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Wed, Mar 24, 1999

40 - The Royal Law

James 2:8 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 6 secs

The Royal Law
James 2:8

John 13:34 NASB "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [35] By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 

Again, we have to clarify what we mean by love. Love is not the romantic sentimental, superficial, warm fuzzy feeling that most associate with love. You can't go around having those kind of emotional feelings that you have toward your wife or your best friend or someone you know intimately toward everybody. That is impossible. There may be three or four people in your lifetime that you truly develop deep, serious love for. So this is not mandating a person love because you can't know everybody. Jesus said that this new command in v. 35 is going to be the evidence of the believer advancing to spiritual maturity in the church age. Because we are all members of the royal family, then, this mandate becomes the royal law because it is associated with the King of kings and Lord of lords and His family, the church, the royal family of God.

John 15:13 NASB "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Jesus says here that sacrifice is the ultimate expression of impersonal love—not personal love. Let's go back to Luke. If you have sacrificial love for those who are kind and wonderful and pat you on the back all the time and praise you, what credit is that to you; for even sinners have that kind of love for people who treat them well. Having sacrificial love for your enemies is where is starts getting difficult. This is why Jesus said that it is the unique mark of the church age believer, because it cannot be produced by the flesh, it can only be produced by the Holy Spirit. So there are certain elements to impersonal love that we can see in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and that is why we need to start and put the pieces of the puzzle together by analysing the characteristics of God's impersonal love for all mankind.

Psalm 11:7 NASB "For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness." Because God is +R, He can only love +R. He can only have personal love for +R. Man, however, is R. He lacks the absolute righteousness of God. So God cannot have a personal love for R because there is no personal affinity between His perfect righteousness and man's relative righteousness. So God's love for man is unconditional and impersonal because it is not based on personal attractiveness in the object of love, which is every single human being from then point of birth because they have been imputed Adam's original sin, they have a sin nature and they commit personal sins. Isaiah 64:6 NASB "…all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment." So God cannot have rapport with us as unbelievers and He cannot love us personally. So His love for the human race since the fall is impersonal.

Impersonal love is a non-emotional, unconditional regard for the entire human race that does not requite intimacy, friendship, attractiveness, or even acquaintance with the specific object of love. Why? It is not based on the object of love, it is based on the who you are and who God is and what God has done for us. The word "impersonal" is used because it emphasizes the fact that personal knowledge and intimacy is not a factor in this kind of love. We may not know anything about the individual, yet we are still mandated to love them. The adjective "unconditional" emphasizes that this kind of love endures without placing conditions or qualifications on the object of love. In essence this is saying that no matter what the other person does my love for them is going to continue at the same intensity, with the same characteristics, no matter how antagonistic they are to me, no matter how hateful they are to me, no matter how much grief they cost me, no matter how hard they make my life. It may be necessary for me to distance myself from them for a number of different valid reasons but nevertheless I am still going to treat them and deal with them in unconditional love. This is why this can't happen on our own. This can only be a product of the doctrine that is in our soul and it takes time to develop the maturity to get to this point. Despite rejection, antagonism, hostility, physical or emotional attack, even being taken advantage of on a continuous basis, unconditional love is continuously applied to the person.

Let's define love. Love is not an emotion, not sentimentalism, not romantic warm fuzzies. Love seeks the absolute highest and best for its object. These two words "highest' and "best" are valuers. Whose values are you going to use to define what is the highest and best for the object of love. You have two options: human viewpoints of what is highest and best, and divine viewpoint concepts of what is highest and best. So if you are going to exercise the kind of love that seeks the highest and best it needs to be defined by divine viewpoint absolute standards. What happens when people try to exercise unconditional love on the basis of relativistic human viewpoint standards is that they get themselves in a real trap. Sometimes this happens in a family or in a marriage, especially where there is a very unhealthy system of physical bullying or some other horrible situation and they put themselves under a guilt trip that they have to stay there and continue to endure that, even in the midst of a life-threatening situation. That is trying to use human viewpoint guilt manipulation, it is using a human viewpoint standard, and it is not following the absolute standards of Scripture. When we define love as seeking the highest and best for its object we must make sure that what we mean by highest and best reflects the divine viewpoint's absolute standard related to God's grace, salvation, spiritual life blessing, and the plan of God for the believer's life as expressed in the Scriptures. Make sure you don't succumb at some point to relativistic human viewpoint systems based on emotions, sentiment and personal opinion or pop-psychology, because that will really created a mess, a lot of confusion and a lot of trouble. This is why when we come to talking about love and the love triplex, that this is related to spiritual adulthood and not spiritual infancy.

Let us remind ourselves of man's basic attitude to God as a fallen creature. We are hostile to God, we are at enmity with God, we reject God, we are obnoxious to God, we are rebellious, hateful, resentful, continually taking advantage of the grace provisions of God in terms of air, water, shelter, food, the climate He provides so that we can have agriculture, all of which have been provided for human sustenance whether believer or unbeliever, all of which comes under the category of common grace. Yet the Bible says that man is at enmity with God, not just neutral. Now what characteristics do we discern in terms of how God operates toward hateful, resentful, antagonistic, rebellious creatures.  John 3:16 NASB "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Romans 5:8 NASB "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

So we are isolating eight different characteristics that describe the kind of love that God demonstrated to us at the cross, and this is going to be added to our understanding of impersonal/ unconditional love as not merely being an absence of mental attitude sins and having a relaxed mental attitude and having an attitude of graciousness, but it is going to have these characteristics as well:

1)  It is initiating. God's love initiated the solution, not man. Initiation means that God's love took charge to provide the perfect solution necessary to restore the relationship that would be broken by Adam's original sin. This initiating love took place in eternity past through antecedent grace. Antecedent refers to that which is prior to, that which precedes. This refers to the initial act of God's unmerited favour in outlining the plan of salvation.

