1 John 4:8: Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.
God doesn’t just love as an attribute or a choice (as if his love might be fickle and some days he is judgmental or angry instead) but God IS love. Love is God’s nature. Knowing that, everything makes sense – creation, heaven and hell, salvation, and day-to-day life too.
There are some things the bible describes as essential aspects of God’s nature, and they are the exact opposite of Lucifer’s nature.
- God is Love (1 John 4:8) – Satan is accusation, hatred and murder (1 Peter 5:8)
- God is Truth (John 14:6–7) – Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44)
- God is Light (1 John 1:5) – Satan is darkness (Colossians 1:13 and Ephesians 6:12)
- God is Life (John 11:25-26) – Satan is death (Hebrews 2:14)
He loved Us From The Beginning
The entire history of God and man is that of love – a relationship. Outside of that divine relationship, outside of God, there is no alternate world of “man” or “humanity” – despite a seeming existence of that kind – but there is only the opposites of love, and ultimately an eternity of darkness.
Outside of the love of God, we only have a perversion, a glimpse, a constant longing, a frail butterfly and illusion of love that soon dissipates and is lost. We never know genuine unconditional love until we know God.
Outside of the truth of God, we are uncomprehending, bewildered, ever-seeking but never knowing, grasping at straws, lying to one another and even to ourselves, restless and hiding from reality. Along with Pilate we cry out “What is truth!” (John 18:38)
Outside of the light of God, we are always in darkness – of mind, heart and spirit. Matt 6:23 “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (See This Post)
Outside of the life of God, we “are dead even while we live” (1 Timothy 5:6). Without God we are all the walking dead! That is because – despite an appearance of physical life – the soul without the life of God inside it is DEAD. (Colossians 2:13).
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
The entire passage found in 1 John 4:7-21 speaks of God’s loving nature. Love is not merely an attribute of God, it is his very nature. God is not only loving, he IS fundamentally love. God alone loves in the completeness and perfection of love.
- What does it mean that God is love? (Off site article)
Look at how the Bible describes love, and then we see that God is the essence of love:
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love does not envy
- Love does not boast
- Love is not proud
- Love is not rude
- Love is not self-seeking
- Love is not easily angered
- Love keeps no record of wrongs
- Love does not delight in evil
- Love rejoices with the truth
- Love always protects
- Love always trusts
- Love always hopes
- Love always perseveres
- Love never fails
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). This is God’s description of love, and because God is love (1 John 4:8), this is what He is like. Because God IS love, he is also merciful, patient, forgiving, protective, kind, truthful and not easily angered.
Love (God) does not force Himself on anyone. Love woos, love waits. Those who come to Him do so in response to His love. Jesus said that it was those who LOVE him, rather than those who just slavishly or fearfully obey, who will experience unity with God by his Holy Spirit.
John 14: 23-24
“If anyone LOVES Me, he will keep My word. My Father will LOVE him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. The word that you hear is not My own, but it is from the Father who sent Me”.
Here, we see that loving God means obedience is possible, for who does not shrink from disappointing and hurting the one he loves?
It is not so much a call for obedience that Jesus makes here, but a statement of fact: those who commit to me in love will be the ones who also love my words, my commands, my guidance, and will therefore be led by the Holy Spirit in the obedience that comes naturally to one who loves.
- Love (Jesus) shows compassion to all.
- Love (Jesus) went about doing good to everyone without partiality.
- Love (Jesus) did not covet what others had, living a humble life without complaining.
- Love (Jesus) did not brag about who He was in the flesh.
- Love (Jesus) was/is always looking out for the interests of others
Love does not demand obedience. God did not demand obedience from His Son, but rather, Jesus willingly obeyed His Father in heaven. “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). .
The greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love.
A Loving God and Father
Only the concept of a relationship explains God’s actions and ours. It is the pagan world that sees its gods as remote, fickle, harsh and unforgiving. Those gods rarely indulge in human interaction and when they do it is for their own purposes.
