What Love is (1Corinthians 13:1-13; Romans 13:10)
Love is a warm or kind feeling of fondness resulting in tender devotion to someone or something such that you act in warm or kind ways that ordinarily you would not if love was not in place. Love carries with it, emotions which are expressed in actions. Until love is expressed, it remains incomplete.
Agape or the God kind of love is not self-centred but is expressed as an action on the platform of sacrifice with a focus to improve the lives of others as we see in John 3:16. Love is better understood when it’s action is being expressed. Its power is released through an action.
We can however do some things that are good but not in love hence they will not profit us anything (1Corinthians13:1-3). Good actions do not express love if they are based on motives which are self-centred. The selfless or selfish motive of our hearts is what determines whether our love is agape or selfish.
Born into a family that overcomes by faith which works by love
God has a family of new creatures who are imparted with eternal life; the same life that God has in himself (2Corinthians 5:17, John3:16, Romans 10:8-10). Everyone in this family is made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2Corinthians5:21).
This family is governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2) or the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) or the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), or the law of love (John 13:34-35; Romans 13:10; 1John4:21, 5:2-3).
Our identity as a member of this family is our walk in love because God is love (1John 4:8,16) and this is why our faith won’t work if we are out of love. Faith is our victory but faith becomes impotent when love is not in place (1John5:4, Galatians 5:6).
We sin and come under its condemnation only when we walk out of love
In the New Testament, a believer only commits sin and is brought under the condemnation of sin whenever he walks out of love towards God or his fellow man.
8. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.(Rom13:8-10)
14. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.(1John 3:14-15)
The law of the new covenant demands that every member of the family of God must remain in Christ by walking consistently in love else they will be cut off from the vine and will die spiritually (1John4:16; John 15:1-12, 14:20-21,33-34, Luke 15:11-32, 1John 2:3-11;3:14-15).
The believer abides or remains in Christ Jesus for as long as he walks in love, hence if he transgresses the perfect law of liberty or the law of the Spirit of life in Christ by walking out of love, he ceases to be in Christ but dies spiritually and is plunged back into darkness where he was initially delivered.
It is deadly to walk out of love
An electric bulb glows when connected to a source of electrical energy. The same energy present in the source is also present in this bulb for as long as the bulb stays connected to its source. If it is disconnected from its source, it stops to glow and will no longer have the energy of the source in it.
The bulb is still the same but a vital part of it (its life) that gave it the ability to glow has been taken away. All that is necessary to restore it to begin and continue to glow is to re-establish its connection with the source from which it was disconnected.
When we walk out of love, we break fellowship with God and become spiritually dead and lost by God’s standard; we will be considered as spiritually dead men who are lost, in darkness and do not have eternal life abiding in us (Luke15:11-32; John 15:1-12; 14:20-21; 1John1:5-6; 1John 2:9-11, 4:16; 1John 3:14-15; Romans 8:5,6,13).
God’s love is continuously flowing towards us but when we are not walking in love, we disconnect ourselves from receiving and enjoying it. In this state of spiritual death and darkness, we are out of fellowship with God even though our relationship with God has not been lost just like the prodigal son who broke fellowship with his father became dead and lost even though he still had relationship with his father as a son.
However our relationship with God is irrelevant if fellowship has been lost, hence we will not go to heaven but the lake of fire if we die in this state because nothing that defiles will enter therein (Matthew 25:31-46; 1Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 20:11-15; 7:14; 21:7-8,27; 22:14-15).
The Old covenant saints were also children of God (Psalm 82:6, Luke 3:38, 2Samuel 7:12-16) but they did not have eternal life inside them and could not fellowship with God without restraint. They could not enter boldly into God’s presence as we can in the new covenant. Their relationship as children of God could not guarantee their open access into God’s presence.
God could not live inside them and they could not enter and live in the Holy of holies where God’s presence was manifested. They could have God with them or upon them but not inside them (2 Kings 3:15; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 14:6; Exodus 25:8; 29:46; Ezekiel 11:5).
In the new covenant, we have God in us and with us (1 Corinthians 6:19, Colossians 1:27; John 14:17) because of what Jesus Christ did for us. What makes us different in the new covenant is the righteous nature or the life of God which we received in us and our rights to fellowship with God without any sense of guilt, inferiority or the need to show godly sorrow when we are in Christ.
In the mind of God, we are not considered as His sons if we are not in fellowship with Him (1John 1:3-7; 2:9-11). What our new birth experience came to give us is a restoration of God’s life and the right to fellowship with Him which Adam lost.
