Bible Study Notes:

Spiritual Weapons:

# 13 Love, Part 2


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 8 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
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OK, we've been studying spiritual warfare, specifically our weapons, for several weeks now. Some believe there is only ONE weapon, and that is the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. And it's true that it is our major weapon.

But there is huge arsenal of weapons that are found in the Word and the Lord has been opening up some of them to me as I go. At first I had 3, then 7, then 10, now it's about 20, and I say keep them coming! Glory!

Last time we talked about how Weapon # 13 - Love - which is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We discussed the fact that this type of love, agape in the Greek, is not emotion based, therefore we can love those we normally wouldn't "feel like" loving.

Romans 5: 5-8 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

We also talked about the Greek has 3 words for love: eros, phileo, and agape, which are all translated "love" in our English Bibles. Who can tell me what "eros" means?

Eros is the level of love that involves sexual attraction - it is 100% selfish and concerned with self-gratification.

What is phileo?

Phileo is brotherly love, friendship, a 50/50 kind of thing, "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine". It is a relationship based on mutual interests and affection.

This is better than eros, because at least you are thinking about other's needs to some extent. But as Jesus says, how is this different from the love that sinners display?

What is agape?

This is the best kind of love, agape, the God-kind of love, 100% unconditional, flowing out to us whether we deserve it or not. It is the love that prompted God to give us all things freely to enjoy, whether we thank Him or not. It is the love that causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

Agape is the love that compelled Jesus to the Cross to die in our place. It is the love that brought the Holy Spirit to earth to be our Counselor, Comforter, Convicter of sin, Teacher and Guide. And this is the kind of love that Jesus was talking about when He told us to love our enemies.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

We discussed the fact that agape is NOT emotion-based love. It begins with God who spreads HIS love abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We then, in turn are enabled to love those we previously (in the flesh) found unloveable - yes, even our enemies. And yes, even ourselves! Glory!

We also talked about love being a defense against worry, adversity, condemnation, rejection and intimidation. Ok, we've seen how agape, the love of God can defend us against some tricks of the enemy, but can it be used as an offensive weapon as well? I'm glad you asked that question!

2 Timothy 1:6-7 Therefore I remind you to sitr up the gift of God which is in; you through the laying on of my hands. For [because] God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

What is Paul talking about here? He was reminding Timothy to stir up the gift of God within him. What was this gift? In Timothy's case, it was the calling to minister as a pastor or an elder. We all have a ministry and a calling, and God has placed gifts within us that help us fulfill that calling.

Apparently these gifts can become dormant or inactive, thus making our ministries ineffective. That's why Paul told Timothy to "stir up" his gift. What makes our ministry gifts inactive?

Verse 7 gives us a hint: For [because] God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. It's no accident that Paul tells Timothy about the spirit of fear, in the Greek deilia, which implies timidity and cowardice, and never is used in a good sense.

Somehow Timothy had come under a spirit of timidity or intimidation, and this had affected his ministry. Have you ever been intimidated? How does a spirit of intimidation operate? It makes us feel discouraged, defeated, unworthy to fulfill our call and ministry. It usually comes into operation when someone tries to oppose what God has called us to do.

Apparently Timothy was looked down upon because of his youth, for Paul tells him in 1 Timothy 4:11-12 Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in LOVE, in faith and in purity.

Notice that Timothy's youth was not a stumbling block to his ministry as long as he set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. And that he was to "command and teach" - fulfilling his ministry and calling, and not let himself be intimidated by those older who didn't want to accept his authority.

 

I Timothy 4:13 -14 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

 

And after this, Paul tells Timothy to devote himself to his gift of preaching and teaching. What does this have to do with love? How does agape help us fulfill our calling?

Look back at 2 Timothy 1:7 For [because] God has not given us a spirit of fear [timidity, intimidation], but of power and of LOVE and of a sound mind. This tells us that intimidation is a spirit and that it is NOT from God. God has given us all a ministry and a calling, but the spirit of intimidation that comes against our ministry gift is NOT from God.

