From Where Does Love Come? 10/18/98

I Timothy 1:5
Page 1731 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “…love one another…”

He also said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…”

Some years later one of His immature young followers wrote to give insight as to the fountain head of love. As a refreshing fountain has to have a source so must love. Our text uses that principle to illustrate the origin of love in a life. The illustrative fountain has three heads:

Once while flying out of Cairo I was impressed by a large dark area in that vast expanse of sandy desert. As we neared it I could tell it was vegetation. Upon inquiring, I learned the government had drilled for oil and had simply dug a very expensive water well. The water was conserved and used to irrigate this region of about one square mile in size. All they did was let the water be dispersed over the dry sand and vegetation sprung up. For centuries the seed had been collecting needing only water to grow. Perhaps the best seeds of love are yet to spring up in your life.

We live in a spiritually dry and thirsty world needing love. You can be that fountain of love. I beg you, don’t be a mirage.

The meaning of the word “love” needs to be established before considering its source. AGAPE is the Greek word translated love. It speaks of full loyalty to God and boundless good will to people. The Greeks had various words for love. PHILEO was one used for brotherly love. Combine it as a prefix to ANTHROPOS, the word for man and you have the word philanthropy, meaning the love of mankind. PHILEO combined with SOPIAS the Greek word for knowledge and you have the word philosophy, the love of knowledge. Combined with the Greek word for city, POLIS and you have Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

There was the Greek word EROS which spoke of physical or sensual love.

At the time of the New Testament there was no Greek word adequate to express the love of God. They took a little used word that appears only four times in classical Greek writings and gave it a new meaning, AGAPE. It is the selfless self-giving love of God. There is nothing physical or sensual about it. Love as used in this regard means to desire and devise the best for others.

Love for God prompts us to let go of whatever we are holding to and latching on to God. Let go and latch on. There is no good in holding on to anything in time of a storm if it isn’t tied down. In the storms of life the only real and sure anchor is Jesus Christ. To love Him means to let go of the unanchored objects offered by the world and latching on to Him.

Some of you I am reminding, others are perhaps gaining this perspective for the first time. A baby isn’t born knowing how to love. It is born with the capacity to love but learns to love or hate by the way the parent relates to it. Perhaps you were deprived of one or both parents who didn’t show you proper love as an infant and loving is difficult for you. There is good news. Along comes the Heavenly Father to show us love and thereby teach us to love.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4: 19).

Once we love Him and know how He loves us we are well on our way to knowing how to love one another. He loves us with all of our faults, frailties, and failures. How are we to love others? As He loved us.

Only in America has love become so mixed up.

Only in America have so many things become so mixed up. ONLY IN AMERICA – – – – –

Can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in America … are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America … do people order double cheese burgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America … do banks leave both doors open and chain the pen to the desk.

Only in America … do they put brail lettering on drive-in bank windows.

Only in America … do we leave expensive cars parked in the driveway and leave useless things and junk in boxes in the garage.

Only in America … do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we don’t want to talk to in the first place….

Only in America … do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America … do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin means “many” and “ticks” means blood-sucking creatures…”

Only in America … do we use the word “love” when we mean “lust.”

Satan subtly wants to divert our love if not deceive us into not loving. In the intriguing “Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis Satan gives his servant Wormwood advice on how to reduce the effectiveness of Christian love. He suggests dividing a persons life into concentric circles. The inner circle represents a person’s will. Next is the intellect. Last is one’s fantasies. It is “out there” he suggests keeping a person’s love. The deceiver says to his disciple:

“Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know.”

In other words, it is easy to talk about loving people in other countries or different locales than we. That does little good. In doing so the deceiver channels our love into lakes of unfulfillment.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor…”

Three characteristics of the foundation of love are mentioned. Explore this triad:

I. A PURE HEART (present motives)
HEART in the Hebrew language was used in the O.T. because there is not a word for mind or brain. To understand a word in the Hebrew it is proper to define it in association with words with which it is linked.

A “pure heart” belongs only to the person made right by the right relationship with Christ. Such a heart can then manifest the fruit of the Spirit, which involves love.

Psalms 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.” In this verse heart and thoughts are linked.

Satan subtly suggests sin is a better alternative than love for the Lord as the path to the good life. The wages of sin can be quite good in today’s competitive market, but there are no benefits and retirement is pure hell.

Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceedeth evil thoughts…” Thus, from Hebrew and Greek it is seen that heart and thoughts are equated. Therefore, Timothy is appealing for followers of Christ to have pure thoughts, the right motives.

This is needed for:
“Out of the heart are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).

“Man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh upon the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

God alone cleanses the heart (Psalms 51: 10, 11).

PURE means not double minded. It was a word used to describe purging an army of all potential traitors. It described milk with no water added to dilute it.

If there is bacteria in a substance it will grow. If there is yeast in bread it will multiply. If there is impurity of thought in a life, it will grow. The mind must be cleansed. It must be cleansed from self-centeredness if it is to have love for Christ.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Literally, He said HAPPY are the pure in heart. You will never find happiness apart from having an undivided mind, that is, God controlled thoughts. Only a pure heart produces love for Christ.

II. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE (past action)
Huck Finn said, “Sometimes a fellow’s conscience takes up more room than all the rest of his insides.”

