Love and the character of God
All of us as human beings have the ability to love and the capacity to receive love. But What is love? Love as defined by the dictionary is an immense feeling of affection for someone or something. Love is not self seeking, it seeks others. Love is beneficent. It requires a reciprocant. There are many different types of love. We might love our partner, a wife or a husband a boyfriend or girlfriend which is Eros love. This is a different love than the love we would have for our parents or our siblings which is Storge love.
There are other types of love , you might love your friends. You can even love inanimate objects, possessions like a car or a house. How many of you men here have heard your partner say oh I love those shoes. The word love is branded around a lot.
How much love do you have. how much love are you as a finite human being capable of. .sometimes it might feel like our love is unmeasurable we love someone or something so much, other times we might feel all out of love. It doesn’t matter which stage we are at, our love as finite beings will always be finite. God is an infinite being, by that I mean his attributes are infinite. He has infinite power and infinate knowledge. He is a God of superlatives, he has mercy so he is the most merciful, his kindness is the most kind of anything that has ever existed. He also has wrath. Did you know that our God has wrath and having wrath his wrath is the most amount of wrath of any being that has ever been. That’s a lot of wrath not what you want poured out on you at any time. This would need a separate preach. What about his love, how much more love does an infinite being have than you or I have . An infinite amount more. But the bible doesn’t just say God has love, or he is loving, it says he is love 1 john 4-8·, love is not an attribute of God like his power or his knowledge, he doesn’t just have the ability to love, he doesn’t just have the need or desire to love, God is love. Love is Gods very nature, its his very being his very essence. How much more love does an infinite God that is love have than a being that simply has an infinite amount of love. an infinite amount more, so that’s an infinite amount more love than the already infinite amount more love than what you and I are capable of, this is agape love and while the love you have might seem unmeasurable Gods love truly is. God loves each and every one of us with an infinite amount of love, he loves every single one of us with a love so great that we cannot even comprehend it. He has an infinite amount of love for every single person not just in this world today but for every single person that has or ever will live.
Lets just stop and take moment to think about that.
Jesus was asked matthew 22-36˛Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
He answered matthew 22-37`Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39´And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Jesus even gave us a new commandment John 13-34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another
But why is love so necessary. Why is it so important to God that we live in love. Why does the whole law hang on love.
Well its because its the way that God made us.
God who is love made us in his image, not his physical image, sorry if I spoil anyones perception of what God looks like here but God doesn’t really have long white hair and a white beard, that’s Santa. God is spirit and being a spirit is beyond our physical linear reality. So no we don’t actually look like him. we are however made in the image of love.
The whole universe is built on the foundation of this principal, the law of love. Its woven into the fabric of life. God built his universe in harmony with himself. The circle of love, the circle of life. For example when we breath we breath out carbon dioxide, the trees and plants need carbon dioxide to live, in return they produce oxygen which is pretty vital to us humans. You can choose not to participate in this circle and keep your carbon dioxide to yourself but the only way to do this would be to stop breathing and that will result in death.
The dead sea is a good example of this. It receives water from the river Jordan but doesnt have any outlets it receives but doesnt give anything back.
When things are selfish and they dont give as well as receiving they stagnate and die.
This is the law of love. This isnt an arbitrary rule this is a design law.
when you give rules to your children you don’t do it because you don’t love them but because you do, the rules are there to protect them. As they grow up you need to give them less and less rules, they learn. They understand. Who here brushes their teeth, I hope the only ones with their hand down are those who don’t have any. Why do you brush them? Is it because you are told to or because you understand the implications of not brushing your teeth. When you were younger you probably did it because you were told to and you followed the rules, as you got older you no longer needed to be told to brush your teeth, you no longer were following an arbitrary rule but the design law. If you don’t brush your teeth they would eventually become decayed rot and probably need removing if they haven’t already fallen out. When you are young you need a rule for almost everything, as you grow up although there may be rules and laws we follow them not just because they are there but we understand the implications of not following them
Who here kills people and I’m hoping for a significantly less show of hands. Who would start to if it wasn’t illegal, hoping not to see any hands raised. We don’t do this because we know that it is wrong, it is not loving. Although there are laws against it we don’t need to be told that it is wrong in order for us to know that it is and not do it., It is just natural to most humans. Its written on our hearts and in our minds, our conscience.
The bible says Hebrews 10-16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;.
We have an inbuilt understanding of the law of love.
