“This is my command: Love each other.” – John 15:17
Christ repeats the command to love each other. It is by love that believers are held together, and love is the mark of true believers. Jesus repeats this command because He knows of the many false Christians who would come, praising faith with fine talk and putting on a great show but without backing any of it up. It’s no different than how God’s name is profaned and used for evil and how, in the Church, the things that are holy are abused and misused — often in the name of “love” (which isn’t really love) — so too are faith, hope, love, and good works abused for a show and to deceive. After all, the devil does not want to be as dark as he is; he wants to shine and glow like God’s Word, the Christian church, faith, hope and love, because this is how he deceives. He wants us to think his ways are loving and godly when in reality they are monstrous and without God.
Our Lord teaches us that the faith is more than fine words but it must also produce Christian fruit. Where these fruits aren’t evident, or where the opposite exists, Christ is not present. And the love our Lord commands us to exhibit isn’t permissive love or lifestyle-affirming love. That’s not love! That is the devil’s masquerade of love, but not love. Churches that practice open communion for the sake of “love” are, in actuality, being quite unloving and leading many astray into the delusion that God doesn’t care what His children believe or how they live their lives. This sort of love is a worldly love and Christ is not present in such things. For no loving father would permit his child to run out into moving traffic but would stop him, take him back to the house and may even punish him for his foolishness, and no loving father would support a child’s verbal mistreatment of his siblings or mother, but that father would certainly set the child right because the father loves the child and the family. Likewise, our heavenly Father loves us when He disciplines us, limits us, and curbs our behavior so that we learn to love as He does, and we learn to be one church under one confession of faith. This is true love, and the same love our Lord commands us to have. It’s never a permissive love or a “look the other way” love, but true love is exhibited in good works which include rightly using the holy things of God for the sake of others. Godly love is not always a comfortable or easy love, but it is a right love because it is of God. Devilish, worldly love is always eager to please, eager to compromise, eager to go against God and His Word just to appease and make itself seem good, but it never leads to anything worthwhile.
Faith and true love must be shown by good works. No, good works are certainly not required for salvation, but they necessarily follow faith because faith is not useless, deaf, dead, or decaying. This is genuine faith, and where there is genuine faith, there is true love, and this faith and love are evident in a person’s life.
Loving Father in heaven, though I sin much and constantly require Your grace, I pray You, teach me to love as Christ commands, and where my love is darkened by worldliness and untruthfulness, give me Your Spirit so that I might learn to love rightly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.