The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The More Excellent Way of Love - Part 2

Now we continue with our study of The More Excellent Way of Love. Whenever I consider the love of God (which is moment by moment) I never cease to be amazed and thankful for it. There is a reason for that; you just can’t beat God’s love! That truth is where we will take up in our further study of 1 Corinthians 13 love.

The More Empowering and Enduring Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13:8 - 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

If you want what you do for the Lord to be empowered and overcoming, do it in love. If you want what you do for the Lord to endure, do it in love. Love never fails. Think about that. Prophecies fail, tongues will stop and knowledge will disappear, but love and that which is done in love, will endure powerfully. Love overcomes the hard heart that loveless prophecies alone failed to move. Love reaches the throne of God in prayer where loveless tongues failed to break through the clouds of heaven. Love has staying power on the listener where loveless regurgitation of knowledge goes in one ear and out the other vanishing away.

The More Enlightened Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13:9-12 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Paul points out that humanity is limited in knowledge and prophetic understanding (13:9). The meaning of these verses must come from the context of Paul’s discussion. He is speaking and teaching about the necessity of love, the value and benefit of love. The point therefore that he makes is that all too often we limit our efforts and works, our thoughts, dreams, our walk with the Lord, because we do it without love. If we really want to know what God and His plans and purposes are all about, we need to look at His love.

Christian Perfection

The Corinthians thought they knew a lot, but their lovelessness exposed them as children in their spiritual maturity (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). If they wanted to be a “man” or mature spiritually, they would have to take the words of love from this chapter of Paul and apply them to their lives. This thought is the key to understanding what Paul meant when he said in verse ten, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” Some have asserted that the phrase “when that which is perfect has come” refers to the canon of inspired scripture; others have interpreted this phrase as referring to the coming of Christ. Both of these interpretations seem to stretch beyond the evidence given in the context of the passage.

What does verse ten and the phrase, “when that which is perfect has come” mean from the context? Paul had already described the carnal Corinthians as children in their faith (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). In verse eleven Paul makes mention of children again stating, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” In verse eleven Paul is speaking of spiritual development, a transition from childhood to manhood or adulthood spiritually. The Bible speaks elsewhere of spiritual maturity by using the child and adulthood illustration (1 Corinthians 14:20; 2 Corinthians 6:11-14; Galatians 4:1-10; Ephesians 4:14; Peter in 1 Peter 13-15; and by John in 1 John 2:12-14, though John also uses “children” as a term of affection in 1 John 3:1, 2, 7, 10, 18; 4:4; 5:21 and elsewhere). The immediate contextual evidence therefore points to Paul speaking of spiritual maturity or growth.

Additional evidence that Paul is speaking of spiritual maturity is found by examining the word “perfect.” The word “perfect” in verse ten is an important one. “Perfect” is translated from the Greek term telios (τέλειος tĕlĕiŏs, tel´-i-os) which means, “complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and mor.alcharacter, etc.); completeness; of full age, perfect.” This is not a commonly used word in the New Testament but when it is used the context of the passages show that it is used to refer to: the completion of days in the arriving at a set destination (Luke 2:43; 13:32); accomplishing or finishing a mission goal (John 4:34; 5:36; 17:4; Acts 20:24); perfected in unity (John 17:23); fulfill scripture (John 19:28); not reaching a goal or state of being (Philippians 3:12); being made complete by an experience or accomplished mission (Philippians 3:15; Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; 7:19, 28; 9:9; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 12:23; James 2:22; 1 John 2:5; 4:12, 17); and something that is complete (1 John 4:18).

The Bible also uses the word “perfect” to refer to something that is completeable or something that comes to full maturity, especially in regard to spiritual maturity. Jesus challenged His disciples to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Paul spoke of discovering the “perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Paul also used this word to refer to those who had arrived at a place of spiritual maturity and are spiritually mature (1 Corinthians 2:6; 13:10; 14:20; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; see also Hebrews 5:14). The New Testament speaks of a “more perfect” thing, i.e. the “more perfect” tabernacle of Christ’s body (Hebrews 9:11). James uses the term to refer to the maturity of spiritual character (James 1:4; 3:2). James uses the word “perfect” to refer to the good gifts that come from God and are just right (James 1:17). He uses “perfect” to refer to the law of God (James 1:25). And John uses the word “perfect” to refer to a certain kind of love, “perfect love” (1 John 4:18).

There is a sense in which a Christian is not perfected or complete and has more work to do, or further road to travel (Philippians 3:12). But there is a state of perfection, of spiritual maturity and completeness that the Christian can arrive at (1 Corinthians 2:6; 13:10; 14:20; Philippians 3:15). A Christian will never reach a place where they are absolutely perfect in the sense that they have no more spiritual growing to do in this life. We will continue to grow spiritually right up until we pass from this life to the next. There will always be nooks and crannies of our being that the Lord will point out to us and bring to our attention where we need to surrender to His hand and seek His work of transformation to Christlikeness to be done. But there is an attitude or place of total heart surrender and commitment to the lordship and love of Jesus that the believer can attain to. This is the heart attitude of full surrender to obey the Lord fully on life’s journey. This is the place where your will is relinquished to the Lord’s will and His joy in you remains full and complete regardless of circumstance encountered in life. This is the person who fully loves Jesus so much that nothing shakes him or her from that love.

