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Essentials for Growth in Godliness, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
August 12, 2020 4:00 am

Essentials for Growth in Godliness, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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August 12, 2020 4:00 am

Christians are to love God and love others. But how can you be certain you’re cultivating a biblical love that pleases your heavenly Father? John MacArthur answers that question today on Grace to You[, in his series “Joy Rules.”

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Love is not an uncontrolled emotion. Love is not an unregulated impulse is linked with truth, so that your loving control by Scripture. He says the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing now that principle is often applied to businesses but also applies to your spiritual life. If you're a Christian, you can never lose sight of what's most important, which is loving the Lord and loving others.

But how do you cultivate biblical love that pleases your heavenly father will answer can be found in a prayer from the apostle Paul. John MacArthur looks at that prayer today. It's part of his study on the joy God reserves for his children to continue his series titled joy rules. Here's John Copernicus is talking about a divine love. The God being the God being the source of the fact the love we already have a measure of that love within us. Thirdly, a decisive love, decisive love and I say that based upon the term that is used for love in verse nine. It is the term I got pay and it refers to the highest and noblest kind of love listen carefully which is the love of choice or the love of will is not object drawn is not impulse it is not emotion. It is not sediment is not drawn to something because of its beauty, its attractiveness, that's the world's love.

The world says I love you because you do something to me. The world says I love you because I feel something for you that is not a lot of choice.

That is a lot of impulse that is not the love of the will, in fact, people say I fell 11 couldn't help but some guy comes home and says to his wife. I'm divorcing you why, why, well, I couldn't help but I fell in love. That is not divine, divine love can help it. Divine love is the love of will is the love of choice is decisive.

God so loved the world, and it wasn't because we were so attractive that his emotions just got out of hand and he fell in love with all of us bizarre thought, that's not the idea is the love of choice in the love of will that says I will love you, whether you're my friend or my enemy. I will love you whether you do good or evil. I will love you whether you can give me anything or take away everything I will love you and Jesus defined it when he said, greater love hath no man than this, and that a man would lay down his life for his friends at sacrificial. It's the love of choice. Since this is the love the chooses to love the unlovable, the unlovely choice and it's a lot that's expressed in meeting a need doing a deed of kindness, caring for someone in a practical way humbly serving others. That's the kind of love. It is, it's not the love of a feeling it's a lot of action. It is not really an emotion.

Although emotion will come along if you read first Corinthians 13, the greatest chapter in the Bible on love.

Love is described.

It says love is patient, love is kind is not jealous. Love does not brag is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly. It does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Every single one of those is a verb in the Greek love is an action. Love is a series of actions.

It is not a static attitude is what you do, not what you feel is what you say not what you think is action.

It is the law that reaches out to meet and need. Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself and the question came, who is my neighbor and Jesus told a story about a man lying in a road with a need and said that your neighbor anybody you come across of the need. This is the love of the will. This is character that says no matter what you do, who you are. I will sacrificial.

He served for your good and your blessing. Beloved, the church will never survive without this. This should be our distinguishing markets yet so different from the world, the world's love is totally the love of impulse. Totally the love of emotional attraction. It knows very little about the love of the will, even at its most philanthropic point. It plays on the emotion. For example, when they want you to send money to some orphans or some deprived people in some part of the world they get little sad. I children why because they want to deal with your emotions not your mind, because all the human love knows is a response to a feeling God has granted to us a decisive agape love which is far surpassing to that which will love and meet the need of a repulsive person as well as a tenderized little starving child. That's biblical. That's divine love and you have it de facto it's there by virtue of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the love of God shed abroad in your heart and it is activated by your choice.

Your will is the greatest virtue in the Christian life, if for no other reason than according to Romans 13, 8 to 10. It says if you love, you fulfill a whole lot right if you love you fulfill the whole lot you have to have a lot that shall not kill. If you love somebody not to kill somebody love yet to have a law that says that shall not covet. If you love people. You not going to covet what they have. You need to hang a bunch of rules in your house if you love everybody there because you lacked in their behalf and to their good and the meet their needs but fulfills a whole lot. Romans 13 eight. It's all the sum of everything and beloved the mandates of the church and the great burden of the prayer life of Paul is at the church at Philippi and our church, and all other churches would experience this kind of divine love, where we decide to love each other no matter what we do or don't do. Jesus summed it up by saying, love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use love your enemies, love the unlovely what you mean. Love feel something about no do something for the meet their need. Whatever the need might be maybe an emotional need physical need spiritual need economic need.

