The heart's true love
by Michael Green
February 24, 2016
John 14:15-24 (ESV): 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
First of all, in verses 15, 21, 23, & 24, the order of Jesus’ words is really important. The love precedes the obedience.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
However, the Bible makes it clear that in our fallen state, we do not love God. We are enemies with Him and we love and serve ourselves (Isaiah 53:6, Mark 10:18, Romans 3:10, 5:8 & 12). We must be born again of the Spirit in order to have a heart that truly loves God (Matthew 3:11, John 3:3-8, Romans 2:29).
But, we can’t let that dilute the weight of Jesus’ statement in our hearts. In an effort to provide ourselves with a false comfort, let’s not declaw the Lion of the Tribe of Judah so that we can snuggle up with a pussycat of our own making. His point is clear: A heart that truly loves God results in a life marked by obedience. Other places in the Word point to the fact that this is a growth process that looks different in the lives of every believer in the way that no two peach trees are exactly alike but they all bear peaches. No peach tree produces apples. It does not mean that we are perfect. As a matter of fact, growth in Christ results in growing in the knowledge of how imperfect we truly are (John 15:2b, 1 John 1:8). We are adopted after all, not biological children of the Father. There’s only one of those, Jesus Christ.
Our heavenly Father knew that we would need a great deal of help. More specifically, He knew that we would need a Helper. Obedience is not our natural inclination. That’s why Jesus, in His infinite perfection and gracious fatherliness, provided us with an aide: the Holy Spirit, God Himself, living within each and every believer. Thus, ultimately, even the growth in obedience in the life of a believer is due to God’s working out in our lives what He has already worked into our hearts.
God created us with a heart, mind and will. True love for God is a love that satiates our affections, fulfills our intellect and subdues our will. A love like that has to be implanted in our hearts by the Spirit of God. According to Jesus, a love like that results in obedience.