The Greek word used in our text and translated “conscience” is SUNEIDESIS. It literally means “a knowing within.” How what is known within is programmed is the critical issue. To have a good conscience it must be programmed by God’s value standard, the Bible.

Our English word CONSCIENCE comes from the Latin CON-SCIENTA, meaning joint knowledge or co-knowledge, knowing together with. A conscience is a poor guide unless it knows the Word of God.

Hearts not informed and influenced by the Word of God can become insensitive. We are seeing this increasingly in America. An illustration of it comes from the Japanese conquest of China. Christians were herded into trenches, bound and put on their knees. Youth were forced to watch initially as soldiers shot them. The youthful response was one of abhorrence. Next the students were forced to do the shooting. Eventually students were forced to enter the trenches and complete the act with knives. They were then highly rewarded and bragged upon. Soon they began to relish the task in order to obtain the rewards.

In America youth watch violence while enjoying their favorite treats of candy, popcorn, and preferred beverage. Their conscience is dulled and has become insensitive. Then we wonder why there is so much violence by youth who seem to feel nothing. They have a conscience seared by a hot iron. A cauterized conscience is a non- feeling conscience. Once they enact violence and are shocked back into reality they have to live with the incubus of their act.

A clear conscience is one:
A. Guided by God’s special revelation as a norm.

B. Makes wise judgements and issues instructions which are obeyed.

C. Produces “Godly sorrow which works repentance unto salvation” (II Cor. 7:10).

D. Not only condemns the bad but commends the good. Hence the result is faith.

A guilt conscience motivated Swietzer to go to Africa and Bunyan to write “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

After all Paul had done how could he have a clear conscience? Verses 12-15 explain. The same principle applies today. In I Timothy 1: 12 – 15 Paul bursts into joyous celebration over what Christ had done in his life. His story is that if Christ could change him Christ can change anyone. Jesus Christ is the personification of the Christian gospel. The essence of a Christian witness is telling others what a change Christ has made in your life. Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor of the followers of Christ, and a man of aggressive violence who enjoyed unleashing pain on others. He was a bad dude.

Even the best listeners have a tendency to fade out occasionally in following a thought. Fine tune your mind in order to retain what now comes.

In verse 13 Paul makes what appears to be a statement that conflicts with the idea of grace. He says, “I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly.”

Superficially that makes it appear ignorance was the basis of his forgiveness. That is never true.

In listening to persons give testimonies sometimes it appears they are glorifying their sinful past. Often this leaves the impression that the only way to have a good testimony is to go live a life of debauchery and drug abuse and then “get converted.” Not so.

What Paul was saying in this statement of his ignorance was there is nothing chic, cool, or glamorous about living in sin. As a matter of fact doing so is grounded in unbelief and is utterly stupid. Sin is always the product of conscious refusal to obey God. It is always the mark of ignorance.

How can a person with a carnally complicated and corrupt past gain a clear conscience? By having a cleansed life. How is it possible? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

Simple isn’t it? Yes, but not costless.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6).

III. A GENUINE FAITH (projected goals)
GENUINE means without hypocrisy. Are you living on a pretend faith? Faith produces works. Faith is consistently expressive. Is your faith a mirage?

The test of your faith is does it prompt obedient action? If what you call faith doesn’t, it isn’t faith its froth. It is a religious front that is a fake.

There are some very special times that can be used to demonstrate faith. Use the difficult times in life as occasions to demonstrate your faith in the living Lord. Instead of complaining and whining use those difficult moments as meaningful times to exhibit your faith and thereby prove His faithfulness.

John Wesley was making his way to Georgia from England aboard the ship “Simmonds” in 1735. He watched in total amazement as a community of Moravian passengers continued to worship God and sing in the midst of a violent Atlantic storm as if nothing were happening. Wesley marveled at that kind of faith. It motivated him to ask God to help him develop that kind of faith for the big storms of life. If people see that kind of faith in you they too will be motivated to place their faith in our Lord.

In love our Lord has discretely established faith as the means by which we obtain life’s greatest blessings and numerous other valuable ones. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is the positive means by which we respond to the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

There are some things that we might like but can’t obtain on our own. For example, if there were a cube of pure gold measuring 13″ X 13″ offered to you would you accept it. If you were told that for it to be yours all you would have to do is come pick it up personally and take it with you, would you do it? A thirteen inch cube of pure gold! Would you like it? It is yours if you simply take it. Most persons would love to have such a quantity of gold. Regardless of how badly you would like it you could not meet the requirement for obtaining it. You could not pick it up for it would weigh one ton. You couldn’t meet the standard of picking it up.

For you to pick up the gift of salvation God has made it possible for the “whosoever” of John 3:16. All that is necessary is faith in Christ.

It can never be spelled out too simply or too frequently. There are four basics we do well to learn.

Use the personal pronoun “I” to refer to yourself and repeat within yourself the following:

1. I am not God.

2. God is God.

3. I sin when I get #1 and #2 reversed.

4. Jesus Christ came to help me get #1 and #2 in proper order and to forgive me of #3.

When we, by faith, put those four in proper perspective we are in position to obtain the wonderful gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

You will never truly live until you have established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

When you have you shall never die.