[b]The Love from which Righteousness Springs[/b]
[i]by Alan Martin[/i]
Jesus was asked once Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus answered by saying You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. If the entire Law and the Prophets are hanging upon the love of God and the love of our neighbor, there will be no ability to fulfill the Law or the words of the prophets if there is a deficiency in love on which the two depend. If what the Law and the Prophets are hanging upon breaks, then they both come crashing to the ground. The weaker hangs upon the stronger therefore love is greater than Law.
Pauls understanding is hand in hand with our Lords as seen in Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Paul was referring to the only means to fulfill the true righteousness of God. In the same chapter Paul wrote For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Paul explains this in greater detail in his letter to Roman 13:9-10 For the commandments, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. The only way the righteousness of the Law will be fulfilled in our lives is through the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit this is the hope we await by faith.
We know that Jesus did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, rather to fulfill them. If the key to fulfilling the Law and the Prophets is empowering us to walk in the love upon which they hang, and by which they are all fulfilled, then He must have come to enable us to live in this love. Jesus Himself said, If anyone loves me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep My words
. He was not stating a demand, just describing a reality; He was simply explaining the reason why some will keep His words, and why others will not. Jesus knew the key to fulfilling the Law was discovering true spiritual love, and He made this the identifying mark of His own disciples By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.
John the beloved disciple expressed this same understanding in his first letter: Now by this we know that we have come to 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. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. John knew that obedience was not the requirement of genuine love it was the result of it (fruit of it); genuine love produces willing obedience.
Still another place where this truth is clearly expressed is in Pauls letter to Timothy chapter 1:5, The end of the command is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. The Greek word telos used here indicates the goal, the fulfillment, the completion. This has already been affirmed by Jesus; love is the completion the fulfillment of the Law. Paul goes on to warn Timothy that some have already turned aside from this love and turned to futile talk (unprofitable communication). They have turned away from the foundation of love, and what have they turned to? Paul wrote, desiring to be teachers of law, not understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. What these men failed to understand was that the entire law is fulfilled through faith working by love and thus they were attempting to produce righteousness in others by means of the Law rather than through this love. This was the danger the church faced from the Judaizers who did not know Gods righteousness. They were seeking to build a house of righteousness without the foundation of love.
In fact it was this same ignorance of love that caused Yahweh to find fault with the nation of Israel and so He declared The time is coming
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them. What was the straw that broke the camels back? Listen to Yahwehs heart: because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them. What is a husbands greatest treasure from his wife a clean house, ironed shirts, polished shoes? NO! What a husband longs for the most is what Israel never fully gave Yahweh her love! Israel continually gave her affection to other lovers; that is why she was so often called an adulteress, an unfaithful wife. Yahweh revoked the covenant because Israel never loved Him as He desired.
The righteousness God seeks in the lives of His people will never spring from the Law; it was never intended to. Paul understood this by divine revelation and explained it in this way: What purpose then does the Law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made
. What does Paul mean that it was added because of transgressions? He explains this in more detail in his letter to Rome 3:20 Therefore by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin. Just like Paul himself, our inability to do the things we agree are good, combined with our inability to not do the things we hate, lead us to the discovery of that other law at work in our members the law of indwelling sin. The Law was primarily given for this purpose; to lead us to the discovery of our fatal disease, slavery to sin. This is the effective work of the Law; it was given so that all men will recognize the gravity of their perilous condition - indwelling sin.
Yahweh declared that the New Covenant would not be like the former. The New Covenant would be a ministry of life producing righteousness, not of the letter that brought condemnation and death. The New would not be based upon the works of the Law; instead, it would be based upon the spiritual life of faith working through love that fulfills all righteousness. How did God accomplish this in the New Covenant? Paul explains this in Galatians 4:1-6 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba Father! Roman adoption was a time when a natural born son reached the age of maturity where his biological father declared he was to be recognized as an adult, and released him from being under the tutors and schoolmasters he had been subject to for so long.
When God was ready to adopt us, releasing us from being under the tutorship of the Law, He sent forth His Son who obtained from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Adoption. When we receive the Spirit of Adoption by the hearing of faith, the Spirit comes into our heart and immediately begins to do what the Law could never produce He begins to produce in us the heart cry Abba Father. In other words, the love of God begins to be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We receive a new heart, and a new Spirit and we begin to relate to Yahweh as our personal Father by the love the Spirit of Adoption is producing in us. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not just a command! God has never desired mere compulsory obedience from fear of self preservation Hes always desired the acceptable sacrifice of a joyful, willing heart.