Only the true God is made of love, and enters into a relationship with mankind and indeed the creation itself. Watch any good documentary about nature and you will see over and over again that LOVE is one core motivating force in what happens. A dog protects kittens, a swan feeds fish, a bear rescues a drowning bird, and so on – for example here:
It’s a Relationship
God initially created man and woman with the ability to RELATE to himself; this was a deliberate choice. God and Man talked together, walked together, shared information and anecdotes, and acted like anyone with a friendship.
Even more, God created Adam and Eve to join together in one, in what we now call “marriage”, as an earthly representation of the relationship of unity and love that should exist between God and Mankind. (Paul explains this more fully in Ephesians Chapter 5)
Ephesians 5:31 is a quotation of Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.” Then Paul adds in verse 32: “This is a great mystery, and I take it to mean Christ and the church.”
The union of man and woman in marriage is a mystery because it conceals, as in a parable, a truth about Christ and the church. The divine reality hidden in the metaphor of marriage is that God ordained a permanent union between His Son and the church. Human marriage is the earthly image of this divine plan. As God willed for Christ and the church to become one body (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13), so He willed for marriage to reflect this pattern—that the husband and wife become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). [Source}
Indeed, the ultimate destiny of the Church is to be the WIFE of God, just as Israel was his beloved wife. She is betrothed to Christ, and will become the Bride of Christ. (Revelation 19) [Source]
2 Cor 11:2 “I promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ”.
Bride of Christ
This brings us to another aspect of the love of God. When those whom he loves betray, humiliate, reject and denounce God, it is his love that reacts in a way we can understand through our own relationships.
God cannot sin, and he is perfectly holy. Yet he does get angry! But why? He suffers the pain of jealousy and rejection.
Continuing the verse above, in Second Corinthians chapter 11: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ.”
- SEE: Is the Church Christ’s Bride: [PDF document}
The first betrayal recorded was the defection of Adam and Eve. Imagine how hurt the Lord must have been when his friends, his beloved children to whom he had given all his trust and affection, turned aside to what they thought was a better choice – a life without God’s input.
The fact that the Lord did not react angrily, but arranged for the physical continuance of the pair, speaks to his character and nature as a God of Love.
The Commandments of Love
When Israel become the beloved of the Lord and he rescued them from slavery and oppression in Egypt, he laid out the terms of their relationship in a way that would baffle a pagan world. His first concern was that they would stay true to him, as a good wife should. First and second on the short list were:
- “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments. (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV)
God is JEALOUS
“You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you”. [Exodus 34:14 New Living Translation]
God says his very Name is “Jealous” – it’s part of who he IS; just as God IS love, therefore rejected love IS jealousy. The two exist together.
In his commands to Israel, God did not begin by demanding obedience or right behaviour, but by asking for the exclusive, total, unbroken devotion of a loving wife. Because God is love, then rejection and betrayal and defection cut to the heart, and begets jealousy and retribution.
In the book of Ezekiel we see God striving with a ‘wife’ that is immoral and adulterous. All that happens to Israel is as a result of her sin of harlotry towards other nations and other gods. God pleads with her time and again, forgives her time and again, but eventually her utter disrespect for the One who has rescued and beautified her gains the upper hand, and Israel is lost.
- Psalm 78:58 For they provoked Him with their high places and aroused His jealousy with their graven images.
- Jeremiah 2:2 Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals…” [BUT]
- Jeremiah 3:20 “Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover, So you have dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD.
- Ezekiel 16:32-34 “You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband! Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries.”
God Does Not Sin
God’s character is perfect, above reproach. He is holy, just, loving, merciful, and long-suffering, but is He also jealous? … We find jealousy repulsive because it creates tension and discord while damaging relationships. How does God display an intense emotion such as jealousy? We need to examine a side of jealousy that is often overlooked.
The marriage relationship is one way to understand the difference between sinful jealousy and righteous jealousy. A husband who responds with anger simply because he sees his wife talking to another man shows unreasonable domination and self-centeredness—sinful jealousy. Selfishness and insecurity control his possessiveness, rather than a commitment to his wife and the sanctity of their marriage vows.
Now suppose another person is trying to alienate a husband or wife’s affections, tempting either spouse to violate the purity of their marriage relationship. Just as God has established holy standards for marriage, He takes every commitment as binding (Hebrews 13:4). He expressed His devotion and dedication to Israel as permanent. “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20).
No dedicated husband or wife having integrity wants to share their spouse with a substitute—neither does God. God expects our exclusive devotion. When we give preference to anything instead of God, it is idolatry. We are committing spiritual adultery and God displays divine jealousy. “…Do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:23-24). God is zealous for His holiness. Both in His wrath and His love, God remains holy. [Source]
It was pure holy love, nothing else, that caused God the Father to sacrifice his Son just to redeem us and restore our relationship. And at what a cost! Because it was “while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us“. At his own initiative, and because God “so loved the world”, he came to us and laid down his life, the ultimate gift of love.
This was not because this world sought him or pleaded with him. No, God himself longed to restore the relationship he once had with Adam and Eve, a pure and close alliance that had became sullied by rejection.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
God is Patient and Merciful
This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3: 21-23)
As erring, wayward and often disobedient people, sometimes lacking the most basic requirements of a relationship with God, we ought to be discarded as a failed project, yet we are not, praise be to God. We have his nature of love to thank for that, because God is “slow to chide and swift to bless” as the hymn says. [Source]
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
Love Explains it ALL
In summation, it is God’s love that explains everything we read about the history of God’s people, and know about his actions in the future.
It pains and offends me when people tarnish God’s reputation by saying he is judgmental, wrathful, even cruel, saying God forsakes some and condemns others to hell in an almost arbitrary way. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is because men chose to turn from the light, that they entered into darkness.
It is because Lucifer and some of the angelic host fell away from God that hell – a place of exclusion – was created, as an act of protective love for the sake of mankind and the universe.
It’s not God’s desire that ANY be lost (2 Peter 3:9) and it is only those who choose to reject his offer of salvation that will – because there is no alternative – have to join the god they worship in that dark place, where love does not exist, a fate that is so horrific that Jesus Christ was willing to go there himself, if by any means he could save some.
God Entreats Us
The nature of God is not vengeance, nor is it a demand for service. Love does not demand, but woos and entreats, and is downcast by a refusal. Notice how Jesus grieves over Jerusalem because he longed to rescue them, but they “would not”. (Matthew 23:37-39)
One of the images of God in Scripture is that He is a loving, wooing, jealous bridegroom and we are His bride (Hosea 1-3; John 3:29; Eph 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9). He pursues us as the bridegroom who is totally smitten by His bride. He does not just desire us, but He desires us passionately. Though God does not need us, He still wants us. And that’s why He woos us. Look at the Bible and one finds numerous examples of how God reached out and called people, making them to be His. Notice Abraham, Moses, Elijah, the nation of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7), the disciples being called to come and follow Christ. In each instance, God took the initiative and wooed people to Himself. [Source]
One of the things that changed for me, when I fully realised the nature of God is love, is that my level of anxiety about pleasing him dropped to almost zero. As Jesus said, if we love him, we WILL – by nature – WANT to please him. I have found that to be true.
The most powerful antidote to sin, for a Christian, is that it will offend Jesus, and bring a cloud between us. When we love God we never want that relationship to be sullied; we never want to sense God’s disappointment and displeasure.
A slave is forced to obey, but a friend and loved one obeys by choice. Jesus called his disciples friends:
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.
Another more recent revelation for me was that every created thing is made by, and infused with, God’s love – for he IS love.
The original creation was meant to be both perfect and loving; it was spoiled by a defection from God so that the opposite of love took over. We see the rebellion growing day by day, leading up to the most horrific defection of all, the willing worship of a false messiah, even by supposed Christians who are seeking something more appealing to the flesh than the love of God.
Nonetheless, everything can be explained by love: salvation, wrath, and the judgement to come – all are part of the same love affair that God desires with mankind.