Bible Lesson 136

KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. MATTHEW 22:36-40.

A lawyer asked Jesus’. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law” Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’

‘Our Lord told His disciples that love and obedience were organically united. The final test of love is obedience. A.W. Tozer ,(John 14:21-24).

In this lesson we will undertake to find out from God’s Word, the Bible, what love is, and how we can know that we, first, love God, and then love each other. As we saw in our scripture text for this lesson (Matthew 22:36-40), Jesus Christ put all of the commandments of God into two simple statements. Christ told the lawyer that approached Him and asked which was the greatest, or most important, command in the law,’first Love God with everything in you, and then He gave a second commandment that said ‘.Love your neighbor as yourself! I don’t know about you but that says something but we need to look at it deeper, and question our understanding of love, or we have not accomplished much. One thing that we can establish in our minds about love from Matthew 22:37, is that our love for God must be a complete love, loving God with every aspect of our heart, soul and mind.

We can look at other verses that speak of our love for God and these verses add strength.. in other words we are to love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength. (Mark 12:30). God has written to us that we must love Him with all that is in us. Later in His ministry, Jesus Christ preached and it is recorded in the gospel of Luke 14:26-32, about the level of love that is required by those who would be Christ’s disciples (be saved).

Jesus says in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” Jesus really got to the point about our love for Him in Luke 14:26. This has always been a difficult verse for me, but I have never been put off by it. It came from the mouth of my Lord and Savior and I know that He does all things well. So, I must love Him more than I love my father, mother, wife, children or anyone else.

That does not mean that I don’t love them, it simply means I love them differently. That statement by Jesus Christ in Luke 14:26, must be understood in the context of all other scripture; and we know that what Jesus Christ was teaching there in Luke was the same thing that He taught His disciples back in Matthew 10:37, which was our love for Him was to be supremely in favor of Him. We are to love our families, but we are to love Christ more than we love anyone or anything.

It is evident that people in this age have such a skewed notion concerning real love, that in order to teach most people about love you have to deprogram them. We have learned Hollywood’s definition of love, which is flagrantly lustful, ungodly, animalistic and anything except real love. That’s bad enough for us older folks but it is life damaging for children who learn from the T.V. and from personal observation of those around them that love is strictly tied to sex. It is to the point in America that just about every product that is advertised on the television uses sex in some form to push their product.

It appears that most Americans desire titillation so much that they will allow the television and movies and other media to feed them (and their children) a steady diet, even at an early age. Love is an action verb and love, real love, sometimes includes sex but sex is a special gift from God and He put limits on sex. Sex is strictly for the marriage bed, only allowed between two people (one man and one woman), who have manifested their devotion and commitment to each other in a marriage ceremony. I know that America had a president that wanted to rewrite the definition of sex (Bill Clinton), but it didn’t work for him, and now the person who occupies the white house is committing the same kind of heresy, but it won’t work for him either. So many people in our day seem to think that God is a knock-off of Hugh Hefner, who produces a magazine that is nothing but exploitation of God’s gift of sex. Unless and until, America can get it’s mind straight about God and God’s plan for mankind, we will never understand real love.

I know that we should not have to deal with the proper exercise of sex when we preach and teach; however we had better begin to teach our elders and our children about it, or else we will lose great portions of our society. I cannot be certain of the age in which it began, but it began to be noticed first around the time of the hippy generation. The hippies used or misused, for their standard, the word love; but there was certainly not much love in what they did. It does not require love to smoke dope and create havoc, and have sex with anyone and everyone. They were a group that really demonstrated that they were too gutless to fight to defend their country, they demanded their kind of love and their brand of peace while letting brave and true men fight for peace. That kind of action was the beginning of the demeaning of the act of sex.

Then came the age of Women’s rights. I don’t know what rights women lacked back then but their actions have not glorified God. God created man and woman equal, but with different functions and now women want to act and look like men, go naked or almost naked; and they even take that naked sin into Churches that will stand for it. Women have lost their ability to be embarrassed even in their nakedness. Of course, I am not lumping all women into this disgraceful bunch, but those who advertise sex in the way they act and dress and display their wares, know who they are. We in America have, at least too many have, begun to buy, sell, trade, and use sex as a commodity. We have lost the true meaning of love and like the hippies, we use it and throw it away. God gave man and woman the sex act (coming together as one flesh) for use in marriage only! God gave it to married couples for pleasure and demonstration of love and procreation. Too many in our day have demeaned it to an almost animalistic act. That is not love.

As we lost, and abandoned God’s kind of love, which is a love that, suffers long and is kind, does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked , thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, endures all things, we lost or proved that we never really had God’s kind of love. Real love never fails, it always endures! I love my wife and have loved her for some 62 years of marriage. I will always love Her as long as I live, because I am able to trust her. She has proven her love in that she has endured the hard times, enjoyed the good times and looks forward to each day.

