It is interesting to note that the word unconditional is not found in the King James Bible and yet there has grown a belief within the modern church that God’s love is unconditional. This doctrine has in fact led to many problems for the Body of Christ as it contradicts the word of God and it places a belief upon individuals that they must love in such manner. Those who perpetuate this myth lay a burden upon others that God has not demanded. Such persons are guilty of these words of Christ: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matt 23:4) Those that cry the loudest that we are to love unconditionally cannot fulfill the task themselves and this in essence brands them a hypocrite. To attempt such effort of love can lead to ultimate failure, guilt, shame and forms of self-condemnation that Satan desires to see us heap upon ourselves. Such a state keeps us from the freedom existing in Christ Jesus and the freedom to love in such manners as He has commanded we truly do.
Many about the church use the Greek word agape to define an unconditional love they say we are to express. Webster’s dictionary defines agape as ‘a spontaneous self-giving love expressed freely without calculation of cost or gain to the giver, or merit on the part of the receiver’. Examples given are the love of God for man and Christian brotherly love in its highest form. This does not state as many believe that agape love is unconditional. Unconditional is defined as ‘not limited in any manner: not bound by restrictions or qualifications’. The word agape is used in several different ways in the Bible for the word love. In opposition to popular belief agape is not an unconditional love but primarily refers to a direct expression of love by the will of God. It is God’s nature to love and He loves with an act of His will like that shown when “God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”(Ro 5:8). The love of God is only known by the actions it prompts, the events it transpires or results of its presence. Jesus Christ is the personification of God’s perfect love that is freely given to man if he chooses to receive it. (Ho 14:4) God does not force this love on us and we are not to try force His love upon others. We can tell them of His love and show them His love through our actions, but we can never make them accept His love. But as God expresses agape love so are we to do as well. We are to determine through an act of our will to love our brothers, our neighbors and our enemies as commanded in the Word. This requires first our obedience and obedience is the only thing that is unconditional when you come to examining the love of God as shown in the Bible. We shall prove this through a few points surrounding God’s love for we know “God is love” and this infinite God can express Himself in an infinite number of ways. (1John 4:7)
1. We repeatedly hear in the church that it was because of God’s unconditional love for us that He sent His Son to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sin. The scripture most frequently quoted as proof is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that whomsoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The giving of the Son was for redemption of man so we might have eternal life with Christ, but the one big condition attached to receiving this eternal life is our belief in Jesus. This eternal life with Christ is an expression of God’s love through the free gift of salvation and salvation is not something one can earn the right to have; (Eph 2:8-9) but the consequence of making the wrong decision if you are only one ‘given the power to become a son of God through belief upon His name” is eternity in the lake of fire. The love of God seen through the sending of the Son thus has a major condition attached in the potential result for wrong decision. This love is not unconditional.
2. The way we prove our love for Jesus and the condition attached to our being loved by the Father and the Son is our obedience to His commandments. “He that hath my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21) We will only live in the love of Jesus if we do keep His commandments. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” (John 15:10)
3. The following scripture makes it abundantly clear that one needs to fear God, to keep His covenant and to obey His commandments in order to receive His mercy and righteousness. These blessings as expressions of the love of God require deliberate actions on our part and they are not unconditional. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalms 103:17-18)
4. The freedom from condemnation and the state of love this entails with God is dependent upon the condition that we remain in Jesus and in a walk of righteousness led of the Holy Spirit. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Ro 8:1) If we backslide and walk in the flesh we shall know the condemnation of the Lord. But remember this condemnation is censure which should lead to repentance and positive growth in Christ. Condemnation is not damnation, for damnation is everlasting punishment. So, when you face a condemning or censuring spirit you face a correcting spirit sent of the Lord and it is time to judge your own actions. As the word says, if we judge ourselves we shall not be judged. (2Ti 4:8) Free will exists with God as He gives us choices and states the results if the wrong choices are made. In doing this He is a just and merciful God.
5. Having wisdom is conditional upon our fear of the Lord and obedience to His word. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures forever.” (Ps 111: 10)
6. Having the friendship of Jesus is conditional upon our obedience to him. “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
Repeatedly we see in the Biblical record that both our loving God and His loving us has the condition placed upon it of our obedience to His word in some form or another. Such love certainly is not unconditional. Unconditional means no qualifications of any kind. As stated, “God is love and this is love, that we walk after His commandments.” (1Jn 4:7, 2Jn 6) You are neither in obedience to God nor showing His love when you suggest or teach that God’s love is unconditional. Such teaching is a deception that may cause you to pay a heavy price through the loss of eternal rewards by your walking in disobedience to Jesus. Such talk reinforces such thinking as ‘being a good person is good enough to get me to heaven’. People that come to think in such manner do not see having to walk in Biblical obedience as being necessary to their eternal security or their starting position within the Millennial Kingdom nor the Kingdom of Heaven. Whereas, Biblical reality is that God’s love for us and our love for Him is completely conditional to our acts of obedience to His word. God commands that we prove our love for Him through our actions of love for others and that in itself again demands our obedience. A good case sample is his treatment of Peter where he commanded him three times to feed His sheep. (John 21:15-17) Jesus was not simply looking for Peter to say ‘I love you’. Jesus repeated his command to Peter as a demand of action to prove his words and to make the point through scripture for us. Our Lord’s words are crystal clear: “If you love me keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Jesus stated: “This people draw nigh unto me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt 15:8-9) This condition of ‘lip service only’ is that of the modern church teaching its tradition of unconditional love while unable to display such state of love themselves. You cannot display what God has not created and the best-intentioned attempts to do so ultimately end in frustration and failure. God’s love is not unconditional and when you teach or believe such doctrine you perpetuate a lie. Desist from such action and speak the truth of His word; and by doing this you will gather in the harvest that speaking the fullness of the truth brings. Do not unwittingly continue to serve the ends of the father of lies through further distortion of God’s word. Do you truly believe that you can love in a manner that God does not? God does not love unconditionally. He chooses who, how, when, where and why He loves in accordance to His nature. You have the choice of obedience to Him through displaying His love as actually commanded. All your words are important and when you speak of God they are not casual chatter but have eternal results. “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment, for by thy words thou shall be justified and by thy words thou shall be condemned.” (Matt 12: 36-37) If you reject the knowledge that God’s love is not unconditional you are being robbed by the devil and joining the ranks of the hypocrites. In essence you are being robbed of your heritage in Christ Jesus. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shall be no more priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6) “Now, consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.” (Ps 50: 22-23) It is time to order your conversation aright. Choose this day to reject traditions of men and walk in true obedience to the word of God for obedience is the greatest way there is to show your love for both God and man.
The Greatest of the Great
We know that we should obey God because we love him, we want Him to love us and obedience is greater than any form of sacrifice or giving we might make. (John 14:21) “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1Sa 15: 22-23) People who are knowingly disobedient to God’s word are liars for “he that says I know him and keeps not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1Jn 2:4) Within the love that is God we find all righteousness and God only rewards actions of righteousness that are occasioned by this love. Obedience to God’s word brings forth blessings and disobedience drags death into our existence. “If you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, than you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a holy kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Ex 20:5-6) “If ye are willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isa 1: 19-20)
Obedience demands we speak only the truth, so stop speaking, teaching and preaching that Gods’ love is unconditional or suffer the eternal results for your disobedience. You have been informed and warned.