God IS Love. Love is THE most powerful force in the Universe, AND love is a PERSON, the person of Elohim, our God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some people hear that “God is love” and try to ‘spiritualize’ God away, by indicating that He is some impersonal force of Love that is in everything. They think “If God IS Love…then Love is God”. No, that would be the vain philosophy of eastern religion (Col. 2:8), not the TRUTH about God. We have to read these verses in context to understand them.
1 John 4:7: Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 By this the love of God was revealed in us, that God has sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through Him
Contrary to the vain philosophy of Eastern religion, God is NOT an impersonal “force” that exists “in everything”. God CREATED everything, but He does NOT exist IN everything. The truth is, God is a PERSON, One whose VERY ESSENCE is LOVE. As a person, God LOVES and God can be LOVED. This is why God has always existed in relationship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Love IS RELATIONAL, requiring a subject and an object, the One who Loves and the One who is LOVED. When the Apostle John wrote that “God IS LOVE”, he was highlighting the fact that God’s LOVING ESSENCE is so intense, so genuine, so powerful, He sent His Only Son, a part of His Triune Nature, to be the propitiation for a rebellious and sinful people SO THAT we too could live in RELATIONSHIP with HIM.
How would you describe or define “Love”? This is really important because the entirety of God’s commandments revolve around “Love God and Love people“. In order for us to do this, we need to know what God means by “Love”.
The world’s definition of LOVE …🐍
THIS WORLD SAYS THAT “Love is Love“ in an effort to promote homosexuality, promiscuity, and other sexual sins that are prohibited in both the Old and New Testament. By using the words “Love is love”, Christians who hold to a Biblical worldview are tacitly labeled as “haters who oppose love and freedom”. Ultimately, the world is accusing GOD of HATE because HIS WORD does not CONDONE their DESIRES. “Love is love”, as PROUDLY DEFINED BY THE WORLD, is the ability to “love how or who WE WANT“. Sounds good, right? We should be able to “love” how or who we want, right? No, these words are misleading! God’s Word tells us very clearly that ANY “romantic love” that leads to sexual encounters outside the bonds of a Biblical marriage (one man/one woman) is not True LOVE, but LUST and FORNICATION, which is a sin. Same sex physical RELATIONSHIPS will always be considered a type of fornication because they defy God’s definition of marriage. Whether we like it or not, God gets to define the COVENANT of MARRIAGE because HE is the ONE who created it! We can “redefine” it all day long, but same-sex marriage is an invention of the state and is not marriage according to God. As we’ve stated in previous posts, whenever we decide that WE can tell the difference between “good and evil (right and wrong)“, WITHOUT consulting our Creator God OR His “Owner’s Manual” (The Word of God), then we are no different than Adam and Eve, taking bites from that original tree of destruction that was in the Garden of Eden. These are not popular words because they oppose the secular world-view ;however, they are the truth.
We tell the truth here not to shame or ridicule any person because all people are precious and loved by God; however, it is up to each of us to decide whether or not we wish to reciprocate God’s Love. If we desire to have a true relationship with Jesus Christ, we WILL be called to repent and make some changes in our lives. The good news is that we don’t have to do it alone, because God’s Holy Spirit is inside of all believers to break the power of the sin nature and help us walk in accordance with God’s laws and statutes. The REWARD for making the choice to turn from sin and follow JESUS is…let’s just say, OUT OF THIS WORLD AWESOME!!! https://dyingworld.org/2019/06/02/sexual-brokenness/
What does God say about LOVE? 💖
[AGAPE LOVE] IS THE HIGHEST, THE PINNACLE. IT IS NOT THE FOUNDATION—THAT IS FAITH. JUST AS A ROSE IN FULL BLOOM IS GREATER THAN THE STEM THAT BEARS IT, SO, WHILST FAITH IS MOST NEEDFUL, AND HOPE MOST CHEERING, LOVE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND BRIGHTEST OF THE THREE.”
In the Greek New Testament, there are four different terms for “Love” that describe a variety of intensely close emotional bonds. We are going to primarily focus on God’s Love, or Agape Love.
Agape: Unconditional, selfless love; the love of God in the renewed, transformed mind
Phileo: Love between friends
Eros: Romantic love, not to be confused with LUST.
Storge: Love of family; Parent/child, siblings, cousins, etc. In a very close family, agape is felt as well.
The Greek word for God’s Love is Agape, which is unconditional, selfless love. We tend to think of love as a feeling, but Agape love is MORE than a feeling. Agape is love because of what it does, not necessarily because of how it feels. God so “loved the world ” (agape) that He gave His only son (John 3:16). It did not feel good to God to do that, but it was the loving thing to do because in this sacrificial act, God saved mankind from certain death. God sacrificed Himself to save humanity…this is the greatest act of LOVE.
John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends
Agape love is not simply an impulse generated from feelings. Rather, agape love is a deliberate choice resulting in action.
