Debie Misir: November 17, 2010

Love in the Truth

“To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth” (2 John 1.1)

As I was reading 2 John, my mind was totally arrested by these amazing words –“whom I love in the truth.” I read it again and again, totally captivated by all that is contained in this statement. Just six words, but they encompass all the life of God which He gave to us; which is now contained is us and which we must pour out for others.

Our heavenly Father gave us two commandments by which to live. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40). On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. Obeying these two commandments confirms our new birth in Christ. “by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ' I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3). But how can we truly keep these commandments? John goes on to say “and not I only, but also all who know the truth—because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever” (1 John 1:1, 2). Now we see that we can keep these commandments because of the truth that is in us. Jesus Christ is the Truth and He lives in us. He is also love and He lives in us. We can “love in the truth” because both the Love and the Truth is in us. We are to pour out His love in us to our Heavenly Father and to our neighbors, in the truth.

Our human love cannot do the job. It is limited, self-serving, and oftentimes hypocritical. It loves when it is loved. It loves when it wants something in return. It is lined with flattery, pretense, and prejudice; giving just enough to ensure a greater return on the investment. It expects praise, adoration, approval of men, material rewards, and human emotional and physical devotion in return. It never loves just for love’s sake – for the good of the other. Its motive is always selfish and impure.

The love of God, on the other hand is unconditional, selfless, sacrificial, unfailing, and eternal. It expects nothing in return, though it longs for a satisfaction of holy intimacy in a reciprocated “like and kind” love. It will lay down its life for another just for love’s sake, and it will demonstrate itself over and over again without being asked, as long as someone is in need of it. It never changes, but remains passionate and merciful from everlasting to everlasting.

God demonstrated His love for us in the Cross of Jesus Christ. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There was never a greater demonstration of love than this. We did not deserve to live. We did not deserve His forgiveness. We did not deserve His love. But, the flow of His perfect love could not be stemmed by anything we did. It does not depend on whether we love Him in return or how good we have been. It does not depend on what we can do for Him. He needs nothing from us. He saw all the filth, degradation, and deception in our hearts and loved us in spite of them. Jeremiah 17:9 describes man’s inner condition: “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” God knew that nothing good existed in our flesh and “that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”(Genesis 6:5), yet he loved us completely. Not only did He love us, but He demonstrated His love for us through His immense suffering and death on the Cross to pay the ransom price for our sins.

Our love for God must be this very same love He demonstrated towards us. God knows that we do not possess such a love in and of ourselves. But when we were “born again”, the word of God says, His love was shed abroad in our hearts – His Holy Spirit came and indwelt us. This is His love which He gave to us. This is His love that is the “love in the truth” which we must demonstrate to God and to our neighbor. This love is not superficial, blind, or selfish. It is based on truth and is selflessly sacrificial. It does not make excuses for our own sins and weaknesses, but it acknowledges them and surrenders totally to God, submitting to His perfect will for our lives. It seeks to demonstrate love for God consistently and passionately through a life given over to prayer, worship, obedience to God and His commands, and service to God and His people, at all personal costs. Since we do not possess such a love in our flesh, we must love from a deeper well – the Holy Spirit in us.

David demonstrated such a love for God. He did not make excuses for his sins, but repented deeply knowing that only a love that recognized truth and surrendered to truth was worthy of God. He constantly sought the Lord in repentance, prayer, worship and praise, and to learn of Him. He loved the Lord in the truth for he knew the truth about God: His holiness, grace, power, omniscience, wrath against sin, judgment, love for man, mercy for sinners, and eternal sovereignty over all the heavens and the earth, and David loved the Lord completely. David’s heart identified and agreed with God in everything. He readily accepted the Lord’s judgment whenever he sinned. He sought the Lord with a great hunger and thirst when he needed help, strength, forgiveness, encouragement, protection, restoration, and direction – or mostly just to be in His presence. He meditated day and night on the statutes of God and loved God’s commands. He honored the Lord by not offering up anything to the Lord that did not cost Him. He boldly proclaimed the Lord’s truth, and obeyed and taught His commands throughout his kingdom. He was called a man after God’s own heart, not because he was perfect, but because he had a perfect heart towards God - a heart that dealt in truth and loved in the truth.

Ananias and Sapphira did not love the Lord in the truth. They did not come to Him with the truth, trusting in His benevolence and mercy, instead they lied. God did not want their money, but wanted their love offering to come from a pure heart, a heart that knew truth and operated out of truth. It was not the withholding of the money that dishonored God, but the lie. This is what hurt God deeply because it took the place of truth in their hearts and the love they offered Him was no longer offered in the truth.

