Chapter 6, What is Love?

 

Most people think of love as a very emotional and sensual experience – affections (feelings, passions) which excite pleasing sensations or desire of gratification. To many, love is found in attraction based upon desire – perhaps lust. Most people base love upon joy and delight that is given to “self” from another person or thing – whatever contributes to your pleasure or supposed profit. The Lord God defines love differently than does man. God defines love as the sacrifice of self for the benefit of another. God’s love is based upon the denial of self (known as meekness) or giving up of oneself, not the seeking or exalting of self (known as pride). In other words, God views love based upon a foundation of meekness and man views love based upon a foundation of pride (or self).

 

Meekness is humility and the submission to the will of another. It is self denial, gentleness, mildness, forbearance under injuries and provocations, lowliness of mind and a broken and contrite heart/spirit. In our meekness we must willingly surrender to the absolute will of God, which is our love toward God. The Lord God does not submit to the will of any other, but does reach out to His creation in example to demonstrate the nature (principles) of His truth. So, most people view love as what is good for or satisfies “me” or “self;” such as what I like, desire or lust after. This is why so many relationships such as marriages fail. Spouses tend to be self-centered rather than self denying and God-centered. To seek self is to deny another. In relationships, if both are seeking self then things fall apart quickly. One usually yields to the other to some degree, begrudingly, and things may go along for a time, but difficulties will continually arise.

 

The Lord never directly defines the word love, but rather demonstrates it throughout His Word and righteous actions. We are going to examine many well known verses and understand how God’s love is clearly manifested as the sacrifice of self for the benefit of others. Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth (represented worthy of notice, regard or kindness) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice that God had nothing to gain from us for His love. We were disregarding and transgressing the Lord’s will – at enmity (hostility) and in rebellion. Man was following in Satan’s nature, which is totally opposed to God’s truth and authority. Even so, God sacrificed of Himself (His Son) for our benefit – our undeserved benefit. This is God’s rich mercy and great love toward man (Eph 2:4). Man is under God’s condemnation of “thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17) for transgressing the Lords commandments. God would be completely justified in carrying out that sentence on all man. However, the Lord has made a way that does not impugn His truth, for man to renounce his “self seeking” and come back under the Lord’s authority. This is a very narrow way, in keeping with God’s righteous character and eternal truth, and was provided for man’s advantage at great sacrifice to God. Notice how God “forbears our injuries” to His righteous character and worthy authority. Man dishonors God by violating His will and provokes the Lord by disregarding His truth and authority and not walking in His “ways.”

 

Once again, consider God’s love: 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 Lord loved man so much that He gave (sacrificed) His only Son for the benefit of man. Love denies self and gives, not expecting recompense or reward.

 

Perhaps you can recall how God once proved Abraham’s love for Him by requiring Abraham to sacrifice his only begotten son, Isaac (Gen 22:1-14)? Hebrews 11:17, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.” Abraham had waited a long time in faith for his son Isaac, and this son was the dearest thing Abraham had. God told Abraham to sacrifice the dearest thing he had in obedience to His will – to prove loyalty for the Lord’s benefit (honor). The Lord said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of (Gen 22:2).” Abraham’s love for God was such that he did not question or even hesitate to do this thing. Fortunately for Abraham, the Lord was only testing him and he was not required to carry through on the command. Genesis 22:10-12, “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God (to love, honor and obey), seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

 

Now, consider that God did follow through by offering up His Son (Jesus) for man’s benefit. Can you see the strong and undeniable parallels between the two events? The verse John 3:16 has a companion verse in 1 John 3:16. Let us consider: 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.” Jesus Christ died to his physical self for our benefit and this is how God defines “love.” In like manner, we ought to lay our lives down for the benefit of others. Can you see how love operates? Some would be terrified at the thought of giving their physical life. 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Fear seeks “self.” Consider what Jesus said: John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Your physical life on this earth may be the greatest thing that “self” possesses.

 

When you can lay your physical life down for the benefit of another, then you have achieved perfect love. Jesus achieved perfect love by putting all fear aside and laying His life down thereby making a way of reconciliation for you, such that if you will follow Christ in faith, you will not have to face the condemnation of “thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17, Rm 8:1). John 3:17-18, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jesus did not come to invoke the just condemnation of God on man. Jesus came through God’s love to create a path back to God for those who will renounce “self” and lovingly and obediently surrender to God’s will and come back under the Lord’s authority.

 

Adam transgressed God’s will in Eden in seeking “self” and procured God’s condemnation of death for all men. 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In transgressing God’s will, Adam died to or forsook obedience to God. Jesus came to reverse what Adam did by providing “The Way” for man to renounce or die to the “self” he gained and to obey God’s will and have everlasting life. John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus came and led “the way” back to God by His example and He always says, “Come, Follow Me.” John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” AND John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Can you see how remarkably consistent Christ’s objective is? Jesus came in love (self sacrifice for your benefit) to bring eternal life to those who are under the condemnation of death (Gen 2:17). Only God can offer life because He is the Author of all life. There is no life apart from God. The devil and rebellious man have only found “death” in their transgressions to God’s will and so shall it ever be.

 

Jesus summed up God’s expectations in two great commandments. Mark 12:29-31, “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” To love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength is to totally give or sacrifice “self” for the benefit of God and hence this is “love.” This is the foremost duty (requirement) of man (Eccl 12:13)! 1 Corinthians 8:3, “But if any man love God, the same is known of him.” Our love to God is the basis of our relationship with God (to be discussed later).

 

The second commandment focuses our attention upon others. We sacrifice “self” for their benefit ensuring that we treat them in a manner that we would like to be treated. Now, when we deny self for God foremost and then others, there is very little (none) left for “you” or “self” and this is the point. Man transgressed God’s commandment in Eden for the benefit of “self.” Perhaps you noticed that this is the exact opposite of “love.” This is known as hate; to sacrifice others for your selfish benefit. This is what man did to God, and it greatly dishonored Him. So now God’s path, which is governed by these two great commandments, is designed to destroy “self.” To put God foremost and then others second requires that you “die to self.” Adam lost God to find self, so now you must lose self to find God (faith denies the flesh). Jesus said it like this: Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (also Mt 16:24-25, Mk 8:34-35, 10:21, Lk 9:23-24, 17:33, Jn 12:24-25).” To find your life is to seek what self desires (the lust of the flesh) and you thus lose the selfish life you find by incurring God’s condemnation of “thou shalt surely die.” To find “self life” is to sacrifice obedience to God – and this is hatred (unbelief) toward God. To lose your “self” for Christ’s sake (His benefit) is to find the eternal life Jesus promises – this is love (through obedience) toward God. What this verse is saying is: live for self and die; die to self and live. This is what a walk of faith is teaching you.

 

Faith bypasses the understanding and reasoning of the flesh and God can only be approached this way (Heb 11:6). No flesh will glory in the presence of God (1 Cor 1:29). By strength of flesh shall no man prevail (1 Sam 2:9). Rather than ask you to sacrifice your son, as God did with Abraham, the Lord asks you to sacrifice “self” for His benefit and thus prove your love, loyalty and devotion to Him (Ps 7:9, 11:5, 17:3, Deut 13:3, 1 Thess 2:1). The ones who do are the ones God wants to be with Him eternally and He thus gives them life or repeals the condemnation that they are currently under. 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” The whole gospel of Christ can essentially be revealed by living a life that “dies to self for Christ’s sake.” Our faith worketh by love (Gal 5:6). In other words, faith is a dying to the flesh (self) for the benefit of God foremost and then others. Faith is never an occasion for the flesh, but service to God and one another (Gal 5:13).

 

When God gave the children of Israel the Ten Commandments, He was actually teaching them the concept of “love.” Consider these commandments (numbered for the sake of discussion): Exodus 20:1-17, “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (representative of the darkness and its bondage). {1} Thou shalt have no other gods before me. {2} Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. {3} Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain (disrespect, not honoring God); for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. {4} Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. {5} Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. {6} Thou shalt not kill. {7} Thou shalt not commit adultery. {8} Thou shalt not steal. {9} Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. {10} Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” The first four commandments {1-4} relate to man’s relationship with God. The next six commandments {5-10} relate to man’s relationship with man.

