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The apostle Paul lent significance to the question above as he wrote: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema…” (1 Cor. 16:22). Anathema means “accursed,” thus under the condemnation of God. He earlier explained that love for others is defined by action, rather than merely by words (13:4–7; cf. 1 John 3:18). This principle is no less true regarding one’s love for the Christ. The New Testament provides some benchmarks by which we may gauge our love (or lack thereof) for God and His Son.
- We must not love the world: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The World here is not the earth or its inhabitants, but the behavior of a world separated from God by sin. Most people live for themselves rather than to honor Jesus. There is no love of Him in such lives.
- We must love one another: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar…” (1 John 4:20a; 2:9). While brother here refers to fellow-Christians, every other human being is a “brother” in the human family. As God loved all mankind (John 3:16), so should we. Love for others is not necessarily affection or close association, but seeking their best interests—even of our enemies (Mat. 5:44).
- We must love the things He loved. Those who claim to love Jesus and to abide in Him “ought…to walk even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). If one does not love Truth, righteousness, or the souls of men he is a hypocrite to claim to love the Lord Who loved all of these. One who says, “Jesus yes, but the church, no,” confesses his lack of love for Jesus; He “loved the church, and gave himself up for it” (Eph. 5:25).
- We must keep His commandments: “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments” (John 14:15; cf. 21). This simple test is the all-embracing one, separating the sincere/serious disciple from the pretending hypocrite. Although theologians have sought to strip almost every vestige of law or authority from the Gospel, these words of Jesus remain unchanged. He further emphasized the necessity of obedience in the same context: “He that loveth me not keepeth not my words…” (v. 24a). As Jesus drew His Sermon on the Mount to a close, He said: It is not those who merely call Him “Lord,” but those who obey the Divine will, who will be saved (Mat. 7:23). Jesus offers eternal salvation “unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).
By these Divine criteria, do you love Jesus?
[Note: I wrote this article for and it was published in the Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton, TX, December 18, 2015.]
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