Peter, before he was filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentacost, loved the Lord. But, he did not love the Lord in the truth, only in the flesh. This kind of love is not life-giving, but destructive. When the Lord spoke of his impending suffering and death on the cross, the word of God says, “then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matthew 16:22). It seemed as if Peter’s action was one of great love and so it was to the human eye, but it was not love in truth. The Bible says the Lord “turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23). Peter love, though sincere, was not in the truth and was actually seeking to turn our Savior away from His purpose – dying on the cross to save all of mankind. We know he could not have, but can you imagine if he had succeeded?

Our love for our neighbor must also be this self same “love in the truth” God loves us with and commands of us for Himself; because this is the only love which will see the sins and faults of another, but will love that person regardless. It will not make excuses for the evil in them. It will not agree with them in their sins. It will not ignore and cover it up saying God will deal with it. It will not disregard another who is in need of salvation, provision, restoration, deliverance or healing thinking it is not my concern, I don’t have the time or resources to help, they will get offended, or they will persecute me. It will hate the evil in others to such an extent that it will pray for them continuously, minister to them, comfort them, teach them, help them, and yes rebuke them in love, unceasingly without fear of retribution and persecution – in short, it will love them out of their sin at all cost. This love knows the truth; that God loves each and every soul with an undying love and died for all on the Cross. Everyone is precious in His sight and He wishes no one to perish or live in bondage. He paid the highest price for them and did not count the cost to Himself. He paid this same price for us, redeeming us by His most precious and holy blood. Now He commands us to love our neighbors. When we don’t love them in the truth, we are devaluing His love for them and dishonoring His sacrifice. Our love for our neighbor should be of the same caliber as the Lord’s. It must extend beyond the limitations our flesh and selfishness places on us. We must be able to love all, even the unlovable in the truth: feeding the poor, reaching out to the lost and dying, clothing the naked, healing the sick, visiting the prisoners, and setting the captives free because this is what the “Truth in us”, Jesus Christ, demands. “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not?” (Matthew 25:43). Whenever we demonstrating love to our neighbor, we are demonstrating love to God. We must also lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ always, bearing each other’s burdens. Paul instructs us, ”Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 8:13)

Loving our neighbor “in the truth” does not stop there. It must be demonstrated equally in the church and amongst the elite of the world in order to give life. This mean that we do not exalt a Pastor, Prophet, Teacher, Evangelist, or Apostle to a place where God did not place them, leaving them open to the destructive powers of the enemy: pride, lust, greed, etc. We do not show favoritism amongst leaders for this would place us also on dangerous ground. Paul warns against this, “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 12, 13). We must not flatter anyone, giving them occasion to think more highly of themselves than they ought to, opening the door to deception and pride. We do not see a neighbor or family member worshipping false Gods or no God and not witness to them of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God unto Salvation. If we let the fear of offence, alienation, and persecution stop us they will continue on their way to Hell – a place of eternal torture. This is the Gospel truth. We do not see someone sick and suffering and not offer to pray for them, telling them of a God who heals. We do not see churches and ministries deviating further and further from the pure, unadulterated Word of God, and moving closer and closer to the world with its lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life reigning supreme, and not speak the truth in boldness, in love, and in wisdom. We do not see our families, friends, neighborhood, country, generation, and the nations offending God and exalting self and human philosophies as God and not stand in the gap repenting for their sins and pleading for God’s mercy on their souls day and night. We do not stop interceding for God to withhold His righteous judgment and stay His hand of protection and provision over His people until we have preached to an entire world of lost and dying. And we do not stop preaching, every chance we get, wherever we are.

Loving our neighbor “in the truth” demands our total dedication, commitment, and passion to see them saved, healed, and delivered from the hands of the enemy, not counting the cost to ourselves. It does not matter how far they have sunk - how rebellious, how addicted, how abusive, how sick in mind and body, how prideful, how idolatrous, how blind, how ignorant, or how sincerely wrong - we must love them in the truth, knowing they are bound with many chords, chains and shackles by the enemy being slaves, and doing all we can to set them free and lead them to the Cross of Jesus Christ. We must love like our Father in Heaven love, snatching them from the mouth of the lion as He does using whatever part remains that we can take hold of, “Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out” (Amos 3:12). .

We, who are already saved, have already been given everything. We are co-heirs with Christ, seated at the right hand of God; more than conquerors, given all power and dominion for a victorious, abundant life here on earth and into eternity. Now we who have received this by grace, must sacrifice our lives so that as many as possible can inherit the Kingdom of God also. This is our Father’s desire and our reasonable service as His beloved children. We must now live by this truth…”unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John12:24), or we will remain fruitless and be like a clanging cymbal.

Revelation: When we love our neighbors “in the truth”, we are loving the Lord Himself. Conversely, when we love God in the truth, we will love our neighbors in the truth for “the Truth” abides in us. It is undivided in its loving. This is the only way of love which must always be demonstrated. John instructs us, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)