Intro: This morning we will return to our study of Romans 12, and our quest to develop greater spirituality through the application of the apostle’s words. Our study takes us to verse 9 – “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”
- The Christian who strives to present his body as “a living and holy sacrifice” (Rom 12:1), and who is exercising the spiritual gifts the Lord has given him (vv. 3-8), will evidence a lifestyle that is different from those around him. His life will be spirit-filled and spirit-led.
- Romans 12:9 begins a series of short concise admonitions that could be described as a synopsis of spiritual living.
- Paul’s list here is not exhaustive, but it is clearly comprehensive. If Paul were to personally speak to this church and give us a list of commands and directives that would make us more spiritual, this list would work fine. This is what the spiritual man does.
“Let love be without hypocrisy”
I. “Let love…” We are going to investigate the full admonition here, but the implication is a lesson in itself. This is where we will begin. When Paul says “let love” he is assuming they know the necessity and importance of love itself.
A. It is interesting to find this injunction toward love following a call for the use of spiritual gifts. Paul told the church at Corinth to desire spiritual gifts (the miraculous kind) but that without love those gifts would be meaningless and profitless. 1 Cor. 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. To that same church in Corinth Paul concluded, “Let all things that you do be done with love – ( 1 Cor. 16:14)
II. What is love? Our society has its own definitions of love. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think love is nice feelings, warm affection, romance, or desire. It is almost universally interpreted as being an emotion that one cannot control. We speak of falling in and out of love. When many people say, “I love you,” They really mean, “I love me and I want you.” That, of course, is the worst sort of selfishness, the very opposite of what the Bible defines was love.
A. The Greek language had 4 words of that translate into our English word “love”. They each described a different concept: 3 of them are used in Romans 12.
1. Eros (not in scripture) sensual, fleshly lust.
2. Storge – a love of kindred, esp. parents & children – family love. Romans 12:10 – kindly affectionate; 2 Tim. 3:3 – without natural affection)
3. Philia – a warm and tender affection for those in the same condition as you. – The love of your brother. (Romans 12:10 – brotherly love)
4. Agape – The word used here in Romans 12:9 – This is the love that goes beyond emotion or affection. This is an act of goodwill toward another apart from attraction. John 3:16 – 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This is the highest degree of love possible – it is God’s love for us. It was not out of obligation or even affection. It was an undeserved act of will to benefit us.
a. Agape is not based on affection or reciprocation, but is an active choice. Vines says God’s love for us, even as sinners, is ‘an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself,” It is this deliberate choice that makes it possible for one to “love” his enemy. It is not affection-oriented.
B. What is the opposite of “agape” love? hate? The opposite of biblical love is selfishness.
1. In John 13, at the Last Supper, Jesus took off His outer garments and began to wash the disciples’ feet. This was an act of humility, but also of His love for them. Contrary to their Master’s frame of min, the disciples were then thinking only of themselves. They argued about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). He showed them that love is not an emotional attraction, but selfless, humble service to meet another’s need, no matter how lowly the service or how undeserving the person served.
2. Twice in this chapter, in the conversation at this Passover meal, Jesus called on them to do as I have done…-
- First in serving one another (washing each other’s feet) John 13:14-16 – 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
- Second, in his call for them to love each other – John 13:34-35 – 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” these were not disconnected admonitions. Serving is the activity of love. It is the true mark of discipleship.
C. Love always manifests itself in action – It is never without a willingness to sacrifice or act in behalf of another. John makes it clear that we cannot create love simply by saying “I love you” (do you think that would work in your marriage?) (The 3 words that will help you keep your wife – whisper once a week – “Let’s eat out” ) 1 John 3:16-19 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.
1. Even in the context of the love I am to have for my enemy there is action. Matt 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; ..
2. If a father loves his child he will discipline his child, because love demands action. (Heb. 12)
3. Love demands that I act in obedience toward God. John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” There is no other way for you to exhibit your love to God except through obedience.
III. How important is love? Go back to 1 Corinthians 13. The clear teaching of Paul is that without love nothing else matters. Paul addresses the centrality of love as an attitude and motivation for every deed. He says three things about the person who acts without love:
- The loveless person is of no value (I am nothing)
- he produces nothing of value (clanging brass
- and he receives nothing of value (it profits me nothing)
A. “Hang all the law and Prophets…” This coincides well with what Jesus taught personally about love. Matt 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him,” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
1. If a person learns to love, he fulfills the requirements of the law of God. This is true because everything that God asks of us is motivated by and pursuant towards love. Notice how Paul later in Romans uses this truth to motivate spirituality. Rom 13:8-10 – Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- 1 Pet 4:8 – “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
- I Jn 4:8 – “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
- I Jn 4:16 – “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
B. “Filled with all the fullness of God” – To learn to love is to be like God – Eph 3:16-19 – 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. To know the love and Christ by allowing Christ to dwell (live) in us.
1. This spiritual imitation is what it means to be filled with the fullness of God. Eph 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. To walk in love describes a continuous obedience where love becomes a way of acting and reacting. To love is to imitate God in the fullest sense.
Conclusion: Tonight we are going to look at 1 Cor. 13 and see how God describes the attitude and action of love in the environment of adversity. Do you love God? Will you obey him?