This is what makes our relationship with God to become relevant. This is also why we lose this life or righteous nature when we break our fellowship with God by walking out of love and are plunged into darkness where the devil is king (1John1:1-10, 3:7-8, 14-15).
The new creature in Christ Jesus did not become righteous by doing any good work. He received his righteousness as a gift which he did not earn by any personal effort. He received God’s life (Zoe) and became righteous when he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of his life by faith (John3:16; Romans 5:17; 2Corithians5:21; Philippians 3:9).
Although he received his righteousness as a gift (or is made a new creature and the righteousness of God in Christ without his good works), he has the responsibility to keep being a new creature and the righteousness of God by remaining in Christ Jesus through living a life of love (1John 4:16; John 15:1-12, 14:20-21, Luke 15:11-32, 1John 2:3-11; 3:14-15; Romans 8:5,6,13).
It was in Christ Jesus we were made new creatures, the righteousness of God and were put above the condemnation of sin (2Corinthians 5:17, 21; Romans 8:1-2), hence if we are no longer in Christ Jesus when we walk out of love and are out of fellowship with God, we also cease to be new creatures, the righteousness of God and above the condemnation of sin.
We also lose all our rights to the inheritance we had in Christ, hence we are no longer guaranteed our victory over the devil in this condition. We were delivered from the kingdom or domain of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s son when we were saved (Colossians1:13). If we break fellowship with God by walking out of love, we are plunged back into darkness from where we were delivered (1John1:5-6; 1 John 2:9-11).
A believer who commits sin when he walks out of love becomes vulnerable to the attacks of Satan and his demons. Evil spirits always wait for this period so as to take advantage of believers.
He that breaks an hedge, the serpent shall bite (Ecclesiastes 10:8). Ancestral curses are quickly enforced thus making the believer to have the same evil experiences that run in his earthly family line.
The believer would not have experienced this, if he stayed continually in fellowship with God or if he immediately repented when he discovered he did something wrong. When you delay getting back in fellowship with God, you are increasing the period within which those in the kingdom of darkness can do evil against you.
Just as a man can lose a gift he received freely due to carelessness, it is clear from scriptures that the believer can lose the free gift of righteousness which he received freely when he walks out of love, hence he has the responsibility to keep what he received freely by living a life of love. God however made a provision for him to get this gift of righteousness back if he lost it.
Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church believers gave us some insight on how we are restored to salvation if we break fellowship with God.
9. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
11. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2Corinthians7:9-10)
In verse 10 of 2Corinthians 7, we are told that when some believers in the Corinthian church were reproved by Apostle Paul due to their wrong doing (or sin), godly sorrow worked repentance in them which lead to their salvation.
Notice that they were already believers before they committed sin for which they were reproved. Why will Apostle Paul say that godly sorrow worked repentance in them which lead to their salvation if they still had their salvation after they committed sin?
Obviously, something happened to their righteous nature hence they needed to get it back. Each time we go out of fellowship with God all that is expected is for us to acknowledge we did wrong which connotes godly sorrow and then receive our forgiveness freely by faith which restores to us our place in Christ or our salvation.
The believer does not have to do any good work to restore his fellowship with God, be given back the spiritual life he lost and be made a new creature and the righteousness of God in Christ. He is simply required to show or express godly sorrow, repent from his sins, ask God for forgiveness and then acknowledge by faith that God forgives him for Christ sake (2Corinthians7:9-10; Acts2:38; Ephesians 4:32; 1John 1:9; 2:12).
In my book titled “Righteousness Made Easy” you will find detailed explanation of what happens to you if you commit sin as a believer and what you are expected to do.
Nothing should separate us From God’s love
How will you feel if you loved someone who does not love you in return? God took a risk to love the entire world including wicked people who do not want to have anything to do with Him. He knew they may never accept the sacrifice of His only begotten son He was making on their behalf yet He went ahead to do it. God’s love for us is unconditional and this is the same kind of love He expects us to have in return for Him and others around us.
We are not to belong to God’s family just because of the good things He gives us but because we love Him who first showed His great love towards us while we were yet sinners by sending Jesus Christ to die for us (Romans 5:6-8; Matthew 22:37-40). This is why we can boldly declare like Apostle Paul that nothing shall separate us from the love of God.
35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36. As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
Will you stop loving God and become offended with Him because you lost your job, your spouse, your business, your child, or something valuable to you? Your first reason to be grateful for what God did for you is that you have been saved. Every other thing will always be put right with time if your love for God remains in place.