What exactly does the spirit of intimidation to do us, besides making our spiritual gifts go dormant or ineffective? It pushes us out of the place that God has given us to minister it. It makes us doubt our calling, and "stand down" in the face of adversity.

However, God has given us the ability (power) and the knowledge (sound mind) to defeat the spirit of fear, through His love - without walking in hatred towards those who oppose us via the spirit of intimidation.

So how does love rid us of this type of fear? Consider this passage: 1 John 4:16-17 "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. "

How can we have "confidence on the day of judgement"? Because we are not condemned for our misdeeds. God has declared us "not guilty" because of our acceptance of Christ's death on our behalf, so we have nothing to fear when judgement day comes.

"Love is made complete among us." To "make complete" is teleioo {tel-i-o'-o} meaning to make perfect, complete, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end, to add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full, to bring to the end (goal) proposed, or to bring to maturity.

In the KJV this is often translated "perfect", but doesn't mean perfect in the sense of being totally without flaw or sinless. Our "teleos" is maturity in Christ, no longer being "green" and sour, or "wet behind the ears".

What are some of the characteristics of a mature love, one that is complete and accomplished among us? Well, we spoke of some characteristics of love in I Corinthians 13, and here John adds another characteristic: In 1 John 4:18 we are told that "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

Here fear is phobos {fob'-os} meaning fear, dread, terror, or that which strikes terror in our hearts. John had just finished telling us that God is love and that we have nothing to fear on the day of judgement because we will not be punished for the sins that Christ has already been punished for. Why then would we still be fearful of punishment?

Perhaps from not understanding how much God really loves us, or leaving a sin unconfessed, or not letting past guilt go. To make your love complete, trust in Christ's atonement completely and cast out the fear with this knowledge of God's love.

" The one who fears is not made perfect in love." Here "made perfect" is again teleioo, meaning to become mature, complete, accomplished in agape. If you are afraid that God will punish you even after you have confessed your sins and received Jesus as savior, then you need to look at the lack of agape in your life and ask yourself why ?

Now this fear of punishment, which KJV translates as "torment" is a "handle" that the devil can and will use to defeat you. It relates to the spirit of fear or timidity or intimidation that we talked about a while ago that will hinder your gifts and calling.

So cast it out with love! Cast it out with the assurance that God loves you and has forgiven you. He has cast your sin in the sea of forgetfulness, to be remembered against you no more. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and your eternal destiny is secure.

Therefore, allow your spirit to receive that agape, that love from God and let it well up within you and cast out that fear of punishment, that spirit of intimidation that is design to defeat you. In Jesus Name!

So agape is our defense against fear in our personal life. But how is agape perfected, completed or brought to maturity "among us"? Look back to I John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but IF WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 

And verse 20 says this: If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

So love is made perfect, complete, or mature AMONG us by loving one another. And our unity is an obstacle for satan to work AMONG us. One of his primary goals is to "divide and conquer", but if we are steadfast in loving one another, then we can unite and conquer the devil!

Now if we claim to love God, but show hatred for one another, the Word says that we are liars. How do we show hatred for one another? How about these? By not receiving and accepting our brothers and sisters because of some perceived flaw or difference in doctrine, by taking offense and not walking in forgiveness, by gossiping about them, by belittling them, by not submitting to and cherishing them. The list goes on, but you see my point.

Now we talked last week about godly love, or agape, being shed abroad or poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and how this love then shaped our will to be in conformity with God's love, which leads to loving actions, and then to loving emotions. How we FEEL is unimportant in this context, it is allowing the love of God to pour in us, through us, and out of us to whomever we meet.

This is especially true for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Agape is made perfect AMONG us when we show love one for another - when we allow love to do it's full and perfect work IN us, it will flow THROUGH us, and we can walk in love and not hatred, truth and not deceit, in unity and not discord.

So if you find yourself in discord with your brothers and sisters in Christ, especially if it happens OFTEN, you are not weilding the weapon of love against the fear and hatred in your own heart, so love is blocked from flowing out to your brothers and sisters for whom Christ also died.