What can we conclude then about the meaning of the phrase, “when that which is perfect has come”? There is no mention of the canon of scripture or coming of Christ in association with the word “perfect” in the immediate context of the passage. What then can it refer to? In light of the use of the child-adult relationship and the word “perfect” to refer to the various aspects of spiritual maturity, I believe Paul is telling the Corinthians to stop being childish loveless carnal Christians and grow up to a mature LOVING spiritual walk with God.

John Wesley taught of a spiritual state of maturity for the Christian that he called “Christian Perfection.” When we hear the word “perfection” we think, “no mistakes; without flaw; absolutely perfect.” But as we have seen that is not in line with the meaning of the biblical term. Rather “Christian Perfection” is a state of spiritual maturity whereby God works in the believer so that they love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:37-40).

In his sermon On Perfection John Wesley wrote this:

What is then the perfection of which man is capable while he dwells in a corruptible body? It is the complying with that kind command, “My son, give me thy heart.” It is the “loving the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind.” This is the sum of Christian perfection: It is all comprised in that one word, Love. The first branch of it is the love of God: And as he that loves God loves his brother also, it is inseparably connected with the second: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:” Thou shalt love every man as thy own soul, as Christ loved us. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets:” These contain the whole of Christian perfection.[1]

That should be our life ambition and purpose, to love God supremely and love those around us as we love ourselves. Oh that we would have ears to hear this message of love from the Spirit! Oh that our hearts would bow to God in full surrender to have that love put there by Him!

How Can We Know Such Love?

How can we know such love? We come to know such love at the cross of Christ. The apostle John is often referred to as the apostle of love. When we look at his first epistle we see one of the reasons why he has come to be known in this way. Read his inspired words about God, love and knowing God:

· 1 John 4:7-12 - 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 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.

How can we know such love? We know such love first because God took the initiative to show His love to us through His only Son Jesus at the cross (1 John 4:9-10). The presence of God is manifested in the body of Christ by the love of believers toward Him and other believers (1 John 4:11-12). Such love can only be learned from God (1 Thessalonians 4:9). The greatest lesson of love is God’s giving His only Son Jesus (John 3:16; 1 John 4:19). Jesus teaches us what love is (John 13:34-35). The only way we can hope to experience such love is to be born again spiritually by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

Intertwined and inseparable to knowing God’s love is the cross of Christ. These words dovetail well with what Paul is saying to the Corinthians. Love is known through the cross of Christ and this love is the measure of spiritual maturity and ultimately knowing God. We know God to the extent we know His love at the cross of Christ and love others with this crucifixion love. What Paul is speaking about is perfect love.

Perfect Love?

What is “perfect love”? Later in John’s first epistle he speaks of a perfect love or spiritually maturing love in the following way:

· 1 John 4:17-19 - 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

The mark of a Christians maturing in love, “perfect love” is found in John’s inspired words here.

First, perfect love has “boldness in the day of judgment” before God. This is confidence not irreverence. Why and how can someone not fear God’s judgment? It isn’t because they are presumptuous. It is because they have come to know the love of God in the atoning work of the cross of Christ. God in love has dealt with the penalty of sin at the cross through Christ’s atoning substitutionary death. The one perfected in love has accepted and come to own this truth through faith in God. We are confident before God and not frightened of judgment because we know Him in His love at the cross. Perfect love is knowing God loves us, loving Him back and no longer relating to God in a fearful way (though we are still reverent toward Him as a Holy Loving God).

Secondly, the mark of a mature “perfect love” is described by the words, “because as He is, so are we in this world.” In other words, we are loving in this world the way Jesus loved. We are becoming like Jesus according to God’s purpose and plan (Romans 8:29). The one with perfect love loves with a sacrificial Christlike love like the love Jesus demonstrated at the cross (Ephesians 4:32).

How Can We Experience Such Love?

How can we experience such love? The phrase, “But when that which is perfect has come” (13:10a) implies an event in time where it is possible for us to experience “that which is perfect” (i.e. perfect love; God’s mature, of full age love). [2] We also need to look at the phrase “I put away childish things” (13:11b) as it points to an action done at a point in the past, once and for all, that has lasting effects.[3] This action involves a willful faith decision and trust in God. There are two things or two steps we need to follow to have this experience come to pass in our lives.

Step #1 – Realize this is a work of God in us. This kind of love is not something that we can get on our own. It is not sentimental but also not void of affection. It is the perfect balance of affection and action. This love is powerful and otherworldly; it comes from God.

You may be thinking that such a love working in you is too great a thought or too great a work to be done. You may be thinking you are just too sinful for such a thing to be possible. Well, nothing is impossible with God. The Bible says God has such great things on His heart for us that we can’t even conceive them (1 Corinthians 2:9). Whatever we are as a Christian; whatever experience we have, it is all by God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Timothy 1:14). And it is the perfect “love of Christ” in us that should be the driving compelling force in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:14-16). God is a “God of love” (2 Corinthians 13:11, 14). God’s love is impregnable and overcoming; nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). God’s desire is to work His love in us (Philippians 2:13). He wants to make us increase and abound in His love (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13; 2 Timothy 1:7, 13). He wants to teach us about His perfect love (1 Thessalonians 4:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Peter 1:22-24). He teaches us His love through His Holy Word (1 John 2:5). Therefore, if we stay in His Word we keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 20-21).

God promises to fill us with His love if we let Him. We simply have to ask Him and receive it by faith. The Bible says:

  • Romans 5:5 – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in a person and the Holy Spirit indwells a person at conversion (Galatians 5:22-25).

