The Gift of God III:† Love
2 Timothy 1:1-7
A Sermon Preached 2/16/97
Dr. C. W. Powell Powell
The third benefit of the gift of the Holy Spirit is love.† Please note several things:
God had prepared Timothy in a wonderful way to do the work of the Gospel.†† He had given Timothy the gift of the Holy Spirit.†† It is the Holy Spirit who renews our minds--saves our minds so that we can think clearly.† "Commit your works unto the Lord, and He will direct your thoughts," is the way Solomon puts it.† We were not created to live apart from fellowship with God: and that includes the Christian:† we are to live lives of meditation on God's word, fellowship with God's people, and submission to the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The gift of the Holy Spirit was given to Timothy to energize him for the work.† "Power" here is ability or might.†† You can do the work God has called you to do, but the Holy Spirit does not make you autonomous, as though you can do the work of God in yourself.† No, He unites you to Jesus Christ, and your enabling comes from living in fellowship with Christ and being united to the body of Christ.† Jesus said that we can do nothing of ourselves; we must abide in the Vine, and derive our strength and power from Him.
So now we come to love: the more excellent way that Paul spoke of in 1Corinthians 13.† There are several things to say today concerning the Spirit of love.
I.† The Impossible Task is described by the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q. 4.† What does the Law of God require of us?
A.† Christ teaches us in sum, Matt. 22:† "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.† This is the first and great commandment.† And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.† On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets."
Q. 5.† Canst thou keep all this perfectly?††††
A.† No, for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.
I am commanded to do something that it is impossible for me to do in myself.† In fact, my natural bent is contrary to this.† I am bent by nature to hate both God and my neighbor.† Now, there is nothing in nature that keeps me from pretending to love God and my neighbor.† That is easy to do.† The impossibility for the flesh is of the same order as for a lion to lie down with a lamb without harm to the lamb, or for the child to play without harm on the den of the adder.
The Root of Sin.
The root of sin is the turning upon one's self.† God Himself shows us what is good for us.† It is God's nature to shine forth, for God is light.† He created all things, and takes care of all things.† His glory makes the glory of the sun, moon, and star to pale in comparison, yet He humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! (Ps. 113:6).†† He raises the poor out the dust and is not too proud to lift the needy out of the dunghill (Ps. 113:7)
Though glorious, He humbles Himself to save sinners.† "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (2Cor. 8:9)†† God has never commanded us to do anything that is not an expression of His Own nature.† God has commanded us to do something that we can by no means do; but we must do it if we are to go to heaven.† God's work in us must terminate in love, or it is all vanity.
Sin is the seeking of our own, and not the things of God.† Sin is seeking to serve ourselves in others, rather than serving others.† This is not to say that the essence of sin is selfishness, for that is to misrepresent the law of God, but certainly our lawlessness and wickedness terminates in love for self and not for love for God and our neighbor.
God's Free Work of Salvation
By His grace, God freely takes me to Himself, because Christ died for me.† God makes me His own.† He does this through the gift of faith, which by the Holy Spirit draws me to Himself.
Because I belong to Him, He gives me the Spirit of Adoption, which makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him. (HC 1).†† God does not save me because He sees faith in me, for salvation is of His free election to eternal life, but the gift of faith is evidence that He has taken me unto Himself.
There are two spirits that work in you.†† This is certain.†† There is the Spirit of the World.† This spirit is described in Eph. 2:1-3.† This is the spirit of disobedience:† you love yourself and you seek your own way.† You insist on your own way; you expect everyone to make you happy; you get very upset if the world doesn't fulfill your expectations; you run from one quarrel to another because of this; and although you may have the word love in your mouth, yet your heart is filled with strife and anguish, wrath, strife, envy, and so forth.†
Just look around you:† this is the spirit of the world; this is the spirit of disobedience; this is the spirit of the flesh, and it cannot be anything else but that.† The Ephesian Christians had been like this at one time, but by faith (vs. 8-10) they had been captured by a new spirit, in order that they may fulfill God's eternal, predestined plan for them.
How do you recognize the spirit of the world?†† Paul says it clearly in Galatians 5:24-26.
"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.† If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.† Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
The flesh is full of itself, living in strife and unrest.† This spirit did not go away when you became a Christian.† Christian still must contend with the flesh, but something new has been added to him.
If you belong to Jesus Christ, then He has given you the Spirit of Adoption, whereby your heart cries out "Abba, Father." (Rom. 8:14,15)† You belong to Christ and are a child of God by faith.† The Spirit of Adoption is the transforming Holy Spirit, who changes the way you think about yourself and the way you think about others.† Please note the following in Galatians 5.
Gal. 5:24:† The death of Christ crucified the flesh.† There is no hope for the sons of Adam.† What does God think of your natural life?† He thinks of you as crucified with Christ.† The flesh with its passions and desires are crucified:† not redirected, not made into something else; You and I must think of the sinful nature the same way God thinks of it.† Don't excuse it; don't flatter it; donít try to raise its self-esteem.† It is crucified with Christ.†
It is not that you must crucify the flesh.† You can't even do that.† It is crucified with Christ.† "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." (Prov. 3:4,5)†† The true saints are those who have no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3)
We cannot become the children of God by teaching the flesh to love God and our neighbor; that can never be.† An Ethiopian cannot change his skin (neither can an Englishman, or a Japanese!), and a leopard cannot change his spots.† I can only love if I have been made a partaker of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Adoption, who makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.† It is the Holy Spirit that makes me a New Creature in Christ Jesus, so that I can be what I was created to be.
II.† Romans 6:16-19.
The conflict between the flesh and the spirit is set forth in Romans 6:16-19.† "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?† But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.† Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
The flesh is the servant of sin; always was, always will be.† But by receiving the Gospel, we receive a new principle: there is something in is that is the servant of righteousness.† If you are a Christian, you not only have the flesh, the natural power that you received from Adam, but you have the Spirit of Adoption.† You have a conflict within.
In verse 19, Paul speaks of yielding the members, the body.††† Sin is revealed by the activities of the body; so also is love and righteousness revealed.††† We reveal who we are by the actions of the body.††
This is a basic principle of life.†† I cannot know your heart; you cannot know mine.† We only look on outward appearance; not even the devil can know the heart.† This is reserved by God to Himself alone.
Sometimes people say, "You must love me for myself."†† I cannot do that, and you cannot do that.† This is humanistic garbage and claptrap.† I do not know who you are, and you do not know who I am except by what I do in the body.† You communicate love or hatred by the things that you do, and so do I.† There is no other way.
This is the spirit of the world.† The Holy Spirit says, "If a man would have friends, let him show himself friendly."† The way not to have friends or to lose the love of others is to insist that they be your friend, to insist that they love you for yourself, whatever that might be.† Even if we have enemies, we must examine ourselves, because "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Prov. 16:7)
It was the sixties generation mentality that I am to be loved for myself.† I opposed it then, and I still oppose it.† It is selfish, self-centered, domineering, and arrogant.† The rebels of that generation behaved in the most disgusting way, insulted their elders, trampled upon traditions and customs, showed contempt for institutions and order, called police pigs, and spit in the faces of their elders and parents.† Then they insisted, "You must love me as I am."†† And sadly enough, the church, out of its basic humanism and rejection of sound doctrine, wrung its hands pitifully, and moaned, "You're right.† You poor babes.† You haven't been loved enough."†† It was nonsense then, and it is nonsense now.
III.† Galatians 6:† Loving Burden Bearing.
The first part of Galatians 6 develops the doctrine of Galatians 5:24-26, which we looked at a moment ago.
Galatians 6:1.†† Spiritual ones are to restore those overtaken in faults.† They are not to "accept them" as they are, but love them in order to restore them.† This is to be done with a spirit of meekness, but there is also a recognition that there is such a thing as spiritual health, and people should be healthy.††† This is not done by those who have confidence in the flesh, but by those who are "spiritual," or those who are led by the Spirit of God.† In the context of Galatians, this means those who know the Gospel of Christ, not those who are experts in the law of Moses.†† Such people know the vanity of the flesh, and consider themselves, lest they be tempted also.† There is no confidence in the flesh or its power, but a recognition that the flesh is crucified with Christ.