 

Man is to sacrifice self in obedience to God (for God’s benefit) – this is love. Notice that God will hold those that hate him to their iniquity. In other words, if you disregard God’s commandments in order to seek self you will still be under the condemnation. Also notice that God says that those who love Him are those who keep His commandments. In other words, they deny self in order to obey God’s will (theres no other way to do this but to die to self) and thus receive mercy with regards to the condemnation. This will be more extensively discussed in a later paragraph. The last six commandments are in place to restrain “self” in your relationship with others. Your attention is focused on others and not self. You sacrifice the desires or lust of “self” for the benefit of others – this is love. You would not want anyone to kill you, commit adultery with your spouse, steal from you, bear false witness against you or covet your possessions, so you must not do so to others. You would want your children to honor you, so you must honor your parents. Realize also that God is your Creator (a higher level parent and true giver of life) and is due such honor. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor and thus fulfills the law (Rm 13:10). Followers of Christ must walk in love!

 

Now perhaps you can see how this list could easily be expanded to include thousands of more detailed commandments dealing with all the complexities of life and how you should treat others. There is a problem though. If it is not in your heart to do these things then you will have missed God’s purpose and will for you. If you are just following a list of do’s and don’ts, then you are serving under compulsion (forced adherrence). You would be doing these things begrudgingly (resentfully) and without a whole heart. For instance, you might not physically kill anyone, but you may hate others in your heart and be full of bitterness and wrongful intent (Mt 5:22, 1 Jn 2:9-10, 3:15, 4:20). You may not physically commit the act of adultery, but you may look at women and lust for them in your heart, thinking all sorts of unseemly things (Mt 5:28). Galatians 3:19, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” The purpose of the law was to restrain man until the time that Christ would come. The law was not God’s ideal, but rather faith. Galatians 3:21, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” 1 Timothy 1:9-10, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”

 

Righteous men have always sought out God’s will and freely followed it. How did Christ make things ideal? First, Jesus took your condemnation, died in your place and provided forgiveness and remission for your past transgressions against God (sins, Rm 3:25). He tasted death for every man (Heb 2:9). Next, Jesus provided the way for you to walk in God’s will – as He had done. Jesus’ perfect obedience to the Father and sacrifice of self for man’s benefit procured the “promise” of the Father, which was the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:33, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” AND Romans 5:5, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Being filled and led of the Holy Spirit is the only way you can possibly walk in faith to God’s will. This is why Jesus was so emphatic in saying: John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Expedient is for our benefit for a given purpose.

 

Why should this matter? Hebrews 10:16-17, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (also Heb 8:10).” God’s laws are no longer on tables of stone, but rather written of the Holy Spirit in your very mind and heart (Col 2:11). The Holy Ghost works in your life such that you serve God with correct motive. Christ’s death did three major things for man. {1} The first is that Christ’s sacrifice provided for the forgiveness of transgressions against God (their sins and iniquities I will remember no more). {2} The second thing Jesus death secured was the promise of the Holy Ghost to work in your life to transform you into Christ’s image. {3} The third thing the love of Jesus provided was an example and path that leads to reconciliation with God. Now lets consider the Holy Ghost’s workings more fully. John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

 

The Holy Ghost teaches us and is in absolute agreement with Christ’s Words. What did the verse above say (Rm 5:5): “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” The love of God has been defined as sacrifice of self for the benefit of another. Therefore: The Holy Ghost works in our hearts to teach the sacrifice of self for the benefit of God foremost and then others. In other words, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts to teach the two great commandments that Christ spoke (bring all things to remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you). What else did Christ say? “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (also Mt 10:39, 16:24-25, Mk 8:34-35, 10:21, Lk 9:23-24, 17:33, Jn 12:24-25).” The Holy Spirit is teaching us to die to self for Christ’s sake! This means that the Holy Ghost is actively working in your life to tear down the things of the flesh. All the things that exalt themselves against the authority of God or exalt you above others must be torn down in you! Acts 5:32, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” The Holy Spirit’s work in your life can only be accomplished by your loving surrender and obedience! God allows you a free-will choice and forces nothing upon you. Since the Spirit’s work can only be accomplished in one that sincerely yields, only those willing are given the Holy Spirit. Be warned: Romans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If you do not have the Holy Ghost, then you are not found in God (Christ)!

 

Now consider the implications: If you are not actively obeying and yielding to the Spirit’s workings, meaning dying to self, then you are not Christ’s. If self is not decreasing, then Jesus is not increasing in you (Jn 3:30). If Jesus is not increasing, then self is and what does that say about your yielding to the Spirit’s work? Now some may ask, where does the Spirit reside? Actually that was answered in the verse above (Rm 8:9): “If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Also consider: 1 Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Your body is where the Spirit resides! Does this give you pause for concern? It should: 1 Corinthians 3:17, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” The Spirit of man resides in an earthen vessel of clay (Gen 2:7, 3:19, Job 10:9, Eccl 3:20, 12:7). There is no reason why your clay vessel cannot be co-inhabited. Notice in the above verse (1 Cor 6:19): “and ye are not your own.” When you enter into the solemn covenant (Heb 8:6, 12:24) with Christ you have agreed to completely surrender to His Lordship in obedience and to die to “self.” If you have not understood this or been living such a life, then you probably are not found in Him. 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” AND 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” AND Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

So, the Spirit leads us to understand and practice God’s purposes (summarized in the two great commandments) in very detailed and specific ways in our day to day lives. God’s purposes are now written in our hearts. Galatians 5:18, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Your not following the law, but rather the direction of God’s Holy Ghost in you. Obviously you must obey the direction given. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” So, when we are led of the Spirit, it can be said: Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God’s good pleasure was found in Christ – The Father was “well pleased” (Mt 3:17, 12:18, 17:5, Mk 1:11, Lk 3:22, 2 Pt 1:17). Therefore, the Lord’s good pleasure is to conform us to the image of His Son (Lk 6:40, Rm 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18, 4:10-11, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:13, 15, Col 1:20, 3:10, Heb 13:21). This is what the Spirit does through your obedience!

 

It may surprise some to know that the two great commandments were actually spoken to the children of Israel shortly after the giving of the law at Mount Sinai (Horeb). Consider the first great commandment: Deuteronomy 6:4-6, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” AND Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” Now consider the second great commandment: Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

 

Throughout the history of man, certain men have recognized the will of God and yielded to it. Known examples would be Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Job, and Daniel. The Lord moved in their lives through His Holy Spirit (i.e. 1 Sam 16:13, Mk 12:36, Acts 1:16, 2 Pt 1:21). Man by and large has been rebellious to the purposes of God and is set on the seeking of self as per the principles of the devil’s lie (Gen 3:4-5). The first four of the Ten Commandments is actually contained in “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” The last six of the Ten Commandments is contained in “love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9, “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” So it can be said: Matthew 22:40, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” AND Mark 12:33, “And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In other words, everything contained in the law; everything the prophets sent of God had said; and everything burnt offerings and sacrifices represented is contained in the two great commandments. Again, this is so important to understand: these two commanments are telling us to sacrifice “self” for the benefit of God foremost, and then for the benefit of others. This is saying to take your focus completely off of self. This is saying to die to self. God’s definition of love has no room for self!

 

Love is Obedience

 

One of the foundational pillars of God’s truth concerns obedience. To “obey” is to do, practice or live that which is commanded or required, or to forbear doing that which is prohibited. This is why a perfect and upright man fears (obeys) God and eschews (abstains from, avoids, forbears doing) evil (Job 1:1, 8, 2:3, 1 Thess 5:22). This is an act of submission (denial of self), which is a facet (aspect, characteristic) of meekness, which is under the umbrella of faith. God’s purposes require “voluntary” obedience with a whole heart, as opposed to involuntary obedience. Forced obedience is nothing more than supressed rebellion. This is why disobedient man (those who continue to stubbornly seek self) will be separated from God for eternity rather than be forced to conform to God’s will (2 Thess 1:9). God doesn’t desire more “devils” popping up or exalting “self” in His presence throughout eternity. The creation shall obey the Creator. Obedience is a facet (aspect, characteristic) of God’s definition of love also found under the umbrella of faith. To obey the will of another, you must deny or die to your own will. So, to die to your will for God’s benefit is to obey God, which is love. Jesus said: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” This statement is very matter-of-factly and to the point. Your love to Jesus is a sacrifice of your will in obedience to Christ’s Words or purposes for the Lord’s benefit. 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” You simply cannot separate loving God from obeying God – not under the Lord’s definition, which is truth.

