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."


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 8).

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 Father:

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 15).


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 5).

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 lives:

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 all.


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 24).

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 16).

"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 another.

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 14).

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 loves me."

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 2).

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 3).

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" (Matthew 24).

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 2).