by Ed Tarkowski
29 The most important one [commandment] is this: "Hear, O Israel,
the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength. 31 The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is
no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12).
How often we have heard these verses quoted in Christian circles as the
standard for the life of the Christian today. But it seems many don't
realize that there are great dangers associated with these commands when
they are not taken in their proper context. These dangers lie, not in what
these verses say, but in what they don't say. The common tendency appears
to be to take what they do
say as the only designated standard for the Christian life without
examining the Scriptures in a deeper way. Let us take a look at the hidden
dangers in having such a mindset of "Let's just love one another."
LOVING THE LORD OUR GOD IS TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS
According to Proverbs 3, love has a complementary partner:
3 "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around
your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."
Jesus certainly loved everybody - the Pharisees and the hypocrites and the
sinners in the street and also those who followed Him - He died for them
all. But He never allowed His love for them to compromise His faithfulness
to what the Father said He should say or do:
49 "For I do not speak on my own accord, but the Father who
sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it" (John 12).
28 ". . . I can do nothing on my own but speak what the Father has taught
me. . . If you hold to my teaching, you are REALLY my disciples" (John
One of the things the Father commanded Jesus to say is found in our Lord's
words in John 13:
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved
you, so you must love one another. 35 By THIS men WILL KNOW you are my
disciples, if you love one another."
So, though Jesus said men will know His disciples by their love for one
another, He also gave a standard to determine who His disciples really are:
those who held to His teachings because they loved Him, and His teachings
involved much more than just loving one another. So it is not just a matter
of loving one another, but remaining in His love by holding to all His
commands given by the
9 "Now REMAIN in my love. IF you obey my commands, you will
REMAIN in my love just as I HAVE OBEYED my Father's commands AND REMAIN in
his love" (John 15).
In order to remain in God's love, we must obey His commands just as He
obeyed the Father's. If we don't obey His commands as our priority, we will
not remain in His love and we will be unable to love one another:
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain
in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I
have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love" (John
LOVING ONE ANOTHER AND OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES
2 "This is how we know that we love the children of God, by
loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey
his commands. And his commands are not burdensome" (1 John
How do we know we are truly loving our brothers and sisters? These two
verses describe what it is to love God: "obey his commands." If we do that,
"we know that we love the children of God." One cannot say,
20 "'I love God,' yet [hate] his brother. . . For anyone who
does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has
not seen" (1 John 4).
The commands to be obeyed and the love manifested toward our brothers and
sisters because we love God are also covered by John, and they hang
directly upon the truth of God's word. First, John says,
3 "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar,
and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2).
But then John brings in the aspect of obedience to the word of God:
5 "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made
complete in him."
So obedience to the commands of God's revealed truth perfects our love, and
it is the truth that completes God's formation of Himself in us. This
conforming us to the image and likeness of Christ is God's main goal in our
28 "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to
the likeness of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many
brothers" (Romans 8).
So, we can't be conformed to Christ without obeying the commands of God,
nor can we love like Jesus did unless we do adhere to the truth. We cannot
have one without the other. All of this comes to the point in the second
part of v. 5 and also v. 6:
"This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in
him must walk as Jesus did."
So, all of this finds its full meaning in Jesus, who came because He loved
His Father and us, but He came and walked, not just in love, but in truth.
Indeed, He was and is the expression of the truth of God's love for us
LOVING ONE ANOTHER AT THE EXPENSE OF TRUTH IS A DOOR TO DECEPTION
So we must obey His commands to remain in his love. It would not be loving
the Lord our God if we didn't. And it is faithfulness to the command that
keeps us from going astray into loving one another at the expense of truth.
Matthew 24:10-13 and John 16:1-4 demonstrate the results of departing from
faithfulness to His commands:
10 "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will
betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and
deceive many people. 12 Because of the wickedness, the love of most will
grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew
1 "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2 They will put
you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills
you will think he is offering services to God. 3 They will do such things
because they have not know the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so
that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you" (John
"Many will turn away from the faith. . . . The love of most will grow
cold." Why would their love grow cold? Because they listen to the false
prophets, because they failed to heed all His commands right up to the end.
I have watched the "Let's just love one another" gospel for years - over
twenty in fact - and it always - always - brings destruction of one sort or
Jesus commanded His Church: Love one another. Then He sent the Holy Spirit
to empower it to do so. The early Church stood in the grace of salvation
filled with the love of God by the Spirit of God. But to them, He was not
just a Spirit of love, but a Spirit of truth, as well:
2 "We have gained access by faith into this grace in which we
now stand. . . 5 God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy
Spirit he has given us" (Romans 5).
16 "And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be
with you forever - 17 the Spirit of truth" (John 14).
They understood the connection in these words of Jesus:
15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John
So, first we had the command to love Him by obeying what He commands. Jesus
further qualifies our love for Him in verse 21:
21 "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who
The commands of our Lord Jesus Christ are so intertwined that to "just love
one another" falls way short of what the Scriptures really say. Even Paul
reiterated this same pattern in Scripture:
6 "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through
love" (Gal. 5).
But this cannot negate walking in truth because we do disagree with one
another - quite often in fact. Just loving one another will only leave us
loving one another without any way to overcome our differences and
divisions. Those differences are, I believe, are a doorway to the
deceptions of the enemy, and that is why John brings in truth and adds it
to love. In this way we overcome the enemy's attempts at infiltration:
14 "I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the
word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1 John
So the foundation comes back to God's word: obeys its commands and thus
perfect our love and thus overcome the enemy. And John gives other reasons
for us walking in the truth:
1 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the
spirits to whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone
out into the world" (1 John 4).
7 "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray" (1 John 3).
Loving one another alone doesn't accomplish this. Truth completes and
protects the love we have for one another and keeps us from the deceptive
"Let's just love one another" message of the false prophets. Without truth,
we WILL end up hating one another, which is what our adversary wants:
14 "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we
love our brothers. . . 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and
you know that no murderer has eternal life in him" (1 John
This only leads us back to what I said before, that a Church that just
loves one another, apart from clinging to the truth of God's word, will end
up doing just this:
10 "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will
betray and hate each other, . . . 12 the love of most will grow cold"
2 ". . . in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he
is offering services to God. 3 They will do such things because they have
not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when the time
comes you will
remember that I warned you" (John 16).
Love, the truth, knowing God, walking as Jesus walked in the fullness of
the Holy Spirit - Jesus talked of these same things as necessary parts of a
whole life. Unless we stop and hear the whole counsel of God in regard to
one another, we will fall to the spirit of error and be led astray. We need
to recognize this situation:
6 "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but
whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the
spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood" (1 John 4).
Every day there are greater and greater divisions in the end-time Church,
and part of the reason for this is that the enemy has brought a very nice
thought to the Church: "Let's just love one another." By having accepted
such a tempting idea, truth has taken wing and the Church is being split.
Why? because it is the last hour, because part of the Church has decided to
love without adherence to the truth about experiences and phenomena, even
stating that the they are diverse and not commanded by the Lord. Thus 1
John 2:18-19 is playing an important part in the life of the Church:
18 "Dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard
that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is
how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not
really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have
remained with us;
but their going showed that none of them belonged to us" (1 John