Whatever it is the key to life and growth and effectiveness of the church, the love of decision choosing to look to choice, and if you have spiritual character, spiritual depth, you're going to choose the love but that's not how it is in the church is so sad. Somebody says something that you don't lie and you retaliate and then you got fractures and friction. It's so sad. If people set against other people. Love is the solution to all of your fourth word, the love of which Paul prays here is dynamic. It's not static it's dynamic. He says I pray that your love may abound still more and more it's already abounding you want to do abound more and more isn't static is a stay in the same. He says I see your love, abounding in the word uses here carry sewer means to overflow. Wave upon wave to cascade like a waterfall nieces I see your love is dynamic. It's growing it's progressing. It's expanding it's enlarging and I wanted to get more and more it's dynamic can never be content with where you are is prayer is that it will go more and more and more through the church, by the way, the present tense Greek verb indicates a continual progress enlarging the capacity for more than an ordinary measure of love. I pray that your level abound and abound and abound and abound and abound. I have to work at that. See, I think the second law of thermodynamics works with the spiritual virtue just as much as it does with nature second law says that all things are breaking down law of entropy.

I think that's not only true as it is scientifically, but I think it's true. Spiritually, we can do the best we can to cultivate love. But if we don't work at it and commit ourselves daily to the power of the Spirit of God that very dynamic of love will disintegrate disintegrate disintegrate disintegrate. It has to continually be strengthened continually be looked to and tended to is the most basic element of godliness, love, love in Christ, of course, has set the standard says in Ephesians chapter 4 that were to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other's God in Christ forgiven you, and then in verse one of chapter 5. Be imitators of God's beloved children walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us in offering and sacrifice to God. He says love everybody like Christ loved you and how did Christ love you he loved you by giving his life as a sacrifice. Love sacrificial love sacrificial and again I say this is not a mushy sentimentalism. It's a very controlled love. Let's go further in verse nine to see this dynamic of love. He says that your love may abound still more and more I watch this in real knowledge, says the new American in real knowledge better in full knowledge.

Better yet, in advanced knowledge.

Now listen to this love is not an uncontrolled emotion.

Love is not an unregulated impulse is linked with truth.

In verse nine that your live may cascade more and more wave upon wave in real knowledge.

The thing that confines love and conforms love is true knowledge epic gnosis advanced knowledge real knowledge true knowledge full knowledge of what God's revelation God's truth in Scripture. So let your love be controlled by Scripture or that so basic love is not an unregulated impulse. It's controlled by truth Christian love. Let's add another deed to our littlest. Let's say it's deep. The kind of love. He's talking about is deep and by that I mean it is anchored to conviction that is based on truth typical of this kind of thing would be going back to the passage I just mentioned to you. Ephesians 5 where it says walk in love and then he says right after that in verse two he says walk in love and in verse three.

Don't let immorality be named among you, in other words, don't let your love get out of control your say on the walking love and will I want to walk in love with her. See you start the walking.

What you think is love with her, it turns into adultery or fornication in the Bible says stop.

That's not the kind of love are talking about. It's a self sacrificial humble service attitude that is conformed to and confined by the principles of the word of God is not feelings out of control is action under control by the truth of God in first Peter chapter 1 verse 22. Sort of ties it together. It says, since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls. For a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the hardware.

What a tremendous state. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls all right. You obey the truth. Your soul is purified, you now have a genuine, honest, non-hypocritical love for the brother and go after it. He says in fervently love one another from the heart. As long as it's controlled by obedience to the truth. You can love to the limit fervently as Acton Ace stretched his use of a muscle stretched to its extremity as long as your love is controlled by obedience to the truth.

You can love the maximum and obedient heart. The controlling factor. So the love are talking about here is very deep. It touches way down to the level of conviction and truth and the truth comes from God's word.

That's what controls your love that's what compels your love.

The more you know about God's word, the more you're committed to God's word, the more you obey God's word, the greater your love will be the greater its expression in the more pure it's expression as well.

So the love of which the apostle Paul writes and for which he prays is a divine love that is it's not human. It comes from God. It's de facto it's very in residence by the indwelling of the spirit is decisive in the sense that it is not the response of an impulse, but it is a choice.

