ON LOVE; PART MCCCXXXVII
FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God.
PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We ended the last essay with some thoughts on the Nature of God and the words of Paul and James who show us how that there IS an opposition between the carnal and the spiritual; between the things of God and the things of the world. While James uses the word friendship, the idea here IS NOT the same as the common understanding of a friend; it IS rather a sense of allegiance. The idea IS rendered from the Greek words phila and philos which ARE rendered as friendship and friend in most ALL bible translations; words that call out ideas of fondness and carnal ideas of Love. In allegiance there IS a sense of loyalty and devotion according to today’s dictionary* while older definitions show us a: tie or obligation of a subject to his Prince or government 1. It IS such ideas that men ARE nurtured and indoctrinated into and while such may be more directed toward a religion or a particular nation, the underlying idea IS of the world itself. It IS the nature of men to have such allegiance to the world and the things of the world and in James words saying “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4) we should be able to see that it IS this sense of allegiance that must be broken. This breaking down must be a part of one’s overall struggle to “mortify the deeds of the body” which IS the evidence that “the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you” as we read in our selection from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans:
“they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in
hope, Becauseexpectation that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:5-23).
There ARE several translations of the bible that frame the idea of friendship in terms of Love saying that to ‘Love the world IS against God’ and we should understand that it IS easy to deny that one Loves the world or that one IS a friend of the world while one IS still attendant to his Life here and the betterment of that Life according to the ways of the world. It IS the very nature of men’s vanity that IS the cause of this tie to things worldly and it IS the doctrines of men that support such ideas of worldly abundance, and this in most ALL arenas of Life. In physical and psychological terms, men ARE trained to want and to need and this especially in so called Christian countries. The Apostle Paul shows us this opposition between the carnal and the spiritual quite differently, matter of factly, and from a more personal perspective. Paul says “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” but the reality of these words ARE missed by the doctrinal thinker who places himself into a position of being “spiritually minded” which should be related to the apostle’s other definitive statement that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). To “have the mind of Christ” IS NOT the product of one’s affirmations and confessions nor of one’s rites and rituals; to “have the mind of Christ” IS to: to accept and adopt His precepts and example as binding upon the life 4 which idea Vincent offers as the Truth of believing in and believing on the Master. There IS a simple logic here; if one has such a mind, “the mind of Christ“, why would one NOT live by it rather that his doctrinal ideas which ARE ofttimes in opposition to the words of the Christ. And this IS the same idea of opposition that we pose above between the carnal and the spiritual, between the things of the self and the things of God. The “mind of Christ” IS perforce Love, it IS the realty of agape which IS defined for us in the Great Commandment and in the Golden Rule and while many a Christian KNOWS the words of these precepts, very few there ARE that express them in daily living. Paul tells us that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14) and here we should try to understand that to the doctrinal thinker, the ideas that we espouse on keeping His words and Love ARE what seem to be “foolishness unto him“; such ideas ARE opposed to a man’s settled doctrinal views by which he sees himself as “born again“.
We have often discussed the idea of “another gospel: Which is not another” and while the apostle’s intent here IS against those that, in that time and place, sought to change the Truth of the gospel into a slurry of ideas that embraced the Jew’s traditions, the reality of his message DOES stretch forward into the fullness of the Christian era. Jesus had warned us by His parables that we should NOT amend these traditions, the mitzvah of the Jews, into the Truth that the He was teaching us. While the idea of circumcision and the law may have been a central point in Paul’s time and his writing to the Galatians, there IS so much more to consider including Paul’s own seemingly continuous citing of such ideas as that the “blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles“. And more; the Christian church has, from the beginning, embraced the Jewish history as an integral part of their teachings and doctrines; this without ever Truly understanding that Paul’s idea of “works of the law” (Galatians 1:6, 7, 3:14, 5) was NOT in regard to the ideas of Truth and Love that ARE the heart of the law but rather the full list of ancillary ideas given to the Jews by Moses. And the failure here goes yet further, it goes into the misapplication of the Greek words of pistis and pisteuo which have become those nebulous ideas of faith and believing that ARE central to the doctrines that most ALL Christian doctrinal approaches to the Lord hold as their Truth. These failures have been amplified in the evolving doctrines of men over the nearly twenty centuries since the writings of the apostles; today many include as doctrine ideas that ARE NOT founded at ALL in the teachings of the Master. In this we should see the real evidence, in today’s religious culture, of Jesus’ words, repeating those of the Prophet from centuries before saying “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). And this IS our point above: the Truths that come from the Master’s words, Truths that ARE plainly stated and ARE the reality of what Paul and the other apostles taught, have been sacrificed to the benefit of men whose intent IS ever to live their lives as men