Those of you that have been following my blog for a while are already aware of this, but there are many that are not. Originally, I had planned on posting a new teaching every week which I did faithfully for quite a while. Unfortunately, events came into my life that made keeping up that schedule impossible. Something had to give and after much prayerful consideration, I had to suspend my blogging for a season. I posted something here and there, but basically everything stopped. Although I quit posting, I did not quit studying and while not quite with as much regularity as I would hope, I also continued to write. Although I’m not quite at the place where I can return to a weekly schedule, I am bringing things back online as of now. Some posts may appear weekly, others posts may come two or three weeks apart and maybe occasionally longer than that. I plan on finishing up the series called “The Abundant Heart” at some point. But right now, I feel I am to start with something fresh. So, today we begin a series I’m calling “Why Can’t We Love?” I hope you enjoy it.
Why Can’t We Love?
Loving others should come easy to the believer and yet for many, it doesn’t. Today we take a look at why that is.
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22,23 are the fruits of the recreated human spirit. When we put our faith in Christ, we have what is commonly referred to as the “Born Again” experience. That experience causes us to pass from death unto life. We’re changed instantly on the inside, but it is a process that we go through for that change to be seen on the outside. Most people find themselves not enjoying the same sinful behaviors they used to enjoy. This is because they are no longer that same person on the inside. This change can be dramatic. One of the biggest changes we experience is our capacity to love. I say capacity because it is a choice and we can choose NOT to love even though it is in our NEW nature to love. Not only is it in our NEW nature to love, our NEW nature IS love and our capacity to love is INFINITE. You read that right, INFINITE! Wait, How is that possible? Good question. Turn with me to Colossians
Col 1:26-28 …the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. For to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, so that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Notice that Paul calls this “the mystery which has been hidden” and this mystery has now been revealed to his saints (the believers). Are you a believer? Then this mystery is for you. What is the mystery? Christ IN you. Not Christ around you, near you or Christ upon you. It is Christ IN you. Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 13:3-5:
2Co 13:3-5 Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me (who is not weak toward you, but is powerful in you; for even if He was crucified out of weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For indeed even we are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you), examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves. Do you not know your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates?
Look at that last verse again.
Do you not know your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you…
My friend, if you are a believer, then Jesus Christ is in YOU. Need more proof? Here you go (underlines added for emphasis).
Rom 8:10 And if Christ is in you, indeed the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf.
Eph 3:14-19 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
So, let all doubts be erased this day. If you’re a believer, Jesus Christ lives in you.
For those who may be new to the faith or perhaps never taught, God is a triune being. There is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They are all the same God. Not three Gods, just one God revealed in three ways and they are all one. It is that God that dwells in you.
What does the Word of God tell us about this God?
1 John 4:16 And we hve known and believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
God is not the emotion called love. He is not an emotion, nor is he merely a concept. He is a living, tangible being whose all-defining characteristic is love. Because, this same God whose all-defining characteristic is love, lives within us, then we possess this same characteristic and capacity to love. Stephen provides us with a great example of this.
Please turn to the book of Acts.
Acts 7:59-60 And they stoned Stephen, who was calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And kneeling down, he cried with a loud voice, Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Notice, they were stoning Stephen. To put it more bluntly, they were murdering Stephen because of his faith in Christ. I put it in those terms because I want you to think about something. He is in the process of being killed and instead of cursing them or screaming hatred at them, he does something unusual. He intercedes for his murderers and asks God to NOT charge his murder (their sin) to their account. THAT is forgiveness. THAT is love. It is the same love that Christ demonstrated while on the cross where he said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Now here’s the BIG question: What would you do? How would you react? Most of us would like to think that we would react just like Stephen. But, the truth is, you won’t know until you’re put into that kind of situation. That’s because when you’re in the moment of a stressful situation, your mind will get out of the way and your heart will speak. As you may recall from previous posts: What’s in YOUR heart? A good indicator is how you react on the highway with other drivers or when someone grabs the parking space that you’ve been waiting for. Or how do you react when you’re accused falsely? Are you loving and kind? Only you know the answer to that question. I’ll be honest and will tell you that I’m far from perfect in this area. I am 1,000% better than I was in the past and yet I have a ways to go. How about you? Make note of your reaction next time you’re in that type of situation.
So, why do we react in such an un-loving manner? We have the God of all creation inside of us. We have an unlimited capacity to love by virtue of the recreated human spirit. We have all of these things and yet we flip people off on the freeway or we curse or we get angry or we do any number of sinful behaviors simply because someone does something we don’t like. Why is this? Well, you’re about to find out.
Certainly, no discussion of this would be complete without first talking about the “flesh” or “the old nature.”
2 Cor 5:17 So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any strength, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
My friend, when you receive Christ you are new creation. That happens immediately when you put your faith in Christ. Your spirit is immediately recreated in His image. Your mind however, is another story. It takes some time to overwrite a lifetime of bad thinking and behaviors. That is a process. It has a beginning and it has an end if you put forth the effort.
Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Read those two passages carefully. The passage from Ephesians tells us what he will do, while the passage from Romans tells us what we need to do. We need to renew our minds. That’s our responsibility. As we do, he will wash us by the water of the word. If we do this, our thinking will change and our behaviors will change… over time. The length of time depends upon you. To put it simply, you need to read God’s word and study it. This is for everyone and is fundamental for your Christian growth. But, is reading the Word of God a cure all for everyone? Sadly, the answer to that is no. For many, it is. For some, it is only a partial cure. Notice in Romans it says we should be transformed by the “renewing of our minds.” Paul is talking about the mind. That renewal process works wonders when the issues have to do with our thinking. But what if the problem isn’t with our thinking (the mind) at all? What if it’s deeper than that?
Well, I’ll answer that question next time as I have much to say about this subject. Until then, may God’s richest blessings be yours today.