In the middle of the Swine flu Pandemic in 2008, my mother drove me to the Hospital Emergency Room where she waited with me for hours, surrounded by multitudes of desperately ill people, making sure that I got the help that I needed. I was very sick, the sickest that I had ever been in my life. At great personal risk to her own health and life, she stayed with me in that “hot zone”, and never left my side. Praise the Lord, I did recover and my mother never caught the Swine Flu. But she was willing to go down to the hot zone and sit for HOURS because she was exemplifying agape love, or sacrificial love in action. Every time a firefighter runs into a burning building for a complete stranger, agape love is on display. They may not “feel” love for that person, but they are acting it out. We call them “heroes”. I am reminded of the many firefighters who ran into the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11, giving their own lives in order to save as many people as possible. That is an example of agape love.
This is why God can command us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44;). He is not commanding us to “have a good feeling” for our enemies, but to act in a loving way toward them. How do we act in this “loving way”?
Agape Love is best defined in 1st Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians 13:4: Love (Agape) is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. 5 It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, 6 it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
These are all attributes of our God, whose very essence is agape love. Agape love is the greatest virtue of the Christian life. Agape love was very rare in Greek culture because the traits of agape love—unselfishness, self-giving, willful devotion, concern for the welfare of others—were mostly disdained as signs of weakness. In today’s “modern” culture, these same values…kindness, compassion and mercy have morphed into “political correctness”, “submission”, or “group think”. Sadly, True kindness, compassion and mercy is either seen as a sign of weakness in many of today’s manmade religions, OR as a sign of hate in our secular culture, partiularly when it comes to the care and concern over one’s final destiny – Heaven or hell. Jesus came in a mission of love and mercy to SAVE a lost and dying world, but the world hates Jesus because He tells us the truth about our spiritual condition. Speaking to His brothers in the flesh, Jesus told them “The world hates Me because I testify that its deeds are evil” (John 7.7).
Agape love is patient, kind, not rude and NOT jealous. Now when we say “Love is Not Jealous”, what do we mean by this? God often describes Himself as a “Jealous God”, and yet “God is Love”. Is this a contradiction? No! There are no contradictions in the Bible, only our lack of understanding. God is a “Jealous God” meaning that we are to have no other “gods” but Him. God is zealous and passionate for His “Bride” (His people). The word for “jealous” in the Old Testament used to describe God as a “jealous God” (even if translated from Hebrew to Greek) means something completely different than the word in 1 Corinthians 13:4. When it is written “Love is not jealous”, the word for jealous means ENVY, “to burn with envy or hatred”.
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11-12).
God did not envy Israel, but He was “Jealous” FOR Israel, meaning He passionately loved Israel, wholy devoted to them, and He expected the same devotion in return. This is a marriage. True agape love will not envy our loved one’s success, achievements, beauty, friendships, or anything else.
Agape love does not brag and is not arrogant. We live in the age of “selfies”, where nearly everyone’s focus is on themselves. If we truly love someone (agape), we will not brag or boast in front of them, or act arrogantly. Why would we want to make our loved one feel inadequate, or in some way lacking? Bragging about our own “achievements” is a way of putting everyone else down. This is the opposite of love, attempting to draw attention to ourselves and away from the person we are supposed to be “loving”.
Agape love does not act unbecomingly and is not provoked. We should be slow to anger and quick to forgive, NOT acting rudely towards another. This is a matter of acting with basic politeness, simple decency, or common courtesy. In this age of social media, this type of love seems like a distant thing of the past. People say all manners of terrible things to one another. I was watching a hearing yesterday, where someone from the opposing political party kept speaking out of turn, talking over the person being interviewed, and using very harsh and insulting language. Such incredible rudeness seems commonplace today, where political passions run deep. The love of many has waxed cold. As Christians, we need to know when to walk away from heated social media discussions so that we do “not engage the enemy”, which only draws us into anger and a fleshly response. My husband often uses humor to diffuse an online argument.
Agape love does not seek its own benefit. This is the sacrificial type of love that we were speaking of above. It’s hard to operate in this type of love because most of us desire some sort of benefit or at least recognition for our trouble. In, fact, it is impossible to consistently operate in agape love unless one is a born again, Spirit filled believer. The phrase “What’s in it for me” is one we’ve all heard before. A non-believer, who commits a selfless act, is operating under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit, even if they do not realize it. All people benefit from the love of God’s Holy Spirit on this earth.
Agape love does not keep an account of a wrong suffered. Agape love is a FORGIVING love. When someone wrongs us, and we not only forgive them but then completely FORGET about what they did! So often, people say they love one another, but as soon as one gets angry, out comes the list of past sins! Accusations fly, painful memories are dredged up, and bygones are no longer bygones. This is not agape love. True, godly love forgives and refuses to keep track of personal slights received. This does not mean that we should allow people to continue to hurt/abuse us or others. The goal is to have a spirit of reconciliation, to forgive those who seek forgiveness, letting the past stay in the past.