When God had finished creating the world he said it was very good, what did he mean by this. Well what it meant was that there was nothing bad in it,there was no evil. His creation was all good. If God thought it was all good then it must have all in fact been good.
So what happened?
The devil attacked the very character of God.
He questioned God’s word.
Genesis 3-1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The Devil made God out to be a dictator, Satan enticed rebellion against God’s law by implying that God simply created arbitrary rules enforcing them because of his power and not wanting to share his power with anyone else threatened punishment if the rules were broken.. He made God appear to be a selfish power hungry tyrant.
Satan replaced the image of God in humans ..love…with his own…selfishness
Satans very power lies in the lies believed about God which keeps people from truly knowing him.
Eve believed that lie. She believed what the devil told her about God. When a lie is believed even though it is a lie it affects how a person behaves, how they respond to things.
The devil changed Eves perception of the truth , and changed her perception of the character of God. God’s word and character have been in question ever since
When God said to Adam “in that day that you shall eat of it, you shall surly die” this wasn’t a threat based on a selfish rule God had made up just so he could keep the power to himself, to be the only one with the power that God possesses , no obviously nobody else can have his power, God said it because the design law the law of love would be broken and God was simply proclaiming the consequences of what the action would entail.
When Adam went against the word of God he thought of self, he separated himself from the love of God, he put up a barrier between himself and God. The barrier of selfishness. The transgression of Adam brought with it the thought for the self. When God found Adam and Eve after they had eaten of the tree, they had covered themselves because they saw they were naked and ashamed. But nobody had actually told them this, but now they were thinking about themselves. Adams sin infected humanity with selfishness and brought into the nature of humans the love for self, that’s what SIN is Selfish in nature. Galatians 6-8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Our true nature is love, when we sin we are going against our true nature will are allowing selfishness into our nature. It overtakes, it infects us like a disease, the more we sin the more we are infected and our true nature is eroded making it easier for us to commit more sin.
When we live in love we are living in the image of God If we are in God then God will be in us and love is the natural result of God dwelling in us John 15-4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, This simply means that when we are in God our fruit will be love, and God will be glorified through our loving actions. John 15-8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9´As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
We live in a selfish world, a world that is focused on self, what can I get and not what can I give. When we focus on ourselves and what we want, like a bigger house or a newer car, the new clothes or the latest phone, these are wants of the flesh. Im certainly not saying that we dont have needs but worldly possessions are exactly that worldly and not Godly, they are thoughts and wants for the self.
When we are truly a disciple of Jesus worldly possessions should mean much less to us. We should be concentrating on God and not the world. This is not easy in a world that is so focused on possessions. But as disciples of Jesus we are meant to be different, we are meant to concentrate on God, as disciples of Jesus we are not of this world Jesus prayed to the father in John 13-14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
It is our sin, our selfishness our thought for self that separates us from God. Isiah 59-2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Romans 6-23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of Godis eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God is the source of life, John 1-3 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
if you are separated from the source of life it is inevitable that you will die. If you have a mobile phone , when you first get it you put it on charge and you fully charge the battery. Once it is fully charged you take it off of charge. the moment you take it away from the power source it starts to die. You can make the fact statement if I disconnect my phone from the power from that moment my phone will die, you are not saying that the phone will die immediately but pronouncing the inevitability that the life in the battery will reduce and eventually run out, this is a fact. Once the power source has been taken away there is only a limited amount of power stored in the battery, once the phone has used that power it will in essence die. Now You can put it back on charge and the power will return but it will begin to die again. The only way for the phone to stay alive permanently is to keep it attached to the power source. Humans also need to be connected to the source. Once the life has ran out the only way to recharge us is through the source of power, through God. The human body will eventually run out of power but If you are in God then the the soul remains plugged into an endless power source.
Death is the natural result of severing the connection with that power source.
Jesus came to restore the broken connection between humans and God.
That through him a way back to the father could be established. Jesus came to be a cure for the condition of selfishness in the hearts of humans, to restore to humanity the true image, the true character of God. He lived and died as an example of Gods love.
He showed satan to be the liar that he is. Satan having changed the image of God from love to anger. A God that requires appeasement
A God that creates rules to dictate and oppress us, an authoritarian God who enforces the rules that he himself has made just because he is God and will eternally punish us if we reject him purely because he can, or because he is some kind of egotistical maniac.