 

Satan attempted to destroy the truth of God by proposing that the creation could love itself and seek its own way exclusive of God (Gen 3:4-5, Jn 8:44). The devil twisted God’s truth and made a lie (opposite of truth) that presumed man could seek his own benefit or purpose at the sacrifice of others. Jesus said about Satan: He abode (dwell in, live by, practice) not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (Jn 8:44). Man bought into the devil’s lie and took on his nature (living in his corrupted principles), which centers all things on self, driven by desire and fleshly lust. God told the children of Israel over and over that they must love and thus obey Him (Deut 6:5, 10:12, 20, 11:1, 13, 22, 13:3-4, 19:9, 30:6, 16, 20, Josh 22:5, 23:11, etc.). Jesus came relating the same purpose and thus God is completely consistent in His requirements for, and dealings with man.

 

Let us thoroughly consider just what Jesus did say so that there is no mistake of what is required of us in entering into Christ’s covenant. Jesus said, John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” To abide is to dwell with, continue in, adhere to, maintain, stand firm, and endure. Christ also said: “I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do (Jn 14:31).” Our obedience gives us place in Christ! Notice how Jesus led the way and set the example – He goeth before the sheep (Jn 10:4). Christ kept the Father’s commandments and now sits at the Father’s right hand (Mk 16:19, Lk 20:42, Acts 2:33-34, 5:31, 7:55-56, Rm 8:34, Eph 1:20, Col 3:1, Heb 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, 1 Pt 3:22). Jesus offers the same to man for obeying His commandments (Rev 3:21). Jesus lived a life of self denial and proclaimed, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (Jn 5:30, also Ps 40:7-8, Jn 4:34, 8:50, Heb 10:7, 9).” John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Christ made this very clear to Satan in the devil’s temptations (Mt 4:1-11, Lk 4:1-13). Jesus fully obeyed the Father in speaking His Words (Deut 18:18, Jn 3:34, 7:16-17, 8:28, 38, 12:49-50, 14:10-11) and doing His works (Lk 2:49, Jn 5:17, 36, 9:4, 14:10-11, 31, 17:4-5). Christ then totally denied “self” for the benefit of man. He healed, delivered, fed, taught, raised the dead, prayed, forbeared the injuries of the religious – all with a heart of love and compassion.

 

God the Father was “well pleased.” Christ’s life bore fruit in that he had no transgressions against the will of God – no sin or iniquity whatsoever (Jn 8:46, Heb 4:15, 1 Pt 2:22, 1 Jn 3:5) and fulfilled the Father’s purposes. We must take note of the example – Jesus said “learn of Me” (Mt 11:29). Now the power of darkness is the lust of the flesh (seeking of self). Jesus never sought the flesh (self) and thus Satan had no place in Him (not even the smallest foothold, Jn 14:30). Consider how resigned Christ was to obey the Father. Just before Jesus was apprehended by religious man and put to death on the cross, He was considering His fate: John 12:27, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” – the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it (Jn 18:11)? Matthew 26:42, “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” Jesus laid His life down not because of some wrong he had committed (and thus being under the condemnation of death) or for anything He hoped to personally gain, but rather for the benefit of man. He left His glory in heaven to do this (2 Cor 8:9). Jesus paid the deserved condemnation of man of “thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). You see Jesus was not under the condemnation of death because He perfectly obeyed the will of the Father – He never transgressed it. Jesus took your condemnation and stepped in and paid your penalty. Jesus’ “perfect” love was to sacrifice Himself for your benefit. What all this is saying is that Jesus led the perfect example (in following the Spirit) for you to follow. Jesus, your Lord, denied self and obeyed the Father perfectly as a man on this earth. Do not suppose that you will ever be able to tell Him that He just doesn’t understand or that it can’t be done (Heb 2:18). Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

 

So, continuing from above (referencing Jn 15:10): Jesus says, “as I obeyed My Father, you are to obey Me.” There is no way around this if you want to be found in Christ. Let us continue on: John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Wow! If you deny “self” through your obedience to Jesus’ Words, then Jesus and the Father will make their “dwelling” in you! Jesus’ is talking about the filling of the Holy Spirit, the “promise” of the Father, which we discussed earlier. 1 John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” Recall the Holy Ghost is given to those who obey Jesus (Acts 5:32). For the Spirit of truth dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (Jn 14:17) and you are sealed by God with this same Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13). When Jesus walked the earth as a man, the Father dwelt in Him (through the Spirit) and we must follow our Lord exactly. Consider what Jesus said about it: John 14:10, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” The Holy Ghost dwells within us and we have direct understanding of the things of God and the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:11, 16, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God (who dwells in those who obey God). For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (through the Holy Spirit God has given us).” 1 Corinthians 6:17, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” Ephesians 2:18, “For through him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

 

We have habitation of God (God in us) through the Spirit (Eph 2:22). Now strongly consider this: When we die to self (no longer seeking the lust of the flesh) and totally surrender to the will of God through our obedience, things are put back into the order they were before the fall of man (Adam) in the garden of Eden. In keeping with this restoration, God renews our relationship with Him like before the fall of man, when God walked with man (Gen 3:8-9) – no more separation from God. Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Death to self and obedience to God abolishes iniquity or transgression and eliminates the separation. Jesus says, “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20).” Obedience to Christ brings about relationship with Jesus. How is a marriage suppose to work? Does each spouse take all they can get from the other? Not if you want the marriage to endure. A marriage works when each spouse sacrifices and gives for the others benefit. The two become as one (Mt 19:6, Mk 10:8-9)! This can only be achieved when each “self” dies and thus forms one unit based upon God’s definition of love. When both spouses are each seeking “self,” then unity can never be achieved.

 

Similarly, when man is seeking “self,” then unity with God (Christ) can never be achieved. So, in marriage: Ephesians 5:31, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The mystery is this: Christ sacrificed “self” for the benefit of man; man must now sacrifice “self” for the benefit of Christ. This is done through obedience and unity is achieved. The two become as one. Jesus said: John 14:20-21, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (also Jn 14:11, 16:27).” Jesus made this statement when relating how we would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Through our daily obedience to the Holy Spirit’s direction, we achieve unity with God – Jesus in the Father, we in Jesus, Jesus in us – becoming as one. How could this be achieved through Satan’s lie, whereby everyone just seeks their own selfish way? Unity is never achieved because everyone is sacrificing the other for “self.” This is why there is such a multitude of divorce in the world. Marriage is symbolic (by design) of our relationship with the Lord. So, we marry Christ and sacrifice self completely for Him by loving, honoring and obeying Him for life – eternal life. Therefore: 2 John 1:9, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

 

Those who transgress God’s will are disregarding God’s will and thus are disregarding God so they have not God. These prefer their own will and thus do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, which requires obedience – they do not “know” Jesus. These walk in the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (meaning in Satan’s lie), the spirit (not the Holy Spirit) that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Eph 2:2). Their lifestyle is in the lust of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind (Eph 2:3). Satan’s spirit leads you to seek the lust of the flesh, which is the power of darkness – this is opposite of where the Holy Spirit will lead you. This is known as giving place to the devil and these are corrupted by their deceitful lusts (Eph 4:22, 27).1 John 2:3-5, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar (and walks in Satan’s lie), and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” Those who put self aside to obey or keep Christ’s commandments, have the Father and Son – for they make their abode (dwelling) with them. 1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” You must walk as Jesus walked, in following, to abide in Him (Col 2:6). This is a very personal relationship between you and the Lord whereby the Lord knows your name (Jn 10:3, 14) and confesses it before the Father (Mt 10:32) and the angels (Lk 12:8).

 

Notice above (1 Jn 2:4) that God’s love in us is perfected through obedience. As mentioned before, the Holy Spirit tears down the things of “self” in our lives through our obedience. Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Thus “self” is continually dying for the benefit of God’s purposes (that the life of God may be manifested in us, 1 Jn 3:5), which is a perfecting of God’s love. Perfect love is obtained through perfect surrender and obedience, which can only be accomplished through death to “self.” 1 Peter 1:22-23, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” We obey God’s truth by submitting to the Holy Ghost. This produces sincere and genuine “love” or dying of self for others benefit. We are born again through this yielding and obedience to the Spirit’s work in us. Therefore: 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Rebellious man was lost and at enmity (hostility) with God. The Lord reached out to man in love. God sacrificed of Himself for our benefit and now we must do the same. Relationships are reciprocal. We must now keep Christ’s commandments by obediently sacrificing self for Jesus’ benefit. We must follow Christ’s example and walk in meekness, completely surrendered to the will of God, and always putting the needs of others first.

