God is Love

God is Love

In our culture, romantic love is held up as the ultimate human experience. It’s the subject of countless books. It has inspired the beautiful works of poetry and art. It’s the plot line of innumerable movies. It is the theme of most every song.  Now don’t misunderstand, these relationships are often beautiful gifts from God. God is the creator of romantic love. Marriage was his idea. He is pleased with a love between friends. The problem comes when those relationships, or the pursuit of those relationships, replace Him.

Ultimately, nothing is more destructive to our life than to put romantic love on the throne instead of God. The gods of romance put incredible pressure on our relationships, because these gods promise that the other person will do for us what only God alone can do. That is a big lie, and given enough time and pressure, the relationship will deteriorate. Only God can truly love us unconditionally, and only God can give us the ability to love others truly and unconditionally.

Ultimately, any false god disappoints us. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, or success at work, or sexual pleasure, or love. They all lead to disappointment and destruction.

God has ordered our lives in such a way that He is to be our most significant relationship. When we get that right, then our relationship with our spouse, our children, our parents, and our friends will have the proper priority and blessing. If we are experiencing frustration in some of our key relationships, then it very well may be because of idolatry. We may be worshipping a false god of love.

As children, we read books that end with “and they lived happily ever after.” Without realizing it, we end up putting that dream on the altar and bowing down to it. To distinguish true love from all the counterfeit gods, we need to read a different book, the Bible.

I was told agents of the Department of Treasury, who identify counterfeit money, do not study counterfeit money. They recognize counterfeit money after rigorously studying real money. By memorizing all the details of real money, they can easily recognize anything that is not the real thing.

I hope to use the same theory of training in our study about the false gods of love. We are accustomed to loving many things and people. The false gods of love tell us and show us what love is, and we don’t see the real thing very often, some never do. So, we easily accept a counterfeit—a false god of love, because they tell their lies everyday in the media. Therefore, I want us to focus on real love, so we can easily recognize the counterfeits and prevent deception.

So, what is real love? Here is the definition. I suggest we memorize it. 1 Cor 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Many people are hurt and disappointed because they accepted a concept of love that is different from this description. They have such a desire for love that they devote their life to (or worship) a false god of love. If someone tells you they love you, but they don’t express the characteristics of 1Cor. 13, then they do not LOVE you! If a person does not have Jesus Christ living in them, then they may like you, be attracted to you, or use you to meet their desires, but they do not love you. In addition, when you are no longer attractive, or do something they dislike, or are no longer useful, they will end the relationship.

Almighty God is not like that. God is the description of love. We can easily replace the word “love” with “God” in 1Cor 13 and be totally correct. (Reread it with the replacement.)

Furthermore, God is like: Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit (that is God) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

When God is in us, we will exhibit these characteristics of God. Without God, we cannot truly love or truly demonstrate any of the fruit of the Spirit. The source of love is God; it does not naturally reside in any other person or in us. Love is only in us when we are full of Holy Spirit.

Rom 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Furthermore, 1 John 4:7-10 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.          This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.       

God is love--not, God is loving. God and love are synonymous. Love is not an attribute of God; love is God. Whatever God is, love is. Therefore, if our conception of love does not include God’s characteristics of justice, judgment, purity, and holiness, then our idea of love is wrong. We are worshipping a false god. It is not true love nor the true God, but some vague impure god, all emotional, selfish, and weak.

God is love and He demonstrated love in an amazing degree—He gave His own life as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. No false god of love has this kind of power or dedication. With true love, it matters not how bad a man is, or how much he has rejected God, if he will put his faith in Jesus Christ on the Cross and be born again of the Spirit through baptism, God will accept him and save him.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The love of God is different from the love of everyone else. It is not the love of a father or mother, or a wife or lover; it is so different that it has to be demonstrated to us, because we do not understand what love is.

God is love. Scripture does not say God is grace nor God is mercy, although we know God is all-gracious and all-merciful, but it says God is love, because the characteristics of God are the characteristics of love. He is the personification of love. Love finds its origin in God and He is the One who gives love.

God did not create an emotional feeling or expression when He created man in His own image. God created us to love us. God disciplines those whom He loves so we will avoid evil, become like Him, and love Him and others in return.

There was not a time that God started loving or stopped loving, because He is love. Love didn’t begin when God created the universe. Love was already there. There is love within the triune God. Love is His nature.

Where God abides, there is love, including joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So, does God abide in you; is His fruit in you?

Eph 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s love through His life, death, and resurrection. The greatest example of love, God has shown to humanity, is the sending His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.

1John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

When we look at Jesus we see two things about God and love:
1. Love holds nothing back. “For God SO loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son.” He did this so we could experience true love with Him and others.

2. Love is totally undeserved. None of us deserves love, and yet God loved us even when we rejected Him, by letting His Son die on the cross. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is sufficient for the whole world, but is only effective for those who believe Jesus is Lord and Christ, and who come to Him to be born again of His Spirit.

“Love, love, love. All you need is love. Love is all you need,” sang the Beatles and the Baby Boomers a few decades ago. It is a true statement if we know what love is, but they did not know what they were saying. They believed in “free love” with no rules, no God. Love whomever you want, when you want, no commitment is necessary.

Consequently, they worshipped a false god who did not give the love that was promised, but instead gave us an increase in divorces, sexually transmitted disease (including AIDS), unwed mothers, 50 million murdered babies, more poverty, delinquency, crime, and social decadence. This false god of love is still worshipped today instead of Jesus Christ, which is why we are in the social mess we live in.

No one has ever seen God, who is love, but if He lives in us we will get to know Him; and people around us will witness His love in us and through us. We are intended to be God’s channels. God fills us with His Spirit and His love is demonstrated to others through us. This is the evidence that we are in Him and He in us. It is amazing to me that God dwells in us and we dwell in Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Living God, and He is perfecting us with love.

1John 4:17-18 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Love is made perfect in those who have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior, given their life to Him in baptism, and been born again of the Holy Spirit. For it is only in this way that the sin question is settled once and for all. Nothing can free us from the effect of sin, which is eternal death, except the blood of Christ. God promised that with His love we will have no fear of judgment or punishment through Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

In summary, we learn what love is when we focus on God, who is love. Everything else that calls itself love is a false god. God created us to love Him and to love others. It is impossible to do this without God living in us by the Holy Spirit. Saying we love God or we love others does not cut it. True love must be demonstrated. This is how we demonstrate it: by the grace of God. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit in us can we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord and extend God’s love to unbelievers. God commanded us to love, but love comes from God.

If we try to prove to God and others how much we love them, it is a sure sign that love and God are not in us. God is love and if God is in us then love will express itself in spontaneity and seem natural. Looking back, we cannot tell why we did certain things. We just did them according to the spontaneous nature of God in us. The life of God manifests itself in this spontaneous way, because the source of love is in the Holy Spirit, who abides in us.

We all need love. We all need God. If you want God in your life, if you want love in your life, then I invite you to receive it by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, repenting of your sin, following Him in baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit; that is, God who is love.