When the spirit of fear becomes implanted into your heart, either one of two things happen. You may withdraw from the company of the godly because you feel inadequate and inferior, "not worthy", "not good enough" to join in their praise of the Lord. OR, because of the guilt and fear, you may get on the defensive and attack your brothers and sisters, blaming them for all the problems, and trying to justify your anger, which stems not from just cause, but from the spirit of fear.

In either case you have broken unity and granted the devil permission to enter your life - where he will cause all kinds of problems and pain. And not only are you allowing fear to rule instead of love, not only are you committing the sin of hatred, but you've stepped into a new dimension of sin - discord. We tend to see strife, division and discord as the norm, and actually not a really "bad" sin at all.

But we are COMMANDED to keep unity: Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

The implied subject of a command is YOU. YOU make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Don't criticize someone else that you don't think is "up to par". The burden is on YOU. And this takes a LOT of agape - because disagreeableness seems to be the hallmark of christianity these days.

But what if so and so does such and such? That does not relieve you of YOUR responsibility to love your brother or sister, to walk in agape, to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

How do you do this? Ephesians 4:2 says " Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." There's that word agape again! And notice that a couple of other things help along this line: humility, gentleness, patience, and longsuffering. These are things that increase the power flow of the current of love in your life.

 

Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. AND OVER ALL THESE VIRTUES PUT ON LOVE, WHICH BINDS THEM ALL TOGETHER IN PERFECT UNITY.

 

Hallelujah! And Paul adds that love is the GREATEST way to achieve success in our spiritual life - greater than spiritual gifts, greater than faith, greater than hope. The power in love is unimaginable, and we can tap into it if we want to. We can flood away fear, hate, discord, and a mulititude of sin - if we have God's love, agape, for one another.

Romans 12:17b-18 Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

 

This sounds kind of weak and wimpy when you first read it, like, well, try and if it doesn’t' work out, then well, you did your best. But when I looked up the word possible, it put a whole new spin on the thing.

You see in Greek "possible" is dunatos {doo-nat-os'} meaning able, powerful, mighty, strong; mighty in wealth and influence; strong in soul to bear calamities and trials with fortitude and patience; strong in Christian virtue; to be able (to do something); mighty, excelling in something or having power for something.

And dunatos comes from same root as dunamis { doo’-nam-is} translated power, mighty work, strength, miracle, might, virtue, mighty meaning strength power, ability, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth, or power for performing miracles.

Dunamis is the power of God given to us by the Holy Spirit that enables us to do what God wants us to do! God gives us the POWER through the AGAPE LOVE poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit to love each other.

 

So let's look at this verse again. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." We could translate this - "As God enables you, gives you the strength and power [through agape], influence and virtue, live at peace with everyone." Now that sounds a little more do-able and assertive, doesn't it?
And the more that you allow the strength of agape to flow to you and in you and through you, the more able you will be to live at peace with yourself and everyone else.

 

So agape, God's love, is our defensive weapon against fear personally, and the defense against discord among the brethren. What else can agape do in our war against the father of hate, satan?

Philemon 1:7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Now the devil aways attacks us at our weak points, and sometimes his wounds are more than we can bear alone. But the agape of others can heal those wounds, restore us to joy, encourage us and refresh our hearts. So when you see someone wounded, even if it's "their fault", that is they've slipped back into some type of sin, don't wound them further with harshness and hatred.

Ask God to give you a surge of agape - and let it flow to that wounded person through a spirit of acceptance, joy, encouragement and refreshing love. And even more so to the unsaved, who may come around with vile language and offensive behavior. Don't they even need love more than believers do? And can you put up with bad behavior for the chance of wining them to Jesus by your love?

Remember this isn't the kind of love that the world offers - which is basically 100% selfish eros - seeing people as cattle to be milked for all their worth and then slaughtered to fulfill your needs. And remember that it isn't even friendliness, which is phileo, because phileo is still considering its own needs. But agape extends itself beyond your wants and needs and considers what is best for the one loved, even if you have to sacrifice to provide it.