 

To obey or not to obey. Its like what Samuel told the children of Israel: 1 Samuel 12:15, “But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers (as in Adam).” The hand of the Lord will always be against those who disobey Him; God will become your enemy. The condemnation is already in place, “thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). When you stand before God at the great judgment, a life of self, disobedience and transgression to the will of God shall certainly procure that condemnation – this is a fact. 1 Samuel 12:24  Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.” What hath God done for you? Sacrificed His ony begotten Son for your benefit. 1 Jn 4:9, “ In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” What did Jesus do for you? John 10:15, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Jesus said, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself (Jn 10:18).” God’s kingdom is based upon voluntary obedience and not forced servitude. John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Christ sacrificed self to draw us unto God and give us life. Jesus asks the disobedient ones who are still going about in the darkness seeking self within the devil’s lie (nature, principles), yet profess Him: Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

 

Loving Each Other

 

The second great commandment concerns the love of one’s neighbor, meaning all men (1 Thess 4:9). Matthew 22:39, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Since self always seeks its benefit, we are to seek benefit or good for our fellow man. One must deny self if he is truly seeking benefit for others. 1 John 4:21, “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” You must deny self to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. So, you must also deny self to love your fellow man. The Lord God is taking your focus completely off of self and placing it upon others. As previously mentioned, man chose self in denial of God to follow in Satan’s lie. Self sacrifices all others, God and man, to seek its own. Self must be overcome if you are ever going to be surrendered and obedient to God and thus reconciled. 1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Your obedience to the two great commandments is your indication that you are born of God (born again – Jn 3:3, new creature – 2 Cor 5:17). If you are not walking in God’s love, then you do not “know” God – its just that simple.

 

Paul wrote: Galatians 5:14, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” God’s purpose is that you take your focus off of self and the lust of your flesh and place it upon doing good for others. This is what the law was teaching man to do (Gal 3:24). Let us consider what Jesus said: John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (also Jn 15:12).” Wow! When Jesus walked the earth He did nothing but demonstrate the love of God – totally dead to self, always giving for the benefit of others. Jesus then laid down His life and died for you – He gave all. Now you must do the same – your commanded! 1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Notice that this is a commandment! Remember, Jesus said: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Loving one another as Jesus loved us is a clear and precise commandment (Jn 15:12). John 15:17, “These things I command you, that ye love one another.” 2 John 1:6, “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” You either reverence this command in love or disregard it in hatred toward its giver. 1 John 2:4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Can it be anymore plain than that statement? Those that obey Christ “know” God because obedience to Christ’s commandments will require you to walk as He walked – there is no other way to fulfill them. What is the old saying, “if you want to “know” me, then walk a mile in my shoes.”

 

Once you walk as Jesus walked you may find that you have been blind to so many things. The darkness blinds (darkness = cannot see; walking in the lie = do no know the truth). The walk (of faith) on God’s narrow way requires you to obey Christ’s commandments, which will necessitate that you to die to self in order to do it (Mt 7:14). You see, all of this is by God’s specific design – its a path that conforms you to the image of Christ and accomplishes God’s purposes. Jesus walked in love and so will His followers. John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Conversely, if you walk in hate or the sacrifice of others for the benefit of self, then you cannot be associated with Christ – He never did this. 1 John 4:20-21, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” Those who are seeking self are always disregarding others to do it and this is hatred for others – the opposite of love. Satan disregarded God to seek self (Ez 28:15-17). The devil then convinced one third of God’s angels to do the same (Rev 12:3-4). Satan also corrupted man by tempting man to disregard God in order to seek self. Why? For selfish benefit, such that the devil could be a god and exalt his throne (he is prideful and egoistic, Ez 28:2, 6, 31:10, Is 14:13-15). He stole man’s dominion on earth and set himself up as a god (god of this world, 2 Cor 4:4, Lk 4:5-6) – the god of darkness (over all rebellious transgressors of the One True God).

 

Consider the consequences: Every transgressor has been cut off from the life of God and will be separated for eternity into a place of torment (2 Thess 1:9) – known as the second death (Is 14:12). Satan was willing to sacrifice all of creation for his selfish benefit. This is pure hate or perfect hate. The devil was willing to destroy his fellow creation in order to seek his selfish way. So, to seek self at the expense of God or others is the very nature of the devil and is rebellious to God’s purposes. Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Love never sacrifices another or worketh ill to another. This means you cannot wish evil on another in your heart, have bitterness and resentment in your heart, or have unforgiveness in your heart. James 2:8, “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well,” He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law (Rm 13:8, Gal 5:14). Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Seeking self produces sins; love/charity covers sins (1 Pt 4:8, 1 Cor 13:1-7).

 

Charity is essentially love directed first to God and then others. Seeking self produces strife and where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (Js 3:16). Seeking self produces envy, strife and division (1 Cor 3:3). Division is the opposite of unity! This is being carnal and in the flesh. Romans 8:6-8, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Therefore: those who walk by faith grounded in love (dying to self) please God (Gal 5:6, Eph 3:17). Those who walk in the flesh seeking self (grounded in hate) cannot please God. As with Christ, God must be “well pleased,” with those who follow on that narrow way. So, those who are living for self had best be dying to self.

 

Satan brought great division to the kingdom of God through his great lie. For the time being, the angelic community is fractured and the community of man is fractured. The Lord God is bringing back unity (restoration) to His creation through Jesus Christ (Heb 2:8). 1 Corinthians 15:27-28, “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” Satan’s rebellion brought disunity, division, envy, strife and every evil work. This is the nature of the devil’s lie and is manifested when one disregards others for the purpose of self. Christ will restore and reconcile all things to God that can be restored through love. Some cannot be restored because of their love of darkness and refusal to yield. All things must be restored and reconciled through the truth and nature of God, which is love – God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16) and God is truth (Ps 31:5, Is 65:16, Jn 14:17, 15:26, 16:13, 17:17). To do so outside of God’s truth would be to submit to the devil’s lie (that which is not truth is a lie for no lie is of the truth, 1 Jn 2:21). If God submitted to the devil’s lie, then the devil would be God. Therefore, all things must be done through God’s righteousness. Our faith is our righteousness (Rm 1:17, 3:22, 4:5, 9, 13, 9:30, 10:6, Gal 5:5, Php 3:9). In other words, our surrender and obedience to God’s truth (as led of His Spirit), which worketh by love, is our righteousness before God, in Christ.

 

The love of God will produce unity among believers as each sacrifices self for the benefit of the other. John 17:21, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Jesus said: Mark 9:35, “And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” The kingdom of God works differently than this fallen world. You must die to self and serve others to be great. You do not rise to the top of the heap by climbing over everybody else. You help others to rise above yourself for their benefit. To be greatest/chiefest, you must be servant of all (Mt 23:11, Mk 10:44). This confounds the flesh, because it takes away its control. Jesus submitted to the will of God the Father. Submission is yielding to the authority of another without objection or resistance. To be ruled by the decision, will or judgment of another. This encompasses meekness, obedience, surrender, logsuffering, and humbleness. We are told to: Ephesians 4:1-3, “…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (also Col 1:10-11).” We must be holy and without blame before Him in love (Eph 1:4). We submit one to the other under the direction of the Holy Ghost. Jesus must dwell in your heart by faith, which is rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17). 1 John 4:12, “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

 

Consider some examples: Ephesians 4:28-30, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The thief once sacrificed others (stole) for the benefit of self – hate. He is now to work and sacrifice self for the benefit of others by giving to the needy – love. Some once used foul language to put down or destroy others (sacrifice them) so as to exalt themselves for selfish benefit – hate. They are now to die to their old ways and use their language to encourage others for their benefit – love. Refusing to yield to God’s workings in you, grieves the Holy Spirit, which is your sealing before God and signifies that you are Christ’s (Rm 8:9, 1 Jn 4:13). Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” AND Ephesians 4:25, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”

 

Those qualities of hate (Satan’s nature) must now give way to God’s nature of love. You must “change” to become the opposite of what you were. The Holy Ghost in you works to bring about this change. Ephesians 4:24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (also Col 3:10).” Consider this example: James 2:2-4, “For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”

 

Therefore: Consider some of the negative things you must die to: Colossians 3:5, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth (die to self); fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry (also Ti 3:3, 2 Tim 3:2-5).” AND Colossians 3:8-9, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (died to self).” The following are some of the positive things you must be: Colossians 3:12-15, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body (unity); and be ye thankful (also 1 Tim 6:11, 2 Tim 2:22).” You must die to the things in the “negative list” to become the things in the “positive list.” The things on the negative list are seeking self. The things on the positive list require denying self. Notice the continued emphasis on love – the bond of perfectness. 1 Thessalonians 2:12, “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you (out of the darkness) unto his kingdom and glory (into the light).”

