What is the Love of God?

What is the love of God? That is a good question that has at its root the consequences of eternity. So many people today like to use the argument “you’re not loving like Jesus” or “aren’t you supposed to love like God loves?” Or “that’s not the love of Christ.” Some even say that Christians are “some of the meanest people.” There’s dozens of phrases people use when arguing with people who don’t agree with them – especially in today’s society where everything is becoming acceptable. Even a good portion of the church has started accepting everything everyone does because it “shows the love of God.”

But does it really? Is that really the way that Jesus loved? What does the Bible say? That’s the real question. The question on every situation, circumstance, or issue should always be – “what does the Bible say?” Sadly, too many people (Christians) ignore this question, preferring to go with feelings, opinion, the view of the world, or the majority vote. But your feelings and opinion mean nothing compared to what God thinks (His Word), and the Lord is the majority vote.

So what does the Bible say about the love of God and how Jesus loved?

God Loves The World

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This explains the love of God. God loves the whole world, not just a segment. Not just the Jews. Not just the Christians. He loves everyone. Sinner and saint alike. Jesus demonstrated this throughout the Gospels as He healed everyone that came to Him. He demonstrated it when He allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross to pay for the sins of the whole world – past, present, and future. This love is demonstrated all throughout the New Testament through the preaching, teaching, and healing that God did through the disciples and fellow believers.

But don’t stop with verse sixteen. If you stop at verse sixteen, you will leave only understanding a small part of God’s view on things. And thus, you will have a skewed, incorrect idea of what God thinks.

John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world. He didn’t want to do that and He didn’t have to do that. Satan was already doing it. Jesus isn’t condemning the world, He is saving it. If you believe in Him, allowing the price that He payed to pay for your sins – He has saved you. He has saved you from eternal damnation in Hell to pay for your sins. That’s because someone has to pay the price. That salvation doesn’t happen by just believing and that’s it. If you say you believe and nothing else changes, then you didn’t really believe. If you say you believe and you go back to living how you were, you are not saved. The Bible is clear on that. Once you are ‘born again,’ there is a lifestyle change. The old man has passed away; all things are made new. Saul of Tarsus died and the Apostle Paul was born – a completely different person. His desires were different, His opinions were different, His way of seeing things was different, His actions were different. That does not mean that He didn’t struggle with sin. That means that his spirit was made new. He was a new creature in Christ. The same is true for anyone who accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Faith without works is dead. What are those works? Is it going about knocking on doors? Not necessarily. It’s works that your faith drive you to. I have faith in God and the Word of God and because of that faith, it drives me to action. It drives me to go to church to learn more about God. It drives me to love my neighbor. It drives me to pray. My faith drives me to act on that faith.

What about the condemning part though? Verse seventeen says that Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. He didn’t. The next verse tells us why the condemnation comes: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).”

The condemnation is brought on by the choice of the individual. They make the choice to refuse to allow Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for their sins. They choose to pay the price for their own sins. They condemn themselves. Verse nineteen says that they do this because the light came into the world and they rejected the light because they loved the darkness – their own sins – because their actions were evil. They have rejected the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They have rejected the Word of God. After all, Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. If you reject the Word of God, an argument from the Word of God will not work. If you try to have a conversation with someone who has rejected the Word of God, you can not argue or try to make a point based on the Word of God. It doesn’t work because they don’t believe it.

People that live in sin and want others to approve of it by using a lame argument that you’re “not showing the love of God,” do not understand the love of God in the first place. If they are in sin – according to the Word of God – they love their sin more than they love God.

Now we have seen that Jesus loves everyone. God loves everyone. If you’ve seen Jesus do it, then you’ve seen God do it because Jesus only did what He say His Father do (John 5:19). The question is though, is that love “all accepting?” Not in the manner of “does Jesus accept everyone,” but the question we have in society today – “Does God and Jesus accept everything we do?” Does He? Do They?

The answer, like everything we’re talking about here, can be found in scripture. First, let’s understand where sin comes from. I know this may seem elementary, but it needs to be said. 1 John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Sin is of the devil. Sin equals devil and devil equals sin.

Many today that like to cry out that Christians aren’t showing the love of God are doing so because Christians, even perhaps in the most loving way, are pointing out their sin to them. They’ve heard this idea that Christians are supposed to be loving, that Jesus was loving, and so they’ve equated loving with accepting and accepting with accepting all I do, even sin. This is not true or Biblical. But how did Jesus deal with the devil, with sin, when He walked the Earth.

Did He accept it? Did He embrace it? Did He pet it on the head and welcome it into the church and try to be buddy buddy with it? NO!

Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. – Luke 4:33-35 (NKJV)

When Jesus came across sin (the devil), even in church, He dealt with it immediately. He got rid of it. He called it out for what it was. He didn’t cuddle it and befriend it. He called it out.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” – Matthew 16:22-23 (NKJV)

Jesus called His own disciple out for getting into sin. He confronted him. He didn’t let Peter stand around telling him for the next three hours how He was wrong and shouldn’t go to the cross. He called him on it because He was wrong.

Now this doesn’t mean that we have to be mean and nasty to people. Far from it. When Pharisees brought the prostitute to Jesus, He was loving, compassionate, and for the most part – what people today think we should be. But they don’t understand what was going on. This woman was brought before Jesus and she was ashamed from all that we can tell. She wasn’t puffed up with pride telling Jesus that He had to accept what she was doing because “that’s what a loving God does.” No, He loved her. However, He also warned her to go and sin no more.

Why did He say to go and sin no more? Yes, one reason is because sin is evil and separates us from God. But there’s more to it than that. Look what He said to someone else in John 5:14 – “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Sin opens us up to the attacks of the devil. It gives the devil permission to bring destruction into our lives. Jesus loves us; – and it’s real love that warns us not to sin because we don’t want bad things to happen to others. He doesn’t tell us that living in sin is fine and dandy and embracing everything we do so we’ll come to His church. No. He tells us the truth because He loves us, even if it means we don’t come to His church.

If you’ve been born again for a number of years, it’s possible you’ve heard this illustration. There was a man alongside the road on a dark night and as cars drove by he would wave his hands in the air, as if crazed by something. He’d yell at the cars as they pass and everyone thought he was crazy. Yet little did they know that just up ahead the bridge was out and no one could tell until it was too late. This illustration is used for telling people about Jesus so they don’t go to Hell. In the same manner, when we call people out on their sin, instead of cuddling it and welcoming it into the church, we’re loving people, even though we may seem crazy.

If a man came to your door, a neighbor even, and started yelling not to drink the water, bathe in the water, or use the water for anything, you might start to think he’s crazy. He starts telling you not to drink it because it’s been contaminated and the sewer line is running into the water line. You wouldn’t think he’s being mean or nasty or unloving. You would if you didn’t believe him though. If you thought he was crazy and that there was no way for the sewer lines to contaminate the fresh water lines, you would think he was mean and unloving to continually knock on your door or knock cups of water from your hand. You would think his warnings were just to be mean or make you mad.

No. The reason many people do not understand the true love of God is because they don’t believe God. They don’t believe the Bible. They have chosen not to receive His love. They have chosen not to love God. They have chosen instead to love the world and love sin.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. – 1 John 2:15-16 (NKJV)

People who like to use the argument, the attack, the phrases like “you’re not very loving,” don’t understand what real love is. Real love is trying to save someone, even if they don’t want to be saved – from Hell or anything else. And we, as Bible-believing Christians, should not fall into the trap of thinking that what they are saying is true. Don’t for one second let the devil tell you how to be a Christian. Don’t allow a heathen (unbeliever for those who don’t like strong words like ‘heathen’) tell you what the Bible says. They don’t know it. They can’t understand it. It’s veiled to them. They might, by the grace of God, pick up something here and there, but not like a child of the Most High God can.

When I was in college, I had an English class where I was able to write a paper on the parables of Jesus. After doing my reading, studying, and praying, I wrote my paper and when I was done, I was happy. I nailed it. But then I had a sit-down with my teacher (everyone did, I wasn’t that special), and she explained how she had taken a class on the parables of Jesus (so now she was an expert), and she told me I was wrong and gave me a ‘C.’ I was upset. This heathen (she was by her own admission) told me she knew the Bible better than I did. That’s not pride. That’s fact. She thought she knew it better than me because she took a class. I read (and studied) the Bible on a near daily basis, prayed and fellowshipped with the author of the book, was His son, filled with the same spirit that inspired the writers to write it, yet she knew more because she took one class. I was upset, but I didn’t get down.

Don’t let people’s emotions and loud voices convince you that you’re wrong when you know you’re right because you’re standing on the Word of God. After all, most of these voices could care less about what you have to say. It’s true.

Most people, sad to say, could care less about the truth. They don’t want the truth. They want their opinion, their lifestyle, their way of doing things – and more so, they want you to accept it and say it’s okay. They want you to tell them that their sin is okay. It’s not.