I am not going to spend much more time on this attempt to get people to look at real love and away from the plastic and false and ungodly kind of love that exists in so many instances today; but before I leave that subject, let me share with you from a much quoted journalist, G.K. Chesterton, and a comment on Sex and Love. “The later sex writers would refuse to admit that there is any sacred bond between anybody and anybody else. The truth is that this mystical feeling about the love of man and woman was treated so clumsily that it fell between two stools. When it was really mediaeval, it could be preserved for ever in a story like that of Dante and Beatrice. When it was really modern, it simply fell to pieces, into little decaying scraps rather like wriggling worms, the hundred little loves and lust of the modern sex novel. But the romantics of the nineteenth century held it up in a sort of indeterminate pre-eminence; a ‘. toppling idolatry; trying to make it at once as sacred as they thought good and as free as they found convenient. They wanted to eat their wedding-cake and have it.”

What we must do if we are ever to bring back the true meaning of love, is to stop being afraid to speak the truth about it. We have come to be people who do not really teach our children the great truths of the Bible. We prefer to guard our children by keeping them dumb until they have committed all of the great sins and errors of life. Sex can be a great healer in our crumbling marriage statistics, if we can convince people that it is meant to be experienced only in marriage, only with a legal spouse, as a gift addressed from God to those who truly love each other. We are afraid for the most part to teach our children that the only place that sex is proper is, after they are married, and we should teach them that foreplay is not proper except in the marriage bed.

I realize that this lesson on love, is a subject that most do not look forward to; however we have a duty to teach our children the proper way to handle the blessings of life, to keep them from turning those blessings into curses. I personally do not believe that this should take place in one huge lesson plan, that covers everything from God’s love to becoming one flesh in marriage. It is best handled and more properly understood, if we begin when the child is probably 6 or 8 years old. That should not be a standard but the parent should know the child well enough to know when it is ready to begin the love lessons.

This education in love is best done as a cooperative work that involves both mother and father. Girls are best instructed by mothers, and where mothers are not available by some good Christian woman who can be trusted with the task. The same applies to young boys, the father or some Christian man who you can trust. It should always be taught that what is being taught is a great and grand gift from God and that God has set strict limits on it’s use. With that said, and settled, let’s explore love in all of its forms.

The Bible deals with three distinct kinds of love. The first is Agape or God’s kind of love. That love is a love that is an unselfish love, a love that requires nothing in return. God’s love is the highest kind of love because it is demonstrated in giving of itself. We can read of Agape love (God’s love for man), in John 3:16, where Jesus told Nicodemus, “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.” That points to the vast difference between God’s love (Agape), and the kind of love that we have one for the other. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, commented about that kind of love in John 15:13, and said, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Lest we become too careless and too over emotional about the love that we find in those verses there in the gospel of John, let’s consider them in detail.

In John 3:16, we found that Agape love gives of itself. It does not give trinkets or money or even it’s comfort, it give of itself. Jesus Christ was the gift that God gave to mankind, and it cost God a personal loss. He gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ who had been part and parcel of God for eternity. All too many people today read that one verse in John 3:16 and take it out of context and think that it means that since God sent His Son to die on the cross that everyone will somehow be saved. That a God who would give His Son to save the world would not punish anyone who ever lives in this world. That is a travesty upon God to think that about that verse, because God has explained the verse in the next few verses following verse 16. If we read verse 17 through 21 we find that God the Father had judged the world in Adam and condemned everyone for sin, and He sent His Son Jesus Christ to save those that God has given to Christ. Verses 18-21 tell us that those who believe in Christ is not condemned ‘but he who does not believe is condemned already (right here and right now). People are condemned because God sent the light of the world to them and they chose darkness instead, because their deeds were evil.

Those who know and abide in the truth comes to that light and they do it only because God has decreed their salvation. If we are honest and really want to know the truth, we find that John 3:16 condemns many more people than it saves. We have to remember that the New Testament was written in the Greek and the Greeks is much more expressive than our English translation. The word that is translated believe there in John 3:16 is the Word Pisteuo, and it speaks of being persuaded, to place confidence in, to trust and rely upon what you trust. It points to commitment , agreement, assurance , obedience, and faith. It does not simply mean a mental nod to the fact of the historic Jesus. Belief and Faith are both taken from the same Greek root. A video that came to me this morning as I am writing this lesson on love helped me complete the lesson.

The video was one in which an announcer questioned a young man who had written a book about the love of God. The book will be a good seller because it expresses as truth a lie that is directly off the mud sills of hell. Now this young man clearly personifies the scriptures written in 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15. Those scriptures say this’.”For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” These verses fit this young fella and others like him, who devise, false means and ways of attaining, what only God and Jesus Christ can provide.

