WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
“What’s love got to do, got to do with it? What’s love but a second-hand emotion?” Written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle and recorded by Tina Turner
The song, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” touches on a very valid truth in asking “What’s love but a second-hand emotion?” There’s a lot of love going on today that is masquerading as God’s love, but is actually nothing more than a love born of our own emotions. In his book “Not I, But Christ,” Jason R. Henderson observes, “Because our love is usually based upon what we want to be true about something, our desires create our belief, our belief creates our own idea of love. If we don’t like something, we find a belief to go along with what we do like.” We want God’s love to serve our own emotionally-influenced flawed love. “Rather than allowing the nature of God to define our understanding of love, we take our own idea of what love is and allow it to define God’s love.” (Henderson). We then proclaim that this love of our own making, sets the end to whatever the desires of our flesh might be. The same could be said concerning man’s belief of love today as Paul in Romans 10:2 said concerning man’s belief of righteousness: They have a zeal for love, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s love, and seeking to establish their own love, have not submitted to the love of God.
Just as the Jewish people, whom Paul was referring to, were seeking to establish their own righteousness, many are seeking to establish their own idea of love today as well. And just as their hearts might have been very sincere in their efforts to establish their own righteousness, we too can be very sincere in our desire to love; but we can also be sincerely wrong. Paul encouraged the Galatians that “it is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good.” (Gal. 4:18). It is fine to be zealous in love, but we must make sure our love is toward that which is good. If God’s word says something isn’t good, it isn’t good. The Corinthian believers were proud of themselves for their tolerance of someone who was involved in wrongdoing in the church, but instead of praising them for walking in love, Paul chastened them for their failure to address the wrongdoing. In challenging some of our preconceived ideas about God’s love and grace, Jason R. Henderson asks the question, “How wrong are we willing to be?” I think that is a very relevant question to ask ourselves today, but that question can only be answered by first asking ourselves, “How right do we really desire to be?”
In his book “Epic Battles of the Last Days” Rick Joyner wisely assesses the underlying mistake that is often made between man’s love and God’s love. He writes, “God’s love is not to be confused with unsanctified mercy, which gives approval of things which God disapproves.” As much as we might like to think we are walking in God’s love, approval of things which God disapproves is really nothing more than our own unsanctified mercy, producing a second-hand emotion love. We can trace the origin of this error all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Author David Platt (Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age) observes, “The temptation in the Garden was to rebel against God’s authority and in the process make humans the arbiters of morality. In other words, for the man and woman to eat from this tree was to reject God as the one who determines good and evil and to assume the responsibility for themselves.” This rejection of God as the one who determines good and evil and assuming the responsibility for ourselves continues still today. John Bevere (Good or God) writes, “Adam and Eve chose to evaluate what was good and acceptable apart from God’s counsel. They made an assessment from a different set of standards; their own.” In II Corinthians 9:10, Paul unapologetically confronted believers who were living by the standards of this world, saying, “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of the world.” God’s word still sets the standard of what is good and acceptable, not the standards of the world, not the culture of our day, and not the approval of man.
Oswald Chambers points out the underlying problem with unsanctified mercy in the guise of love. He writes, “Whenever we substitute God’s perfect desire for others, for our own emotional sympathy for them, the vital connection with God in intercession for them becomes flawed.” The desire of God’s grace to us in Jesus is not just pardon for our sins, but that the life of his son be formed in us. As Jason R. Henderson affirms, “We are accepted in Jesus alone, because it is Jesus alone that God accepts,” but at the same time, “Christ did not die so that Adam could continue living in us.” If the old nature of Adam that still seeks to rule in us, is not put to death by us, the new nature of Christ cannot be formed in us. Galatians 5:13 explains, “You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” I believe author Francis Chan (Crazy Love) cuts to the core of the truth in the hearts of many today. He writes, “Some don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin.” Unfortunately although some may desire for that to be possible, it is not. Jason R. Henderson explains: “Just like natural light and darkness, Adam and Christ can never mix together. The presence of the one dispels the other, and in every way knowing the one costs the life of the other.”
Romans 8:8-12 of God’s word explains the problem with wanting to hold on to the sinful nature: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires …. the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.” One of the definitions of obligation is: “Indebted for a favor.” God’s word tells us in I Corin. 6:19, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Unfortunately, in many churches today, the unsanctified mercy of man, that gives approval of things which God disapproves, is standing in opposition to the obligation believers have to the favor of God’s grace. But those doing so may one day find themselves saying as Peter said, “Who was I to think that I could oppose God?”
God did not intend for his grace to be a means by which we might make exception for the nature of Adam to continue ruling over us and living in us. God, in his love, by his grace, made it possible for the righteousness of Christ to be accounted to us and then filled us with the Holy Spirit of truth, in order that the nature of Christ might be formed in us. This is love and this is the goal of God’s grace. To desire anything less for ourselves or for others, is not. So, to answer Tina’s question, “What’s love got to do with it?” The unsanctified mercy of man’s second-hand emotion love that gives approval of things which God disapproves; absolutely nothing. The power of his love transforming hearts, minds and souls into his image, everything! A. W. Tozer wisely cautions, “The man who is going the wrong way will never be set right by the affable religionist who falls into step behind him and goes the same way.” We might want to keep that in mind when giving approval of things which God disapproves. The saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” may be more true than we realize.
Ezekiel 3:2 – “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
Proverbs 27:5 – “Open rebuke is better than love, carefully concealed.”