All Christians profess to love Jesus. And Jesus loves us or He would not have willingly sacrificed His earthly life so we could have eternal life.
There is only one problem in the reciprocal love equation. We know we can trust Christ’s love, for He is incapable of lying. And His love witness, the Crucifixion, proves beyond doubt that He does indeed love us far beyond what we deserve, which is why salvation is a gift – for there is nothing we could possibly do on our own to earn everlasting life. “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV)
But what about our love for Him? We say we love Him, but all too often act as if we are nothing more than non-believers who go to church on Sunday. So how can we know if our love is true spiritual devotion or a deceptive worldly facade? The answer lies in 1 John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth,” and Matthew 7:20, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
It is not our verbal claims that matter, but how we conduct our lives that prove or disprove our love. But what acts are in keeping with His definition of love, the only definition that matters? Thankfully, God’s Word gives us the guidance we seek. Absent His guidance we’d all have differing personal interpretations, most of which would be wrong. That is why the Bible tells us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;” (Proverbs 3:5)
The bottom-line on the matter of loving the Lord is contained in John 14:21; “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” and John 14:24; “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” Nothing could be clearer. One word says it all – obedience. Christ said that if we love Him we will obey Him. He then goes further and says if we don’t obey Him we don’t love Him.
If you have doubts, the matter is revisited in Hebrews 5:8-9; “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Here we learn two critical facets of the importance of obedience. First, even our Lord and Savior had to obey to be perfected, so we cannot be foolishly arrogant and erroneously believe we can, in principle, do less. Secondly, through His suffering Christ became the author of salvation for those who obey Him. Conversely, nowhere in the Bible can be found an author of salvation for the disobedient.
Does that mean we must be perfect to be saved. Of course not. But we must be striving to be perfect, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) And we must repent of our sins as Jesus said in Luke 13:3; “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
No matter how we look at this, obedience to the Lord is the very definition of our love for Him. We cannot deceive Him with a meaningless faux-faith. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Being a true believer means we love the Lord. Not sometimes. Not only when it’s convenient. But all the time. Yes we will stumble, but there is a substantive difference between temporary human frailty and continued sin. Repented sin is a debt that Has been paid by the Resurrection, continued sin is never forgiven. Never. “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” (Hebrews 10:26).
Here’s the biblical truth – if you’re lying, cheating, stealing, committing adultery, or whatever your continued un-repented sin, JESUS SAYS YOU DON’T LOVE HIM.