 

Romans 12:9-10 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

 

Now some people try to "fake it until they make it". They act super sweet and really put on a good show of loving, but when it comes to the point of choosing their wants and needs over yours, their insincerity shows. This is really a form of selfishness, eros, a sapping of your spiritual strength to meet their needs under the guise of love - we must hate this tendency and cling to the REAL agape that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts. This issues in a true devotion to each other, a willingness to live with other's faults and shortcomings and considering others to be worthy of greater honor than we consider ourselves to be worth.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Love must express itself in actions, not just sweet words. And it must be expressed truthfully.

Let's look at what the flow of agape means in our lives. Jesus told us that if we live for him, it will cost us. One thing that we come up against is persecution and cursing. We must be VERY careful that our response to this is in line with agape.

Romans 12:14,17a,19 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. .. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Again, our "natural" response is to strike back when attacked, or at least get on the defensive and take on a posture of blame. But here we are commanded to take on an offensive posture of LOVE, using love to bless and not curse those who persecute us.

 

For the Christian it is never "pay back time". We do not have that option. Revenge belongs to God and not us. What do you think "leave room for God's wrath" means?

If we take it upon ourselves to revenge, we are denying God His divine priviledge, so we are presuming a right we don't have. Also we when we "get back at" someone we are not leaving room for forgiveness and redemption to work in that person's life like it has worked in our own. And we are not allowing the agape love of God room to make a change in that person's life that may lead him to repentance and regeneration, which is the only thing in the universe powerful enough to overcome evil.

Romans 12:20-21 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
On the contrary, Paul says, we are to act differently than the world does when we are offended or hurt by anyone. This was not news to the people, Paul was quoting from Proverbs 25:21-22. Besides not seeking revenge, you are to go "the second mile" that Jesus commanded, and see to the bodily needs of your enemy. Feed him, give him something to drink, let that agape the Holy Spirit has poured out in your heart extend out - do good to them that hurt you, as Jesus commanded.

 

What does "you will heap burning coals on his head" mean? This may refer to an Egyptian ritual for forgiveness of sins in which a guilty person as a sign of his repentance would carry a basin of glowing coals upon his head. Seems like that would "fry your brains", doesn't it? At any rate, in returning good for evil, and being kind to your enemy, you may cause him to repent or change.

Have you ever tried to hurt someone, and they looked at you with love in their eyes and did you an undeserved kindness? Then you felt so ashamed, that you flushed and your whole head felt hot? And that kindness on their part led you to repent and apologize - and more than that, made you desire never to be ugly like that again?

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." There is offensive power in agape from the viewpoint of spiritual warfare - it has the power to overcome EVIL. Praise the Lord! By practising love, by extending that love out especially to those who do not deserve it, by deliberately exchanging acts of kindness for evil offenses - we overcome evil.

On the other hand, if we practise hate, revenge, backbiting, gossip, maltreatment of others, then we put ourselves smack in the path of overcoming evil. Like a bulldozer, satan will dig us out of our secure place in Jesus and dump us in a garbage truck bound for hell.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 

Agape not only promotes unity - standing together against a common enemy - but harmony. The KJV says "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of lower estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."

To mind here is phroneo {fron-eh'-o} meaning to have understanding, be wise, to feel, to think, to have an opinion of one's self, think of one's self, to be modest, not let one's opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty, to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious, to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for, to seek one's interest or advantage, to be of one's party, side with him (in public affairs).

So we are to be agreed together, whether we are of high or low estate in this world, to realize that we are on the same side, to be willing to associate with each other, to seek each other's best interest - a function of agape.

On the other hand, we are told what NOT to mind - we are not to be proud of our social standing or conceited over what we have done. This does not promote agape. "Wise" here is phronimos {fron'-ee-mos} from the same root word as mind phroneo, meaning wise, intelligent, prudent, i.e. mindful of one's interests. Agape affects our thinking - we are told what to mind, and what not to mind.

Father God manifest your love in our lives today. Cleanse us from anything that is blocking your agape from flowing to us, in us, or through us. Let agape be poured out in a fresh and abundant way in Church USA. Let there be an awesome presence in every chat room and message board. Let us put aside our differences and let the power of love mold us and guide us into your will. In Jesus Name AMEN.

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice.

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Original lesson 11/12/98
Revised: May 02, 2001