True vs. False (IX)
TRUE AND FALSE LOVE (2)
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 1/21/01 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Today, the Lord willing, I will continue on the subject of true and false love. Last week, we focused on love for unbelievers. We saw that we are to do good to unbelievers and have their best interests in mind, and this includes telling them that they are lost and their deeds are evil and telling them the gospel. Before I get into the main subject of today's sermon, I'd like to mention something that I didn't mention in last week's sermon. Let's turn over to 1 Corinthians 13, which is the chapter I read at the beginning of last week's sermon. Let's look at verse 7:
1 Corinthians 13: (7) [Love] quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The reason I wanted to go over this verse is that the false religionists use this verse as an excuse to speak peace when there is no peace, and they also use this verse to accuse us of being unloving when we say that universal atonement advocates are unbelievers. They'll say, "See? Love believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. That means that when someone says they love Jesus, we believe the best about them, even though they might be wrong in some doctrines. Those of you who do not give them the benefit of the doubt are unloving." Well, this is not what this verse is talking about at all. This verse is not saying that we are to believe that a person is saved who confesses salvation conditioned on the sinner. Think about it. If "love believes all things" means that love believes everything without exception, you can see where that goes. It would mean that love believes everything that is true AND everything that is false. It would mean that love believes that Satan is God. It would mean that love believes in a false gospel. It would mean that love believes Bill Clinton. We KNOW it CAN'T mean that love believes every single thing without exception. Paul didn't believe everything. He told people NOT to believe certain things and certain people. So those who use this verse to justify their peace-speaking and to call us unloving are just fooling themselves. Okay, I just wanted to mention that before we went on.
Okay, let's go into the topic for today. Today, the Lord willing, I will be speaking on love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the things I need to say right up front is that NONE of the commands to love the brothers are directed at unbelievers. This is a command for Christians only. Because one can only have a brother in Christ if one is already in Christ! So those of you listening to this who believe in a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner, including the belief that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, are NOT being addressed when we call on people to have love for their brothers in Christ. Your brothers are not in Christ; they are in Satan. You and all who believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner have one father, which is Satan. Your love is a false love. The only ones who truly love their brothers and sisters in Christ are the ones who believe the DOCTRINE of Christ, which is the gospel of God's promise to save His people conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.
As I mentioned last week, there is a noun called fil-a-del-FEE-ah in New Testament Greek, that means "brotherly love." And there is an adjective, fil-a-DEL-foss, which means "loving the brothers." Fil-a-del-FEE-ah is used five times in the Bible, and I'd like for us to turn to each one of these.
Hebrews 13: (1) Let brotherly love continue.
2 Peter 1:5-7:
2 Peter 1: (5) But also in this very thing, having brought in all diligence, having fully supplied in your faith virtue, and with virtue knowledge, (6) and with the knowledge self-control, and with the self-control patience, and with the patience godliness, (7) and with the godliness brotherly love, and with brotherly love, love.
The "brotherly love" there is fil-a-del-FEE-ah, and the "love" there is a-GA-pay.
1 Peter 1:22:
1 Peter 1: (22) Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart,
Here is fil-a-del-FEE-a and a-ga-PA-oh.
1 Thessalonians 4:9:
1 Thessalonians 4: (9) Now as to brotherly love, you have no need [for me] to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
Here again is fil-a-del-FEE-a and a-ga-PA-oh.
Now let's turn to Romans 12:9-13.
Romans 12: (9) [Let] love [be] without dissimulation, [in horror] fleeing from evil, cleaving to the good, (10) in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having gone before one another in honor; (11) in diligence, not slothful, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) in hope, rejoicing; in affliction, enduring; in prayer, steadfastly continuing; (13) imparting to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality.
The first "love," which appears in verse 9, is a-GA-pay, then we have the brotherly love in verse 10, and then also in verse 10, the word translated "loving fervently" is fil-OSS-tor-goss, which is a familial or fraternal love. It's the only time this word is used in the Bible.
Let's take a look at what this love toward the brothers looks like. First, in verse 9, it is WITHOUT DISSIMULATION. Dissimulation is pretense. Our love to our brothers is not to be a pretended love. It is to be a genuine love. This is like what we read in 1 Peter 1:22, about UNPRETENDED brotherly love. In verse 10, God tells us that we are to show our love to our brothers by going before one another in honor. The King James version translates it, "in honour preferring one another," but this is a wrong translation. Although it is true that we are to consider others better than ourselves, as in Philippians 3:3, this is not what Romans 12:10 is talking about. It means that we are to take the lead, or to be an example to our brothers. True love to our brothers is one in which we are good examples to them in our obedience. In verse 13, we see that we show true love to our brothers when we give to our brothers in need and are hospitable to our brothers.