Agape love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (sin/iniquity), but rejoices in the truth. Someone operating in agape love will be different than the world in that they will not take pleasure witnessing anybody fall into an error or sin which leads to ruin and misery. Agape love rejoices in the truth, that is, rejoices in seeing people live their lives in a manner that is consistent with God’s design for creation, because this will lead to Eternal life, joy, and peace. Sin and unrighteousness will ultimately lead to sorrow and death. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and neither should we. (Ezekiel 18:32).
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;” Proverbs 24:17
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a depraved mind, to do those things that are not proper, 29 people having been filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unfeeling, and unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1: 28-32
Agape Love believes all things, placing confidence and trust in others. It’s not gullibility but a choice to think the best of someone rather than the worst.
Agape Love hopes all things, confidently anticipating a person’s spiritual victory regardless of their current sinful condition. Agape love believes in God’s power to transform a life.
Agape Love bears all things, “covering over with silence.” Instead of making another person’s faults and errors public, agape love builds a roof to protect a fallen brother or sister from shame and ridicule. The goal is restoration not condemnation.
“Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Agape Love endures all things. Someone operating in Agape Love will remain steadfast under ill-treatment or trials, holding fast to faith. They will not give up on someone…ever, nor will they give up on God when things don’t go their way. Agape love is an enduring love which is why God gave His only Son to be the Savior for rebellious sinners like us. God did not give up on us and we should not give up on Him or others. This does NOT mean God would want us to stay in an abusive relationship, but rather, God calls us to be patient and steadfast, never giving up our faith. I know a dear lady who has continuously prayed for her alcoholic son for 30 years. Although he has not yet turned from sin, his mother has never given up on him. She continues to intercede for him daily, believing that there is coming a day when her son will be transformed by God. Agape love does not GIVE UP.
Agape Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and cannot be produced by self effort. Humans are capable of love, that is for sure, but operating in agape love is a whole different ballgame, one that requires God’s Holy Spirit. If a non-believer is acting in a selfless way, you can best be sure the Holy Spirit is around influencing them, even if they don’t realize it.
After His Resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times “Peter do you love Me”? Peter was feeling very guilty about denying Jesus three times just prior to the Cross. The first two times that Jesus asked this question He used the word “agape” for LOVE. This is the unconditonal, selfless Love that took Jesus to the Cross. It is the Love that Jesus had for Peter and for each one of us. It seems that Jesus was trying to get Peter to understand that he must love Jesus unconditionally in order to be the leader God was calling him to be. But Peter, being human, responded each time “Yes, Lord, you know that I Love you (Phileo – brotherly /friendship love). Peter just wasn’t able to elevate himself to agape love. The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus used the word phileo. There have been differing opinions as to why Jesus changed the word to phileo the third time. Most scholars believe Jesus was meeting Peter where he was at that moment, only capable of Phileo/friendly love, with the intention of later leading him into agape love.
Ten days after Jesus ascended into Heaven, on Pentecost, the Disciples received the Holy Spirit. This marked the beginning of them being able to operate in agape love. All Born again, Spirit filled believers have the capability of operating in agape love, though it is not yet perfected in us.
If you are reading the above reflections on agape love and feel convicted in your spirit that you fall short, you are not alone! While writing this post, I am poignantly aware that I fall short of God’s glory, failing to operate in this selfless love in many instances. This is not something that will be perfected while we reside in these fallen bodies of flesh. Even with God’s Spirit, we are going to struggle daily with our fleshly sin nature until God perfects us at the Resurrection. This is something to look forward to!
Oh, and one more thing! Agape Love, the pinnacle of love, is an intentional, selfless type of love that results in action…but there IS ALSO a VERY, VERY PLEASANT feeling or emotion attached to it that we probably won’t experience in it’s fullness until we are transformed or taken to Heaven. All love is emotional, and agape is the pinacle of love. I once experienced God’s love in a tangible, feeling kind of way, a tiny foretaste of the feast to come. This happened over thirty years ago, but I still remember it because it was so monumental. In a dream I had been very frightened of the evil that was surrounding me, and I cried out to Jesus. As I cried out to Him, He came and chased off the evil and when I awoke I was wrapped up in this sensation of love that I frankly cannot describe other than to say it was like the warmth of the SUN (SON)….but SO MUCH BETTER! Physically, this LOVE FELT WARM, delightful, literally out of this world better than anything I have ever experienced before or since. I cannot recreate how it felt because it was supernatural. But as I lay there awake for just a few seconds while this love feeling lingered, I remember not wanting it to ever end. One thing I know for sure, whatever we give up on this earth to walk WITH JESUS in this type of LOVE is totally WORTH IT!