Love True And Lasting

Section two of Chapter 3 is called: “On the Admission of the Passions into Religion.” In this section Wilberforce investigates the suitable role of the “passions” in religion, specifically of Christianity. In the following quote, Wilberforce determines what is to be the proper criterion or standard by which the particular “passion” called “love” is to be judged:

“But the passion, which alone the Holy Scriptures dignify with the name of love, is a deep, not a superficial feeling; a fixed and permanent, not an occasional emotion. It proves the validity of its title, by actions corresponding with its nature, by practical endeavours to gratify the wishes and to promote the interests of the object of affection. ‘If a man love me, he will keep my sayings.’ ‘This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.’ This therefore is the best standard by which to try the quality, or, the quality being ascertained, to estimate the strength of the religious affections” (Wilberforce).

I’m not exactly sure what Wilberforce is saying about “fixed and permanent” contrasted with “occasional emotion,” and so I will just quote some Scripture regarding true and unfeigned love for our brothers and sisters in Christ:

“…in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently” (Romans 12:10)

“Now as to brotherly love, you have no need for me to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9).

“Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

“Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone not practicing righteousness is not of God; also the one not loving his brother…We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. The one not loving the brother remains in death. Everyone hating the brother is a murderer, and you know that every murderer does not have everlasting life abiding in him. By this we have known the love of God, because that One laid down His life for us; and on behalf of the brothers we ought to lay down our lives. Whoever has the means of life of the world, and sees his brother having need, and shuts up his heart of compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:10, 14-18).

And some passages on true and unfeigned love for the Triune God of Scripture:

“If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. The Lord comes!” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

“And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

“If you love Me, keep My commandments…He that has My commandments and keeps them, it is that one who loves Me; and the one that loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and will reveal Myself to him. Judas said to Him, not the Iscariot, Lord, what has happened that You are about to reveal Yourself to us and not at all to the world? Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father shall love him. And We will come to him and will make a dwelling place with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My Words. And the Word which you hear is not Mine but of the Father who sent Me” (John 14:15, 21-24).

The passages in John are especially moving — we love Jesus and ardently desire to keep His commandments that we might magnify Him for all that He has done in saving us from our sins. When we falter by sinning against Him it grieves us, and we repent and strive to live for righteousness with a heightened awareness of our weakness and the need for His strength to live a life that would glorify Him:

“…who Himself carried up in His body our sins onto the tree; that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness, of whom by His wound you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

“And by the superabundance of the revelations, that I not be made arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet me, that I not be made haughty. Beyond this I entreated the Lord three times, that it depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will rather gladly boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me. Because of this, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in dire needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for the sake of Christ. For when I may be weak, then I am powerful” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

“Then having a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the confession. For we do not have a high priest not being able to sympathize with our weaknesses but One having been tried in all respects according to our likeness, apart from sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for timely help” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

“Now the God of Peace, He leading up out of the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus, perfect you in every good work, in order to do His will, doing in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

“Then be humbled under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in time; casting all your anxiety onto Him, because it matters to Him concerning you. Be sensible, watch, because your adversary the Devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone he may devour; whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are being completed in your brotherhood in the world. Now the God of all grace, the One calling you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, you having suffered a little, Himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen, establish you. To Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).

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