The Mark Of A True Believer
~An article concerning the importance of Godly love to a believer's life~
What is the mark of a true believer? Is there such a thing? The answer you receive depends on what type of believer you ask. If you ask an emotional believer, they might tell you, "one who's not afraid to shout in church and give God the glory!" If you ask a legalistic believer, they might tell you, "one that doesn't wear gold, make-up, pants, or braids, and avoids the color red!" If you ask a super-spiritual believer, they might tell you, "One who speaks in tongues, worships God and never sins!" If you ask a religious believer, you might hear, "One who tithes regularly, works in the church, goes to church every Sunday and studies every day!"
But the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior Himself, said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have LOVE one for another" (St. John 13:35).
Beloved, you must understand this: the true mark of a born-again, spirit-filled child of God is LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN.
NOT works in the church.
NOT spiritual gifts.
NOT shouts or praises.
It is the heartfelt, self-sacrificing, Spirit-inspired, uncompromising, ever-obedient Love of God! Love, and love alone, is the reason why an Almighty God rescued a hell-bound race by giving up His only Son to die on a criminal's cross after tolerating nearly 2,000 years of being ignored, insulted, hurt, rejected, and used, to the point that God cried out to them, "What have I done to you to deserve this?"
Love, and love alone, led the Lord Jesus to minister to thousands while they tried to throw Him off of cliffs, stone Him to death, chase Him out of town, and twist His teachings. Even after His time of suffering had passed, after they whipped and scourged Him, spit in His face, snatched fistfuls of hair from His beard, and punched Him; even after they crucified Him and mocked Him, even after His closest friends deserted Him in His most tortured hour -- LOVE led Him back to those friends after His resurrection, to comfort them in their greatest hour of doubt.
It is this love that the Almighty God places within the hearts of every born-again believer by the Holy Spirit, that they might be like Him: "... and hope (for salvation) maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us" (Rom. 5:5).
Beloved, if you would dare to call yourself a true child of God, then the Bible says that this love must be evident in your life, else you are called a liar.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love ... If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:7-8, 20).
Understanding God's Love...
It is commonly said that love cannot be defined, but a sincere study of the Word will prove that to be wrong. The Greek language gives us five words to help define love and its many sides: phileo, storge, eros, aga`pe, and epithumia.
Phileo describes brotherly love (as in Philadelphia); this is the type of love that bonds people together who share a common cause or purpose, as with a church, a sports team, or an army (Rom. 12:10).
Storge describes family love, the type of love that bonds blood relatives, parents and children together (Eph. 6:1-4).
Eros describes romantic or erotic love, as should exists between a husband and wife, and epithumia is the act of lovemaking between husband and wife (1 Cor. 7:3-5).
Aga`pe is the type of love that describes God; it is a giving, other-centered action love that is revealed in selfless giving. It is concerned only with blessing others, even to its own hurt. It is this love that is revealed in St. John 3:16: "For God so loved (aga`peo) the world that HE GAVE..."
Saints of God, this is what it means then to love as God loved; it means to have aga`pe love flowing through your spirit, leading you to freely meet the needs of those around you. You will show brotherly love to your friends and to the brethren; you will show family love to your children and spouse; you will share romantic love with your spouse, and you will freely express that love and strengthen your marital bonds with lovemaking. Beloved, these are the true expressions of love that God expects from His children!
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth" (1 John 3:16-18, NIV).
The Attack of Cold Love...
As always, Satan is determined to oppose the spiritual growth and progress of the saints, and by attacking our ability to love one another, he has rendered his most devastating and devious attack yet! Many saints may be able to recognize an attack upon their bodies or even their minds, but countless saints are blindly falling to Satan's attack against their ability to love! In His response to the disciples question concerning signs of the end of the world, Jesus told them "because of iniquity (the spirit of lawlessness), the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:12). Here Jesus states that as rebellion and lawlessness spreads across the land, people would grow cold in their love.
This is exactly why you see the violence of this present day! Never has there been such a coldness in the acts of people: husbands murdering their families, then taking their own lives; mothers killing their unborn and newborns and leaving their bodies in the streets; children killing their parents for sport and money, marriages breaking up daily: this is the "cold love" of the last days!
Beloved, has your love grown cold? Do you go through the motions of church, only to go home to fight with your spouse and beat your children? Is your love cold and your anger hot? If so, then all of your labor is in vain until you learn to love (1 Cor. 13:1-3)! If you're love has grown cold, then you are truly in danger! Every believer needs to fall on his or her face and cry out to God for a new heart of love, for that is only thing that impresses the God of Love! Then you can truly say, "I am a child of the King!" Glory!
~Pastor Ron Barnes