Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday, March 12th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 23-24, Psalm 51, Luke 7
Today's scripture focus is 2 John 1:5-8

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.

MacArthur's sermon on this passage entitled Truth: The Boundary of Love and the Test of Loyalty

We live in a world of lives, but as Christians, we are called to uphold the truth.

But not at the expense of love.

We not only live in the truth, we love in the truth...we love in the truth. While we are living in the truth there is no excuse for being so devoted to the truth as to be unloving. John is not saying here that you're supposed to become so critical and so analytical and so discerning and so skeptical that the truth literally overpowers your responsibility to love. Rather, he says, truth is always upheld in perfect balance with love....We do not use the truth as a way to be unloving, inhospitable, unkind, unmerciful, ungracious. Just the opposite, the truth is always held in love. The purest kind of truth embraces love because love is a part of that truth.

On the one hand, this is an old commandment.  Right from the OT we've been commanded to love God and to love each other.  So that's not new.

But what's new is that we've never seen Jesus, God in the flesh, showing us exactly how to love.

And not only is there a new understanding of love because of what we see in Jesus, but there's also a new understanding of love because of the Holy Spirit's work within us. The fruit of the spirit is love (and joy and peace, etc).   God the Father is love.  God the Son is love.  God the Holy Spirit is love.  And that love dwells within the heart of every believer because the Holy Spirit dwells within the heart of every believer.

There's also a difference for those of us living after the coming of the Messiah, the Light of the world.  The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of light and a Kingdom of love.  With the arrival of Jesus, the Kingdom of light and love has arrived, at least to some degree.  We do still live on earth and in the Kingdom of darkness is still battling, so we are not yet experiencing the Kingdom of light in its fullness and won't until He comes again.  We live in the overlap, experiencing a taste of what's still to come.

Love is truly the fulfillment of the law.  IF you have a true understanding of biblical love.

If you love your spouse, you don't need a law telling you not to hit them.  You won't hit them because you love them.

If you love your kids, you don't need a law telling you not to kill them.  You won't kill them, not even the unborn ones, because you love them with the perfect love of God.

We demonstrate our love for God and our love for each other by being obedient to the Word of God.

We love in the truth.

You cannot really love someone if you set the truth aside. No true love between Christians can be marked by sin and disobedience to the truth of God. Living in the truth encompasses loving according to the truth which means that our love is best expressed when we obey the Word of God. All that is directed between us and Him and us and each other. I have to love you in the way the Bible defines that love and that means that if I love you when you stumble, I'll come and pick you up. That means if I love you and you sin, I'll come and confront you. That means if I love you when you have need, I'll come and meet that need. If I love you and you're grieving, I'll come and comfort you. If I love you and you're ignorant, I'll come and instruct you. If I love you and you're disobedient, I'll come and correct you.

We are so quick to latch on to the verse "Do not judge", and the idea that because we can only change ourselves and not those around us, that we should never confront one another.  That is not love.

Yes, obviously we should, first and foremost, be concerned with our own motives, actions and words.  Yes, we should challenge ourselves, examine ourselves according to the scripture and change in every area that the Spirit and the Word convict us.

But to never challenge each other is not biblical love.  To never confront one another with the goal of reconciliation between them and God or them and us - that's not biblical love.  Oh yes, it's hard.  Really hard.  Because confrontation, even when done in love, often does not result in a positive reception, at least not at first.  But when we truly love someone, we will love the way the Bible says we are to love.  Yes, often that will mean encouraging, empathizing, comforting and simply meeting their needs.  But sometimes, that will include teaching and confrontation.  Let us not only love each other in the easy ways, but also in the difficult ways, by being loyal to the truth.

And, again, John warns about false teachers.  We cannot be deceived by them through some misguided notion of what love is.  Love does not encourage, support or endorse false teaching in any way.  Again, this does not mean that we are not to love non-Christians in general.  But we need to be extremely wary about those who claim Christ but believe and teach lies in the important matters of doctrine.  We cannot allow ourselves or those around us to welcome that into our home, or to be exposed to that.  We need to protect the truth.  More on that in tomorrow's passage!

We cannot love false teachers within the Christian church.  Doing so could undermine our testimony, lead others astray, hinder the work of God, and lessen our eternal reward in heaven.  There is a high price to pay when we sacrifice the truth.

Tomorrow's scripture focus2 John 1:9-13
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 25-26, Psalm 52, Luke 8

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