No man can love God in the midst of perilous times and say like Apostle Paul that nothing shall separate him from the love of God by the energy of the flesh. At salvation, we are imparted with the very life of God which gives us the ability to make such a decision (John 3:16; 1John5:12, 1John 2:27; Philippians 2:13).
The good news is that eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of men the things God has prepared for those who love Him but God has revealed them to us by His Spirit that lives in us (1Corinthians 2:9-10).
Only certified lovers of God have a right to His secrets and the deeper dimensions of what He has in store for His children. The truth remains that a lover of God who is given access to God’s secrets is put above all challenges of life.
Love your enemies as well
Jesus gave us direct instructions to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us and pray for them which despitefully use us and persecute us (Matthew5:43-48; Luke 6:27-37). To obey these instructions may look difficult but it is what we have to do if we are true followers of Jesus. He told us that the proof of our love for Him is when we obey His commands.
Anyone who will not obey His teaching does not love Him, period! Anyone who will not love his enemies, bless those that curse him, do good to them that hate him and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute him does not love Jesus. This is not a matter to be debated but a statement of fact drawn directly from the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself (John14:15, 21-24; Luke 6:27-37; Matthew5:43-48).
Many believers are not willing to obey these instructions today even when they know that Jesus Christ gave them. The reason this is so is because the love of God shared in our hearts by the Holy Spirit has not been allowed to dominate us (Romans 5:5).
We are to love those who make themselves our enemies by taking sides with the devil against us the same way we love our friends. Human beings, possessed and being used by the devil and his demons (e.g. witches and wizards, occult men and women, wicked people, etc.) are not our enemies as believers in the real sense of the word.
In the new covenant, we must see evil people including witches, extreme religious fanatics, occult men and women, etc., as sinners who are on their way to hell and desperately need God’s intervention to be saved. We must see the devil and his demons at work in them against us and learn to deal with them (the devil and his host of demons) as our enemies or adversaries and not the human beings they are using against us (1Peter 5:8).
When Peter was being used by the devil to rebuke Jesus concerning his death, Jesus addressed the devil directly and not Peter thereby showing us an example of what to do when the devil is using people against us (Matthew16:23; Mark 8:33). God’s word shows us our first responsibility (whether in our family alter and when we come together in a church service) to intercede for all men because it is the will of God that all men (including witches and wicked people) should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy2:1-4).
I have seen many people become saved after God put a strong burden in my heart to continually intercede for them which I obeyed. We too were once enemies and alienated in our minds by wicked works, yet God has now reconciled us (Colossians 1:21). However those who continue to live for the devil by doing evil against us will one day face the penalty of their evil deeds when their time of grace (as determined by God alone) expires (Galatians 6:7; 2Thessalonians 1:4-10).
Designed to thrive and survive only in love
Love is the way to walk in righteousness. Always remember that the new creature in Christ Jesus is designed to survive and thrive only in an atmosphere of love. When a fish is taken out of its aquatic environment, it dies because it is not created to survive outside of it.
The new creation in Christ Jesus is designed to live and survive only by staying connected to God which he does by remaining in Christ through his walk in love (John 15:1-12; 1John 2:3-11, 4:16).
If he walks out of love, he becomes disconnected from God and will die. Choosing not to walk in love is deadly. It is worse than allowing a poison or cancerous cell into your system which if left unchecked will ultimately destroy you. We choose to walk in love irrespective of how we feel just like Jesus Christ did when He chose to die for us even when He did not feel like it.
We can walk in love because we have the Holy Spirit who shares God’s love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Sometimes, we chastise those we love as a means of correcting them so as to help them learn to do what is right. We do this a lot to our children as they grow up because we love them. We are just following God’s example because He does the same with His children (Hebrews 12:6-11).
This can also be extended to others under our authority in the Church, our place of work or in the society where we live. The bottom line is to do it with an attitude of love which aims to help them find repentance and make the necessary changes for them to live better lives which will guarantee their eternal destiny.
Walking in love is how to fulfil the law. It is how to walk in righteousness and in the Spirit. It is also how to stay secure in Christ and not be touched by the evil one. It is what gives us confident to face God on Judgment day.
Faith is our victory but our faith works by our love for God and men. The test of love helps us to know what is right or wrong so that we can then make the choice to do what love would do. When next you are faced with a situation, sincerely consider in your heart what love will do and then do it.
Evangelist Oghogho Ikponmwosa Ph.D
President, Save the Lost Gospel Evangelistic Ministry.