Therefore we ask the Holy Spirit to bring forth Christ's faith in the Word concerning this divine love available to us, so "that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith; that [we], being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height [of ever-expanding divine love]--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19).
Unforgiveness. A second hindrance to Christ's love flowing through us is unforgiveness. We are always to remember the inestimable love of God in His forgiveness of our past sins through Christ Jesus.
For many Christians this mercy is the greatest motive for loving Jesus. The Lord said, "'Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little'" (Luke 7:47).
Which of us has not been forgiven much--for our sins are many? If we deceive ourselves that we do not have our old sin nature in us, we are self-righteous (see 1 John 1:8).
Extending full forgiveness to others who may have wronged us is a key to keeping our hearts open to allow the love of Christ to flow through them. Paul said we must be committed to "forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do" (Col. 3:13, emphasis added). Of ourselves, we are unable to forgive others as He forgave us--fully and forever. But Christ's divine love through us for others includes His forgiveness of them.
Many of us have sought to love our neighbors as ourselves. But a hidden truth is revealed when we follow the order the Lord has given to us in His Word.
We find that if we pursue the Lord with our whole heart, love for others becomes a blessed actuality. Jesus declared this fact when He said, "'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word [summed up in His new commandment to love one another as He does]'" (John 14:23, emphasis added; see also 13:34 ).
Divided heart. The Bible tells us that another major impediment to our loving Jesus as His Father does is a divided heart. In order for divine love to be effective, one's heart needs to be fully available for Christ to dwell there. We are to be strengthened with power through Jesus' spirit in our inner person, "so that Christ may finally settle down and feel completely at home in [our] hearts" (Eph. 3:17, Wuest).
But what if part of our hearts loves the things of this world? The Scriptures ask us: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4). God the Father cannot be satisfied with a heart that is only partially available to love His Son.
The apostle John warns us: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15, emphasis added). "The world" here is not the physical earth but a biblical term for Satan's kingdom--his gaudy façade--on this planet. He rules over a pseudo-culture where human beings are exalted above God.
The warning continues, "For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world" (v. 16). The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are trinkets, hollow rewards dangled before us like jewels by Satan to entice us to turn our eyes and our hearts from Jesus. But if we refuse to be tricked or distracted by "the world," the Holy Spirit can begin a work in our hearts.
When we are born again, we receive a new heart: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you" (Ezek. 36:26). But our bodily desires and unregenerated mind, will and emotions (together known as "the flesh") can back up into this pristine heart, clogging it.
Therefore the Holy Spirit daily prepares for each disciple his "cross"--opportunities whereby he may choose God over his flesh (see Matt. 16:24). Each time we choose the Lord over gratification of our fallen nature, a chamber is cleansed within the heart. Into each cleansed chamber rushes the living God (see John 14:23).
Love like a torrent, like a swift cataract speeds to occupy every cleansed room. Love begets love until we can be satisfied with nothing but complete union with Christ. Only complete oneness satisfies our Father (see John 17:21-23). Therefore, only complete oneness will satisfy His children.
When we seek the Lord for His sake alone, longing to know Him as He knows us, we receive some surprising benefits. Without straining or trying, we find Him loving others through us. We begin seeing them as the Lord sees them: either helplessly lost without Christ or in various stages of growing up into Christ.
Another benefit is that we--in a sense--wake up. The world loses its allure. Nothing it has to offer--fame, fortune, power, position--can motivate or control us.
For the month of August we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Charisma. Join us for giveaways each weekday, pages from our past, and more. We're including an anniversary special where you can get 40 issues of Charisma for only $40!