Step #2 – Realize the work of God is done in us BY FAITH. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul exhorts the Corinthians to “pursue love.” How do we pursue such Love? By faith! Faith or trust is the means by which God works in the believer’s life (see the examples of Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith). We are saved from sin by faith (Romans 3:28, 30; Galatians 2:16-21; 3:8, 11, 22, 24; Ephesians 2:8-9). We are sanctified or cleansed in heart and empowered for service by faith (Acts 15:9; 26:18). We continue in our walk with God in life by faith “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17; 11:20; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Philippians 3:7-11; Hebrews 10:38). By faith we put off the old man nature and by faith we put on the new nature (Colossians 3:5-14). By faith we look forward to the culmination of our faith in Christ (Galatians 5:5).

The context of Romans 5:5 shows us that such love comes as we put our faith in Jesus as Savior:

  • Romans 5:1-4 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

No one ever said it would be easy. There will be “tribulations” that require “perseverance” but in Christ there is “hope” and the hope comes from God’s love that is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit when we come to God by faith in Christ.

If “childish things” refers to carnal, fleshly, selfish, unloving things, then what Paul is saying here is that by faith and trust in God we can put away unloving things in our lives. Conversely by implication we can by faith and trust in God put on loving things in our lives. We can experience God’s perfect love in us and in our life actions by simply surrendering to God by faith and seeking that He does this work of love, perfect love in us.

Look in the Mirror

Paul challenges the Corinthians to take a look in the mirror. When we look in a mirror and see a loveless person, the light of God in us is dim. But when we look in that mirror and see the love of God in and through us, we see “face to face” clearly, as we should be (13:12). When we are loveless we “know in part” or we only have understood and grasped a small portion of what being a Christian is all about. But when we love, we “shall know just as I also am known,” or we come to know God better because we see how He has known and treated us in love.

In faith we need to examine our hearts and life to see if such “perfect love” is present. If by faith we can know and experience such perfect love of God, then what keeps us from trusting in God for it now! In His sovereignty God is able to work in us as He pleases. With some He may work instantaneously, in others His work is more gradual. Overall this work begins at a point of faith decision which begins the ongoing work of God to perfect us in His love throughout our lives.

The Greatest Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 - 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

We are saved by faith in Jesus. We continue to the end because of the hope we have in Jesus and His promises. But it is love that adds true meaning and purpose to our existence as Christians and helps us to understand what God is all about. That’s why love is the greatest. Love stands the test of time and brings rich color and meaning to an otherwise drab existence. God is eternal and God is love (1 John 4:7, 16). Therefore love, as an attribute of God, is eternal. That is the meaning of the word “greatest” here, to stand the test of time (“greatest” –μείζων mĕizōn, mide´-zone). Faith brings us into a relationship with God in Christ. Hope sustains us to the end. But it is love, over time and eternity that brings fullness to the things of God.

Why Would I Want This Kind of Love? Because This Love is of God

Why would anyone want this kind of love, a love that often leads us in and through trials? In the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he exhorts them to do everything they do in love (16:14). But there is an even greater more important reason to pursue and desire perfect love. We should pursue and want this perfect love of God because it is “of God.”

To many God is a great mystery. But that mystery is solved through His perfect love. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is not a worldly love or a humanly defined love, it is a God authored love and a God provided love. John was inspired to write in this regard:

· 1 John 4:7 - 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

If we want to love with the love of 1 Corinthians 13; if we want to know God in this incredible loving way; we have to come to Him and ask Him for that love and to know Him in this loving way. When we use spiritual gifts or do anything else devoid of love, we do it separate from God. God is not in anything that we do that is done without 1 Corinthians 13 love. And God is in everything we do with 1 Corinthians 13 love. Without God there is no hope (Ephesians 2:12). With God there is always hope (Romans 15:4, 13). Without God we can do nothing (John 15:4, 5); with God we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). That is why we should always do what we do in the love of God.

Pray to Know God’s Love

If we want to know God and His love and experience it, we need only pray for it. This is what the apostle Paul prayed on behalf of the people in the church of Ephesus when he was inspired to write to them. Read his prayer prayerfully:

· Ephesians 3:14-21 - 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I suggest you make that prayer your prayer and I further suggest that you begin praying that prayer for others. Even though we may not fully comprehend the love of God and will spend an eternity deepening our knowledge and experience of it, we need only remember that the God of love, “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, . . .” To that I say along with Paul, “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” That is my prayer for you; that is my prayer for me; that we know and experience the God of love and His love. May God bring it to pass. God bless you with His love.

[1]Wesley, J. (1999). Sermons, on several occasions. Sermon #76 - Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The grammatical form of the “phrase “has come” (2nd Aorist/Active/Subjunctive of the Greek term ERCHOMAI “to come; to go” – Strong’s #2064) points to punctiliar action or something occurring or existing.

[3] The Perfect/Active/Indicative form of the Greek term KATARGEO - Strong’s #2673 – which means “destroy; do away; abolish; to cause to cease; to do way with; to put to an end.”

The More Excellent Way of Love - Part 1

There is something missing in the church today. There is something missing in many Christians of our day. The church and its people have left their first love (Revelation 2:4). The church is preoccupied with numerous things to do: programs, strategies, techniques, events, even “ministry.” But it has left something out. The church today is like the Corinthian church of the New Testament that was blessed with an abundance of spiritual gifts but nevertheless was deficient in the more excellent way of love. We need to get back to the love of the Lord. The best place to get back on the track of God’s love is in His word. The best place to do that in the word of God is in 1 Corinthians 13.

