Summary: Everyone loves love! We want to be loved and we want to give love. The problem is—our love is often lacking. This four-sermon series explores 1 John in order to discover a love that's truly worth having and giving: real love! PowerPoint available.
Real Love (2)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 5/26/2013
Do you know how Jesus said that his disciples will be recognized throughout the world? It’s not our views on abortion or homosexuality. It’s not our involvement in a Bible-believing church or our doctrinal stance on salvation. No. What arrests people, what causes us to stand out from the world, is not our convictions, as important as those are—it is love. Jesus commanded us to love God, first and foremost. He commanded us to love one another, to love our neighbors, even to love our enemies. “All people will know that you are my followers,” Jesus said, “if you love each other” (John 13:35). When we can live a life of love, the world sits up and takes notice.
That’s a lot easier said than done, though, isn’t it? I think part of the reason for that is that our vision is obscured; we don’t have a clear picture in our minds of what real love looks like. When asked about the true meaning of love, ten-year-old Ricky answered, “True love is when a guy tells a girl she looks beautiful every day, even if she looks like a truck!” That’s not a bad start, but the Bible gives us an ever better picture of real love for real life. The Bible say, “This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us” (1 John 4:10).
Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus is the love of God personified. His words and his actions were laced with love—unbridled, unconditional, unrelenting love. And his love—if you’ll let it—can fill your heart and spill into every part of your life.
Today, I want to continue through the first epistle of John—the epistle of love—because next John tells us about the wrong kind of love. Let’s see what he says:
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)
In these verses, John tells us that there is a worldly kind of love that is diametrically opposed to the love of God. And he specifically identifies three love-killers that can destroy God’s love in our lives.
The first of these three love-killers comes in the form of carnality. John calls it “a craving for physical pleasure” (vs. 16 NLT). This isn’t love; rather it’s lust. In fact, another translation calls it “the lust of the flesh” (vs. 16 NIV) and it’s a cancer that eats away at real love—corroding and corrupting it.
And frankly, this is a much bigger problem for men than it is for women. It reminds me of this husband and wife who were shopping together in the mall. The wife was browsing through this display of hand soaps and lotions in front of Bath & Body Works, when an attractive younger woman in a short skirt walked by. The husband’s eye’s locked onto her and his head turned as she strolled passed. Without even looking up from the display, as if she had eyes in the back of her head, his wife announces, “I hope it was worth all the trouble you’re in now!”
Seriously though, this craving for physical pleasure can destroy men, marriages, and entire families. Pornography is a $13 billion a year business and it’s everywhere today. One in eight online searches (12.5 %) is for pornography and, in fact, a recent survey showed that 24% of smartphone owners admit to having downloaded pornographic material on their phone. And Christians are not immune to this. Another study showed that 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women say they are addicted to pornography. And yes, if you attend church weekly, you are 26% less likely to be addicted to pornography than those who don’t, but that’s still a lot of Christians sitting in church every week who struggle with this craving for physical pleasure.
That’s why the Bible speaks very candidly about sex and lust. It says, for instance, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18–19). If a man fills his mind with images of other women’s breasts, he will never be satisfied with his wife’s and his love for her will be corroded.