Title: Gospel of John [20:19]. Christ's Resurrection, part 24 (fellowship with Christ and the Father - Agape).
1JO 4:19 We love, because He first loved us.
We love God and others because He first loved us. The two great OT commandments that summed up the whole Law - to love God and to love one's neighbor.
Agape love made no sense to the Jew, who viewed righteousness as gained from the Law, or the Greek, who viewed ascent to God as the furthering of one's knowledge and virtue. For an impression of the way in which an ancient mind reacted to the idea of agape we cannot do better than turn to Celsus.
What great deeds did Jesus perform as being God? Did he put his enemies to shame, or bring to a ridiculous conclusion what was designed against him? … If not before, yet why not now, at least, does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father. [Celsus, 177 AD]
Karl Holl, a German professor of theology, wrote in 1925: "Celsus with his characteristic acuteness of vision has seen this point too in Christianity, and he never tires of pointing out to Christians the absurdity, the contemptibleness, the revoltingness of their conception of God. Every other religion has some regard for itself, and admits only respectable, cultivated, irreproachable people into its fellowship; but Christianity runs after the riffraff of the streets. As if it were positively a bad thing to have committed no sin, or as if God were a robber chief who gathered criminals around him! In this, Celsus was only expressing the objection that every Greek or Roman must have felt against Christianity. That 'the Deity has dealing only with the pure', was for them a sacred, inviolable axiom."
Our Lord showed that these are two sides of the same coin and still two different commands.
Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out [perfect passive indicative] within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us [aorist - at salvation].
GAL 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
We were set free from sin and death, however, that is not to open up an even greater opportunity to sin. This has led legalistic teachers to bring in the Mosaic Law as a restrainer, but the Bible clearly says that the law only increases sin. The restrain for the Christian is not to be found in the law but in God the Holy Spirit.
At salvation the believer has come out from under whatever control divine law had over him, and in salvation has been placed under a superior control, that of the indwelling Holy Spirit who exercises a stricter supervision over the believer than law ever did over the unbeliever or OT believer, whose restraining power is far more effective than the law's restraining power ever was, and who gives the believer both the desire and power to refuse the wrong and choose the right, a thing which law never was able to do.
The believer therefore has passed out of one control into another, from the control of a mere system of legal enactments into the control of a Person, God the Holy Spirit.
God ran this world for at least 2500 years before the law was enacted. He knows what He's doing. He doesn't need the help of the legalist, today, who imposes law over grace.
To acquaint the saint with the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, is far more productive of victory over sin than the imposition of the law. The controlling ministry of the Holy Spirit is the secret of holy living by trusting Him, not grieving or quenching Him, recovering when one does, and always using the word of God as one's guiding light.
GAL 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
GAL 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
The word “against” is kata, which means down, and so the idea is suppression.
For the flesh constantly has a strong desire to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit constantly has a strong desire to suppress the flesh. And these are entrenched in an attitude of mutual opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you desire to do. [Wuest]
When the flesh presses hard upon the believer with its evil behests, the Holy Spirit is there to oppose the flesh and give the believer victory over it, in order that the believer will not obey the flesh, and thus sin. When the Holy Spirit places a course of conduct upon the heart of the believer, the flesh opposes the Spirit in an effort to prevent the believer from obeying the Spirit. The purpose of each is to prevent the believer from doing what the other moves him to do. The choice lies with the saint. He must develop the habit of keeping his eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus and his trust in the Holy Spirit. The more he says NO to sin, the easier it is to say NO, until it becomes a habit. We might call this strengthening the influence of the new man in our lives through spiritual growth. The more he says YES to the Lord Jesus, the easier it is to say YES, until that becomes a habit.
The will of the believer is absolutely free from the compelling power of the evil nature. The sin nature has been crucified with Christ. If he obeys the sin nature, it is because he chooses to do so. But the Holy Spirit has given the believer a new nature, the divine nature. And the sweet influences of that nature are constantly permeating the activities of the believer's will as the believer keeps himself yielded to the Spirit. In that way, the Spirit keeps on suppressing the activities of the evil nature and any control which it might attempt to exert over the saint. This is why we remain alert, fight the good fight, keep fixing our eyes on Jesus the Prince Ruler and completer of our faith, circulating the word of God in our conscience, and remaining alert to the presence of sin within us so that we may recover quickly. We will never reach sinless perfection (1JO 1:10) but we will overcome the effects of the sin nature on our lifestyles by walking by means of the Spirit.
GAL 5:23 against such things [fruit of the Spirit - agape] there is no law.
Agape is a love whose chief essence is self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one who is loved. Such a love means death to self, and that means defeat for sin, since the essence of sin is self-will and self-gratification.
GAL 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, " You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Paul's statement is deeper than a quick reading or superficial knowledge will give. The Galatian problem is that they went back to being under the Mosaic Law. We are not to fulfill the Mosaic Law, but it is fulfilled in love. If we were under the Law still then it would be fulfilled in love, but we are not any longer and so Paul is moving from the Law of statutes that we are no longer under to a law that is the spiritual and ethical life of the believer in this age, and that is fulfilled in agape love, for God and for mankind. God has a law for us, but it does not consist of the things of the Mosaic Law but the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Thus, the individual is released from one law consisting of a set of ethical principles to which was attached blessing for obedience and punishment in the case of disobedience, a law that gave him neither the desire nor the power to obey its commands, and is brought under another law:
The law of love is not a set of written commandments but an ethical and spiritual dynamic, produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit gives him both the desire and the power to live a life in which the dominating principle is love, God's love, which exercises a stronger and stricter control over the heart and is far more efficient at putting out sin in the life than the legalizers think the thunders of Sinai ever were. Not long after the thunders of Sinai, which struck fear in the hearts of the Jews, were they constructing a golden calf in order to worship it.
As the Lord said, "If you love Me, then you will keep My commandments." This means that God’s love is not of commands but a dynamic, spiritual relationship with Him. In this relationship the believer will desire to keep the commands and possess the power to do so by means of his complete reliance on God the Holy Spirit.