in this world rather than to understand and heed the apostle’s words saying “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts“. This ignoring of the reality of the apostle’s words while yet proclaiming to be “born again” which IS to “live in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24, 25) IS become the general demeanor of today’s Christian while the reality of Paul’s words from our selection from Romans has become moot; the apostle tells us “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live“. How many of us then ARE Truly alive in a time where to be doctrinally alive IS a Truly meritless endeavor unless it encompasses the teachings of the Master and holds them above the “commandments of men“. It IS in the opposition of the things of God and the things of the self that the reality of being alive resides and this Paul shows us in the opening idea from our selection through which he tells us that “they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit“. The stark contrast of one’s focus IS highlighted for us here but the doctrinal thinker DOES NOT see this because he IS shown to believe that by his doctrines, by his proclaiming to be “born again“, that he IS minding “the things of the Spirit“. The average man including the doctrinal Christian IS ever seeking after the comfort of the flesh and in this he IS surely minding “the things of the flesh“. The average man IS consistently seeking after those things that the Master tells us that we should forsake; this we see in Jesus’ words saying that “every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29). While doctrines focus upon the ideas of receiving, the Master’s message is forsaking. We should understand here that the receiving idea IS at best anecdotal as it IS NOT intended to say that men shall “receive a hundredfold” of the ideas mentioned, fathers, houses etc., but rather “manifold more” (Luke 18:30) as Luke shows us with the idea of more being in relation to the idea of forsaking and NOT the things forsaken. For the inspired Christian this should bring us closer to the reality of Jesus’ admonishment that we “take no thought for your lives” than the actual giving up of the things which one has. This latter idea, the actual giving up of those things which ARE one’s possessions IS more aptly directed at the man who seeks the fullness of the Truth and of the Kingdom which IS the reality of Jesus’ parable saying “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). Here the man will give up ALL that he has of value for the Kingdom which idea should be understood in the combination of the Master’s sayings that ARE our trifecta; repeating Jesus’ words we read:
- “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him . He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).
In these three sayings we have the reality of the sameness of His Presence, the Truth and the Kingdom; we should KNOW that these ideas ARE NOT separable; ALL ARE the result of keeping His words. We should try to understand that the difference between the Master’s words saying “Take no thought for your life” (Luke 12;22) and the idea of forsaking ALL IS but a matter of degree and that the former will, in the heart of the True follower of Christ, inevitably lead to the latter which Jesus frames for us in terms of True discipleship saying “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple….So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27, 33). The force of this idea of forsaking has been much diluted by the church save for a few isolated sects that may take vows of poverty, but the reality IS very much True as we can see in the Way of His apostles of whom Peter says “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee” (Matthew 19:27). We should try to see that this idea of forsaking ALL is not a option but rather a requirement for ALL who seek the fullness of Christ and that this forsaking IS an integral part of His words that we must keep for the same reasons. Perhaps we can NOT get past the idea of “Take no thought for your life” but we should understand that to DO this; to sincerely NOT think about one’s place in this world or one’s tomorrow, IS the first step on the Path to Truth through keeping His words. So long as we ARE caught in the vanity, caught in the “bondage of corruption” through attractions and desires to things of this world, we should see ourselves in James words that call us “adulterers and adulteresses” (James 4:4); in these words we should see ourselves offering our allegiance to the world rather than to the Truth that IS our God and IS Love. Here we should see the reality of that idea of friendship that IS rendered from the Greek words phila and philo as we discussed at the start of this essay. We should understand here that the apostle IS speaking to the duality of men and to those who may see this duality in their lives. When one sees and understands this sense of duality, he can also see his own adulterous behavior which IS founded in his preference for mammon over God and “treasures upon earth” over “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:24, 19, 20). This IS the natural way of men who live in the vanity, the illusion and the glamour, that IS Life in this world, a Life which IS continually complicated by one’s continuous indoctrination into the ways of the world and into his sense of religion. It IS unfortunate that few see and understand this sense of duality which IS NOT taught in the church nor in secular society. While so many profess to KNOW God, the reality IS that this IS NOT possible without understanding this duality and the opposing poles of carnal and spiritual….the self in this world versus the things of God. This brings us to a greater clarity of Paul’s words to Titus and an understanding that without our understanding of the role of duality, one IS among those of whom Paul writes “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). We should see here that the nature of this man that Paul describes IS the nature of men who ONLY see their carnal existence while professing that this carnality IS spiritual. ALL that is DONE in the world IS contrary to the Truth of good works which must perforce be centered in one’s expression of agape and NOT in those things that may satisfy a man according to his doctrines.
