Agape Love and the New Commandment

Would Christ give us a commandment that is impossible to keep? He tells us this: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13: 34).

We have seen that God’s eternal purpose is to reproduce Himself, to reproduce and multiply Agape Love, for He is Love. And now Christ has commanded us to love each other the same way that He has loved us.

We are to love each other with the Christ-like love, the love from above. But how do we begin to obey this commandment—to love each other like Christ loved us? We need help from God to obey this one. We need His presence within us, for only God, who is agape love, can love with the love from above.

He knows our frailties. He knows that we need His help to keep the new commandment to love each other with Christ-love. So He has promised to send the “Spirit of truth” to those who believe. That is a promise, the most precious promise that we could ever receive from God—His very Spirit coming down from above and dwelling in us!

We have been called to be recipients of the glory of His presence within us. After our conversion to Christ, God has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” These “things” are His promises—“exceeding great and precious promises.” And it is through these promises contained in the presence of His Spirit within us now, that we can be “be partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1: 3-4). He has promised; we have to believe His promises to actualize them.

The Promise

Christ’s promise to us is to give us the Spirit of truth so that we may love each other. In that general promise are several other promises. First, the Spirit of truth will abide with us forever (John 14: 16). “Abide” is the key word here. It is translated from the Greek word meaning “continue, dwell, stay, remain,” and is translated in other places as such. He did say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Second, the Spirit “dwells with you, and shall be in you” (v. 17). Here He promises us that the Spirit will stay with us and reside in us.

Third, He will not abandon us. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (v. 18 NKJV). His presence in us will comfort us; we will not feel alone, “for Thou art with me.”

Fourth, through His resurrection, we obtain everlasting life. He promised, “Because I live, you shall live also” (v. 19). We will live eternally because of His Spirit residing and staying in us.

Fifth, He tells us, “You shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you” (v. 20).

Sixth, to all those who keep His new commandments and thereby prove their love for Him: “He that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him” (v. 21). Here Christ is promising us that He will make Himself known to those who keep the  new commandments.

Seventh promise: He will make Himself known to those who love Him and keep His words. “And my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14: 23). Here He promises that the Father, who is the Spirit of truth, will come and take up residence within us. And He will stay and remain within us. This only happens to those of us who keep His sayings, who obey His new commandments. Knowing and doing these new commandments of Christ is of the utmost importance to fulfill our calling and election of being His sons and daughters.

Eighth, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Father—they are all the same Entity—“He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (v. 26). Teachings will come; revelations of truth will come from the very Spirit of God and not from the false imaginations of man.

Ninth, “My peace I give unto you.” His peace insures that our hearts will not be troubled nor afraid (v. 27).

Tenth, we have the promise of answered prayer. But it is prayer in accordance with His teachings on the new commandments. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15: 9-10).

Qualities of the Spirit of Truth

These promises are staggering, although they are contingent on the presence of the Spirit in us. With these qualities of the Spirit of truth in mind, Christ commands us to “continue ye in my love.” In essence, He is saying, I have loved you with the same love that the Father has loved me. With the Spirit of truth that will abide in you, you can continue or remain or abide in this agape love (John 15: 9).

But how do we stay/remain/continue/abide in this agape love? Christ answers the question in the next breath: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love.” Commandments. Plural. Back in John 13: 34, it was a new commandment—singular. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another…”

The secret is this. In order to obey the new commandment of loving others the way that Christ did, we need obey a series of commandments from Christ’s own mouth. Each one sheds light on a facet of agape love. When we obey them, agape love is manifested.

Some of Christ’s “new commandments” are don’t judge, forgive, give, love your enemies, pray for others, do good to your persecutors, turn the other cheek, and others.

He tells us to abide in Him and commands us to forgive others like He forgave us. When we obey this command, His divine nature of agape love is shown and witnessed by others. This is how we continue in His love. His love is agape love, and it is only His love, now shown through us when we forgive each other, that can truly forgive.

When we forgive someone who has hurt us, then a facet of Christ’s love begins to shine through us. This is the abiding of His Spirit inside of our hearts. This is the continuing in His love. He said, “This is my commandment, That you love one another as I have loved you (John 15: 12). This love from above flowed through Him to forgive the world and all in it. Now He has commanded us to love each other as He was moved to love all of us—by first forgiving everything in everyone. Pre-emptive forgiveness. Forgiving people for being human. Forgiving God for dealing us an imperfect hand.

A Word about Human Nature

Everything that humans say or do is driven by the spiritual nature they are of. When we think on this then we see that if someone has the old, sinful nature of selfishness, then they are going to eventually hurt the people that they are with. Under pressure, true colors are manifested. A selfish old heart motivates one to use another. But we now have this knowledge, and we begin to see others with spiritual eyes, after the Spirit, and not just on the outward appearance.

It is only when we take this personally, that we resent these unfortunate ones, those who have not yet been converted from darkness to light. “We who are strong must bear the infirmity of the weak.” We, the sons and daughters of God, must reach out and love them by forgiving them. And in so doing, we will “continue in His love.” This means, Let the love keep flowing down through Christ the Vine and on into us the branches, thereby bearing sweet clusters of loving and peaceful and joyous fruit of the Spirit to be plucked and eaten by passersby.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace, and there is no law against it. Every heart yearns for this fruit. The sons and daughters of the God have the privilege to be the ones to give this fruit to everyone in the world.  Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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