As we noted in Part 1, the love of God is but many are looking for love and purpose in life in the wrong places. In reality, both unconditional love (agape) and friendship love (phileo) originate from because love originates in God. Thankfully, we can love others In fact, God was loving all of us even while we were still sinners, rebels rejecting His pursuing love.
What should be our response to the love of God through Jesus Christ? It can be nothing less than a commitment to give up the right to ourselves so that God can take the throne of our lives. In short, our response to God’s loving pursuit should be repentance.
My Response to God’s Love: Repentance
When I come and look upon the Cross of Christ, I see the raw, naked exposure of the horrible consequence of my sin. There, a holy God motivated by His love for me and for the world, yet unable to overlook sin, placed it upon the perfect God-Man, Jesus Christ. At the Cross, the penalty of my sin was satisfied at an infinite cost to God—the suffering, abandonment, and death of His beloved Son. Here was death of the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3: 18). I can only come to God through faith and repentance.
United in Christ’s Death, Raised in His Likeness: Atonement
By repentance and confession of sin, we identify with the suffering and death of Christ. But how do repentance and God’s atonement come about in a person’s life? The short answer is that God’s Spirit is responsible from beginning to end. Again, explains: “The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance crashing into a man’s respectable goodness; then the Holy Spirit, Who produces these agonies, begins the formation of the Son of God in the life.” Chambers describes the true repentance which brings our atonement (think “at-one-ment”) with God as follows: “Conviction of sin, the marvel of forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God’s grace.”
|"Then your love for me will be in them, and|
I will be in them." - John 17: 26
Set Apart, to Abide in His Love: Sanctification
Although we want to consistently obey, God knows that we still live in earthly bodies that bear the marks of the fall of Adam, prone to wander away from Him and His truth. But if we have died to sin and become united with Christ in His death, we have all the resources of the Triune God who prays for us, loves us, and teaches us through the Word (Romans 8). Personally, when I read and meditate on Christ’s intercessory prayer to God the Father, in John 17, I can feel the arms of God around me—arms of protection ready to draw me away from evil, and arms of love to welcome me into God’s love. For example, in one part of Jesus’s prayer, He asks His Father to make us holy, or sanctify us (set us apart), by His Word (emphasis mine):
They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth (John 17: 16-19 NLT).
A Living and Loving Sacrifice, Offered in God’s Temple
I have been thinking much about how the truths of repentance, atonement, and sanctification should affect my day-to-day spiritual walk as a Christ-follower. First, it helps me to remember the Apostle Paul’s strong urging that, in light of the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living (not dead) and holy (not blemished or stained) sacrifice… And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…(Romans 12: 1-2). Elaborating on the notion of our bodies as a living, holy sacrifice, Paul asks us in 1 Corinthians 6: 19, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
My second point in attempting to apply God’s atonement in my life hinges on the first. If my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit of God, then I should be continually asking myself, “Do I regularly strive to be conscious of the presence of God’s Spirit in the temple of my body?” I think of it this way: We have all been in a party or reception where we sensed an absence of the values and behavior that we would consider God-honoring. If we are Spirit-filled, it’s as if we can sense that the Spirit of God is grieved by what is happening. Conversely, when we are among fellow Christ-followers, the conversation and values being shared should be uplifting. If so, there ought to be a bond among us based on our common joy in the love of Christ.
What is my point? It is this: My thoughts, words, and actions should be such that my body and life as God’s temple are a pleasant sanctuary for the Holy Spirit to live within—not like a party or reception with an atmosphere that is godless and grievous to the Holy Spirit.
In summary to this fourth article on real love, God invites us to come to the Cross of Christ as revealed in the Gospels. There, we stand in awe before this horrible scene of suffering and death where God’s justice was met and satisfied by His mercy and love. There, God’s Spirit does His work--the conviction of sin in our life that brings repentance and the formation of the Son of God as we are “born again.” With a new heart and Master, we continually exercise the spiritual disciplines (prayer, time in the Word, fellowship, and service) necessary to maintain our body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
to the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” is a fitting prayer of submission and repentance that leads to forgiveness and the embrace of God’s love:
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
How About You? We are all “dying to be loved” whether we realize it or not. May your response and mine be to die to sin and self-ish-ness, and be renewed in the power of God’s Spirit. Maybe you have never come to the Cross of Christ in repentance and confession that you are a lost sinner in need of forgiveness of your sin. If not, may I refer you to which explains how you can become a Christ-follower according to the Bible? Then, you can experience the greatest Gift of Christmas, Immanuel—“God with us.” God with you! God in you--through His abiding Holy Spirit. And, if you have questions, please contact me at email@example.com