2)  It is aggressive action. It asserts itself with confidence and boldness. Why can impersonal love do this? Because it does not operate from a position of weakness that is threatened by rejection. The problem with personal love is that if our personal love is based on conditions of acceptance and intimacy with its object, and that object of personal love rejects us and there is that element of contingency there, then we will feel rejected and hurt and so there is always that tendency to want to hold back a little bit in terms of self-protection. But we can be aggressive in impersonal love because we are not trying to curry favour or generate approbation or find security in the response of someone else. Because of God's omniscience He knew the entire problem and on the basis of that He provided everything necessary to resolve the problem. So because our strength is in the work of God, who He is and our relationship to Him, then our relationship to other people in terms of love can be aggressive because we are not looking to them to meet any of our needs. We are relying upon God and that puts us in a position of strength.

3)  It is characterized by humility. Humility is based upon grace orientation. It does not seek its own personal glory but takes on the attitude of a servant to do whatsoever is necessary. In the case of God it included incarnation, the voluntary restriction of the use of divine attributes in order to fulfil the plan of God. It involved sacrifice, the undeserved imputation of human sin in order to solve the problem of sin in the human race. Remember, the suffering that Jesus Christ encountered on the cross was more intense, more agonizing, more excruciating that any suffering, any rejection, any heartache, torment or pain than you or I can ever imagine. And He was sustained through the filling of God the Holy Spirit, and that is our example. He demonstrated that these principles, stress-busters, problem-solving devices, work and can handle any situation.

4)  It is characterized by intensity. There was a zealous determination on the part of God to achieve the goal of salvation and to overcome all obstacles. Since God is omnipotent He is able to accomplish whatever is necessary to fulfil His perfect plan for the human race. Unconditional, impersonal love has an intensity about it.

5)  It is faithful or steadfastly loyal. Our loyalty is not to the object of our love, it is to God. God's loyalty is to His own character, to His own integrity, to the promises He made to man in terms of salvation. God strongly desires for all men to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

6)  It is consecrated. This means that it is set apart for the purpose of God's glory. That is why we have impersonal love for all mankind. It exemplifies in us the impersonal love that God has for all mankind, and it brings glory and honor to Him. Jesus Christ, in terms of God's impersonal love for all mankind, is solemnly set apart for the purpose of being the exclusive means of salvation for the church. As such, Jesus Christ is loyal to the plan and purposes of God and He set Himself apart despite all obstacles and distractions to provide salvation for every human being. Secondly, His goal is to bring every believer to maturity in Christ.

7)  It is dedicated. Dedication means that Jesus Christ committed Himself t the task of service, sacrifice, salvation and sanctification despite the pain and suffering that it would bring Him.

8)  It is devoted. This means to give or apply one's time, intention and self entirely to a particular activity, cause or person. The priority for Jesus Christ was to go to the cross and to endure the suffering in order to pay the penalty for our sins.

We have looked at those words and now need to connect them with adjectives that we picked up in Leviticus 19. We connect with that a minus mental attitude sins, also respect for privacy, private possessions, ownership of property, a prohibition of murder, absence of slander, and a respect for all men despite their physical deformities, handicaps or unlovely physical demeanour. If we put all of that together we have a picture of unconditional and impersonal love that is in human terms impossible to fulfil. Yet we need to understand what those characteristics and qualities are because it is mandated of us to exercise that kind of love in order to resolve personal testing.

We need to go back to James to see what he is talking about in chapter two. What James is describing is a people test. In James chapter one we saw that as believers as we advance to spiritual maturity we go through evaluation testing—DOKIMION [dokimion], translated approval; it means evaluation. We go through evaluation testing in order to evaluate the doctrine that is in our souls, and that is necessary to advance us to spiritual maturity. So we go through evaluation testing. There are four categories of evaluation testing. First of all there is thought testing; secondly, people testing; third, system testing; fourth, disaster testing. James is using a people test as an illustration here of application of doctrine, in James chapter two. The people test involves a man who comes into the assembly who has been oppressing them. He is abusing the sheep. So there is oppression and rejection experienced by these believers that he is addressing, and they are going to handle oppression and rejection by operating on subjectivity and using their human viewpoint sinful practices and approaches to the problem in order perhaps to alleviate any other future oppression or abuse.

So now we have to review the issue of testing here. Testing can come in the form of adversity or prosperity. A test is an opportunity for us to show what we know.

Adversity and Stress

1)  Adversity is the outside pressure on the soul and stress is the inside pressure.

2)  Adversity is what the circumstances of life do to you; stress is what you do to yourself.

3)  Adversity is inevitable, you cannot avoid it; stress is optional.

4)  Stress is always the result of sin nature control of the soul and failure to handle adversity or prosperity through the gracious provision of the ten stress-busters.

5)  The stress-busters allow the believer to face any situation in life and remain poised, stable, and in control of the situation no matter how horrible or agonizing, without giving in to the sin nature. When you give in to the sin nature you have stress in the soul and fragmentation.

6)  Sin nature control means arrogance and the operation of the three arrogance skills, either in overt arrogance or disguised as pseudo-humility.

The point that we are looking at is this. When you encounter the test be it adversity or prosperity you have a choice at that point. You can respond negatively and let the sin nature take over, or you can respond positively by applying one of the ten problem-solving devices or stress-busters.