Jesus showed us God is not a dictator he is not a God who requires appeasement.
If the blood sacrifice of Jesus was what was needed to satisfy a blood thirsty God and pay our penalty for sin, then why did God intervene when Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. Jesus was innocent, the blood of the baby Jesus could have been used as appeasement to God.
Micah 6-6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, andbow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7`Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstbornfor my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Amos 5-22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Isaiah 1:11-16 – To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
This was NOT the reason for the sacrifice of Jesus, it wasnt a problem with God and a thirst for blood, it was all about revealing the truth, Jesus had to reveal the truth about the character of God.
John 14-8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
He destroyed the power satan had over death
Hebrews 2-14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
1 john 3-8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
How did he do this. Jesus willingly sacrificed his life, not as a blood sacrifice to appease Gods wrath . His blood was shed as an example of Gods pure agape love.
Jesus said about his life John 10-18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
While on earth Jesus could have done anything. But he what he actually did was he went around healing people, eating with sinners, restoring life, showing mercy and kindness and above all love. He revealed the father through his actions. Jesus lived a totally sinless and selfless life.
Through his sacrifice he revealed the true character Of God. The love of God.
To overcome selfishness God Gave us Jesus
John 3-16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The word loved in this verse normally gets the most attention but its the word gave that is the most important, to overcome selfishness God GAVE his son.
John 3-17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Jesus didnt come to condemn us of our sin he came to cure us of it. He came to reconnect us to God, to overcome sin and death, that through him sin would no longer have power over us.
Only pure love could overcome selfishness.Gods Love had to be restored into the world.
Jesus sacrifice was an act of total selflesness. If you have 2 children which is the greater sacrifice, to sacrifice both so you can live, to sacrifice 1 to save the other, or to sacrifice yourself so that both can live. Jesus died so that we, you and I dont have to.
Jesus didnt have to die he could have stopped it at any point, he was free to do so, he even told pilate John 18-36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.but he willingly allowed himself to die , he refused to save himself, It was a complete and utter selfless act.
He was even tempted by the scribes and preists to save himself while on the cross.
Mark 15-31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
They didnt realise that was the whole point. Jesus came to save others not himself. Jesus refused to save himself he freely gave his life to destroy selfishness. If Jesus would have used his power to save himself then only he would have been saved, he chose to forfit that power so that through him humanity could be saved.
It took just 1 mans sin to infect the whole of humanity with sin through Adam sin came, but by 1 man humanity could be saved ,through Jesus sin was overcome.
1 corinthians 15-21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
So why did God put the tree of good and evil into the garden of eden in the first place. He could have chosen not to.
God did have other choices. He could have chosen
1 Not to create the universe at all
2 To create a universe where there is no evil
3 To create a universe where there is evil but where it is only possible to choose good
4 This universe
Only in option 4 is it possible for real love to exist.
God Cannot force us to love him, but he does want us to. God being love wants to receive our love, but the only way for this to be real love is if we have the choice not to love him
Love has to be given and received freely in order for it to be love. Love does not exist where there is either no choice to love or not to love, this would make humans no better than pre programmed robots with no ability to freely think for themselves. Love also doesnt exist where it is forced this is coercion.
Lets say you are in a relationship and you are in love but the other person decides that they are not in love with you anymore. This is going to hurtful . You are still in love with that person but that love is no longer reciprocated. What can you do. Well you could force that person to stay with you,, you could lock them away in a room and prevent them from leaving. This would not rekindle the love, love is not going to abound in this kind of scenario, it is only going to lead to resentment and hatred. When love is abused it always has a negative effect, love is always damaged.
God cannot force you to love him if you choose not to, he has no choice but to let you go.
But it hurts God when we dont choose him
Ezekiel 18-23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
Ezekiel 18-32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
There is celebration when someone does turn to God
Luke 15-7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
I am sure everyone here has lost someone close to them at some point, we all have to face the death of loved ones in our lives. It hurts. I lost my Dad nearly 8 years ago and it still hurts as much now as it did then. They say that time is a healer in truth with time we only learn to live with the pain. God has to go through this thousands and thousands of times every day, seeing people who have not chosen him die and lose any chance of salvation.
God doesnt want anyone to die without salvation
2 peter 3-9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
If you havent turned to God yet I ask you to do so today, you are never too far from God that you cant be saved. Turn from your sin, know the truth about God and accept Jesus into your life, that through his selfless act you can have eternal life.