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Loving God & Knowing Him

How does one love God?

Scripture tells us that we love God by obeying His commandments (John 14:12). What does that look like; and how do we obey His commandments? Is it that straight forward, or is there more to it than that?

There are many faucets when it comes to knowing God, or beginning to understand the love of God. God connects to us by giving us parables to relate to: the trees are parabolic, the nature of a father is parabolic, and yes, love is also parabolic. You can see in Scripture that God refers to the Church as His bride (Eph 5:27, 2 Cor 11:2). The parable of marriage can help us better understand a relationship with the Father. You usually don’t marry someone just because you stumble across them one day. You marry someone because you have fallen in love with the nature and character of that person. We should love God out of a pure and genuine place of wanting to know Him without any hidden interior motives. 

“If I simply confess the Lord out of fear, or in expectation of reward, I am an ordinary man. I may use the Lord’s name, but I don’t really know Him. For these are people who love only with their lips. There are even those who give their bodies to be burned. But Paul says, “If I give all my goods to the poor” but not out of love, “I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:3). For I have given with thought of reward – either from the one I have helped, or from the Lord. Paul further says. “If I have faith so as to remove mountains,” but I am not faithful to the Lord because of love, “I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).” [1] 

Clement – Intimacy with God

David cried out for the Lord to search the hidden intentions of the heart, and if there was any wickedness in him the Lord would reveal it (Psalms 139:23-24). Wickedness is not what we commonly believe it to be. Wickedness according to the Ancient Hebrew, is the same as the word for evil, which is used to describe the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:22). Knowledge is internally in our minds or our thought process, meaning true evilness or wickedness, is a way of thought. In Hebrew thought your mind, heart, and soul are the same thing. If we look at the Ancient Paleo Hebrew for the word wickedness you will see that it is written with the letters resh and ghah; this can symbolize a twisting in the mind of man. When the Scripture says that the human heart is wicked, it can also be understood that there is fault in the way of thought (Jeremiah 17:9). 

The love of God thinks no evil nor does it have any false understanding (1 Cor 13:5). A lack of understanding leads to a twisting to your own destruction (1 Pe 3:16). So, when David cried out, he was asking the Lord to reveal any false understandings or way of thought, so that he could love the Lord purely.

“But we must also be aware: just as the outer man can get caught in forbidden and unlawful love and, for example, not love his wedded wife but a prostitute or an adultress, so too can the inner man, or the soul, fall in love not with the legitimate spouse which we have pointed out is the WORD of God, but with some seducer. . . . Sometimes this spiritual love of the soul also becomes inflamed towards a certain spirit of evil. . . .” [2] 

Origen – Spirit & Fire pg 215

It is important for us to know that there is a difference between earthly love and spiritual love. We look at earthly love in order to help us understand the love of God, which is Spiritual. As far as quality it can not be compared. The inner man, or the soul, as Clement described, has to be transformed or renewed, so the internal motives would be purified (Rom 12:2). Our mind is renewed through the knowledge of God (Col 10:3). This is a process of going deeper into understanding God’s Word, which really speaks of understanding the One who created us (Jn 1:1). 

How do we strive for loving just as God has, is, and continues to love us? It begins with the motives of our heart, or like previously said above, it begins with our thought process. 

What thought process is driving your way of life?

“Even though two deeds may be identical, they can differ in quality, depending on the motive behind them. For it makes a difference whether a deed is done out of fear or out of love. Appropriately, then, the reward is different, depending on the motive. The reward that awaits the one who is intimate with God is that which “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and mind has not conceived” (1 Cor 2:9).” [3] 

Clement – Intimacy with God pg 52

Our heart or way of thought is deceitful, it can mislead us away from righteousness (right understanding). It is important that we become careful that we don’t fall in love with a lie, because we are called to love the truth (2 Th 2:10). Since God is love, and we have been created in God’s image, we will always be loving something (1 Jn 4:7-8, Gen 1:27). This means that if we don’t have the right understanding, our soul does not love righteousness, but instead, it is in love with a false understanding.

What does your soul love?

“But one should also be aware that it is impossible for human nature not to be always in love with something. For everyone who comes to the age of puberty loves something, whether incorrectly when loving something improper, or correctly and usefully when loving something proper. . . .”[4] 

Origen – Spirit & Fire pg 215

Loving the WORD of God “correctly,” is loving Him “usefully,” which is proper, or the genuine way He intended us to love Him. If we receive the love of God through His Word, that means that parts of us are transformed into Love Himself.

And because “God is love,” and the Son, who is “of God” is “love” (1 Jn 4:7-8), he looks for something like this in us so that through this love which is in Christ Jesus, we might become related to God, who is love, through the name of love as if through a family relationship – as can be inferred from the ones of one already bound to God: “Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” (Rom 8:35, 39).” [5] 

Origen – Spirit & Fire pg 216

Is Love inside of you?

Is the character of Him inside of you (1 Co 13:4-8)? Has your heart been transformed to not desire the things of this world, but only desire as God desires? We are directed to love God by knowing Him (John 14:12). We know Him by going deeper into His word, and becoming transformed by it, so that we are no longer observing words on a page, but becoming images of God. 

There is another important part that we all must understand. In order to really know God, and love as God loves, we must die to ourselves. Loving God requires death to our own mind, desires, attitudes, and beliefs. That is what Paul meant when he said, “I die daily” (1 Co 15:31). There must be a greater surrender and humility that happens in order for the transformation to really take place in our life. This is a process that must be worked out, and that is how we walk out the commandments just as Christ walked (1 Jn 2:6, Mat 5:17).

“Our love for mankind seeks the common good.” But to seek the common good sometimes means we must suffer as a martyr. At other times, it requires us to teach by both word and deed. This is love – to love God and to love our neighbor.” [6] 

Clement – Intimacy with God pg 50

Google describes “the common good” as “the benefit or interests of all.” Jesus tells us that there is no love that is greater than laying your life down for another (Jn 15:13). We die to ourselves so that He will increase in us, He will work through us, and others will be set free (Jn 3:30, Luk 4:18). In order to love selflessly, self must be removed. What more could the soul desire, than the One who created us? Love is understanding God, and knowing Him just as He knows us; love covers a multitude of sins (1 Co 13:12, 1 Peter 4:8). The transformation our soul goes through when understanding the Scriptures deeper is not only for us, but it is an example to others. That we could teach someone else what we have learned through experience and walking out what God commands; so, they too can love the Lord with all their heart, all their mind, all their soul, and with all their strength (Mark 12:30).

“This love carries us to indescribable heights. Furthermore, ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’ ‘Love bears all things and suffers all things.’ Love joins us to God and enables us to do everything harmoniously. The chosen ones of God were perfected in love.” [7] 

Clement – Intimacy with God pg 50

References:

  1. Clement – Intimacy with God
  2. Origen – Spirit & Fire pg 215
  3. Clement – Intimacy with God pg 52
  4. Origen – Spirit & Fire pg 215
  5. Origen – Spirit & Fire pg 216
  6. Clement – Intimacy with God pg 50
  7. Clement – Intimacy with God pg 50 

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