It's dynamic in the sense that it grows and flourishes and cascades wave upon wave under the energy of the spirit, much like the Holy Spirit out of your belly flowing rivers of water as John sevens and then it's deep. It's anchored way down to truth that controls and conforms so as you learn the word and grow in the word.

It affects your love then one other word discerning discerning this love is also discerning in Philippians chapter 1 verse nine we read at the end of the verse that this love is to abound not only in real knowledge but in all discernment, in all discernment, British and Greek word which we get the word aesthetic from is the only time this word is ever used in the Scripture, and it means insight or perception. It has to do with moral perception, moral insight and has to do with practical application of that deep knowledge K so you saying your love is controlled by your theology and your insight in the application of that theology.

How you apply it, it's truth apply friends. Real love is not blind and say love is blind. Love is not blind, not biblical of biblical love is very insightful, very perceptive. It knows exactly what is right and what is wrong what is false and what is true and can make the right application at the right moment in life is that serving, sacrificing humility which meets the needs of others as it sees and ascertains and understands them. Believe me, love is an unregulated impulse is dangerous, volatile, deadly, but given to some hard thinking and careful scrutiny and sensitive discrimination, the love of God conform to the word of God and applied in perception and insight is what Paul really seeks it's a biblical discriminating love under the control of a spiritual mind a spiritual reason why judicious love, William Hendrickson, for example, wrote a person who possesses love but lacks discernment may reveal a great deal of eagerness and enthusiasm. He may donate to all kinds of causes. His motives may be worthy and his intentions are honorable, yet he may be doing more harm than good, because he lacked discernment. I'm amazed the pickup on Hendrickson's illustration how many well-meaning people trying to show their love for God give money to people who work against the kingdom because they don't deserve them to learn how to apply their knowledge. We must we must be discerning no drawing this together.

We are called to love each other. That's Paul's passionate prayer. You know how deeply we need this to look at it not from the side of the lever but the loved one.

For a moment I was reading an interesting thing it in up in a book that sort of analyzes a little bit of our culture. It says during World War II orphaned babies were placed in a large institution. The accommodations were pleasant, new furniture, brightly colored toys, delicious food. Nevertheless, the health of the children begin to rapidly deteriorate. Although there were no signs of disease. They stopped eating and playing. They then grew weak and began dying. These are newborn babies, United Nations doctors were flown in to investigate their prescription for 10 minutes each hour.

All children were to be picked up hug just played with and talk to the orders were obeyed with a short time, the strange epidemic disappeared. The little ones brightened their appetites return their toys once again played with and when there 10 minutes came, they enthusiastically reached out the little arms to be picked up by the approaching nurses.

The doctors identified their fatal lethargy, asthma, Rasmus, and described it as a mysterious and gradual emaciation of the body which seems to strike when others don't take time to show enough love" and then the writer says the same principle holds true for the elderly. Social disengagement leads to loneliness and eventual death are senior citizens feel the effects of such isolation, perhaps more than any other group in our society, no doubt, that is why senility is so prevalent and why get this postretirement life averages four years, the cry of most older people was voiced to me by my father shortly after his retirement, son, you can criticize me, accuse me borrow from me make fun of me but just don't ever leave me alone" James J.

Lynch research the lives of 7000 persons age 30 through 69 for a period of nine years. His conclusion is that outgoing, sociable individuals live longer and healthier lives, and those who are shut off from others. The former are more resistant to heart and circulatory diseases, cancer and strokes and are even less inclined to suicide. People refer to this phenomenon in many ways assimilation systemic's linkage social webbing or fellowship it all comes down to one important idea were all born with an insatiable inner need for meaningful interaction with others.

The need begins on the first day of our lives and continues until we breathe your last breath see what were saying God made us to be utterly fulfilled in the loving environment of the church said when I went a minute we have our little group.

