2 Peter 1:7  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
PE 1:7{The heart being in communion with God, affection flows out freely towards those who are dear to Him, and who, sharing the same nature, necessarily draw out the affections of the spiritual heart: brotherly love is developed.
There is another principle which crowns, and governs, and gives character to all others:—it is charity—love, properly so called. This is its root, is the nature of God Himself—the source and perfection of every other quality that adorns Christian life. The distinction between love and brotherly love, is of deep importance; the former is indeed, as we have just said, the source whence the latter flows; but as this brotherly love exists in mortal men, it may be mingled in its exercise with sentiments that are merely human-with individual affection, with the effect of personal attractions, or that of habit, of suitability in natural character. Nothing is sweeter than brotherly affections; their maintenance is of the highest importance in the Church; but they may degenerate, as they may grow cool; and if love—if God—does not hold the chief place, they may displace Him—set Him aside—shut Him out. Divine love, which is the very nature of God, directs, rules, and gives character to brotherly love; otherwise, it is that which pleases us— i.e., our own heart—that governs us. If divine love governs me, I love all my brethren; I love them because they belong to Christ; there is no partiality. I shall have greater enjoyment in a spiritual brother; but I shall occupy myself about my weak brother, with a love that rises above his weakness, and has tender consideration for it. I shall concern myself with my brother's sin, from love to God, in order to restore my brother, rebuking him, if needful: nor if divine love be in exercise, can brotherly love or its name be associated with disobedience. In a word, God will have His place in all my relationships. To exact brotherly love in such a manner as to shut out the requirements of that which God is, and of His claims upon us, is to shut out God in the most plausible way, in order to gratify our own hearts. Divine love, then, which acts according to the nature, character, and will of God, is that which ought to direct and characterize our whole Christian walk, and have authority over every movement of our hearts. Without this, all that brotherly love can do is to substitute man for God.
JO 4:7{Here it will be worth our while to notice the order of this remarkable passage (7-20). We possess the nature of God, consequently we love; we are born of Him and we know Him. But the manifestation of love towards us in Christ Jesus is the proof of that love; it is thus that we know it (11-16); we enjoy it by dwelling in it. It is present life in the love of God, by the presence of His Spirit in us; the enjoyment of that love by communion, in that God dwells in us, and we thus dwell in Him (17); His love is perfected with us; the perfection of that love, viewed in the place that it has given us-we are, in this world, such as Christ is (18, 19); it is thus fully perfected with us-love to sinners, communion, perfection before God, gives us the moral and characteristic elements of that love, what it is in our relationship with God.
In the first passage, where the Apostle speaks of the manifestation of this love, he does not go beyond the fact that one who loves is born of God.
The nature of God, which is love, being in us, he who loves knows Him, for he is born of Him, has His nature and realizes what it is.
It is that which God has been with regard to the sinner, which demonstrates His nature of love. Afterward, that which we learned as sinners, we enjoy as saints. The perfect love of God is- shed abroad in the heart, and we dwell in Him. Already as He (Jesus) is, in this world, fear has no place in one to whom the love of God is a dwelling-place and rest.
The reality of our love to God, fi.uit of His love to us, is now tested. If we say that we love God and do not love the brethren, we are liars; for if the divine nature so near us (in them) does not awaken our spiritual affections, how then can He who is afar off do so? Accordingly, this is His commandment, that he who loves God love his brother also. (See also chap. 5:1, 2.)
But a danger exists on the other side. It may be, that we love the brethren because they furnish us with agreeable society, whose conscience is not wounded. A counter-proof is therefore given us. "Hereby we know that we love the children of God, if we love God and keep His commandments." If I walk with the brethren themselves in disobedience to their Father, it is certainly not because they are His children that I love them. If it was because I loved the Father and because they were His children, I should assuredly like them to obey Him. To walk, then, in disobedience with the children of God, under the pretext of brotherly love, is not to love thorn as the children of God. If I loved them as such, I should love their Father and my Father, and I could not walk in disobedience to Him, and call it a proof that I loved them because they were His.
The universality of this love with regard to all the children of God: its exercise in practical obedience to His will: these are the marks of true brotherly love. That which has not these marks is a mere carnal party spirit, clothing itself with the name and the forms of brotherly love. Most certainly I do not love the Father, if I encourage His children in disobedience to Him.
"Moreover the semblance of love which does not maintain the truth, but accommodates itself to that which is not the truth, is not love according to God.
It is the taking advantage of the name of love in order to help on the seductions of Satan.
In the last days the test of true love is the maintenance of the truth. God would have us love one another; but the Holy Ghost, by whose power we receive this divine nature, and who pours the love of God into our hearts, is the Spirit of truth; and His office is to glorify Christ. Therefore it is impossible that a love which can put up with a doctrine that falsifies Christ, and which is indifferent to it, can be of the Holy Ghost-still less so, if such indifference be set up as the proof of that love."