 

What God’s Love Teaches Us

 

The author will put forth some examples of walking in God’s love that are applicable to our modern times. This is in no way an all inclusive list. We walk in God’s Word as led by the Holy Spirit and simply obey the Lord’s direction as it is revealed (unfolded) to us – the Word and the Spirit will always be in total agreement. God’s laws are no longer on tables of stone, but rather unfolded by the Spirit to your heart (Heb 10:16). God’s love will teach us not to seek or exalt self, particularly in relation to others, through the use of hair styling; jewelry; makeup; colognes or perfumes; designer clothes or the way you dress in general; education; wealth; jobs; type of car you drive; status; electronic gadgets; where you live; shopping in upscale businesses; or possessions that you own (e.g. 1 Tim 2:9, 1 Pt 3:3, Lk 12:15). These are all things of the world and lust of the flesh that you must die to – they engender pride (which is self exaltation). 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

 

You are not to sacrifice self for the benefit of fleshly things – seeking your lusts. You are to sacrifice self to do the will of God, which is true eternal love. God’s love teaches us not to exalt self over others through the use of titles such as doctor, reverend or master (Mt 23:9). Job 32:21, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.” These things separate and divide. We are not to exalt self over others through athletic ability, musical talent, intellect, use of language or personality, diplomas or certifications, specific skills, etc. Those that exalt self through whatever means are the prideful. Jesus came to the lowly, meek and brokenhearted (Is 61:1, Lk 4:18). The meek will hear and respond, and these God teaches His way (Ps 25:9, Mt 5:5). All the things that the flesh lusts after are provided by the devil, for this is the power of darkness – to keep you seeking self and transgressing God’s will. If you are seeking money, jewels or fame, the devil will be your source. Men take the things they lust after and use them to exalt themselves over others. Some will trample others to climb the career ladder at work. Most teach their children these same things by getting them all the popular things so that the children can exalt self over others at school (cell phones, brand name clothing, accessories, mp3/ipod players, jewelry, etc.).

 

Parents also want to make sure their children gain place (over others) and have the best through private schools, student politics, or positions on sports teams – a cheerleading daughter and a quarterback son. All the selfish maneuvering must cease! God’s love teaches us not to cut someone off to gain the front row parking space or beat the other guy in line at the store. God’s love teaches us to stop wanting things and be content (Php 4:11, 1 Tim 6:8, Heb 13:5). We learn to be a giver rather than always taking or seeking advantage. God’s love teaches us to stop seeking entertainment for our flesh and to start dying to self for God and others. We learn to abstain from evil and wickedness such as what is shown on television, movies or played on video games. What we are talking about here is learning to yield our way in surrender to God’s will. You learn to start dying to all the temporal things of the flesh, so that you may have life eternal in God’s truth. The flesh is mortal, but the truth is eternal – so which do you want to be found in? 1 Thessalonians 3:8, “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”

 

Hobbies and Collections

 

2 Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Less the tempter tempt you (1 Thess 3:5).

 

The Lord impressed upon the author’s heart to write this specific section through events or circumstances that were taking place in others lives at the time of this writing. As it turns out, this will be a perfect example for understanding the seeking of self or walking in darkness, and the deception involved. A hobby is an activity engaged in primarily for pleasure. Hobbies generally involve collections, which may also be used in activities. For example, when the author was a youth, he collected many things such as: stamps, coins, rocks, indian arrowheads, fossils, civil war relics, music recordings, butterflies, model trains, matchbox cars, toy soldiers, baseball cards, plastic dinosaurs, and miniature whiskey bottles (crazy as that may seem).

 

People are generally collectors and there is no limit to the types of things they will collect. Now most of these things seem quite innocent, such as coins or stamps. What could possible be wrong with doing such things? The first problem is that these things are self-centered and are undertaken for selfish pleasure. In other words, the focus of these activities is on self. The second problem is that one will very quickly develop a “love” and “devotion” for these things and this frequently becomes an obsession – some more than others. You will sacrifice much for the benefit of these collections, which is for the pleasure of self. For of what a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage (2 Pt 2:19). You must not be ignorant of Satan’s devices! We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30, Lk 10:27). The devil’s objective is to take your love and focus off of God and place it upon the lust of the flesh, which is the power of darkness. Satan wants you to love or be devoted to anything other than God. He blinds your mind to the things of the Spirit (2 Cor 4:4). This makes you loving and devoted to Satan’s way and he is thus your ultimate god or father (Jn 8:44).

 

This is the nature of the devil’s wiles which are tricks or stratagem (subterfuge, devices) practiced for ensnaring or deception; a sly, insidious (sinister, subtle) artifice – to deceive; to beguile (Eph 6:11). Satan is an adversary to God and man – he seeks to kill and destroy (1 Pt 5:8)! The devil is hostile to God’s purposes and will gladly destroy you to interfere with them. The devil knows that you cannot serve two masters; for either you will hate the one, and love the other; or else you will hold to the one, and despise the other (Mt 6:24, Lk 16:13). Satan also knows that you will love or hold to the thing that benefits the flesh – brings the most selfish pleasure. Satan entices you to walk in the flesh because then you will develop a relationship and love with the darkness (opposite of walking in Christ) or become bound in its snare. Its like this: a con artists always tempts or entices his victims with some fleshly benefit. Why? Because he hopes to ensnare you and rob you of something precious. The con artist gains through your loss and this is known as “hate.” Con artists are reflections of Satan’s nature. The devil offers you a fleshly benefit so that he can rob you of your life in God. Then like the con artist, you find that you were sold a bill of goods – eternally worthless junk.

 

Another quasi-comparison would be hunting. Satan is the hunter and you are the prey. The safety and security (protection) is only found by walking within the boundaries or limits of God’s will, otherwise known as the “truth.” When one ventures outside the boundary of God’s will, they enter into the “legal” hunting ground or darkness (the lie). The devil cannot take his prey by force; for he is far superior in intellect, skill and ability, and this would not be fair. You must understand the rules that God enforces. Man is given a free-will and he must be the one to decide or choose good or evil. The forbidden fruit that man ate in Eden was to know good and evil. So, the devil cannot simply shoot and kill his prey. Satan must entice his prey with baited traps or snares such that the prey chooses to enter into the bondage – then the devil destroys them in their chosen fault. The devil also uses decoys (2 Cor 11:13-15, Col 2:8). Satan lies, deceives, beguiles, tempts, entices and lures with fleshly benefit (things desired, rewards). Once you fall prey to his devices, then the devil accuses you before God demanding the full penalty of the condemnation (Rev 12:10). He makes you an enemy of God so that the Lord will lift any remaining restraints that hinder him from destroying you.

