It seems straightforward enough: Jesus said “If you love, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
But what about when we break His commandments? When we fail, despite our best efforts to obey? What about when we sin? What does that say about our love for Jesus?
Jon Bloom says our actions will reveal who and what we love, but there’s more to the story.
“God has designed us so that we can’t really hide our love: you’re going to act out according to things you really love. You can make it appear a certain way to people for some period of time, but you can’t hide it forever. You’re going to always obey what your heart really loves, but our hearts are disordered. When Jesus says “if you’re going to follow me, you must be willing to deny yourself and pick up your cross and follow me,” that ends up being the real test of sincerity.”
Remember the rich young man (Mark 10)? This man very earnestly runs up Jesus, throws himself at Jesus feet, and says ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Jesus says, “You know the commandments,’ and He lists off a couple. The young man says ‘I’ve done those ever since I was young.’ And Jesus loved him and said ‘One thing you lack. Sell what you have, give to the poor, and follow me and you’ll have treasure in heaven.” The man could not do it and went away sad.
“Jesus loved the sincerity of this man–he was earnest, he wanted to know was wrong with his disordered heart, he knew something wasn’t quite right–and then Jesus, with just a sentence, lays it open. If given the choice between God or money, which are you going to choose? He made a choice and his love was exposed.”
In light of God’s perfection, it’s easy to see our own failings clearly. However, we’re not alone in our struggles with sin. Jon points out that everyone, even in the faith hero’s from scripture, dealt with the same sin problems.
“The truth is we all have idols. We come to Christ sincerely, we are born again, and yet we still have remnants of revolving sin. There’s this process of growth and maturity, where we are confronted repeatedly with idols.”
“The wonderful thing about the Bible is you see, from beginning to end, all the saints of the Bible are ‘defective.’ These are people who whose idols get exposed: from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, there are saints who love God but don’t love Him perfectly, and that’s where we all live.”
Rather than running away and hiding from God because we are afraid of His anger, we have only to look, again and again, at how much He loves us and how far He has gone to free us from sin’s grasp.
“We have to believe what the Bible says about the way God views us and His motives, over our subjective impressions that we naturally get. Because we know we’re sinners, we can easily feel condemned. We have this knee-jerk response that ‘God must be angry with me.’ But God already knows all the idols in your heart. He is standing over us with this offer: ‘Come to me! I will forgive! My anger is assuaged through Christ. Trust Him.’ Now everything that God does to wean us off of idols is for our good. He is pursuing your good, your joy! He wants you to be free! That’s the invitation.
And we love because He first loved us.
Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He is author of three books, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith, Things Not Seen, and Don’t Follow Your Heart: God’s Ways Are Not Your Ways. For more on this topic, read Jon’s article, How Do I Know If I Really Love Jesus?.Do I really love Jesus?