What’s LOVE got to do with it? Part 2
Updated: Sep 7
What's LOVE got to do with it?
"God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16) and He created man in His own image, in His likeness (Gen 1:26), so it is understandable that love is an incredibly important part of our lives. In fact it's so important God tells us that without love, we are nothing (1 Cor 13:2). God's Word tells us love is even greater than faith and hope. After our lives here on earth are over and we are in the presence of Jesus for eternity, faith and hope will no longer be needed. Only love will remain - God's perfect love.
Mankind was created to be a reflection of God, who is the purest form of love, in a world which He created for us - and everything was perfect until satan entered the scene. (Cue dramatic music) The deceiver knew that all he had to do was plant a seed of doubt in the heart and mind of man. It's such a subtle and effective strategy, isn't it?
He asked the question that began, "Did God really say?" It's so easy for us to fly by the importance of this one simple question. It's normal in our sinful state to question the validity of God's Word in the choices we make every day, but for Adam and Eve, questioning what God said was a choice that had never existed until that moment. Why would they have needed to question God and His intentions? He had given them life and provided for all their needs. He loved them and they loved Him with that perfect and pure love of God that they were created to emulate. Their relationship with God and all He had created was all they knew.
The question itself imparted a level of pride that they had never experienced - and Satan made it seem so effortless, like it was perfectly legitimate to question God's intentions. He was clearly holding them back from being all they could be. Sound familiar? They had no idea they were dealing with the father of all lies, the great deceiver. Truth be told, we usually have no idea who we're dealing with either!
Satan planted a seed of doubt in the midst of this garden of perfection and the first weed sprang up in the mind of man. Could God be keeping something from them that is better than this? Something that would make them like God Himself? They gave an ear to Satan's lie and didn't turn away, allowing the deceiver to give the greatest sales pitch in the history of mankind. Eve listened to satan and just as his lies always do, he caused her to reevaluate the goodness of God's plan for her. Apparently the fruit looked delicious and hey, why not get the double benefit of eating something that tasted wonderful while gaining wisdom at the same time? Oh how I wish pizza had done that in college!
We know that Eve was deceived by the ultimate salesman of sin - and she bought the world's first "3 Step Plan to the Perfect Life." Satan won his first customer and disobedience to God changed the world as we know it in an instant. As the knowledge of good and evil was ushered in, life in paradise came to an end.
Adam and Eve were deceived into believing that God did not have their best intentions at heart and they could have what Satan led them to believe was better. As always, he neglected to mention the consequences. They bought the lie that a created thing would ultimately bring more fulfillment than the God who created it all. It's still the same story today. We allow satan to sell us what we believe will bring us more fulfillment. We want to be the god of our own lives, so we begin to believe we know what's best as we grow closer to the world and farther from God. The world shows us how to obtain what we want on our own and we choose to walk away from the perfect love of our Creator, exchanging our relationship with God for a relationship with this world.
I'd like to add here that this world tells us that God's plan, which is laid out for us in His Word - His commands - limit us and keep us from having fun and enjoying life. It's really the same lie Satan used in the garden. Satan, who is the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), continually feeds us lies that we can be the god of our own life, the captain of our own destiny. We can do it all on our own and we don't need God or His approval. From the world's perspective, who would want to answer to a cold and heartless God who allows people to suffer and die anyway? Satan, this world, will always tell us we can have it all, he just never shows us what we give up in return for stepping outside the boundaries God has put in place for our protection - for our good.
The ever growing deception that Satan is cultivating in this world has been so convincing that not only have we bought the lie that we don't need God in our daily lives, many now believe that they can define their own personal version of truth, do anything they want, and still have God's favor. It doesn't take much knowledge of God's Word to make one scratch their head and wonder how anyone could believe that. Well my friend, popular opinion is incredibly powerful and has grown with the popularity of social media. As technology has increased, the knowledge of God's Word has decreased. It's easy to believe lies when you don't understand the truth. And let's not forget that Satan is extremely good at what he does. 2 Cor 4:4 tells us that, "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the good news. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God."
The pride of Satan continues to pervade the heart of man causing the church to argue over things that will never matter while God's people are standing out on the road of destruction that Satan has paved for them, caught in a trance from the bright light of the ever growing sin around them, trying to decide what to do. I just have one thing to say... RUN! Run back to Jesus! Things take on a whole new perspective from the foot of the cross.
So how does all of this impact our relationships today?
When mankind was given over to sin, the things of God and the purpose for which we were created became distorted. The natural desires given to us by God were deformed by the presence of evil. The things of God, what was suppose to be a natural part of a life lived in the perfection of His love, became unnatural to our sinful hearts - and we know our hearts are incredibly important to God because His Word speaks of the heart 900 times. It is the essence of who we are. Prov 4:23 puts it this way, "everything you do flows from it." Our creator is the only one who knows and sees our hearts. We will never be able to know and see everything that someone else's heart bears or holds on to. We often have no idea what our own hearts are holding on to - but God does.
God knew that His law could garner mankind's conformity to His will, but that His commands would be powerless to change our hearts. This is why He sent His Son. Please hear this, because many of us struggle with this one concept. The Law was never intended to save anyone, only to reveal how sinful we are. To make us aware of our need of a Savior. God's commands that we share to try and persuade an unbeliever or a wayward individual to "conformity" will never have lasting results. Mankind will always struggle with the weakness of our flesh and how easy it is to sin against God, which ultimately leads to unmet expectations and dissatisfaction with God and His church for those who do not understand what a relationship with Jesus Christ is. God's commands alone cannot restore the fellowship with our Creator that our soul longs for. Only Jesus can give us a new heart and restore us to a right relationship with God. To put it as plainly and simply as I can - it's a heart issue that only Jesus can fix. He is the one who is able to turn our hearts back to desiring and seeking what they were created for - to be a reflection of God in this world... a reflection of Jesus... of His perfect love.
This is huge, because each of us must come to the realization that we need Jesus more than the empty promises of Satan and what this world has to offer. It is a personal understanding in the depths of our soul that we need Him and His grace and forgiveness more than anything else in life. It's not a foot on both sides of the line kind of thing. Surrendering one's life to Jesus Christ is not an option to live for Him one day and the world the next - and if you think it is, you've placed your trust in the god of popular opinion. The world will never understand salvation through grace because nothing about the ways of God makes sense in the context of earthly wisdom. "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." (1 Cor 1:27)
Why would the God of the universe send His Son to earth to live the way He did and die the way He did to restore our relationship with Him?
Because God is love.
He is perfect love.
He is the love our hearts are continually seeking after - a love that this world cannot comprehend.
This world gives us continual options for counterfeit love everyday. These relationships with things and people will always be broken, because we will never have the ability to love as God intended unless we know and understand His love - until we are living in the overflow of His perfect love. When the Holy Spirit draws an individual to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it's an "all in" kind of decision. He demands our whole heart because He gave everything to save us. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16) Jesus Christ is God's perfect love, unhindered.
Lord, forgive me for seeking after the things of this world over the things you desire to give me. Please work in my heart and life, drawing me closer to you as I seek to be a reflection of your perfect love to those around me.