Grace Fellowship (Rusk, Texas)
D201 Lesson 11: Perfecting the Love Walk
- Perfecting the Love WalkKey Verse: “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12 (NKJV)Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to help the disciple understand and perfect the display of God’s love toward others.In the last days, LAWLESSNESS will increase and LOVE will grow cold.Matthew 24:12 (NKJV) “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”Those who do not love do not KNOW God because God is LOVE.1 John 4:8 (NKJV) “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”God is LoveThe word “love” has been so misused that it has lost much of its meaning and impact. People say they “love” their food, dog, clothes, car, home, job, etc. In a promiscuous society, love is attributed to a sexual fling. People even use the term to manipulate others to get what they want. Society has become increasingly selfish and self-centered. We lie, abuse, and neglect each other for the sake of our own personal gain and convenience. We find it difficult to trust the phrase, “I love you.” As a result, few hear or use the phrase at all. No wonder Jesus tells us that in the last days the love of many will grow “cold”, i.e., indifferent and unfeeling. 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Love is the essence of His being and nature. Pure and genuine love originates and flows from the heart of God. To know God is to love Him—and to love others.When we love one another, we testify that God LIVES in us and that His love has been PERFECTED in us.1 John 4:12 (NKJV) “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”The two greatest COMMANDMENTS involve our love for GOD and our love for OTHERS.Matthew 22:35–40 (NKJV) “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”All the requirements of the LAW are fulfilled in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves.Galatians 5:14 (NKJV) “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”Love and the Law of GodWhen God made Adam and Eve there was no law except one command: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”(Genesis 2:16-17) The relationship God desired with man is one of loving obedience to His command (John 14:15) and to His voice (Genesis 3:8). After the fall of man, our love for God is revealed in keeping His commandments. Adam and Eve acted in selfish pride and rebellion when they disobeyed God. The purity of their love for God was defiled. Their ability to love and to know love was greatly handicapped and even warped. This handicap was passed down to the entire human race (Romans 5:12). The Ten Commandments, along with its statutes, ordinances, and precepts, were given by God to restore the standard for the nature and behavior of true love. The more lawless that a society becomes, the more laws must be instituted. Why? Lawlessness always looks for a loophole. True love needs no law, for it will always do by nature and at any cost what love requires. Therefore, the law of God was not made for the righteous but for the lawless (1 Timothy 1:8-9). The righteous man needs no law to do what love requires. Love is already the law of his heart. Thus, we will fulfill the entire law of God as we walk in perfect love.All sin is LAWLESSNESS.1 John 3:4 (NKJV) “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”The choice to sin is an act of lawlessness. Lawlessness is the practical rejection of moral and legal law. Lawlessness is rooted in pride and rebellion, and it leads to anarchy.The purpose of God’s commandment (1 Timothy 1:5) is LOVE that flows forth from:A pure HEART.A good CONSCIENCE.Sincere FAITH.If we are truly BORN of God and say we love JESUS, then the evidence of this reality will be our love for OTHERS who are born of Him and our love for God in willingly and lovingly keeping His COMMANDMENTS.1 John 5:1–3 (NKJV) “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”1 John 4:7 (NKJV) “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”The quality of God’s love toward us is revealed in that we are called the CHILDREN of God.1 John 3:1–3 (NKJV) “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”The realization that God has called us His children should motivate us to PURIFY our lives so that we may reflect His image and nature as His children.The children of God are KNOWN by their practice of RIGHTEOUSNESS and LOVE for the brethren.1 John 3:10 (NKJV) “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”One who HATES a Christian brother is a MURDERER. Hatred toward a brother in Christ reveals that they are still in spiritual DARKNESS and DEATH.1 John 2:9–11 (NKJV) “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”1 John 3:15 (NKJV) “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”1 John 4:20 (NKJV) “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”The hatred of CAIN toward his brother stands in contrast to the love of CHRIST for sinners.1 John 3:11–12 (NKJV) “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”John 15:12–13 (NKJV) “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”We are also responsible to show God’s love toward our ENEMIES.Matthew 5:43–48 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”Romans 5:8 (NKJV) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Demonstrating God’s love to unlovable people is a measure of PERFECT love which displays the perfect love of the Father.“Perfect” love speaks of a love that is fully developed in its virtue.Love is the one command given by Christ under the NEW COVENANT.John 13:34–35 (NKJV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”1 John 3:11 (NKJV) “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,”Through loving one another, the world will believe that we are Christ’s DISCIPLES.A New CommandmentThe old covenant of Moses contained 613 commandments that were applications of the Ten Commandments, God’s Covenant between Himself and His people Israel. When Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant, He gave one great commandment—to love one another as He has loved us. Christ’s one command to love restores the original foundation of our relationship with God and others. Love does not need law because, by nature, love fulfills the law. We can never repay our debt to God, but we can show our appreciation by loving others in the same way He loved us. Jesus set the standard on how we are to love others.Christ’s standard for loving one another is “AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.”Love finds its greatest expression in laying down its LIFE for another.John 15:13 (NKJV) “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”John 10:15 (NKJV) “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”1 John 3:16 (NKJV) “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”Jesus demonstrated God’s STANDARD of love when He gave His life on the Cross.John 10:17–18 (NKJV) “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes 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 command I have received from My Father.”1 John 3:16 (NKJV) “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”John 3:16 (NKJV) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”God’s love is PERFECTED in us through:KEEPING God’s word (1 John 2:5)ABIDING in God’s love (1 John 4:16-17)OVERCOMING fear (1 John 4:18)CHARACTERISTICS of God’s love.Without HYPOCRISY. (Romans 12:9)Avoids HARMING a neighbor. (Romans 13:10)Free from the love of the WORLD. (1 John 2:15)Love is the primary FRUIT of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”The Greek word for “fruit” is singular rather than plural. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit is love. The other eight are descriptions of love.Joy is love’s strength.Peace is love’s security.Longsuffering is love’s endurance.Goodness is love’s character.Faithfulness is love’s confidence.Gentleness is love’s humility.Self-control is love’s victory.The love we show to OTHERS is regarded as the love we show to JESUS.Matthew 25:37–40 (NKJV) “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”Love is not just a NOUN. Love is a VERB, i.e., an action word.We know God’s love because He demonstrated His love to us.1 John 3:18 (NKJV) “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”Love is not known in theory. It is known through demonstration. Love is as love does.The Bible gives us many PRACTICAL examples on how to demonstrate love.Forgiveness (Luke 23:34)Caring for others in their time of need (Matthew 25:46)Laying down our lives for another (1 John 3:16)Sharing what we have with those in need (1 John 3:17)Feed and care for Christ’s flock (John 21:15-17)Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)Cover rather than maliciously expose another’s sin (1 Peter 4:8)Bless those who curse, do good to those who hate, pray for those who speak evil (Matthew 5:44)Show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2)Do not speak evil of a brother or sister (James 4:11)1 Corinthians has been called the LOVE CHAPTER in the Bible.According to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, any good thing we seek to do that is absent of love is worthless.The Nature of God’s Love: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8Love suffers long: Love is patient under trial. Love endures the test of time. Love does not give up, but loves to the finish line. Love is committed. Love allows God time to work.Love is kind: Love is sympathetic and tenderhearted. Love is cordial and friendly towards others. Love is generous and benevolent, always ready to do good. Love gives a helping hand and is hospitable, accepting with joy any inconveniences. Love is the Good Samaritan---it takes action and cares.Love does not envy: Love does not harbor hatred or ill will toward others who gain advantage in possessions, favor, or position. Love does not despise another’s success or profit. Love does not begrudge another person possessing or enjoying things that they need or deserve. Love does not boil over with jealousy. Love rejoices in another’s cause to rejoice.Love does not parade itself: Love is never boastful or braggadocios. Love is not vainglorious. Love does not seek out the places of honor. Love does not compete for recognition and applause. Love does not promote itself or show off. Love does not flaunt itself. Love is humble, and seeks the promotion of others.Love is not puffed up: Love is not arrogant or haughty. Love is not lifted up in pride. Love does not walk with an air of superiority over others. Love is not egotistical. Love is not inflated with self-importance. Love is not “stuck up” or conceited. Love is not cliquish. Love esteems all as equally precious in the sight of God.Love does not behave rudely: Love has manners. Love shows respect and consideration for others in thoughtfulness, conversation and in behavior. Love is never crude, offensive in display, coarse, vulgar, distasteful, discourteous, forceful, abrupt, or savage.Love does not seek its own: Love is not selfish and demanding. Love considers the welfare of others in its choices. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not self-seeking or stubborn. Love prefers its own inconvenience over the inconvenience of another.Love is not provoked: Love is not irritable or touchy. Love is not easily offended. Love does not wear its feelings on its sleeve. Love does not walk around with a “chip” on its shoulder. Love does not hold a grudge. Love does not harbor anger or resentment. Love responds rather than reacts. Love seeks to get along with other people. Love is a peacemaker.Love thinks no evil: Love keeps no accounts of evil done to it. Love keeps no “black lists.” Love does not rehearse or nurse offenses. Love remembers that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with evil spiritual powers that influence people. Therefore love is quick to forgive every time and prays for its enemies and for those who hurt or offend. Love keeps its “account books” clear of the debts of others by canceling all debts at the cross.Love does not rejoice in iniquity: Love never carries an inward smile when evil befalls another. Love never expresses approval or pleasure when people settle things outside of God’s righteous standards and instructions. Love is never happy when God’s word is disregarded in the choices of life. Love never participates in or entertains ways of harming, defrauding, deceiving, or destroying another.Love rejoices in the truth: Love is at peace in the truth. Love will not spread lies or misinformation. Love will not settle for just one side of the story. Love does not sympathize with a lie, but rejoices when truth prevails. Love will always speak the truth and insist on truth in others.Love bears all things: Love is loyal and faithful to the end. Love holds up under pressure, high cost, inconvenience, hardship, and demand. Love is willing to go the extra mile. Love is willing to bear more than its share of the load to help others. Love makes allowances for people because it understands human frailties, weakness, and spiritual blindness.Love believes all things: Love is not gullible, but it never succumbs to a spirit of negativity that discounts the positive potential of God at work in others. Love never condemns or makes final assessments of people. Love never allows itself to become blind to the good in the worst of people. Love is willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Love chooses to believe the best about people trusting that God is at work in them.Love hopes all things: Love never fades in hope. Love expects that good can and will prevail over evil when God’s principles are faithfully and consistently applied. Love never gives up on people or “writes them off.” Love never loses hope in God’s mercy and grace. Love keeps a positive outlook on even the worst of situations. Love never loses hope in God.Love endures all things: Love will stand its ground. Love doesn’t retreat, back up, or back off. Love is not overcome through setbacks and disappointments. Love accepts the challenges and hardships along the pathway to victory. There is nothing too powerful or difficult that love cannot overcome.Love never fails: Love never fades or comes to an end. Love will always be the eternal principle, for God is love. Love will always be on demand. Love will never become obsolete or unfashionable. Love is eternal and is the greatest virtue of all.The three abiding (eternal) spiritual virtues are FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE. The greatest of these three virtues is LOVE.1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV) “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”Love is the king of all virtues.The love for God and the love for others are like the two railroad tracks upon which every other virtue and good thing travels.