And speaking of brothers in need, let's turn to 1 John 3:10-18:
1 John 3: (10) By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone not practicing righteousness is not of God; also the [one] not loving his brother. (11) Because this is the message which you heard from [the] beginning, that we should love one another, (12) not as Cain was of the evil one, and killed his brother. And for what did he kill him? Because his works were evil, but the things of his brother [were] righteous. (13) Do not marvel, my brothers, if the world hates you. (14) We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. The [one] not loving the brother remains in death. (15) Everyone hating the brother is a murderer, and you know that every murderer does not have everlasting life abiding in him. (16) By this we have known the love [of God], because that [One] laid down His life for us; and on behalf of the brothers we ought to lay down [our] lives. (17) Whoever has the means of life of the world, and sees his brother having need, and shuts up his heart [of compassion] from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1 John makes some powerful statements about love toward the brothers and the state of those who do not love the brothers. Here we get into true and false love toward the brothers. Look at verse 17:
1 John 3: (17) Whoever has the means of life of the world, and sees his brother having need, and shuts up his heart [of compassion] from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
What is this saying? It is saying that if there is one of our brothers who is in need of the basic things of life, and we have the means to help him and we don't, it shows that we do not have the love of God abiding in us! It shows that we are really FALSE brothers! True love gives to brothers in need. False love withholds from brothers in need. As verse 18 says, false love is just in word and tongue, while true love is in deed and truth. Let's turn over to James 2:15-17 as an example of this:
James 2: (15) But if a brother or a sister is naked and may be lacking in daily food, (16) and any one of you say to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but does not give them the things the body needs, what gain [is it]? (17) So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.
So the person who says, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," yet does nothing to help his brother to BE warmed and filled, is not one who is showing true love. It is the one who has the deeds to back up his words. Let's go back to 1 John 3 and look at something very interesting. BEFORE John talks about not giving to a brother's physical needs as a sign of hatred, look at what he says in verses 11-12:
1 John 3: (11) Because this is the message which you heard from [the] beginning, that we should love one another, (12) not as Cain was of the evil one, and killed his brother. And for what did he kill him? Because his works were evil, but the things of his brother [were] righteous.
The Holy Spirit through the apostle John here introduces Cain as an example of one who is the opposite of love to the brothers. Now why would he pick Cain out as an example right in the middle of something about love? This is very important. What did Cain do? He killed his brother, Abel. But what did Cain do BEFORE he killed his brother? He brought a SACRIFICE. Remember that? Let's turn back to Genesis 4:1-5:
Genesis 4: (1) And the man knew his wife Eve. And she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah. (2) And she continued to bear his brother, Abel. And Abel became a shepherd of flocks. And Cain became a tiller of the ground. (3) And in the end of days, it happened that Cain brought an offering to Jehovah from the fruit of the ground. (4) And Abel brought, he also, from the firstlings of his flocks, even from their fat. And Jehovah looked to Abel and to his offering. (5) And He did not look to Cain and to his offering. And Cain glowed greatly with anger, and his face fell.
God accepted Abel's offering and didn't accept Cain's offering. And this made Cain angry to the point of killing Abel. The false religionists would say that God was unfair in not accepting Cain's offering. After all, in verse 2, Cain's occupation was a farmer, and so Cain brought an offering from what he produced, while Abel's occupation was a shepherd, and Abel brought an offering from what HE produced. Didn't both of them do their best? They sure did. But Abel's offering was accepted, and Cain's offering was rejected. Why? Because Abel brought the blood of sacrifice, which was a picture of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Abel pled the blood of the coming Messiah as the only ground of his salvation. Cain pled the best he could offer, which was only dead works. And Cain hated Abel because of this. Now think of this: Had Abel spoken peace to Cain, would Cain have been angry at Abel? No. Abel agreed with God that Cain's works were evil, and Cain hated Abel for this. Now back to 1 John 3. See what John says after the story of Cain. Let's read verses 13-15:
1 John 3: (13) Do not marvel, my brothers, if the world hates you. (14) We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. The [one] not loving the brother remains in death. (15) Everyone hating the brother is a murderer, and you know that every murderer does not have everlasting life abiding in him.