So don’t let their lie of “you’re not loving like Jesus” influence you to step off the Word of God. Did Jesus love people? Yes! Of course. But He loved God more. You rarely hear that. Any time it came to God or people, Jesus always chose God. People hated Him for it, called Him names, accused Him, betrayed Him, abandoned Him, denied Him, and eventually crucified Him because He chose God over man. He chose the plan of God over man. You do the same too.

“You Shouldn’t Judge”

Another favorite scripture of non-Christians is “you’re not supposed to judge.” Many non-Christians who are confronted with their sin like to point out that Christians shouldn’t judge. It’s kind of amazing how every non-Christian under the sun knows these two scriptures (or thoughts, I doubt they actually know the scripture), and that’s all they know. They don’t know anything else about the Bible, or even how to follow any of it. After all, are they loving you? Aren’t they judging you?

The actual scripture comes from Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged (NKJV).” If you remember anything from middle school English class, You is the understood subject of the sentence. So it essentially says “You do not judge so that you won’t be judged.”

Now let me ask you a question: when Jesus was pointing out the Pharisees’ self-righteous hypocrisy, was He judging them? Just pause and think about that for a moment. Seriously. Stop reading right now and think about it before you move on to the next paragraph.

Don’t try the excuse that Jesus was God and because of that, He was allowed to judge them. Nope. Jesus walked the Earth as a man. If Jesus was judging the pharisees, then He was guilty of sin. Don’t try to excuse it away (and don’t worry, Jesus wasn’t sinning).

The whole idea of “do not judge” has, like “you’re not loving,” been taken out of context to silence Christians and make them feel terrible for standing on the Word of God. Before we answer the question about Jesus, I want you to look at two other scriptures.

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. – Luke 17:3 NKJV

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. – Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV

In both of these instances, do you really believe that the Christian who was sinned against, was judging his brother? This may be a little easier. Was he judging his brother, even though Jesus tells us to ‘judge not.’ The answer is no.

The answer to the question about Jesus is no. Jesus was not judging the pharisees and these Christians weren’t judging their brothers. And if you’ve encountered a similar situation, most likely, you weren’t judging your brother or sister either (or an unbeliever).

Let me ask you a simpler question – “How do you know when someone sins?” Is there is booming voice that shouts from the Heavens saying, “YOU HAVE SINNED!”? No. Is there a little bubble that pops up like in video games that says “sinner is sinning”? No. You know when a person sins, including yourself, because the Word of God tells you what sin is. To a greater extent, as Christians, we know when we sin because our spirits will let us know. When Christians sin, our conscience (or our spirits) lets us know. It doesn’t feel good, at least it doesn’t if you haven’t hardened your heart.

Is it a sin to lie? Is it a sin to murder? How do we know? The Bible says so. When Jesus was pointing out the sin of the pharisee’s self-righteous hypocrisy, it wasn’t Jesus judging them, it was the Word of God. Today, it’s not Christians judging people, it’s the Word of God. Christians may point it out, such as Jesus did, but they’re not judging people (at least in the example we’re talking about). Don’t get too nutty, you can get self-righteous yourself and start judging people as well. That’s why it’s important to stay with the Word of God.

The Word of God judges people. People judge themselves by their own actions. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing non-Christians to tell you what you are or aren’t doing. You stay with the Word of God.

REMEMBER….

Remember that it is possible that even though you’re correct with what you believe, and people may be in the wrong, that doesn’t mean that you are supposed to be mean about how you present the fact to people. Jesus was compassionate towards people. Unbelievers are being deceived by the devil. Christians who want to embrace the devil and sin and bring it into the church are deceived. We should still walk in love with people, and we should know when we have to confront and call out sin. When is that moment? You have to be led by the Spirit of God to know. Romans 8:14 says that the sons of God (and daughters) are to be led by the Spirit of God. It takes practice to be led by the Spirit.

But also remember, for the most part, Jesus was compassionate to those that knew they were sinners. But He was firm and called people out who were in pride about their sin. But you still have to be led by the Spirit. Don’t be led by the situation, by your head, or by a person.

And remember also, people have have to make a choice themself. It’s possible to be loving without cuddling up with sin. You don’t say that sin isn’t sin because that would be ‘unloving.’ You don’t embrace it and welcome it into the church. But just because you’ve made it clear that you’re being loving and you’re not judging, that doesn’t mean that people are going to sit down and get their life straight. That takes the Holy Spirit working in their heart. That’s something you can pray for, but you can’t force. They have to make the decision themself to admit they’re in sin and turn from it. You show the real love of God. You just love people like Jesus loved people and pray for them. Stay with the Word of God and the Spirit of God.

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