We should understand that this KNOWING, which IS the result of keeping His words as Jesus tells us in our trifecta, includes a real understanding of heaven, of the Kingdom of God, and and of one’s True relationship with the Godhead. None of this IS understood by the church who yet sees God through the eyes of the Jews interpretations of Him. The Master spends much time teaching about the Kingdom but His words, parabolic as they ARE, have NOT been rightly interpreted by men who still see that Kingdom as a place, a specific place for some, where the Christian will go when he dies. For many the glamour of vanity has created a doctrine that it IS ONLY the Christian who can achieve this place. Few see, and the church denies, the reality of the Kingdom Within according to Jesus’ words saying “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Most deny this idea in much the same way that they deny the True understanding of Christ Within as they assign such ONLY to the doctrinally “born again” Christian. The glamour of Christianity, the way that the whole religion sets itself apart from the whole in much the same way as the Jews saw themselves as God’s people, IS perhaps the root cause of its failure to bring the Truth of Christ to the world of men. A Truth that is lost in the doctrinal wranglings of those who have taken authority over the spiritual lives of the masses. To these James warns us “be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all” (James 3:1, 2) and if we can understand this offence in Jesus’ terms of “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” we can then understand much. There IS another saying by the Master that IS shown us in different terms by the gospel writers; in these we can see the synonymous nature of KNOWING and the Kingdom and well as the reality that men, as teachers, have offended their ‘disciples’ by teaching their own carnal ideas over the Truth of God. Jesus says, according to Luke “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (Luke 11:52) while according to Matthew His words ARE “woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). While the church DOES NOT generally align these sayings, perhaps because they ARE NOT addressed to the same class, we should see that these ARE saying the same thing and that there IS little difference between the scribe and the lawyer. Thayer’s tells us that the lawyer IS: one learned in the law, in the N. T. an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic law 9. Of the scribe Thayer’s tells us: a man learned in the Mosaic law and in the sacred writings, an interpreter, teacher 9 and in these defining ideas we should see a sense of sameness. There IS much to be understood in the conflating of these two presentations of the Truth from these apostles. First that “the key of knowledge” and “the kingdom of heaven” ARE synonymous in these sayings which ARE but different interpretations of the Master’s words and intent. We should understand that the idea of the key IS as we understand it, as the critical way of unlocking a thing be it a lock or a concept; Strong’s defines kleis as: a key (as shutting a lock), literally or figuratively 9a. Further, the word ginosko which IS rendered as knowledge IS the root word for gnosis which IS rendered in terms of KNOWING and as KNOW in Jesus words saying “If ye continue in my word….ye shall know the truth” from our trifecta. Can we see here how that Luke IS showing us the Master’s words as saying that these lawyers “have taken away the key of knowledge” which IS the teaching that one should keep the words of the Lord rather than the mitzvah that they were teaching? We can see the same ideas in Matthew’s treatment of the Master’s words and this through another part of our trifecta. Matthew accuses the scribes and Pharisees saying that “ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men” and in this we should be able to easily see Jesus’ words saying “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven“. Can we see how that the scribes and Pharisees call God Lord, Lord yet DO NOT teach the Truth of the law and the commandments as they emphasize their mitzvah and in so DOING they “neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in“? The point here IS made clear through a right understanding of the Master’s words: that the scribes, the lawyers and the Pharisees, most ALL of the Jews’ religious teachers, taught ONLY their doctrinal view and this IS a point that Jesus emphasizes throughout the gospels. And our accusation of the church today IS the same: most ALL teach ONLY their doctrinal ideas and which ARE placed before the Truth of His words. Most ALL teaching IS contrary to the Great Commission which most doctrinal thinkers hold so high yet completely misunderstand. Most ALL continue “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” in place of the Truth. The Master’s instruction that IS found in Jesus’ declaration to His apostles tells them that they should be “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20) and NOT any form of “another gospel: Which is not another” (Galatians 1:6, 7). We should of course conflate this instruction with Jesus’ words saying “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20); reading these together we can see how that this Great Commission was intended distribute the Truth of His words to men.
