A New Level of Love
Robert Wurtz II
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35 ESV).
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death (1 John 3:14 NKJV).
The teachings of Jesus are so revolutionary and contrary to the world that, at first glance, they seem impossible to live out. Some people read and reject them because they don’t make sense to them. The world doesn’t think this way; our minds are programmed from infancy to think like the world. But Jesus wasn’t preaching the kingdoms of this world; He was preaching His Kingdom and its associated expectations and culture.
Even if we agree that the teachings of Jesus are ideal, they still seem impossible to live out. The thing we miss is that the commandments of Christ are linked to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the commandments can only be lived consistently if we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit-Filled Life
The Sermon on the Mount is a picture of the Spirit-Filled life. All the fruit of the Spirit is necessary to achieve that standard. Take our passages above. They are impossible to live out until the love of God has been shed abroad in the heart (Romans 5:5). When God’s love is filling us, we are enabled to love as He loves.
Moreover, it’s not a one-time filling but a perpetual filling to the full (Ephesians 5:18). We receive this filling by two things:
- Making ourselves fit for the Spirit of God to dwell by cooperating with the Spirit as He deals with us about our lives. He wants to come in and fill us but will not reside in a defiled and unclean vessel. Acts 5:32 is critical as well. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Christ. Notice, too, the connection in Acts 5:32 between obedience and the gift of the Spirit, which would seem to be in substantial conceptual agreement with John 14:15-16, which teaches that if a man keeps Christ’s commandments, the Father will give him “another Counselor” who will remain with him forever (NIBC).
- Secondly, we must go on asking and receiving. We need fresh infillings daily, if not more so. We find the “ask” motif in the story of the woman at the well and the illustrations about a father giving his child a stone or serpent, etc., if they ask for bread or fish. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13 NKJV). In other words, God is more willing to give us His Spirit than a parent is to provide their hungry child with their necessary food. How often do you eat and drink?
A New Level of Love
The standard of the Old Testament Law (Mosaic Law) was summarized by Jesus when He told the Disciples, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39b). Yet for the disciples, He issued a commandment to love one another in the same way that He loved them. When He spoke these words, He had not yet died for them. Instead, He called them and made them His disciples despite their backgrounds and their sinful condition. From the beginning, Jesus loved the disciples, including Judas Iscariot.
To fulfill God’s objective that the whole world will know that we are Christ’s disciples, we must love one another as He loved us. All the relevant fruit of the Spirit come to mind and especially love. When we are moving in love, we are moving in 1 Corinthians 13. God’s love is not like the world’s love. They are incomparable. God’s love seeks what is best for us and looks to provide for our needs at all costs. God is concerned for us and our needs on all different levels. Jesus moved in this kind of love, and to love one another as He loved us, we must do likewise.