Of Instruction Concerning Obedience in Love
Jesus said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments," (John 14:15).
By His words Jesus points out a fundamental principle of the life of the Christian, and of the church, in the world. The saving love of Christ, through His death on the cross and resurrection, works in the Christian an obedient love of Christ. Confessing Christ as Lord, the believer holds Christ's will in his heart and keeps His will by faith. The love of Christ bears spiritual fruit in the life of the church and the believer because, by the grace of being born again, the Christian is actually planted into Christ. He is made a good tree, and as Jesus said, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit," (Matthew 7:17). This is the mark, according to the text, first of all of a faithful preacher and faithful preaching of the gospel, of a good tree. But it is also the mark of a believer who loves His Lord (John 15:5).
The love of Christ is a devoted love. Jesus said, "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:38, 39) Denying his own will and following after Christ in obedient love, doing His will, characterizes the walk of the Christian.
Jesus does not teach a love of God which tolerates sin or compromise with sin. Nor is the love of the Christian for his neighbor or fellow believer one which tolerates sin and ignores iniquity. That would be hypocrisy, not love. It would be to permit the neighbor to walk to his eternal ruin. Such toleration is the unbelieving humanist's notion of love. It is often called Christian, but it is not. We are called to love, not to "be nice."
Because Jesus came to "call sinners to repentance," He also calls His church to admonish, rebuke, discipline, and to cut off the wicked and impenitent from among His people. Nor does this apply only to our walk of life, for Jesus came reproving the leaders for their false doctrine as well as their evil works. He says, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19) He says of offending or leading someone to sin, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)
Jesus teaches the duty of an obedient love which calls those who err, whether in doctrine or life, to repentance. A believer who loves his Lord, the Lord Who died for his sins, is grieved by sin, his own and that of others. A believer who truly loves his neighbor desires the true spiritual good of his neighbor. Jesus says, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established. And if he neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." (Matthew 18:15-17)
Do you walk in this obedient love of Christ? Is the love you profess Biblical? Or is it man's philosophy of tolerance masquerading as Christianity? Does obedience to Christ rule your life because He is your Lord? Does your church reprove sin and seek those who wander in sin to their own hurt, or does anything go?
By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor
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