 

The author understands all too well how this “collecting” process works. You start out collecting an item, and then continually lust or desire additional items to increase your collection. Your hope and what consumes you is to get the rare or harder to find items to add value and merit to your collection. These things are constantly in your thoughts and are great motivators to your actions. You will spend time, money and travel to obtain the things that you desire. You will admire your collection and display it for others to admire. You want to beat the other guy in accumulating items such that your collection is the best. In short, you worship and reverence your collection (hobby, activity, or whatever). Your great hope and joy is to find unique or rare items at bargain prices such as at swap meets, garage sales or antique stores. The greater the find, the more enjoyment. Perhaps you will hunt for rocks, fossils or arrowheads for weeks in a field and then one day you make a find that seems to make it all worthwhile. Most will seek out others that have similar interests through the internet or by joining clubs. These groups or gatherings are like “church” to the serious collectors. There are literally sub-cultures to some types of collected things such as stamps, model trains and coins. There may be magazines, guides and books to study up on the subject. Some will study catalogs for things they desire. Once they get one thing they desire, they are already lusting after the next. This is a never ending process of lusting and seeking the flesh that Satan hopes to draw you into. Why? Because in seeking your lusts, you are not seeking God; you are not reading His Word or living therein; you are not praying to Him (except maybe to get the things you lust after); you are not walking in His ways; your love and devotion is not to God – its on self and your hobby or interest. The devil tempts, but you make the choice. He gives you the rope, but you hang yourself.

 

You display your collection and make an “altar” to self. This collection is your great accomplishment, love and pleasure – your god. You admire and worship at your altar and desire others too also. What you generally find is that others do not have the same admiration or devotion to your collection that you do – its mostly a self-centered thing. You are convinced that you can love God and your hobby, but you are just deceived through the darkness you walk in (dark = cannot see). Ultimately, these collections are not truly fulfilling. These things take a heavy toll (as in a bell to announce one’s death) and become a great bondage. You sacrifice others because you are consumed in self. God is not foremost in your life, but may be another one of your interests – perhaps with His own altar among others (Christian paraphernalia). Your hobby or interest also takes money and time away from your family? You do not have time to look to others needs because you are focused on your own.

 

The author knew a lady that was a real collector. She had the premier collection of “tobacco tags” in her day. Ask one hundred people what a tobacco tag is and they probably will not know. Yet this was her love and passion and it consumed her – money, time and travel were no object in attaining them. Jesus said: Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Well she did gain the whole world of tobacco tags – there was nothing left to gain. In the process she lost her very life in God – her soul. No one knows what a tobacco tag is, yet she was willing to trade her soul for them. Who was pleased – Jesus or Satan? This lady had all there was to gain in tobacco tags, then tired of them, and cast them aside in order to seek new pleasures and unconquered realms. She next collected head vases. Within a number of years, she had a premier head vase collection. Same story as before. Who knows what a head vase is or cares? She does! – and has an altar to them in her home. What is eternally redeeming in head vases? Absolutely nothing – all is vanity (Eccl 1:2, 11:8, 12:8). The wisest man to ever live (Solomon) sought all that his heart desired and determined that it was all vanity (Eccl 1:14, 2:1-19). What did he conclude: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

 

Its not a matter of controlling your lusts or not allowing yourself to be consumed in a given interest; its about where your heart is and who you are serving. You cannot give your heart, mind, soul and strength to God and make all necessary sacrifices and still have room for these things. The Lord has always stated that He will have no other gods before Him (Ex 20:3). Jeremiah 25:6, “And go not after other gods to serve them (hobbies, activities, collections), and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.” Therefore: the devil’s insidious (sinister, menacing, subtle) process is temptation or enticement to the lusts of the flesh, which draws man into the darkness (sin, iniquity unrighteousness, unbelief, transgression against God’s will, disregard of God’s Word) and eventually death (Js 1:13-15). The author’s strong advice to all who read this is to throw your collections in the trash receptacle (the author did), forsake your hobbies and never look back (Lk 9:62, Gal 2:18). Tear down those altars to self – perhaps something so seemingly innocent as trophies in your child’s room. Give God your love! Give God your devotion! Seek to sacrifice for the needs of others. Let the Holy Spirit be your teacher and guide you in all things. Do not let your flesh (lusts, desires, logic, human reasoning, sentiment, what others do) be your guide. The flesh leads away from God on a very broad way (Mt 7:13).

 

Most people find their great love in an activity that they do. Some are consumed with an interest or passion in an endeavor (interest, pastime) that they regularly do such as golf, boating, hunting, fishing, woodworking, model airplanes, etc. Some are devoted to a certain group or lodge that they belong to. Most are just fanatical observers or fans of things like collegiate and pro sports, auto racing, music groups/concerts, theatrical productions, films, wrestling, olympics, motorcross racing, etc.– giving their full allegiance. Some are obsessed with community involvment such as through politics and charities. Others are consumed in their love of games (including video) or forms of literature and film (romance, science fiction, mysteries, action, classical, etc.). Some give their love and devotion to their pets. Most are actively devoted to many hobbies, collections and activities concurrently. Your love is manifested in your actions. What you talk about all the time. What you spend your time doing. What you make sacrifices for. What you spend your resources on. 1 John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Why? The things described above focus one’s love and attention on the things that compete for God’s glory – that which is due the Lord. These things place one’s sacrifices for the benefit of self – fleshly pleasure.

 

All these fleshly activities are sometimes referred to as “pastimes.” A pastime is an amusement or pleasure that you do to pass the time away – for recreation or diversion (redeeming the time???, Eph 5:16, Col 4:5). The love of the Father focuses your complete devotion upon God foremost and then others, within the Lord’s truth. One final thing that needs to be mentioned. To be a perfect and upright man, you must not only fear (surrender and obey) God, but also abstain from all evil – forbear doing that which is prohibited. Most modern forms of entertainment are saturated (completely filled) with evil. We are talking about things such as television, movies, music, magazines and video games. Are you abstaining?

 

Having read thus far, many will be quite upset and say, “well, this means that you can’t do anything.” The fallen nature of man focuses on “self” and what “me” wants and this is a very broad way that is well traveled – by most (Mt 7:13). This is what Satan did and so will those who walk in darkness, which is following in the devil’s nature or path. Self is what must be overcome if you are ever to be submitted to God. The Lord wants your full devotion to Him – heart, mind, soul and strength. The author will just frankly state: “the path to God is a narrow way and few be there that find it (Mt 7:14).” You must be “born again” with God’s nature and then follow Jesus in “the way” as led by the Spirit (Jn 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 4:24, Col 3:10). To be born anew the old must first die. You will most certainly reflect the nature of the one you follow – darkness or light. Perhaps you are not comprehending any of this? 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Why? 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

 

Now for all of you who think the things of God written herein are as foolishness. Know this, that the opposite is also true. 1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” God considers all the things of the world and flesh that you love to be foolish. Who is right? Choose who ye shall serve (Josh 24:15)! 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The cross represents death to self. Be not tangled up in the affairs of this life (2 Tim 2:4).

 

Loving Your Enemies?

Its not so hard to love those who love you back, but what do you do when this is not the case? Luke 6:32-33, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.” AND Matthew 5:46-47, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans (despised and often unjust tax collectors) the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” What Jesus is saying is that your love must go beyond selfish benefit. Your love must stand in the midst of evil and endure. Christ’s love endured in the midst of evil (even religious evil) and we must follow. Even those seeking self can tolerate a little love toward those who love them.

 

What are Christ’s parameters or boundaries (limits) for loving others? Matthew 5:43-45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 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; 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.” Now understanding this statement is critical to your relationship with God and others. God defines your neighbor as all men; the Lord sends the rain and the sun upon all men – good or bad. Jesus died for all men. Further, Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love (sacrifice of self for our benefit) toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died for all men while we were yet sinners or enemies of God. When man seeks self as per Satan’s lie, he does that which is opposed and hostile to God and is the Lord’s enemy. The devil’s lie attempts to destroy God’s truth or the essence of who God is. The devil’s lie rejects God’s authority and rule. This is hatred and rebellion to God. Even so, God commendeth His love to His enemies while we were yet sinners. No sincere believer can deny this fact or that we are to follow Christ by walking as He walked (1 Jn 2:6, Col 2:6).

 

So, when Jesus says to love your neighbors as yourself, He is talking about everyone (Lev 19:18, Mt 19:19, 22:39, Mk 12:31, 33, Lk 10:27, Rm 13:9, 15:2, Gal 5:14, Js 2:8). Now notice that man tried to separate a neighbor from an enemy (as two separate things) or find a “loophole” in God’s commandment. Man wants to love his definition of a neighbor (opinion, sentiment) and desires to hate his enemy. Man wants to love only those who love him. What if Jesus had died for everyone, but you, whom He separated out as an enemy? Be very careful with your reasoning, oh man: Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” You have been undeservedly forgiven of much, how can you possibly justify your hate of others? Jesus forever ended man’s supposed “loophole” by declaring quite bluntly: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” You are to even sacrifice of self by praying for their good or benefit.

 

Now modern man, and particularly religious man will quickly pull out all their arguments of self defense and defending their nation from the armies of hostile nations (warfare and fighting). They will refer to the Old Testament quite often to justify their hate and darkness. Why? Because they cannot justify it in Christ’s New Testament. Recall that we are under Jesus’ direct commandment to love one another (Jn 13:34-35). We are to love as Jesus loved us (Jn 15:12). Human reasoning always muddies or obscures God’s truth. Your disregard of God’s Word does not change God’s Word. Do Christ’s Words have any place in you? Please consider: Did Jesus war with Caesar or even encourage others to? How many fist fights did Jesus ever participate in? How often did Jesus role up His sleeves to defend Himself? What if Jesus had defended “self” and not gone to the cross for you, His enemy? Christ is our example to follow and conform to precisely. When Jesus was apprehended in the garden of Gethsemene, Peter drew a sword to defend Jesus and Christ immediately put a stop to it (Mt 26: 51-53, Jn 18:10). Luke 22:37, “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors…(also Is 53:12)” Peter was considered a transgressor for having drawn and used the sword. Jesus could have called multitudes of angels to His defense, but did not (Mt 26:53, Jn 18:36). To inflict violence or hatred upon another is to walk in the devil’s nature or darkness (God’s righteous judgment is exempt, Rm 3:5-6). 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”

 

Love brings life; hate brings death – these are opposites. God is love and life, so the opposite is hate and death. So, you are to love everyone – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This means that a follower of Christ can never enter into warfare (be in the military). A follower of Christ cannot be in an occupation wereby one may be required to inflict violence toward another (i.e. policeman, security guard, boxer, prison guard, etc.). God has ordained secular governments (non-believers) for such a purpose (Rm 13:1-4). You must also consider if your livelihood contributes to such things. We are to walk in the nature of Christ, sacrificing self for the benefit of others. You cannot do this if you are in an organization whose purpose is to kill and destroy. All of the “what ifs” do not matter because: “we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 Jn 3:16).” Jesus also said: Luke 6:27-31, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Notice that when someone hits us (sacrifices another for the benefit of self – hate) we are to be nonviolent or passive (pacifist) toward their aggression – and offer also the other cheek. Why? Because we are to walk in Christ’s nature, which sacrifices self for others. The one hitting is walking in Satan’s nature of sacrificing others for self. Notice that Jesus ended the thought with the “golden rule” – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You do not want to be hit, so do not hit others, even in retaliation.

 

Jesus said: Matthew 5:38, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” No hit for hit or evil for evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:15, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” You are to put an end to the violence by sacrificing yourself and offering the other cheek. If you defend yourself and hit back (revenge, self defense, whatever), then you take on Satan’s nature of hate and are no longer in God’s nature of love – you are overcome by the evil. Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” You must walk in love. Your life’s walk must be in God’s light (truth) and not in Satan’s darkness (lie). Do you allow your enemies to conform you to their nature of hate? Hating enemies and fighting seeks to exalt self and this is walking in pride. God hates pride (Ps 119:21, Pv 8:13, 16:5, 21:4, Is 2:12, Js 4:6, 1 Pt 5:5)! Forbearing the injuries of others is meekness. God loves the meek (Ps 22:26, 25:9, 37:11, 76:9, 147:6, Is 11:4, Mt 5:5)!

 

It is so easy to talk about these concepts of love, meekness, surrender, and obedience until it requires something of “self.” Jesus says we are to do the opposite of hate (evil, violence): Romans 12:20, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Our love will diffuse the hatred in another. Violence will only increase the hatred and bitterness. Do you hate your enemies? 1 Jn 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” God is love and He reached out in self denial to those at enmity (hostility) with Him for their benefit or good. Those that are the Lord’s must be found in His love – both living and practicing love – doing the same thing. Therefore: Christ’s gospel gives no authority to the believer to inflict violence or participate in war. Jesus’ gospel does have a commandment that you love one another as Christ loved you (Jn 13:24, 15:12). You may hold to your opinion or give Christ’s Word place in you.

 

Love In Marriage

 

Marriage was briefly discussed earlier in this article. This section will take the discussion a bit further. When a man and a woman enter into marriage, the two are to become as one, which is perfect unity. How is this accomplished? The answer is through”love,” which is the death to self for the benefit of the other. Consider how this works: {1} for the wife: Ephesians 5:22-23, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” The man is clearly the head of the marriage unit, having been ordain so by God (1 Tim 3:13). A “follower” submits to Christ in total surrender to Jesus’ will through love and obedience. Similarly, a wife submits to her husband in total surrender to his will through love and obedience (Col 3:18). This is meekness. You die to self for the benefit of your husband. Violation of this God given order makes you a transgressor and also sets up your marriage for failure. Ephesians 5:24, “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

 

Please consider very thoughtfully just how the church is subject unto Christ and what it means for Jesus to be the head. Jesus is the head of the body, the church, and has preeminance (Col 1:18). The head directs the actions of the body (for the body’s good). Jesus directs the actions of the church (ekklesia, meaning “called out” ones – from the darkness). The husband directs the actions of the body – meaning a united husband and wife (the two become one). The head commands the body; the body does not command the head (1 Cor 11:8-9). The woman is also to submit to the husband as the spiritual head as will be discussed next. Proverbs 31:30, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” {2} for the husband: Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Christ loved the church so much that He laid down His physical life for its benefit. Colossians 1:22, “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” In doing so, Jesus never sought selfish benefit, but always gave Himself for the benefit of others. Similarly, husbands are to never use their wives for selfish benefit, but are to always be concerned about their wives welfare. They are to provide for and care, to heal and to teach (Col 3:19).

 

Notice that Jesus sanctified or set apart the church and cleansed it by leading the church in God’s truth in order to present it to God as holy and without blemish. Recall, that in the garden of Eden, the woman was deceived and led her husband astray to violate God’s will for selfish benefit (Gen 3:6). 1 Timothy 2:14, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” The husband is to be the spiritual head of the woman (and the home) and lead her (and the family) in God’s truth so as to present her holy and without blemish. The husband (with Christ as head, 1 Cor 11:3) becomes the Savior of the marriage body in this sense (scripture noted above – Eph 5:22-23, thus the children are clean, 1 Cor 7:14). Woman led man to violate the will of God. The opposite must now occur; man is to lead woman to surrender to the will of God. Christ is the shepherd of the church. The husband is the shepherd of his family subject unto Christ.

 

Consider God’s established order: 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” This is God’s divine order and it is not to be transgressed. For the reasons just mentioned, the woman cannot be in spiritual authority or teach. 1 Timothy 2:11-12, “ Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection (submission). But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” AND 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Consider how perfectly this fits in with the above verses concerning Christ sanctifying and leading the church and teaching it God’s truth. The husband sanctifies and leads the wife, teaching her God’s truth. This means the husband must be walking in God’s truth (by example). This is all done for the spiritual benefit of the marriage unit. Ephesians 5:28, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” The husband and wife become one body, so the husband must seek the good of his own body. We are not talking about some archaic cultural means whereby men dominate over women. We are talking about a very precise and ordered method to achieve the Lord’s will of unity based upon God’s intent at creation (neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man, 1 Cor 11:9, Gen 2:18, 23) and aspects of the fall of man (she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat, Gen 3:5).

 

Therefore: putting all things together. The woman came out of the man: Genesis 2:23-24, “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. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” In marriage, the woman returns back to the man and becomes one body again. The woman was taken out of man’s body (the side) and not the head; the body is subject to the head. The wife submits to the rule and authority of the husband, giving herself for his benefit. The husband dies to self and wants only good for his wife. The husband leads the wife in God’s truth, seeking righteousness and holiness, and they are thus likeminded. Each puts self aside for the benefit of the other and the two become one and are unified in God’s truth. Those who use hypenated last names, marriage contracts or agreements, or seek skills for supporting self due to the potential for a future divorce, are totally out of order and are not walking in God’s love. True love excludes self. Each must die to self and give to the other. If you prior consider that your marriage may eventually fail, then you should not enter into marriage at all. Marriage is for the sincere and committed just as “following” Christ or being His disciple is for the sincere and committed. Neither is for those who just want to try it out and see what happens.

 

Now many will say that this is the ideal, but the world doesn’t always work this way. A husband may say that his wife will not submit to his leadership and holds to the world’s values of equality between sexes and all the human reasoning behind it. A wife may say that her husband will not provide spiritual leadership or love her as Christ loved the church. This is why it is so important not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14). Yes – wives that do not submit to their husbands or husbands that do not spiritually lead their wives are “unbelievers.” An unbeliever disregards God’s Word and does not walk in it. They cling to their own stubborn ways based upon the world around them (Jdg 2:19). To “believe” is to reverence God’s Word/will and live it (do it). James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Such relationships are as righteousness trying to fellowship with unrighteousness or light with darkness (2 Cor 6:14). These marriages will have great difficulty, but that does not make void the truth of God. There will always be troubles when you live outside of God’s truth. Even so, God is merciful to those who sincerely seek and serve Him (1 Chr 16:10-11). Women keeping silent in the church and being commanded to be under obedience will not set well with most modern religious men and women, because they are more conformed with the ways of the world than to God’s own Word – which they profess to believe. They believe God’s Word to be archaic (outdated, antiquated, old fashioned) and think to conform it to their sentiments (opinions mixed with strong emotions) by disregarding it or twisting it (handling the Word of God deceitfully, 2 Cor 4:2) to say what it doesn’t. Many, if not most, religious institutions now allow women pastors and teachers in direct disobedience to the Word of God. Galatians 4:16, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” This is not the author’s word, but rather God’s – the author yields.

 

Unity

 

Marriage teaches us true love and unity. A man and a woman each die to self (sacrifice) and give to each other to become one – unified (with the husband as head, Eph 5:22-24). Similarly, they die to self (sacrifice) and yield to Christ and become one – unified (with Christ as head, 1 Cor 11:3). The church (ekkelsia – called out ones) is a body of individual believers that have died to self (sacrifice) for each other in order to become one (hence, the body) – unified (with Christ as head, Jn 17:21, Eph 1:22-23, 5:22-24). Ephesians 2:22, “In whom ye also are builded together (as a body) for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one – unified (with the Father as head, Jn 10:30, 14:10-11, 1 Cor 15:28, 1 Jn 5:7). John 14:20, At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” – as one – unity (with God as the head, also Jn 14:17). As we discussed earlier, through our obedience, God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) make their abode in us (dwell, Jn 14:17, 23, Eph 2:22). Ephesians 2:18, “For through him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” 1 Corinthians 6:17, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” Summing things up: In marriage the husband and the wife must sacrifice self for the benfit of the others and thus unity is achieved. If the husband or wife seek self at the sacrifice of the other, then they will be going separated directions always diverging and never achieving unity. Similarly, you must sacrifice self for Christ’s benefit if unity will ever be achieved. Jesus already sacrificed Himself for your benefit. To seek self is to walk opposite of Jesus and thus unity will never be achieved. You will not be found in the Lord.

 

A Serious Discussion

 

Most religious people reading this article will not appreciate the truth contained herein and may even say that it is unloving (Eph 5:11, Ti 1:16) – by their definition. Things like dying to self, forsaking the lusts of the flesh, total obedience to God, the wrongfulness of violence and war, and a woman’s role in God’s order. However, charity (your love toward others) rejoiceth in the truth (1 Cor 13:4-7) and the truth is after godliness (Ti 1:1). Jesus came to bring the truth and eternal life to those who will embrace it. 1 John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” To disregard Christ’s Word or truth means that it has no place in you (Jn 8:37, 43, 45, 47). Jesus said: John 3:19-21, “And this is the condemnation, that light (or truth) is come into the world, and men loved darkness (Satan’s lie) rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light (the truth), neither cometh to the light (embraces the truth), lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” The Holy Spirit is the “reprover” of the world’s sin or transgressions against God’s will (Jn 16:8).

 

Now lets consider the magnitude of what has just been said. If you are guilty of transgressing God’s will, then know this: Psalms 86:5, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee (also Ps 103:8, Ps 86:15, 103:11, Mic 7:18-19, Joel 2:12-13).” Jesus is ready to forgive you at this moment – for He demonstrated His love for you by laying down His life for your benefit – today, if you will hear His voice and harden not your hearts (Heb 4:7). However, the condemnation is that men love the darkness. To be forgiven, you must forsake the darkness and come to the light or truth (Is 55:7). You must forsake the lie and embrace the truth. But men love the darkness, the transgressions; they are not willing to forsake them, but rather to justify them. Forgiveness is available, but not desired. They do not want to acknowledge their wrongs, they love them. How can one be forgiven of that which one refuses to acknowledge much less forsake (Pv 28:13)? Men love their opinions, sentiments, ways, and doctrines. They will not come to the light (truth) because it will reveal the wrongfulness of the darkness they love. Jesus says to them: John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” The condemnation is that they love the darkness because their deeds are contrary to God’s love – which this article has endeavored to define. By and large, given the truth, most people will not walk therein – they love their ways and everybody’s doing it. Ephesians 5:13, “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” The truth exposes the darkness and its evil. Those that do the truth come to the light (embrace the truth). Those that sincerely love God forsake the darkness and come to the light and are in Him that is true (Jn 3:21, 1 Jn 5:20). Know this: Psalms 145:18-20, “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy (also Ps 25:14, 33:18).” Those who love the darkness (i.e. the wicked) and refuse to come to the light will experience the full wrath of God’s just condemnation, which was defined at the beginning of creation (Gen 2:17).

 

STOP seeking self and your own way and yield to the Lord and start dying to “you.” Proverbs 4:19, “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light (Jn 12:26, also 1 Thess 5:5). John 8:12, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (also Jn 9:5).” Jesus is the Word, which is the truth, which is the light, which is the way, which is the life (Jn 1:1-2, 14, 14:6). Christ is all in all and you must abide in Him who is the light (Jn 15:1-8, Col 3:11). To follow Jesus, you must forsake the darkness (the devil’s lie). Ephesians 5:14, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead (those walking in the darkness of the devil’s lie), and Christ shall give thee light (truth, also Col 1:13).” You must cast aside your opinions, thoughts and doctrines and approach God to know His will/ways even if it destroys everything you hold dear. Jesus said: John 7:17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Jesus also said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn 8:31-32).” Stop defending and justifying the darkness and start walking in the light. Be warned: Jeremiah 13:16, “Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.” Beware: Titus 1:16, “They profess that they know God (those walking in the blindness of the darkness); but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

 

Conclusion

 

Which love do you practice? The devil’s version, which is a lie, that proposes, “its all about me?;” or God’s truth, which states that “I” must “die.” To walk in “true” love, as God defines love, is to die to self, totally surrender to the authority and will of God, and sacrifice for others. Most will consider the things written herein to be extreme or fanatical. Well, consider that basis for Christ’s entire gospel is extreme or fanatical in human reasoning – love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Consider carefully what it takes to implement that. Was Christ just mouthing God’s Words with no intent for us to really follow them? Jesus said over and over that to enter into the kingdom of God you must DO the will of God (Mt 7:24-25, 12:50, Mk 3:35, Lk 11:21, 28, Jn 7:17). Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” You enter into the kingdom of God “now,” maybe today (Heb 4:7)! This walk with the Lord begins now and continues throughout eternity. We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end (Heb 3:14).

 

Saying Lord, Lord (sinner’s prayers) is not sufficient (Mt 7:21). Doing religious things or works is not sufficient (Mt 7:22-23). You must Do the will of God! This is only accomplished by being led by the Holy Spirit in obeying Christ’s commandments. The Holy Ghost’s work can only be accomplished through your obedience, which is your free-will love (sacrifice of self for God) in surrendering to the Lord’s purpose in you. The Spirit will tear down the flesh (the imaginations and high things that exalt themselves against the glory of God, 2 Cor 10:5) and you must not love this darkness and hold onto it. The Spirit leads in the path of righteousness (Ps 23:3), which is Christ’s narrow way that He forged back to God through His demonstrated walk or example. The golden rule tells us: Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (i.e. love thy neighbor as thyself).” Most agree with this in principle, but the seeking self and desires of the flesh always seems to get in the way. We must overcome the flesh through our love. No man could do this in and of self (self cannot overcome self), but we have the Holy Ghost.

 

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