The Importance of Understanding the Nature of God’s Love

Until we see that God is centered upon Himself and loves Himself and that it is His holiness for Him to do so, we will not see the true grounds for the Greatest Commandment, which is the same thing as “be holy for I am holy.” We will not understand sin for what it really is: loving self from pride rather than loving God, which is having self as a god in His presence and worshiping the idol of self. We will not understand the nature of the new birth, which is to receive a new heart and the indwelling love of God so that we may be delivered from the love of self as our primary love and truly love God for who He is rather than for what we think He has done. We will not understand the nature of the love of God toward humans, which is to cleanse them from their pride and self-love in order to give them a love for Himself. We will not understand the nature of repentance, which is to be turned from self-love and pride to humility and the love of God. We will not understand the nature of sanctification, which is the growth from self-love and the focus on self-interests to being sharers of His love for Himself.

If God’s love is defined by what He does for human beings, then this is a different way of looking at God and man than Scripture. This would be essentially a turning or twisting of the Greatest Commandments. If God’s love is defined by what He does for human beings, then man’s love for God is defined by what man does for himself and other human beings. This would turn love your neighbor as yourself (Second Greatest Commandment) into the Greatest Commandment and make the Greatest Commandment contingent on the Second. But Jesus taught us that the Second Greatest Commandment flows from the Greatest Commandment (“The second is like it” Mat 22:39). If God is truly focused on human beings as His standard, then the Greatest Commandment is to love human beings. That would also change the standard of love and so we really have fallen into humanism as the standard. But instead, God Himself is the source and standard of love rather than human beings.

We must see the massive, massive difference this makes in all things. If “God is love” means that God is the only source of true love and the only true object of true love, then humanism can reside quite well in an outwardly conservative theology. We can stress creeds and conservatism all we want against humanism but we will still be caught in its deceitful web if we are not governed by the thought of God as being God-centered. Man cannot work up love in his heart for God, but this love must come from God. If God is the only source of true love, then we can see how God must love Himself and so it is only in loving Himself that that there is any love possible for human beings. This also shows that true love is always working to bring human beings to the point of seeing the true God and sharing in His love. To do that means that humans must begin to repent of their self-love and pride.

We must also see how God is the pattern for human love rather than our false conceptions of what human love is, which is based on what is outwardly good for humans as we conceive of it. We must love God and out of the love of God which comes from God we must love other human beings according to the true standard of love, which is God Himself. God’s love in the soul always transforms the soul to be like Himself and from His love for Himself He works love for Himself in the human soul. Humans tend to drop the standard of love down to niceness and graciousness as that is within the power of self-love while true love for God and others is only possible by the power of God. The human standard of love, which is niceness and graciousness, is without the goal of seeing others transformed into the image of God by true love and will only feed the self-love and pride of ourselves and other human beings. True love will be a part in breaking them of their pride and self-love rather than feed it. This is so opposite of what the world thinks and teaches, and yet it is true in light of the truth of God’s love for Himself.

If God does not love Himself as triune then how can He change our heart from sin (love for ourselves as supreme) to love Himself as supreme? We must see this and how vital it is to theology and to the Christian life. If we do not see that all flows from the love of God for Himself, then we will continue in our bondage of defining love in a human fashion and we will not see God for who He is and we will not understand sanctification and holiness. Humanism is so pervasive today that it is hard to have our spiritual heads raised out of it to breathe in the pure air of a thorough God-centeredness. Without this it is possible to be as orthodox and conservative as we can and yet be entirely wrong on what love is and since God is love we will not understand the true God. If we continue to think of the cross as being primarily about God’s love for human beings rather than being primarily a love from within the Trinity, we will not understand the cross and we will make God out to be an idolater who loves human beings more than Himself. If the true idea of God is three in one and one in three, then the true idea of God is a God that exists in perfect triune love for Himself and there is no love apart from that. This is important beyond words.

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