Oh, he will attract thousands with his false doctrines about the love of God, which incidentally he thinks to have found all the answers, to the question of eternal life; but he must be asking the wrong questions. His part Universalism, part antinomian and fully heretical message ,is so far off the Bible that I have to wonder if he can even read. Have you ever noticed how many people will flock to hear and follow a preacher like this, who simply concocts a sweet message to their ears and shields them from the real masculine facts of the Word of God. I sent as many of you as I have e-mail addresses for, the video to watch for yourself. I hope you noticed that he looked like the boy next door and he had a winning smile as he spouted heresy and claimed it was Biblical. He believes that since 1st John 4:8 makes the statement that God is love that everybody will somehow, someway, someplace, either while alive or even in the grave, gain heavens portals and God’s eternal blessing. He has thought to have found the way to untie the knot of God’s Justice. It is a shame but he will carry many simple people to hell with him. It is sad because all he has to do is to begin to read the Bible, with the intent of learning the truth ‘.instead of reading it to try and teach it a better way, his way.

I’m sure that many, perhaps most of you have heard God’s love preached in such a way as to make it impossible for a God who has the attribute of love to judge and send anyone to eternal torment in hell fire. What 1st John 4:8 says is that God is love, it most assuredly does not say that love is God. God is love, just as God is Holy, Just and Judges sin. God has given mankind a map or a plan to live by on the earth and God’s love will not set aside God’s wrath in the judgment.

Satan and politicians like to separate us in this world; and they succeed unless and until, God works to save us and then God unites us and in love binds us together. Someone has said “Let everyone understand that the real love of God does not consist in tear-shedding, or in that sweetness and tenderness for which we usually long, just because they console us, but in serving God in justice, fortitude of soul and humility.” Yes, praise God, He is love and He loved us enough to plan, and oversee the Cross that His Son Jesus Christ was nailed to, to die in order that some could be saved. However, God did not sacrifice His Son Jesus in order to save those who spit upon the grave of Jesus, as they contrive to “say” they believe and yet live as the devil himself. Any time you encounter someone who believes that way you can be sure that they need to know the truth of God, which is that, It is God that saves and all the churchy noise in the word will never save one lost soul, unless God does the saving. Let’s look around us as we watch T.V., read the papers, listen to the radio and see life for ourselves as it really is.

Now, answer this question, how much love do you see in the world today’ If you said that you saw a lot of love, you will become suspect in my eyes; because there may be isolated instances that look like love and some few may really come from hearts of love; however the world in our day is bereft of real love. It does not have to be this way. There is hope but we have to begin to seek the Love of God and then to manifest that love to others. Ralph Waldo Emerson said and I quote, “Love would put a new face on this weary old world in which we dwell as pagans and enemies to long, and it would warm the heart to see how fast the vain diplomacy of statesmen, the impotence of armies, and navies, and the lines of defense, would be superseded by this unarmed child. Love will creep where it cannot go, will accomplish that by imperceptible methods—- being its own level, fulcrum, and power, which force could never achieve.”

George Sweeting has set down five steps in knowing how to love and I will borrow his steps; because I see them as the only way that we will ever know the love of God.

1. Receive Christ as your Savior. He is God’s gift of love to you. (1st John 4:8).

2. Experience the power of God’s love in you life. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.” (Roman 5:5).

3. Seek the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22).

4. Pray for an abounding love. (Philippians 1:9).

5. Begin to love by faith. Believe God for the love you cannot muster in yourself.

Nowhere in those five steps will you find anyone at work except God. Love is not the product of the flesh, we normally call fleshly love lust. Notice that Mr. Sweeting, gave us as the firs step of experiencing real love is to receive Christ as your savior. Noting happens in true love until the old creature is crucified and God raises up a new creature (Ephesians 2:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:17).

Second, unless you have truly been saved, know the truth and become obedient, you

Cannot experience the power of God’s love in your life.

Third, fourth, and fifth’.are all closed to you until you have prayed and studied and sought God in earnest until God finds you and brings you from death to life in His Amazing salvation. The reason that more people in our day do not seek the face of God is that too many have preached a false religion, with a false God, and false hopes and dreams. We have made a laughing stock out of the Creator; and His Church.

There is a solution to our problem and that is that we do not know the Love of God nor His Son Jesus Christ. I know that most people want to buy into God’s love at sales prices but that doesn’t happen. We never accept Christ, He must accept us and that means that He must see our love for Him by our obedience to Him. I will close by asking you to read John chapter 14, beginning at verse 15 and reading through verse 24. That will set you straight on how we prove our love for God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob