1 John 4:17-19 (MESSAGE)
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and matures in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
Maturity comes by learning information, applying it poorly, making mistakes, learning from our mistakes, and doing better next time. This can only happen in a loving environment that allows room for mistakes. The beauty of the cross is that it allows us to make mistakes without having to pay a terrible price. Sometimes our mistakes have consequences that are terrible, but the love of the Father never changes. The love code to live by is this: Trust is built and love is maintained; in order to build trust you must maintain love. Pure love is selfless and not selfish because it originates in our heavenly Father, is made available through the son, and then is maintained by the Holy Spirit. Our goal to living in love is in being led by the Holy Spirit. We know we are sons and daughters when we are being led by the Holy Spirit and not by our emotions, logic, reasoning or feelings.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
The carnal or old self is the product of deception. Man was deceived in the garden and deception led to the fall and the birth of our carnal nature. (Genesis 3:4) Deception is the enemy of all loving relationships. Deception sets in motion a process of degeneration. The mark of the old nature is that it always turns to its own way, and this is what leads to the death of loving relationships.
We must let love have the run of the house! We have to choose to love, choose to put on the new self, and take off the old self.
“…That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Lust is a perverted, rebellious desire. A desire contrary to the will of God and contrary to the well-being of the one who entertains that desire. Lust produces sin and sin always leads to death, even the death of a relationship. Lust is not just sexual, it is to be led by the flesh–it’s my will and my wants above God’s wants or other’s needs.
Love requires living in conventional relationships. Covenant is deeper than commitment. Covenant is NEVER to be broken. Commitment without covenant leaves relationships vulnerable and unprotected. When you choose to live together without biblical covenant, you leave the relationship vulnerable and unprotected spiritually. This can happen in a marriage as well if the couple does not understand that the marriage is more than a commitment. Marriage is a covenant instituted by God. Marriage is more than a piece of paper. It’s a covenant that is made with the Father and witnessed by those who love you.
Covenant is made in the heart and sustained by the Holy Spirit. We are in covenant with the Lord. He will never leave us or break the covenant that was made. (Hebrews 13:5). Fear is dangerous to covenant because it will always focus on self-preservation. There is a healthy fear that protects and preserves, but unhealthy fear is irrational and impulsive. Fear takes control and faith lets go!
When we are led by the Holy Spirit, we are always led into love, filled with love in order to release love. We always have to come back to the cross if we are going to have loving, healthy, and whole relationships. What happens at the cross is the restoration of relationships–our relationship with the father as well as our relationships with others. Only when we allow the old nature to die can we truly love. Love is so powerful when it is rooted in the cross because it can endure whatever is thrown at it.
There is a great story that illustrates this. A couple in our church, Dennis and Barb, have a ministry that involves horses. They allow the Lord to use their horses as a source of healing for those who have been abused, neglected, abandoned, or rejected. It is a powerful ministry that is safe and filled with love. In their arena, there are signs placed on the inside walls. There are nine signs scattered about the arena, and each sign has a fruit of the Spirit written on it. One day, Barb was shoveling horse manure over the wall in the back of the arena, something she does regularly. On one summer night, she happened to notice that all the manure was being shoveled over the sign that said love. She thought for a moment that maybe the sign should be moved, but then realized that was the perfect place for love to be. Safe, mature, and Spirit-led lovers can handle what’s thrown at them because their identity and security is found in a loving Father.
Our relationship with the Father is secure because it is rooted in the cross. We live in a world that is sexually gluttonous, but love-starved. Sometimes in our relationships, there will be poop. If we are not rooted in love and living in covenant, we can miss the purpose of love, which is restoration. I challenge you to make a choice. Choose to live in covenant; choose to live in right relationships. Choose to go to the cross. Choose to let love run wild in your house.
In His Love,