In the last essay we briefly discussed the reality of God in relation to man and the doctrinal ideas that see ONLY the Transcendental view of the Lord despite their ideas of the Holy Spirit or Jesus or the Christ being a factor in the lives of Christians….”born again” Christians to be sure. From this we again cited the reality of the separation of the carnal from the spiritual that we find in the apostles’ words on one’s “friendship of the world” and on the “carnal mind“; both ARE shown us as “enmity against God“. And this IS how we began this essay, with these most salient points that CAN NOT really be misunderstood. This leaves the idea that these points ARE merely ignored by men who choose to see themselves as NOT being “a friend of the world” and as NOT having a “carnal mind” and this despite the reality that their very conduct proves them to be both. We should remember that it IS the vanity and the illusion and glamour that the vanity spawns that keeps men in bondage. We should remember as well that such illusions and glamour ARE universal in scope and that these afflict ALL men; this IS the reality of Paul’s words saying “the creature was made subject to vanity“. The Greek word ktisis which IS rendered here as creature should always be seen in terms of creation including in those places where the King James translators use other renderings. Here the idea of ktisis should be seen as both the creation and what IS created and we should understand as well that the reference IS likely to ALL and NOT ONLY the human family. The whole of the creation IS, as Vincent defines vanity, in: a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends and it IS this idea of being separate from God that IS highlighted by the apostles’ ideas on “friendship of the world” and on the “carnal mind“. We should try to see how that the “natural man” that Paul shows us IS in this same “bondage of corruption“; as a man he IS on the creation side of the equation. It IS ONLY when the spiritual inner man, the unction and the Christ Within, becomes his expression of Truth and Love that he can enter “into the glorious liberty of the children of God” which IS that same freedom of which Jesus tells us “the truth shall make you free“. It IS this inner man that has and IS Truly “the mind of Christ” and while ALL men have this unction by which “ye know all things” (1 John 2:20)”, few there ARE that can express this through their Life in this world. This IS NOT the expression of the “natural man” nor the doctrinally religious man who IS also yet a “natural man“; this IS the expression of some greater degree of “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” of which Paul tells us of Jesus that “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). It IS not difficult to surmise what measure of an expression of Truth and Love qualifies a man to actually “have the mind of Christ“; the reality of this IS written in His words. The most evident place to find this reality IS in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and while the church sees His words here as lofty ideals, they ARE in fact commandments and the prima facie reality in keeping His words. Jesus tries to show us how that His words will affect a man in the closing of the Sermon according to Matthew where we read a NOT so parabolic parable saying:
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).
The Master’s point here IS clear. And we should NOT presume that He means ONLY these sayings that precede as the Sermon on the Mount but rather ALL of His words. We should see here also that the basis for ALL of His subsequent teaching in these gospels IS founded in the Truths that ARE found therein. The entire basis for Christianity IS in these words that ARE Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and we should try to see how that these precepts ARE also the foundation of every world religion. While the fundamental precept IS Love, the expression of agape to ALL men universally, Jesus tells us that this expression IS ONLY possible though one’s ardent focus upon the things of God, a focus by which men must forsake their carnal attachments and bring to bear the great Truths of the Great Commandments. It IS because of the totality of this enterprise, the necessary fullness of one’s focus upon the Truth, that the doctrines of men have been created as a hedge against the reality that IS the Truth of the Master’s words. While the doctrinal thinker may believe himself to be “born again“, that he has “the mind of Christ” and that his idea of ‘salvation‘ frees him from the need to “mortify the deeds of the body“, NONE of this IS demonstrably True. It IS ever True that “every tree is known by his own fruit” and the test of every True believer and follower IS found in Jesus’ rhetorical question that asks “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:44, 46).
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 1 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1828 and 1913 from https://1828.mshaffer.com/
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
- * Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher