By Steve Nelson
LOVE goes beyond emotional feelings and physical touch. Yet most people focus only on the physical side of love. Ignorance of the spiritual side of love is a huge concern. It’s one reason so many fail in romantic relationships.
God created love in the first place and reveals true insight about love in His Word. (This is the primary means God tells us about any subject in life, His written Word.) On the other hand, Satan promotes false ideas about love, misinforming society. The question is, who will we believe?
- Start with foundational truths about love from the Bible. Then with understanding, build from there and have the potential for success in making good romantic decisions.
- “Loving” is the first quality of God. (Four other key characteristics of God: all powerful, all knowing, everywhere, and eternal.) 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 both say, “God is LOVE.”
- Love is the reason God sent us Jesus Christ. “For God so LOVED the world (aka loved the people in the world, us) that he gave his only begotten Son…” See John 3:16.
- Love builds others up and is a more powerful motivation than fear. Evidence: “LOVE casts out fear” in 1 John 4:18. The fear mentioned in this verse is not “the fear of the Lord” (a positive “fear,” meaning deep respect and reverence for God and intense desire to please Him). The fear in this verse is the negative type of fear, which is the anticipation of danger or of pain or a dreadful anxiety. This type of fear first begins as doubts, then worries, then fear, and it tears people down.
- Jesus taught that it’s most important for us to LOVE, shown in two ways: A) loving God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” and B) loving others “as thyself.” See Mark 12: 29-31. Notice that loving God is first, then people.
- Two different Greek words for LOVE in Scripture: phileo (human, physical, natural love, meaningful but the only type of love the world is familiar with) and agape (spiritual, supernatural love, found in born again people, comes from God). The famous verses in 1 Corinthians 13 are all about agape. It’s only this type of love that “never fails.” Phileo has limitations and cannot overcome spiritual troubles. Thus when phileo is by itself, relationships fail. God’s tip for us: get the agape too! Both kinds of love are needed in a relationship.
- Next look in Genesis 6, where God from the very beginning teaches us who to partner with. It’s not ambiguous. Here God recorded a sad historical event for our benefit. He revealed that believers, generally described as “sons of God,” were getting together with unbelievers, generally described as “daughters of men.” This combination of belief and unbelief yielded a result of watered down believing, not better believing. Can you take delicious orange juice and mix it with rotten milk to get better tasting orange juice? No!
(Note: Genesis 6 does not suggest that the “sons of God” were angels and were interbreeding with humans to produce a new race of some kind. That’s absurd, and not the reason the flood happened. Some suggest this, but they are tragically mistaken and it perverts the point of God’s lesson here in Genesis. The “giants” were wicked in a big way, and some of these wicked ones were physically big too at times in history, but they were still 100% humans. The translated word “giants” is unfortunately a misunderstood concept. The context is all about humans and the way they chose to live life one way or another. To rebel against God has terrible consequences, while trusting in God is a blessing. The Word of God is all about instructing us humans on how to live life, not a biology lesson on some mythical creatures. Don’t let Satan push you down that path of misdirection and distraction.)
The point is that eventually the contamination of evil, corruption, violence and wickedness had completely eroded the population in the world, with the exception of Noah and his family, who were the only ones who stayed true to God. Only in relationships where both people were committed to God were they successful. Believe and then partner with another who believes. It’s that simple. This means a person who is physically AND spiritually loving.
In our day, that’s a Christian, specifically a disciplined follower of Jesus Christ. In other words, a disciple. “Disciple” is the most common word in the New Testament used to describe people who believe. All of life hinges on our thoughts and actions, to either walk with God or not. In order to be fair and just, God had to make at least two choices available. One choice, ignore the spiritual walk of a person when choosing a partner. Kissing well is not a spiritual quality. But for us, the only sane choice is to date, and eventually marry, someone like us, another “disciple.”
How do they think and act spiritually? This does not mean choose somebody who is merely born again or who will tolerate your Christian beliefs. That would be a rookie spiritual mistake. This is not merely a church-goer either. Don’t fall for that old trick when you are considering who to marry, just because they go to some church once a week. Life is an EVERY DAY thing.
Seasoned believers know to never think that an apple is going to be an orange someday. If it looks like an apple and tastes like an apple, it’s an apple. Don’t fool yourself with romantic fantasies and dreams of love toward an unbeliever, as if they might change. Only choose a person who is an enthusiastic Christian already. At its most basic level, we can be thankful to God for giving us the ability to love. Become a disciple yourself, then find a disciple to marry. God bless you!
Steve Nelson has been a Bible teacher for over 25 years. This article comes from “Marriage: Only to a Disciple” Segment 91 of “CORE”, a course for families on how to read and understand the Bible. See T4FAMILYCENTER.COM or reach Steve at [email protected]