I'm sure you do whatever little web of friends we talk about that for a minute again. You know what goes into action. The law of entropy instructs things start to disintegrate. You start out with this wonderful loving fellowship and you think it's odd to pay, love, and you're enjoying it and as you get into a little more your little web didn't group begins to develop develop standards and with those standards you webbing in some and you web out others and if they don't fit the standard. They don't get in so you got your little group. The worst of it is nepotism where the little group is all in the same family, but there are other forms of it such as cronyism, where you have your pals and your buddies so small work of network of people that you associate with all the time you deeply care for them. They deeply care for you there like extended family. There is the little web that you fit in, you get strokes there. You feel secure their you even feel flattered there you are accepted, with no risk everything is absolutely predictable. In fact, the conversation is usually the same every time you get together, you never involve yourself with unpredictable people. You never get into any risky deal you never allow low status outsiders into your little web and you say that slow, may I suggest you that the higher the comfort level of your web, the higher the walls to keep other people out right. The higher the comfort level of your web, the higher the walls and keep other people out and usually there's a part of your little web that talks about the people on the other side of the wall and how they would never fit into your group. But you feel good about your little web and you call it love and you totally ignore maybe real love how we need to reach out beyond that kind of confinement and work to show love to all those who come into our path, no matter what the risk might be. I guess you could say you've arrived at a certain point in this when you look to God alone, for your reward. You can tell when you're really building relationships on the right level. When you never look for anything from the relationship. What you look to God for the reward. That's a focus need to have a heart of love is what Paul wants us to have.

May God help us, because the spirit has given us love to express it to one another. We all tend toward that comfortable zone we all move away from high risk unpredictable relationships.

We fear intrusion into our private lives by people who don't know us well. We like to be very, very comfortable and not at all have to be on guard, we don't like to think that we might lose some control of our time and our resources because someone else had a need for them. But that's what God calls us to go beyond the web beyond the wall to love the people we don't necessarily find tract, but you have needs all those that God puts in our path. Whatever might be there need knowing that people might abuse that, but looking to God for our reward.

Looking at relationships not for what we can gain from the person, but for what we can gain from the Lord by doing what's right and as you grow in your knowledge of God's word. The word will transform your love. That's a key take away from John MacArthur's lesson today on grace to you. John study from Philippians chapter 1 is titled joy. Rules now to shift gears just for a minute you know Jon, I frequently encourage our listeners to write and let us know how God is using grace to you in their lives. You could take a moment to let our listeners know how important it is for us to hear from them yeah II think I need to say we have no ulterior motive and that we really do want to hear. You know the hard-working farmer enjoys the fruit of his labor. That's what Paul says to Timothy, the hard-working farmer case, the fruit of his labor. And I know as a pastor and you do as well. Phil is a pastor wheat in the life of the church. See the fruit it's manifest their week after week after week. We teach our people. We preached our people. We shepherd them. We see that but radios different that we send the word of God out and wheat we don't have the joy of tasting the fruit and that is a joy for us. That is the highest joy that the greatest reward for anyone who teaches the word of God is to see what the word of God is doing in people's lives so hearing from you directly is the clearest and most direct way that we can know how God is working in your life through the ministry of grace do you and it helps us to determine the effectiveness of the various radio stations that carry our broadcast in March and April of this year because of the quarantining and all of that we fast-track to more messages onto radio than any other time in grace to use history.

We literally interrupted what we had planned and spoke to the issues that were going on and once the stay at home orders went into effect in late March I preached the messages to an empty church that gave a biblical perspective on the pandemic in dealing with trouble in the world. These sermons were timely.

We preempted radio to make them available. Phil and I did a conversation in the studio about the pandemic we we preempted schedule for a message on why God allows suffering that I delivered a lesion or event hosted by my friend RC Sproul some years back and you know we provide all of this and we try to respond to things that are going on around us as well as that of the regular pattern of teaching.

We would love to hear back from you. It means the world to us so that we can know that this is ministering to you in meeting your needs. So let us know what grace do you means to you.

That's right, friend. If grace to you has helped you grow in love for the Lord and obedience to him.

We need to hear your story. As John said. Your letters are so encouraging when you have a moment, Jonathan note and send it our way, our email address is again you can also write to us at grace to you.

Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 or you'll find all of our contact information That's our website and while you're Make sure you take advantage of the free resources that we have there that will help D deeper into God's word, read practical articles on issues affecting your life in your church on the grace to you blog. You can also read daily devotionals from John follow along with the reading plan from the MacArthur daily Bible and don't forget John's entire sermon archive 3500 sermons is available to download. You can get those sermons either in audio or transcript format or both, and all of that and much more is for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you. Staff I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind you can watch grace to you television this Sunday on DirecTV channel 378. That's an RV TV or check your local listings for channeling times also be here tomorrow when John looks at how you can pursue spiritual excellence. Join us for another half hour unleashing God's true one verse at a time on grace to you

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