Divine Perfectness of Love

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 6
" We love him because he first loved us." We now delight in the Lord, but we did not come in in that way, it is a mistake to think so. We do not come in by loving God, we do not love God because He is lovely; we are not competent, we cannot love Him, we should not be sinners if we could. But we are sinners, and must come in as sinners-as debtors to His grace, and then, having come in as debtors, and finding God to be what He is, love, meeting us in our every need, then we love Him, finding how He had first loved us.
Verse 20. "If a man say he loves God and hateth his brother he is a liar." Here we see the truth is checked in an interesting way by practical details. If a man does not love his brother, he cannot love God; wherever the divine nature is, it is attractive to one born of God.
Verse 21. " And this commandment have we from him." We have another important principle in this verse;—whatever the energy of the divine life in me, it will always bear the character of obedience. While there was in Christ the devotedness of love, there also was obedience; we are to love the brethren, as being led by the energy of the Spirit, but to love them in the holy place of obedience to God. There is nothing so humble as obedience. So the Lord said, "As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." So, again, when Lazarus was sick, and they sent to Jesus, He abode two days in the same place, because He had no word from His Father. And so, if I have any little service to do for my brother, it must be done in obedience to the word of God. It is what Satan tried to get the Lord out of in the wilderness. " Oh!" says Satan, "have your own will, if it is in ever so little a bit, by making these stones into bread, now you are hungry." "No," the Lord replied; "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." And here we get a countercheck to all the workings of the divine nature, for if it is not a command, it is not of God. Man may put on all the forms of love imaginable, and become like an angel, but if it is not in obedience to a command it is nothing, and will not do.
Chapter 5:1. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," and there we get the link between God and the family. When any one is born of God, he is my brother, and is that which is a link between my soul and God. If the question be asked, " how am I to know who is my brother?" every one that is born of God is my brother. I may have to sorrow over him sometimes, but still he is my brother, because I am linked to him by the same divine nature. It is of great importance to remember this in the present day, because where the Holy Ghost really acts, there will be a tendency to follow different courses. There has been an awakening from the deadness around, by the power of the Spirit. There are glimmerings of light. Mere stones would be motionless, but a moving power comes in, and they all go in different directions. If they were all subject to the Spirit of God they would all go one way.
And there is another thing to be observed, that we are not at the beginning of Christianity, but at the dark end, and escaping, as it were, by different roads. The very fact of the operation of the Spirit of God, if we were absolutely and perfectly subject to the Spirit in all things, would be to produce perfect unity; but we are not thus subject-and being what we are, there is a tendency in us to go in different directions. The remedy for this is, that in so far as my heart is in fellowship with Christ's heart, love to all saints will be there; to the same extent that Christ is valued, will the saints be valued. In proportion as Christ's thoughts are known to me, will all the saints be in my thoughts. I do not know Christ's love rightly if one saint is left out. As it is said, in Eph. 3:1818May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (Ephesians 3:18), " May be able to comprehend with all saints,... that ye may be filled with all the fullness of God." If I should leave one out, I should leave out part of Christ's heart. In Col. it is, "your love to all saints."
In Colossians we have the fullness of the Head, and in Ephesians the fullness of the body. God's grace working in me makes every one born of God the object of my affection. I cannot go every way at once, and a real difficulty arises now, how to walk in fidelity to Christ and in love to the brethren, so as not to let the affections get into a loose and general way. I cannot love God without loving all the children of God. By this we know that we love God, when we love His children, and vice versa.
Now that is reasoning in a circle, as men say; but there is truly in it a counter-check against the evil of our own heart. If I love the Father, I shall love the children for the Father's sake, but if I were to lead them to do anything wrong, it would show that I did not love them for the Father's sake, but for my own satisfaction and pleasure. If it is for the Father's sake you love the children, then it is as God's children you love them, and not for your own comfort and pleasure; and this is proved by your loving God and keeping His commandments. Obedience and faith, in your own walk, will prove that it is as God's children you love the brethren. How practical is this, both in wisdom and in love. If I know that a member of the body of Christ is going wrong, does that make me cease to love him? No, but because he is going wrong my soul is more deeply and affectionately going out after him, as being one with Christ. To be able to love the brethren faithfully, we must keep close to Christ.
Again, we have what I call a countercheck. If one comes to me with a vast amount of truth without holiness, I cannot recognize such, he is not of the Spirit-He is the Spirit of holiness. Or if there be a great show of holiness, and truth be absent, that also is not of the Spirit- He is the Spirit of truth.
