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God Is Love (Among Other Things) Part 2 - 1 John 4:7-12

The motivation behind everything God does is His unbreakable love for justice and mercy. God hates sin specifically because He loves righteousness and justice.

1 John 4:7-12; Deuteronomy 32:35,39 & 43; 2 Corinthians 13:11-12; Revelation 19:11-15; Psalm 104:10-23, 27-30; Psalm 33:1-5; Romans 3:10-12; Jude 1:14-15; 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 33:5.

Jan 11, 2015 12:00 AM

MP3 audio icon God-Is-Love-Among-Other-Things-Part-2_01-11-2015.mp3 — MP3 audio, 18631 kB (19078200 bytes)

I want to read two passages of scripture to you and I want you to tell me which one you like more.  I’ll begin with a couple of verses from our text today in 1 John 4:

[7] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. [8] Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 ESV)
[35] Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’   
[43] “Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods,
for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries.  He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people's land.”
(Deuteronomy 32:35 & 43 ESV)

Which of those two passages do you like more?  Let me give you two more.  Tell me which passage appeals to you more:

[11] Finally, brothers, rejoice.  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. [12] Greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12 ESV)
[11] Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!  The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. [12] His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. [13] He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

[14] And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. [15] From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (Revelation 19:11-15 ESV)

Which passage do you prefer?  The one about greeting one another with a holy kiss?  Or the one about treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty?  Which one is better?  Which one makes you feel better?  Which one is more palatable?

Let me be more precise.  As a Christian, which do you prefer: The love of God or the wrath of God?  The mercy of God or the vengeance of God?  Or do you even have a preference?

As a Christian, having a preference between the love of God and the vengeance of God is not an option.  God is not schizophrenic, or bi-polar.  He doesn’t have some kind of Multiple Personality Disorder.  God loves, and God hates.  God is merciful, and God will punish the wicked.  God is forgiving, and God loves justice.  God will save many from their sins, and God will condemn many for their sins.  

We do not have an option to choose some attributes or characteristics of God which seem more acceptable to us over others that appear to be more distasteful.  That is not an option.  We must accept God for who He is, not for who or what we think He should be.  Once again, we read in Deuteronomy:

[39] “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
(Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV)

Which do you prefer: The God who kills, or the God who makes alive?  The God who wounds, or the God who heals?  The fact is, we can have no preference, because the true God is all of these things.  God is good, and He is to be feared.  God is kind, and He hates sin.  God is love, and He is angry with the wicked every day.  God kills and He makes alive.  God wounds and He heals.  He is not one or the other.  He is both/and.  

But one thing is very important: The Scriptures do not say “God is Justice”, or “God is Kindness” or  “God is Wrath”.  But the Scriptures DO say “God is Love”.  And we tend to think we human beings, and more specifically, God’s own chosen people are the sole objects of His love.  In a particular biblical sense, that is true.  We are the unique recipients of a peculiar kind of love expressed by the Greek word “agape”.  We spoke about that last week.

But we are not the only objects of the love of God  The Father loves the Son.  We read that in several places in the New Testament: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

We know that God also loves and cares for His creation.  Look with me at Psalm 104:

[10] You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
[11] they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
[12] Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
[13] From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
[14] You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
[15]     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.

[16] The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
[17] In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has her home in the fir trees.
[18] The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
[19] He made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.

[20] You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
[21] The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
[22] When the sun rises, they steal away
and lie down in their dens.
[23] Man goes out to his work
and to his labor until the evening.

[27] These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
[28] When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
[29] When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
[30] When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
(Psalm 104:10-23, 27-30 ESV)

God loves His people, He loves His Son, He loves His creation.  But there are other things He loves which are not so tangible:

[1] Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
[2] Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
[3] Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
[4] For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
[5] He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
(Psalm 33:1-5 ESV)

God loves righteousness and justice, he loves what is right and good.  He even gives us our standard for what is morally right or wrong based upon what He deems to be right or wrong, good or evil, acceptable or unacceptable.  God Himself is the final determiner of justice and goodness.  

So God loves us as His people, God loves the Son (or we could say there is an expression of love among the members of the Trinity), God loves His creation, and God loves righteousness and justice.  All of this flows from the fact that God IS love.  All of these aspects of love reside in John’s huge three-word phrase.

Because God loves righteousness and justice, then it is easy to understand His attitude toward unrighteousness and injustice, the very things that best characterize the entire human race:

[10] as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
[11]     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
[12] All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
(Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

We are by nature unrighteous.  All of us.  None of us are good.  None of us love like God loves.  We prefer unrighteousness to righteousness.  We prefer injustice to justice.  So it should come as no surprise to read of the coming judgment:

[14] . . . “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, [15] to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14-15 ESV)

God hates ungodliness and will judge the ungodly and the unrighteous because of love.  It is God’s love of what is right that drives Him to hate what is evil and to punish those who love sin.

So when we say that God hates sin and will judge sinners, that is not inconsistent with John’s statement, God is love.  God’s love does not preclude Him from hating sin.  On the contrary, the love of God is the very basis for His hatred for sin.  God hates sin precisely because He loves righteousness and justice. God will judge the ungodly specifically because He is love and He loves godliness.  

I believe it is true that God’s love of righteousness and justice and truth and godliness in a very real sense supersedes his love for sinners.  Even in His salvation of sinners, His righteousness and justice is maintained, at the expense of the life of His own Son.  Christ has to die to satisfy God’s love of justice.  This is why Paul tells us that God is both just AND the justifier of all who believe in Jesus Christ.  Righteousness and justice MUST be maintained!  But not all sinners will be saved.

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13 ESV)

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness . . . (Isaiah 33:5 ESV)

Q: - How can God be love and not save all men?  How can God be love and not grant salvation to all people?
A: - God’s condemnation of sin and sinners and death is a display of His love of righteousness and justice and truth.  God shows the extent of His love of righteousness by condemning all the unrighteous, all those to whom He has not granted the righteousness of Christ, forever.

God is love.  That is the foundation upon which all of His actions and decrees are built.  It is the love of God that motivates all that He does.  He loves the people He has chosen to be His own.  The Godhead loves itself.  God loves the world He has made and provides for His creatures.  But more than all of that, God loves righteousness and justice.  He loves what is good.  Consequently, He hates all that is evil.  His love of what is right motivates His hatred for everything ungodly, including ungodly people.

Which do you prefer: the love of God or the hatred of God?  The fact is, you cannot have one without the other.  God hates because He loves.  Because He is love.

[7] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. [8] Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. [9] In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

[10] In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12 ESV)



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