The Context of the More Excellent Way

1 Corinthians 12:31 - 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

We need to remember that the context of 1 Corinthians 13 is the orderly use of spiritual gifts. That is the particular emphasis Paul is aiming at by inserting this chapter on love. We have to keep that particular context in sight at all times to do justice to and rightly interpret this passage. There are broader applications though once we consider love as the means to use spiritual gifts.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians as born again Christians (1:1-9) who had a number of problems. These problems can be summarized as follows. They were divisive and, contentious (1:10-13). They were carnal or living the Christian life like mere unsaved people (2-3). They turned a blind eye to immorality (5:1-13). There was a general selfishness toward fellow believers (6; 8; 11). The solution to the Corinthians problem from the start was the cross of Christ (1:14-25).

It is the cross of Christ that contains the powerful wisdom of God, gives credibility to the lowly and makes foolish the presumptuously wise of this world (1:26-2:16). It is the cross of Christ that is the solution to the carnal problems of the Corinthians (3:1-23). Paul exemplified the alternative cross of Christ life (4:1-21; 9:1-27). It is the cross of Christ that gives authority to church leaders (5:1-13). It is the cross of Christ that calls all Christians to leave their carnal self-service and sacrifice for their fellow Christians (6:1-20). It is the cross of Christ that is practically applied to marriage relationships (7:1-40). It is the cross of Christ that gives us the true spiritual godly perspective toward those around us (8:1-13). And it is the cross of Christ that calls every believer to learn from the past dealings of God with His people and focus on His only Son Jesus and the cross (10:1-11:34).

The Corinthians were a tremendously spiritually gifted church, but even their service and use of gifts was carnal, selfish (12:1-31). Now, in the middle of Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts, he comes to the crux of the cross. The crux of the cross is love. Without God’s love as the motivating factor permeating, empowering, and overflowing in any activity, without such love, actions and everything is worthless. Love is the more excellent way.

The phrase “more excellent” is a translation of a single Greek term, huperbole (ὑπερβολή hupĕrbŏlē, hoop-er-bol-ay´) which literally means, “a throwing beyond others, . . . supereminence; . . . pre-eminently, . . . abundance, (far more) exceeding, excellency, more excellent, beyond (out of) measure.”

The word “way” comes from the Greek term hodos (ὁδός hŏdŏs, hod-os´) meaning, “a road” but by implication refers to, “a progress (the route, act or distance); figuratively a mode or means; . . . journey, (high-) way.” There is a way of life or a way of doing things that far exceeds any other alternative. What is this “more excellent way”? It is the way of love.

The Indispensable Profitable Worthwhile Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

Jesus said His disciples would be known by the love they show for one another (John 13:34-35). The nature of this love Jesus spoke about is described in this chapter as Paul is inspired by God to write down some of the most beautiful words anyone has ever written. What do we learn from Paul’s description here of the more excellent way of love?

First, the way of love is indispensable to the use of spiritual gifts. Three times Paul uses the phrase, “but have not love” (13:1,2,3) in regards to the use of spiritual gifts to express how love is the indispensable ingredient to spiritual gifts being used effectively. The loveless use of spiritual gifts short-circuits their effectiveness making tongues sound like a clanging cymbal and prophesy, knowledge and faith amount to nothing. Spiritual gifts without love are nothing!

Second, the way of love is the only profitable way to use spiritual gifts. Paul uses the spiritual gifts of tongues, knowledge, prophecy, and faith as examples and states that such gifts used without love, “profits me nothing. “ (13:3). If we try to use spiritual gifts apart from using them in a loving way, they won’t help us, they’ll profit us nothing. Spiritual gifts used without love won’t get the job done. Like a power tool that is not plugged in, spiritual gifts without love are more a burden than a help. Spiritual gifts used without love won’t lead to a deposit in our heavenly bank account (Matthew 6:16-23). Spiritual gifts without love are profitless!

Third, the way of love determines worth. Paul says without love, “I am nothing” (13:2). We can gauge our Christian walk by our love (John 8:42). A loveless Christian is an oxymoron. The Christian is called to live a life of total love to God and people; Jesus said these were the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-39). Our relationship with God is determined by our love for Jesus (John 8:42). Love is the identifying mark of the disciple of Jesus (John 13:34-35). Therefore, the point made here is that we can be tremendously gifted able to “understand mysteries and all knowledge” and even “remove mountains” but without love, “I am nothing” (13:2). I can act in very self-sacrificing ways such as giving “all my goods to feed the poor” or even give myself to die in flames of persecution, but without love, “it profits me nothing” (13:3).

Love determines the eternal worth of our actions and works. If what we do is not motivated by love and done with the love of the Lord, it becomes worthless. Love must be the driving compelling force behind all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:14-16). That done to promote self or impress others is worthless because it is devoid of love. That was the Corinthian’s problem. They were able to do great things, but it was devoid of love. They had many spiritual gifts, but they were using them to make a spectacle or please people, perhaps entertain people. The purpose of spiritual gifts is to profit others in the body of Christ (12:7), to build them up (14:3, 5, 12, 17, 26). Knowing about spiritual gifting is not sufficient. Gifts must be used in love because love edifies (8:1). Spiritual gifts without love are worthless!

The More Excellent Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What is love? That is one of the greatest questions. And the answer is given in these verses. Let’s examine these verses.

The term “love” is translated from the Greek term agape (ἀγάπη agapē, ag-ah´-pay) which means, “love, i.e. affection or benevolence.” This is a word used to refer to the “love feast” of the early church and is often translated, “charity ([-ably]), dear, love.” A fuller meaning of the term love is found by looking at the fifteen words and behaviors used by Paul to describe it in these verses.

First, love suffers long (13:4a). “Suffers long” comes from the Greek term makrothumeo (μακροθυμέω makrŏthumĕō, mak-roth-oo-meh´-o) which means, “to be long-spirited, forbearing or patient; bear (suffer) long, be longsuffering, have (long) patience, be patient, patiently endure.” Love has staying power. Love keeps at its objective even though suffering and difficulty may be involved. Love is like the Father waiting for the prodigal to return home (Luke 15:11-32). Love keeps applying the spiritual gift to God-ordained tasks even though progress is slow and painful at times. Paul is a good example of this because his compelling love in ministry moved and motivated him to continue on in the face of constant adversity (2 Corinthians 6:2-10).

Second, love is kind (13:4b). The word “kind” comes from the Greek term chresteuomai (χρηστευομαι chrēstĕuŏmai, khraste-yoo´-om-ahee) which means, “to show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently; be kind.” Love is an action. A loving person does not sit by and feel sorry for themselves or others. A loving person takes loving action to help and act benevolently toward those around them. God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were sinners He sent Jesus to die for us and redeem us (Romans 5:8). We ought to do the same in His love (Proverbs 19:22; Luke 6:35; Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-13).

Third, love does not envy (13:4c). Envy is to covet what another person has (ζηλόω zēlŏō, dzay-lŏ´-o or ζηλεύω zēlĕuō dzay-loo´-o). It means to have warmth of feeling for or against; affect, covet (earnestly), (have) desire, (move with) envy, be jealous over, (be) zealous (-ly affect).”) Instead of envying or being jealous over what others have, a loving person will rejoice and be glad for the blessings of God bestowed on others. The problem with the carnal Corinthians was to a great extent linked to envy and jealousy (1 Corinthians 3:3). Envy is a trait of the sinful fleshly nature (Galatians 5:21). The absence of envy in the description of love here gives us insight into the temperament of love. Love is not self-centered. Love does not see everything and everyone in terms of what “I” have or do not have. Love is pleased when others are blessed and happy. Love doesn’t get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses. Love is the fruitful produce of the Holy Spirit working in a person (Galatians 5:22).

Fourth, love does not parade itself (13:4d). The idea of the phrase, “parade itself” (περπερεύομαι pĕrpĕrĕuŏmai, per-per-yoo´-om-ahee – “braggart; to boast; vaunt itself”) is to make yourself the center of attention. Love is not proud. The person who parades themselves wants the spotlight on them. The loving person is a good listener who does not feel they have to be the center of attention in a group. The unloving person is the one who has to control a situation so that they are the center of attention. We should not use spiritual gifts in a way to bring attention on us. Instead we should be transparent so all eyes are fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Pride leads to a host of problems in life and therefore pride should be overcome by way of God’s love (Proverbs 13:10; 16:18).

Fifth, love is not puffed up (13:4e). There is an expression used that fits the person that is puffed up; it is to be filled with hot air. The phrase “puffed up” comes from the Greek term phusioo (φυσιόω phusiŏō, foo-see-ŏ´-o) which means literally, “blowing; to inflate.” In a figurative sense it means, “make proud (haughty); puff up.” Love isn’t filled with hot air, but it is discreet, humble and genuine. The loveless person puffed up with hot air is the person who is likened to a blow up doll filled with air with no real substance. The puffed up person is the person who presents themselves as something more than they actually are. A religious orientation that focused on externals rather than the inner realities of God in a heart, lends itself to this puffed up trait (Colossians 2:18). Jesus spoke at great length denouncing hypocritical religious leaders of His day who washed the outside of the cup but left their inner cup filthy with sin (Matthew 23:23). Love leads us to be genuine and real before God and people (Romans 12:9).

Sixth, love does not behave rudely (13:5a). The loving person is a polite person who respects others and does not march around uncaringly like a bull in a china shop. (ἀσχημονέω aschēmŏnĕō, as-kay-mon-eh´-o; from 809; to be (i.e. act) unbecoming; behave self uncomely (unseemly).” Love esteems others as better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

Seventh, love does not seek its own (13:5b). The loving person is not out for themselves. The loving person seeks the best for others. Again we see how love is diametrically opposed to carnality which is rooted in serving self. Jesus sacrificed for sinners that they might be blessed with the opportunity to be saved from their sin and experience an abundant life (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; 8:9).

Eighth, love is not provoked (13:5c). “Provoked” comes from the Greek term paroxuno (παροξύνω parŏxunō, par-ox-oo´-no) which means, “to sharpen alongside.” It means to always be on edge looking for a fight with anyone and everyone who might tread on their turf or rights. Remember a loving person is “long suffering” and therefore is not easily provoked but easy going and able to laugh off or not take offense easily at offenses. The loving person overcomes evil and their enemies with love (Luke 6:35; Romans 12:21).

Ninth, love thinks no evil (13:5d). Evil” (κακός kakŏs, kak-os´;worthless; depraved, injurious; bad, evil, harm, ill, noisome, wicked”) is not on the mind of the loving person. A loving person does not look at those around them with a look that is accusatory of evil. A loving person does not see evil in every action of others or think the worst of people. Love thinks on holy things (Philippians 4:8-9).

Tenth, love does not rejoice in iniquity (13:6a). Love is not happy when injustices occur, even to their enemies. “Iniquity” (ἀδικία adikia, ad-ee-kee´-ah) refers toinjustice; wrongfulness (of character, life or act); iniquity, unjust, unrighteousness, wrong.” A loving person is sad about any injustice that occurs; even when it happens to an enemy (Proverbs 24:17; Matthew 5:44). Fools overlook sin but the one who loves takes its consequences seriously (Proverbs 14:9).

Eleventh, love rejoices in the truth (13:6b). Love rejoices when the truth comes out (“truth” – ἀλήθεια alēthĕia, al-ay´-thi-a;” truth; true, × truly, truth, verity”). They do not rejoice in an evil way when the truth comes out. You don’t hear the loving person quip, “They got theirs.” No, love rejoices when the truth of justice bears out, when sinners come to repentance and faith in Christ (2 Corinthians 7:9-16).

Twelfth, love bears all things (13:7a). To bear all things means to cover with silence (στέγω stĕgō, steg´-o). It means to roof over, to cover with silence (endure patiently); (for-) bear, suffer.” The idea is very similar to Peter’s statement when he was inspired to write about having a fervent love for one another that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). In other words the loving person is not looking to dig up offenses to use as ammunition against people (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9). Like Jesus, a loving person is willing to suffer in silence when wronged (Matthew 26:62-63; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:21-25). A loving person is willing to bear weaker brethren (Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:2). Jesus bears us; we should bear with others.

Thirteenth, love believes all things (13:7b). This doesn’t mean that love is stupid or gullible. It means that love is willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. It means that the person who loves, loves God so much they are willing to entrust in faith all things to Him. The word “believes” (πιστεύω pistĕuō, pist-yoo´-o) means to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), to entrust - especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ; believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.” The loving person believes God and His word (Psalm 119:66).

Fourteenth, love hopes all things (13:7c). Love looks to the promise of God to make things right in the end. Love looks to the future with a faith and assurance that God will do right in the end and His will is sure to be accomplished to His glory. Hope is faith in God for the future based on God and His word (Romans 15:4, 13) “Hope” ( ἐλπίζω ĕlpizō, el-pid´-zo) means to expect or confide; (have, thing) hope (-d) (for), trust.

Fifteenth, love endures all things (13:7d). To “endure” (ὑπομένω hupŏmĕnō, hoop-om-en´-o) means, “to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; to undergo, bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere; abide, endure, (take) patient (-ly), suffer, tarry behind.” Love just doesn’t give up. Love stays and continues under the hand of God no matter what. Love abides in Jesus (John 15). Love finishes well (2 Timothy 1:12).

What is love? An unknown writer put it this way:

What is love? It is silence--when your words would hurt. It is patience--when your neighbor's curt. It is deafness--when a scandal flows. It is thoughtfulness--for other's woes. It is promptness--when stern duty calls. It is courage--when misfortune falls.

This is a very full definition and description of love. But we miss the substance of this description of the more excellent way of love if we fail to realize that this is a picture of Jesus. If we insert the name of Jesus in the place of the word love in these verses, we have a beautiful picture of Jesus. What happens if we try and insert our names in the place of love in this passage? Your answer to that question will go a long way in determining your love and spiritual maturity.

In part two of this study we will look more at how this inspired call to love of Paul can be applied to our lives. Now that we have defined this love we will look at Christian Perfection and what the Bible calls perfect love. Are there such things and how can we experience them? Stay tuned and pray up my brethren. God bless you all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Seven Things the LORD Hates

Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”

When you love someone you don’t like to see or make him or her angry. Your desire is that they experience love and things pleasing to them, joy. That is why the above verses are so important for us to consider. God inspired the Biblical writer to indicate seven things that God hates and views as an abomination. These words are a warning to us. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find language stronger than that used in these verses to indicate God’s revulsion and displeasure with these seven things.

The word “hates” is translated from the Hebrew term SANE’ (Strong’s # 8130 - saw·nay) which occurs 146 times in the Old Testament being translated “hate” 136 times, “enemies” three times, “enemy” twice, “foes” once, “hateful” once, and translated miscellaneously three times. Hatred is a strong emotion. In other words, these seven things put a person on the wrong side of God and position them against Him as an enemy. Since God is all-powerful, it isn’t too good of an idea for anyone to take up sides against Him. Look at Satan and what his rebellion against God got him! But in fact, those who practice these seven things are actually taking up sides with Satan who is working to undermine God’s work at every turn and in every way.

The other word used to describe God’s reaction to the seven things in Proverbs 6 is “abomination.” Abomination” is translated from the Hebrew term TOWEBAH (Strong’s # 8441 - tow`ebah, to`ebah /to·ay·baw/) which occurs 117 times in the Old Testament being translated as “abomination” 113 times, “abominable thing” twice, and “abominable” twice. This word is used to describe that which is, “a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable.” One Bible teacher defined this word by saying it refers to something done that would cause God to want to bomb-the-nation of the one doing it.

When you love someone you wouldn’t want to do anything that would cause you to become as an enemy in their eyes. When you love someone you wouldn’t want to do anything that disgusts him or her or is abominable to him or her. Therefore, those who love God should pay particular attention to the seven things mentioned in these verses. Unfortunately, believers at times are caught up in their flesh and indulge in some of the things that God attributes to His enemies and that He finds disgusting and abominable. This should not be! What is it that people do that causes God to see them as an enemy and disgusts Him? There are seven things mentioned here. Let’s consider each of them.

  1. A proud look

The Bible is clear on this; God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Pride is the first sin committed by Satan against God (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). The word “proud” comes from the Hebrew term ROOM (Strong’s # 7311 ruwm /room/) which occurs 194 times in the Old Testament and is translated, “up,” as in lift up, or hold up. The idea is to present yourself as higher, better in some way than others. This is seen in the way the word is translated. “Proud” is translated “up” as “(lift”, “hold”, “etc … )” 63 times, “exalt” 47 times, “high” 25 times, “offer” 13 times, “give” five times, “heave” three times, “extol” three times, “lofty” three times, “take” three times, “tall” three times, “higher” twice, and translated miscellaneously 24 times. The NIV translation of this verse translates it as, “haughty eyes.” You can communicate a lot with the eyes. Someone has said the eyes are the windows into a person’s heart. You can communicate happiness, approval, concern, attention and caring, even love with your eyes. You can also communicate disdain, lust, evil intent and yes, pride, with your eyes.

A “proud look” therefore, would be a facial expression that assumes superiority, self-exaltation, or minimizing another person. What is interesting is that this first abominable thing is wordless. The first thing mentioned here as hated by the Lord is something that can be conveyed without words. God is so vigilant and astute and omniscient in His observations that He even notes the facial expressions and countenance of people. And He hates it when people have a proud look! God wants us to be humble, not proud, selfless, not self-serving. God tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, not to overvalue ourselves (Romans 12:3). God wants us to be humble like Jesus (Matthew 5:3; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:1-11).

  1. A lying tongue

Satan is the father of lies and loves to draw people into lying in any way (John 8:44). “A lying tongue,” is simply a person who speaks in falsehoods. The word “lying” comes from the Hebrew word SHEQUER (Strong’s # 8267 - sheqer /sheh·ker/) and occurs 113 times in the Old Testament being translated as “lie” 28 times, “lying” 21 times, “false” 20 times, “falsehood” 13 times, “falsely” 13 times, “vain” five times, “wrongfully” four times, “deceitful” twice, “deceit” once, “liar” once, and translated miscellaneously five times. The idea of this word is to deceive or betray the truth of a matter, go against the truth. This would include bending the truth or speaking in half-truths. You know, the older you get the more glorious your past seems to become as you relate to others. A high school benchwarmer in a sport becomes someone who was good and gifted as an athlete but didn’t get along with the coach so they weren’t allowed to play. Fishes caught, figures fought and mirrored seem just a little bit more fantastic as the years go by. Sometimes the truth can be shared in destructive ways to injure and embarrass. But God wants us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). God wants our words to be seasoned with grace not lies; a lying tongue quenches the Spirit (Ephesians 4:29-31). God wants us to speak with kindness and tenderheartedness remembering His grace in Christ given to us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 4:6). Love covers a multitude of sin; it doesn’t look to dig up sin where grace should be found (1 Peter 4:8).

  1. Hands that shed innocent blood

We can consider the shedding of innocent blood of adults, but the millions upon millions of unborn babies come to mind as the most severe breach in considering this hateful thing. The abortuaries of modern day America have exterminated far more victims than the ovens of the holocaust. How it must disgust God to see the womb turned into a cold executioner’s altar! The Lord forms every child in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16). He has a plan for every little one (Jeremiah 1:5). He cares for the innocent little ones (Exodus 21:22-25; Psalm 82:3-4; 127:3). God hates the person whose hands shed innocent blood!

  1. A heart that devises wicked plans

The word “heart” refers to the innermost being of a person (LEB Strong’s 3820), “Devises” (Hebrew KHAWRASH – Strong’s # 2790 - khaw-rash’) means “to scratch, to engrave, plow; to fabricate; to devise (in a bad sense).” The word “wicked” comes from the Hebrew term AWVEN (Strong’s # 205 - ’aven /aw·ven/) and interestingly comes from a root word meaning, “to pant” as one who exerts themselves in an effort that is pointless in regard to the Lord’s will. It occurs 78 times in the Old Testament being translated as “iniquity” 47 times, “wicked(ness)” eight times, “vanity” six times, “affliction” three times, “mischief” three times, “unrighteous” twice, “evil” once, “false” once, “idol” once, “mourners” once, “mourning” once, “nought” once, “sorrow” once, “unjust” once, and “vain” once. The word “wicked” means, “trouble, wickedness, sorrow, idolatry, trouble of iniquity, wickedness.” Therefore, the idea here is someone who digs up trouble and won’t let an offense or situation go. This is also someone who by silence and the willful ignoring of the truth manipulates a situation to their own devices. Such a person has a selective memory when conveying an account of a story. When they share about something they put a spin on things that present them in a favorable light and others in a less than favorable light.

Interestingly, the context of Proverbs 6:16-19 is preceded by an apt description of one whose heart devises wicked plans:

    • Proverbs 6:12-15 – “A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth;13 He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers;14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.”

Notice the connection with being “worthless” and being “wicked.” These verses pretty much say it all and we can see why God hates and abhors such things.

  1. Feet that are swift in running to evil

We might translate this as, “A person who sprints to do evil things.” This is descriptive of the person who enjoys or jumps at the opportunity to be involved in evil or entertain something that is evil like gossip or slander. The word “evil” comes from the Hebrew word RA’ (Strong’s # 7451 – rah) which means, “bad; evil; adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displease (-ure), distress, evil, harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), mischief (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st), wretchedness, wrong.” This is the person who runs to bring problems to others, who loves to distress and afflict other people. They enjoy hurting someone for whatever reason. God hates it when people take pleasure in hurting others.

  1. A false witness who speaks lies

The word “false” here is the same word translated “lying” in Proverbs 6:17 (Strong’s # 8267). A “witness” (Strong’s #5707) is someone who gives evidences, testifies or shares information about someone. The word “lies” (Hebrew KAZAB – Strong’s # 3577 kaw-zawb’) means, “ falsehood; untruth; deceitful, false, liar, lie, lying.” Those who manipulate the truth or out and out lie are an abomination to the Lord.

  1. And one who sows discord among brethren -

The word “discord” comes from the Hebrew MEDAWN (Strong’s # 4090 - mâdan /med·awn/) and occurs only three times in the Old Testament and is translated, as “discord” once, “strife” once, and “variant” once. This word means, “strife, contention.” Jesus said the one who sows peace would be blessed, and the opposite is also true, there are all kinds of negative consequences for those who sow evil and discord (Matthew 5:9).

This is the crowning evil that God hates because it strikes at the heart of what God is trying to build and how He is trying to work in the world. God’s desire is to save as many of the lost as possible (2 Peter 3:9). God’s tools to accomplish this are Israel and the Church. God raised up Israel to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:8, 21). Jesus bled and died to birth the church (Ephesians 5:25-27). The Father looks at Israel as His wife (see Hosea). Jesus looks at the Church as His bride. And yet, people think nothing of slandering those who make up the wife and the bride of God. How do you feel when someone speaks against your spouse? Doesn’t that irk you? Doesn’t that cause you to become defensive and protective of your spouse? Doesn’t that anger you? Isn’t it abhorrent to you? Aren’t you going to defend their honor, their integrity, their reputation? If you feel and react like that, how do you think God is going to feel and react when someone attacks members of the flock of God? God hates the one who sows discord among His people, He abhors it (Psalm 5:11; 11; 46; 121; 105:15; John 17:15; Romans 12:19).


J. Vernon McGee commented:

There are multitudes of folk sowing discord, and they are not all politically motivated. They are in your neighborhood, and chances are they are in your church. You may even have one in your home, and there is a possibility that he even may be sitting where you sit. My friend, causing trouble between family members or brothers in Christ or fellow workers is something that God hates.

This list of seven sins is like a mirror. We look into it, and we squirm because we see ourselves. May I ask you to take a good look at yourself in this mirror of the Word of God. After you and I see ourselves as we really are, let us go to God and make a confession of these things. Let us be honest with Him and ask Him for His cleansing. [1]

As you receive this study I pray you do so with ears to hear what the Spirit has to say and that you haven’t been a part of any of these seven things which reap the hate and abhorrence of God. If you look at these seven things and the Spirit convicts you, all is not lost. In Christ there is forgiveness. What must a person do to be forgiven of these things?

1.) Recognize and admit your sin, culpability (responsibility) and guilt. Be honest with God and admit where you’ve sinned against Him and others (all of our sin is ultimately against Him). Sins such as these are a great hindrance to our walk with the Lord (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2). They need to be dealt with immediately.

2.) Confess your sin, culpability and guilt before God. God’s word tells us that if we confess our sin to Him He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Trust Jesus cross work by faith and receive God’s forgiveness (Romans 8:1f.; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 1:7).

3.) Repent, turn from your sin and commit yourself to God to not repeat your sin. Turn yourself over to the Holy Spirit who will help you be more than a conqueror over these things (Romans 8).

Of the 34 times the word “repent” occurs in the Bible, I find it interesting that nearly a third of these occurrences (10) occur in the last book of the Bible Revelation and 60% of these ten occur in Jesus words to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. These seven abhorrent things we’ve seen in Proverbs are likely to surface in a full blown rash in the End Times (Times in which I believe we are living right now). Read what Paul was inspired to write about the last days:

· 1 Timothy 4:1-2 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”

· 2 Timothy 3:1-7 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

As we look at these verses and compare them with Proverbs 6:16-19 we see some striking similarities. Deceiving spirits will be heeded and people will be moved to speak lies in hypocrisy and do so with total insensitivity to the Spirit (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Self-love, pride, lack of love, slander, despisers of good, traitors, haughty, hypocrisy will flourish too (2 Timothy 3:1-7). These passages go hand in hand. What makes these similarities frightful is that we see them flourishing in our world today. And what makes them even the more tragic is that we see them oftentimes in the church, amongst believers!

When Paul gave his farewell to the Ephesians he warned them by saying to the leaders and people:

  • Acts 20:26-32 - “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27 “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.31 “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

As we move closer and closer to the End Times culmination, we need to beware of Satan’s schemes. He comes not as an angel of darkness but as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:11-15). And as God’s perfect plan becomes more and more inevitable, Satan is going to turn up his attack. The seven things God hates, Satan loves! Remember that; and he loves nothing better than to trick, deceive and lure God’s people (those who should be blessing and praising God) into indulging in these seven hateful things. We need to put on the armor of God and proceed prayerfully in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).

God forgive us where we have faltered and may God help us to speak the truth in love. May our words always be seasoned with His grace, hope and love. May we always hold the name of Jesus in highest regard in thought, word, and deed. Dear brother and sister in Christ, may none of these things be seen, heard or thought amongst us and may we lovingly repent of them if they are. May we live in a way that brings joy to the heart of God, not hate and abhorrence. God bless you all.

[1]McGee, J. V. 1997, c1981. Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (Pr 6:19). Thomas Nelson: Nashville