Bear one another's burdens.† This means to make their load lighter.† I must recognize that one of the greatest burdens people have to bear is to love me.† Shall I cast a stone in their path by being a jerk?†† Shall I break down the door of their house, trample dirt on their carpet, insult their children, and spit in their faces, and say to them, "Ha!! You have to love me."
What about my duty to love them?† I am supposed to bear their burdens.† I should make it easier for them to love me.
Gal. 6:3.† Don't Think Too Much of Yourself.† The flesh is filled with self-conceit and pride, which results in hatred of God and my neighbor.† I know in my heart that I am not worthy of love.† I am not worthy of them showing me anything but contempt.† If people could really see into our hearts, how many of us would be loved even of our relatives.† Don't deceive yourself.†† The flesh knows that it is a rebel.† It knows it is unworthy of love.† It knows that if it is found out, people will despise it and chase it from them.† Because of this, it surrounds itself with walls of pride and lies, and hates those who threaten its defenses.
†Gal 6:4.† Prove your own work.†† I am not to work on other people's love; I am to work on my own.† I am not to work on manipulating them or forcing them to love me; but to love them.† Do your own work.†† Your work is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.†† Simply stated, I am not to put their love to the test; I am to put my love to the test.†† I am not to tempt God by putting His love to the test, but I am to prove my own love to Him.
You are not to walk up to your neighbor, and put him to the test by insisting that he love you in your most repulsive form;† but you are to study to love him in his most repulsive form.† But in our selfishness and conceit, we turn everything upside down.†† The spoiled children of the sixties basked in self-righteousness because they thought they were better than others because they "loved people for themselves," without standards, without manners, and without morality.† How self-righteous and conceited they were in their slovenliness, dirt, drugs, and obscenities.
It is wrong to expect my neighbor to love me no matter what I do.† This is to add to his burdens.† Love makes the burdens of others lighter.† My self worth is not revealed by the number of people who love me, but by the number of people I love.
Gal. 6:5:† Bear your own burden.† My burden is to bear his burden.† My burden is to make myself lovable.† The example we have is Christ Himself.†† He didn't stay in heaven and insist that we love Him; No he came down to earth and loved us.† We love him because He first loved us; it works the same for us.†† Men will love us, when we really love them, and show it by what we do.† The only way they will know that we love them, is by what we do.†† Loving actions only reveals intentions.
You will not be judged by the number of people that loved you; but by the number of people that you have loved.† This is your burden, and mine:† Not to be loved, but to love.†† Man's basic need is not to be loved, but to love.
Prove your own work.† Prove your own work by showing that you love others.† Do you want to be secure in the love of your spouses?† Then love them greatly, and show it by what you do.† Do you want to be secure in your children's love: then love them. ††Not in a manipulative way, but freely, unselfishly, as Christ loved you, so ought you to love one another.† But remember, only God knows you as you are.† All the rest of us know you only by what you do.
Deliverance from fear.† God has not given us the spirit of fear.† 1John 4:9-21.†† Fear is concerned first of all with self.† I am afraid that people won't love me.† I am self-conscious, which simply means that I am very conscious of myself.† I always think of myself first.† How will this look?† What will others think?†† How do I appear?† I hate them, for I suspect they think badly of me.† Do they love me?† They better love me; I will hate them if they don't love me.† I know I do lots of things wrong, but they better not judge me for them.† I hate it when I think they judge me.† I hate them for judging me.† I hate them for not loving me.† I hate them.† I hate them.† I hate them.† Fear makes us resemble the man who buried his talent, because he feared he could not please the master.† "Why should I try to please them; I can't please them anyway.† They are hard and cruel, and expect too much.† I will hide in this hole here, covered up with a napkin, and if I am ever called to account, I will let them know how I feel.† I hate them."
This is all backwards.† This is the turning into and upon oneself that is the very opposite of the love of God.† God's nature is to shine forth, to open His heart and His hand.† He does good to all men.† He fills the earth with abundance.† He doesn't sit in heaven nursing his wounds, and fretting about whether or not people love Him.† He showers the earth with blessings.† He Himself came and walked among us, loving us and doing good.
This is the Spirit that He has given to His people.† Not fear and torment, but love.
May God bless you.
Dr. C. W. Powell
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918