Jesus and have been saved by Him, then the Spirit of God indwells you. You MUST love your neighbor. You MUST love your brother or sister in Him. That is not a reference to emotion, BUT TO DOING. You are to do the right thing to others, regardless as to what others do to you.

This is the way of the Child of God. This is the “overcoming” expected of you. You don’t have to LIKE it, but you do have to DO IT. This is Divine love. May God draw you as His Church to Divine Love. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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