God compares Abel to the ones who love and Cain to the ones who do not love. God's people are hated by the world. Why are God's people hated? Because they will not speak peace when there is no peace. They tell the world that it is lost and its deeds are evil. And how do God's people show love to one another? By speaking peace to each other and taking sides with each other against the world. Let me tell you one big way in which you know that you love your brothers and sisters in Christ: you will not speak peace to their enemies. Now if I had a friend, and my friend had an enemy, what would happen if I made friends with that enemy? Well, I would show that I really wasn't a friend after all. It's the same way with brothers in Christ. If I call you a brother in Christ, and yet I speak peace to your enemies, I show that I am not really your brother in Christ. We've just had this happen recently, haven't we? We had someone who we thought was a brother in Christ, but now he knowingly speaks peace to our enemy, which is God's enemy. This is what God calls hatred.
Let's look through 1 John to see what God says about those who love their brothers and those who hate their brothers. Let's first look at 1 John 2:9-11:
1 John 2: (9) The [one] claiming to be in the light, and hating his brother, is in the darkness until now. (10) The [one] loving his brother rests in the light, and no offense is in him. (11) But the [one] hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness blinded his eyes.
Verses 9 and 11 talk about one who claims to believe the true gospel but who hates his brother. What does God say about such a person? Well, there's no beating around the bush here: God says that this person is IN the darkness, WALKS in the darkness, and has his eyes blinded by the darkness. It is clear that God is saying that such a person is LOST. No saved person walks in the darkness. But this person professes to believe the truth! What about his profession of faith? Doesn't that count for something? Well, as we see here and in many other passages, if a man's WALK is in darkness, his PROFESSION is false. Walk and profession are connected. We see this especially in the issue of loving the brothers. If someone claims to love his brother and claims to believe the true gospel but speaks peace to his brother's enemies, then he actually HATES his brother and walks in darkness. And when the Bible speaks of HATING one's brother, it's not saying that the hated person is the actual brother of the one hating him; it means that the hated person is someone whom the hater BELIEVES to be his brother. The hated one is NOT THE TRUE BROTHER of the one hating him.
Let's next look at 1 John 3:14-15:
1 John 3: (14) We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. The [one] not loving the brother remains in death. (15) Everyone hating the brother is a murderer, and you know that every murderer does not have everlasting life abiding in him.
How do we know that we have passed from death to life? It is because we love the brothers. We speak peace to them and their brothers, and we take sides with them against their enemies. And look again at what God says about those who do not love the brothers: He says that they remain in death and do not have everlasting life abiding in them. It can't get any clearer than that. These people who do not love the brothers are LOST. Note that God says that everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. And not only that, but that every murderer is lost. Some people would say that all Christians are murderers, since we all fall short of the love for our brothers that God requires. Well, even though we do not have perfect love for our brothers, God says that EVERY MURDERER does not have everlasting life abiding in him. Do you want to call yourself a murderer? Well, you're free to do that, but just remember that when you're doing that, you're saying that you do not have everlasting life abiding in you.
Now let's turn to 1 John 4:7-8:
1 John 4: (7) Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and everyone who loves has been generated from God, and knows God. (8) The [one] who does not love has not known God, because God is love.
God repeats Himself again. There's no mistaking this. EVERYONE WHO LOVES is regenerate, and EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT LOVE is unregenerate. Is this clear enough? Think of all the unregenerate religionists in the world who claim to love. God says that they DO NOT LOVE. Their love is a false love. Their love does not flow from a heart that believes the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone and that judges by this gospel. Now to verse 12:
1 John 4: (12) No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love having been perfected is in us.
Again, our love for each other is evidence that God abides in us. And verses 20 and 21:
1 John 4: (20) If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the [one] not loving his brother whom he has seen, how is he able to love God whom he has not seen? (21) And we have this commandment from Him, that the [one] who loves God also loves his brother.
Are we getting the picture here? One who claims to love God shows himself to be unregenerate by hating the brothers, which is mainly manifested in speaking peace to his enemies. Notice the end of verse 21: the one who loves God also loves his brother. It's a fact. One who truly loves God loves God's people.
So I ask all of you who are listening to this: Do you love the people of God? Do you give to them if they are needy and you have the means to meet their need? Do you takes sides with them against this wicked world, which includes the irreligious as well as the religious? You might claim to believe the doctrines of grace and to love your brothers who believe the same thing you do, but do you speak peace to those who confess a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner? If you do speak peace to those who confess a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner, including those who believe in universal atonement, then your profession of belief in the true gospel of sovereign grace is a sham. God says that you are a liar, you are a murderer, you walk in darkness, you remain in death, you do not have everlasting life abiding in you, you have not been born of God, and you do not know God. But to those of you, my brothers, who believe in the true gospel and do not speak peace to the enemies of God's people, God says that you rest in the light, you have passed from death unto life, you have been born of God, and that God abides in you.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in word and in deed. Amen.