Satan never touches that which is born of God-he cannot touch it. Worldliness is a dreadful hindrance to the saint; we have the three-fold opposition, in the world, the flesh, and the devil; the world opposing the Father; the flesh opposing the Spirit; and the devil opposing Christ. The difficulty lies in this, maintaining our nearness to Christ, which the world coming in hinders. Then I am open to all sorts of error, for I shall not take the trouble to be right unless I am near to Christ. It is very troublesome and disagreeable, sometimes, to have to do with saints-(sinners too). One cannot give up this thing, another cannot give up that, and so they get off the foundation; and if we are at a distance from Christ, we shall be ready to give them up, and shall not take the pains to get them right, when they happen to be wrong. So Moses said, "Have I conceived all this people, have I begotten them, that thou shouldst say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom?"
Paul says, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you;" you have got off the right ground, and I must have you born again; I am travailing over again for you, that you may be right, because you belong to Christ. When Paul looked at them in confusion as they were away from Christ, he could only say, " I stand in doubt of you." But when he looked at them as in Christ, he could say, "I have confidence in you, through the Lord." How is this? Paul, himself, had got nearer to Christ. Faith sees not only Christ in the glory, but sees also the connection between the glory of Christ and saints, the link and tie between God and His people, and it is that which enables one to get on. So Moses said of Israel, not only God was their God, but "they are thy people." The greater the trouble the greater the joy, because that is the link; the real hindrance is the world-there is nothing takes the energy of the Spirit out of the heart like the world. See Gehazi in the king's court; his heart had drawn in the spirit of the world, and he was able to entertain the world with the mighty actings of the Spirit.
The world must be entertained, and it will be entertained by religion, when it cannot get anything else. All that I know of the world's path, spirit, affections, and conduct, is, that it has crucified my Lord; not in its affections and lusts merely, but by wicked hands it has crucified my Master. Suppose it was but yesterday you had seen Pontius Pilate, the chief priest, and elders of the people putting Christ to death, would you feel happy today in having communication and fellowship with them? Well, the stain of Christ's blood is just as fresh upon the world in God's sight as if it had been done but yesterday; the time which has elapsed makes no difference in the moral guilt. The question is, am I to get under the power of the world, or am I to overcome it?-in my heart I mean. When Christ was down here, with all the beauty and moral grace in which God the Father would delight, there was not found in the world one thought or sentiment or common feeling, drawing them to Him. The world in all its classes, rulers, priests, pharisees, and the multitude, all have been associated in hanging the Son of God and Son of man on a gibbet. Such is the world's true heart. If I have seen the glory of His Person, and see that He is the very Son of God who came down, and that the world turned Him out, can I be happy with it? The link between the thoughts and affections and the world exists in every heart; so that in all sorts of things, even in walking through the streets, I constantly find that which attracts my eye, and my eye affects my heart. Nothing will overcome the world in my heart but the deep consciousness of how it has treated Christ. Take my children for instance; I want them to get on well in the world, I must have good places for them in it; and nothing but knowing the place Christ had in it will overcome the world in my heart. There is no possibility of getting on unless the world is given up, and the heart is satisfied with. Christ, and Christ is everything to it. What do I read of Abraham? That he left his country, his kindred, and his father's house, and sojourned in a strange land where he had not a place to set his foot on. We are not of the world, and so it is the test of our affections; for we are not at once taken out of the evil, so we must have our hearts exercised to godliness. It is very easy to overcome the world when the love of Christ has made it distasteful. Satan is the god of this world. Perhaps you will say, That is true of the heathen world. Yes, but it is true of the whole world. Though it was not till after the rejection of Christ that it was brought out, it was true before. God had spoken by His servants the prophets, and the world had beaten one, and stoned another, and killed another; then He said, I will send my beloved Soul, may be they will reverence Him when they see Him, and Him they crucified, thus proving that Satan was the master of man. So the Lord said, " O, righteous Father, the world hath not known thee!"
You will not have spiritual discernment or power of motive unless the heart is kept near to Christ, and I shall not want the world if Christ is in my heart. If my delight is in that in which God delights, that is Christ, then I can overcome. " Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." What! must I do everything to Christ? Oh! that very question proves a heart away from Christ, showing that it is bondage to you to do all to the glory of God. It is not that we are to scorn the world in the least, for God's grace is for every poor sinner that will receive it. It is the spirit of the world in my own heart which I have to overcome, that which my heart is in danger of being led by. I will now just look back to the three points on which I have touched.
1st. Perfect love with us. There is not merely the manifestation of God's love to the poor sinner, but association with Christ's life, putting us in relationship with God.
2nd. Love to every saint is our place; but we are to love them as God's children, and ourselves being found loving God and keeping His commandments.
3rd. We are to overcome the world, the heart resting on, looking to, eating, feeding upon, Christ, gets the consciousness of what the world is, and overcomes.
The Lord keep us in humble depend-
ence on Himself. His grace is sufficient for us. His strength made perfect in our weakness.
(Continued from page 43.)