Nowhere is this more beautifully pictured than the prophetic words of Christ found in Psalm 40:6-8 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, Here I am, I have come it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do Your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. Why does the Psalmist follow Sacrifice and offering you did not desire with the statement but my ears you have pierced? The ears bore the marks signifying the public declaration of love a slave could make for his master. At the end of the seventh year, the year all servants were to be released to return to their own home, a servant could voluntarily declare his love for his master and commit himself to life long service. The psalmist was declaring, look at holes in my ears; they bear witness to my love of my master and I have committed my life to him. The law for bondservants may be read in detail in Exodus 21: But if the servant declares, I love my master, and my wife and children and do not want to go free, then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door of the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. This is the piercing the Psalmist referred to; in essence, these prophetic words of Jesus Christ declared that God desires our love, and is not pleased with animal sacrifices and offerings, burnt offering or sin offerings. Jesus prophetically declares look at me and see the sign of my love for my master look at the holes in my ears I have been to the door and declared my love before all. He then adds what we should all want written about ourselves I delight to do Your will, Your Law is within my heart. The psalmist prophetically recorded the heart that set Jesus apart the perfect love for His Father.
The writer of Hebrews indicated that these temporary offerings required by the Law served only as annual reminders of sin. They were never able to clear the worshippers conscience. He also wrote that God takes no pleasure in the blood of bulls and goats, and never has had any need for physical offerings. God has always wanted us to know Him, to understand Him, leading us to the goal of loving Him as our Father. This is the love that actually surpasses knowledge and it alone will produce the righteousness that knowledge of the Law is powerless to produce. Paul wrote to Ephesus and shared his understanding of this through his prayers for them: That you may be strengthened with power by the Spirit in your inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith and being rooted and established in love, you may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide, and long, and high, and deep is the love of Christ. To know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. To know someone is one thing, to love them is something far more wonderful. The Holy Spirit enables us to share in and experience that which surpasses knowledge, Jesus own love for the Father. The last chapter of the Song of Solomon describes the power of such a love: For love is as strong as death, its power as unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. Mature love like this surpasses knowledge.
The words and teaching of Jesus are filled with this understanding once our eyes have been enlightened.
Consider His prayer recorded in John 17 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory that Jesus shared with the Father even before creation was the relationship they shared as Father and Son. When the ministry of the Holy Spirit brings us into the fullness of this relationship, we will begin to experience the kind of loving obedience that the Law could never produce in and of itself. True righteousness will flow from the spiritual fruit of love being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This alone will lead to the fulfillment of the Law itself, the fulfilling all righteousness towards God and men.
There is a key found within the Greek language that will make the personal nature of this love far clearer than many of us have ever seen before. God has a unique and special love for those who believe in Him and have developed an intimate personal relationship. This special love is different from His general, less personal, love for all those within the world. The difference between these two types of love manifests itself in several ways. Jesus loved all men, especially all of His disciples; however, He did not love all of them in the same way. We know this by such passages as The disciple whom Jesus loved. We know this cant mean He only loved one of His disciples; but it is obvious that Jesus had a special relationship with this disciple that was distinct from His general love for the others. We also know that Jesus loved all the people of Israel, yet He had a special love for Lazarus as indicated by the message He received from Martha and Mary, Lord the one whom you love is sick. The Greek word used to indicate this special personal affection in both of these passages is phileo. Phileo is used when referring to the special bond between two individuals equivalent to our English word friend. James uses this term to describe Abraham as the friend of God (philos a noun form of phileo).
Most of us would be familiar with the other more common Greek word for love, agape. At one time, I mistakenly perceived that agape was a higher, more supreme love than phileo. What I discovered has forever altered that misconception. The difference between phileo and agape is not so much a difference of a greater vs. a lesser, rather the difference between the general vs. the personal. We will attend funerals of those that we generally value and esteem (agape) although we may not love them on deep personal level (phileo); however, when there is deeply personal history there will almost always be a far deeper (phileo) bond of love that touches us. Jesus raised several people from the dead, and He felt compassion on those who had lost them, but notice how He wept at the tomb of Lazarus and those who saw it remarked, Behold how He loved (phileo) him.
The significance of the specific use of phileo vs. apage takes on profound meaning in the following passage from John 16:25-27 These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves (phileo) you, because you have loved (phileo) me, and have believed that I came forth from God. The Father loves (agape) the whole world, but He does not have the same (phileo) love for everyone, only those who love (phileo) Jesus. In other words, Gods general love for mankind does not guarantee that every man will enter into the special intimacy of a phileo relationship with Him. John also records Jesus special designation of His disciples as friends (philos) in chapter 15. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends (philos). You are my friends (philos) if you do whatever I command you. Jesus did not regard the entire world as His friends, only those who had come to know Him intimately.
John was not the only apostle who understood this distinction; Paul seemed to have special insight into this distinctly intimate love for Christ. In the closing paragraph of his first letter to Corinth Paul makes a bold statement that indicates his comprehension of this special love we should all seek to share with Christ. Inserted right in the middle of his closing salutation he writes If anyone does not love (phileo) the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. Paul deliberately uses the word phileo here to indicate that our love for Christ must exceed a general value and esteem; it must become deeply personal and intimate we must phileo Jesus Christ as our very best friend.
Jesus Himself demanded this intimate love (phileo) above every other deeply rooted human relationship. Consider His words recorded in Matthew 10:37 He who loves (phileo) father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves (phileo) son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. There is no mistaking Jesus demand here. We must not have any relationship with another human being that is deeper or more intimate than our love (phileo) of Him. The most sacred, and emotionally involved love relationships known to men must all be second to the depth of our personal intimate devotion to the Lord Jesus. In essence, we must know and phileo Him beyond every other relationship in our life bar none. Consider the final words of judgment that many will hear on the day they are shocked to hear those piercing words depart from me you workers of iniquity I never knew you!
The last words they will ever hear before being eternally banished from the presence of the Lord will be I NEVER KNEW you! They will spend eternity in hell for never having developed an intimate relationship.
Jesus taught His disciples that The one loving (phileo) his life will lose it. We are not to love (phileo) our life in this world; in fact, James wrote friendship (phileo) with the world is hatred toward God; if anyone makes himself a friend (philos: noun of phileo) of the world, he ordains himself an enemy of God. Jesus made it clear that His disciples could never be friends (philos) of the world ever again: John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love (phileo) its own. Yet because you are not of this world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. This explains why those who have that special love (phileo) with Jesus, are the ones who have the least friendship (phileo love) with the world. It is not that they are unkind, or un-caring; they just cant relate with the world on any deep level because Jesus has called them out of the world and set them apart.
John records an insightful dialogue between the risen Lord and Simon Peter that uses both agape and phileo in their recorded conversation. Jesus asks Peter Simon son of Jonah, do you love (apape) me more than these? Peter answered using phileo, Yes, Lord: You know that I love (phileo) you. Jesus repeated the question a second time using the same word Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (agape) me? Peter answered Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You. The third time Jesus chose to use the same word Peter had been using (phileo) and asks him, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (phileo) me? Peter was grieved at this third question, and plead with Jesus Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileo) You. I believe Peters use of the word phileo was in no way conceding to having a lesser love than agape; instead it was a plea that his love was actually more personal his plea with Jesus was that He knew they were friends. Thats why it deeply grieved Peter when Jesus questioned whether their relationship was really one of intimate friendship. The distinction between agape and phileo is the difference between general love and the close bond between brothers.
There is one final passage that holds a special promise for those who have developed this intimate (phileo) love with Jesus Christ. He said to the messenger of the church of Laodicea As many as I love (phileo) I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
The Lord Jesus does not always reprove everyone, because He does not have the special phileo with everyone. Solomon himself once warned his sons, Do not rebuke a wicked man, for he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Rather than rebuking everyone, Jesus will send many self-deceived professing Christians a strong delusion, because they never received the love of the truth so as to be saved. God loves (agape) the whole world and He is not willing that any should perish; but the vast majority of the world will do just that because they have never known the phileo love of Jesus or the Father. Those who phileo this world above the phileo of God and Jesus Christ will perish despite having been loved (apape) by both the Father and the Son.
There is a great difference between knowing about Jesus apape love and having a deeply intimate personal (phileo) loving friendship with Him. Heaven will most certainly be a place reserved exclusively for those who sincerely phileo love the Lord Jesus Christ as their very best friend. These are the ones that Jesus longs to be with and these are the ones He is preparing a place for. Such believers have their affection and their mind set on things above, not on earthly things; because that is where there most valued treasure is - Wherever a mans treasure is, there will his heart be also. The pure in heart will get the reward they long for the most they get to see the One they phileo above everything else they will see God. If anyone loves the world and the things of the world the love of the Father is not in him.
Do we phileo our father or mother, son or daughter more than Jesus? We are not worthy to be His disciples only those who phileo Him most are!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon