I remember being a teenager and reading William Shakespeare for the first time. The play of course was "Romeo and Juliet". His ability with words was astounding and captivating. I knew nothing of figures of speech but I knew he could draw an amazing picture with the words he used and how he used them, consider Mercutio's Queen Mab speech.
Although, I was a bit surprised when I reached the end of the play, no one had ever said anything to me about the two main characters dying. It was still the age of "Ozzie and Harriet", and "Donna Reed", and Walt Disney. I understand those TV shows are probably meaningless to you, so just let me say that the world of entertainment firmly believed in happy endings at that time. Obviously this Shakespeare guy wasn't very modern.
I remember reading Romeo's final scene in Capulet's tomb and expecting Juliet to awake at any moment, at least before he drank the poison! One of the final lines spoken by the Prince, "That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love" was a devastating conclusion that my mind turned to current events. Suddenly, Shakespeare was not only modern, he had also captured our world. For we too had found many ways to kill love with hate.
What can I say, it was the 60's, I was a teenager and everything produced great emotion. The play had such an impact on me that the next time I was in English Lit I wasn't very happy about killing off the two people who were in love. It was then that I received more than a little flack, "It's called a tragedy!"
It wasn't until someone introduced me to the Bible that I began to learn that there was more to love than emotions and there was a love that even the world could not kill off.
The ancient Greeks had a few different words they used to identify love and its type. Eros was sexual love, it is all hormones and attraction. Storge generally meant an affection or love that existed from a parent to a child. Philia or philos was a friendly love, something that benefited both parties without the passion of eros or the parental connection of storge. When it was used of family members it was called philadelphia or brotherly love. Mania really goes beyond what we would call love into the realm of an obsession, like the English word pyromaniac. Then there was agapee which the Greek's used in a multitude of ways but always carried the idea of a sacrificial love.
The Bible only uses a few of these words. The one we are concerned with in the renewed mind is agapee.
"Agape is the kind of love that is not of human origin...Agape is a God love."
"The Greek word for a supernatural kind of love is agape....this is the love that God is."
Most Christians simply know agapee as a divine love for that is how they have heard it handled by Bible teachers and theologians throughout the years. But in order to simply define agapee, or the verb form agapao, as divine love we need to turn our backs on a few verses that greatly disagree with that concept and understanding.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved [agapao] darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
How can an unsaved man have "divine love" for darkness?
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved [agapao] the praise of men more than the praise of God.
How can you have "divine love" for the praise of men?
For if ye love [agapao] them which love [agapao] you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love [agapao] those that love [agapao] them.
Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love [agapao] the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
2 Timothy 4:10
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved [agapao] this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
2 Peter 2:15
Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved [agapao] the wages of unrighteousness;
1 John 2:15
Love [agapao] not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love [agapao] the world, the love [agape] of the Father is not in him.
Definitely not what comes to mind when we consider a divine or godly love. How then do we come to an understanding of the word agapee?
Agapee is used 116 times in the New Testament and it is never used in a negative manner. Every time we read that men love darkness, or the praise of men, or the world, or the wages of unrighteousness the verb form, agapao, is used.
There is an aspect to agapee that has been seen and taught on by many who teach the Bible. It can be seen very clearly in a use in Romans.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
None of the occurrences of agapee specifically state that this type of love is a deliberate decision, a freewill choice, a conscious commitment and lifestyle made in the heart and mind. Yet look at these verses in Romans 8. Every aspect and possible eventuality is covered in what God states cannot separate a believer from God's love [agapee]. It is this dedication and commitment that makes this love so unique and different.
The love described by Shakespeare in "Romeo and Juliet" is passionate and moving. It is a love almost every person in the world can identify with because it is a love almost everyone greatly desires to experience. But it is based upon emotion. It is founded upon circumstance. There is nothing in this great passionate love that ensures it continuance. Any number of the things declared in Romans 8 can alter this love, even bring it to a complete end because it is rooted and grounded in feelings and circumstance.
The only guarantee for the continuance of love is for that love to have no connection to feelings, physical attraction, emotion, or circumstance. For love to continue day after day, and year after year until time is no more, it must be a deliberate decision and freewill commitment by the individual to love. Agapee love is the love of one who is an altruist as we saw previously concerning Jesus Christ. It is selfless in its origins and timeless in its scope.
The least word for love used by the Greeks in their culture was agapee because it was the love of selflessness and the world never taught the Greeks to be selfless. The world has never taught anyone to be selfless.
When we see the word agapao used in reference to loving darkness and the wages of unrighteousness and so on, we are looking at the verb form, the action of this agapee type of love. We aren't looking at the noun which describes and defines the love. The action we are seeing in these negative examples is the commitment, the dedication, the conviction and freewill decision these men have made to a devilish and ungodly direction in life. These have copied the commitment of the verb while having no idea what or how God defines the noun, agapee.
For God so loved [agapao] the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God acted with selflessness in allowing His only son to not only sacrifice his life, but to allow the world to beat him to the point he was not even recognizable as a man after the beating. So that all who believed could have everlasting life. The Pharisees were so dedicated to receiving the praise of men that they did anything they deemed necessary to receive that praise, lie, cheat, steal, murder, whatever it took.
So, those Bible teachers that define agapee as divine love are accurate in their definition. But we also need to see and understand how this type of love demands a full commitment and deliberate decision to manifest it in the senses world.
Now when it comes to the renewed mind we are speaking about agapee love. Most believers have heard the term renewed mind but not very many have heard the term, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. Because this phrase, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, is never used in the Bible we need to be clear as to exactly what we mean by it and where we formulated this phrase.
Let's begin with the first part of his phrase, "the love of God". We have already seen that this type of love is based upon commitment and deliberate decision. It requires a dedication and devotion to carry out this love moment by moment. I have already told you that agapee, the noun, is never used in a negative manner. It is the noun and where the noun is used that defines and describes for us what this love looks like.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity [agapee] suffereth long, and is kind; charity [agapee] envieth not; charity [agapee] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
This is from what has been commonly called the love chapter, a chapter that gives us great understanding about how God sees agapee love. Let's just consider the first aspect stated here, suffers long.
Makrothumeo is the Greek word and means longsuffering. Understanding this word plus two others gives us a good mind picture of what God is talking about here. When the Bible speaks of temperance it is speaking of you exercising self-control in your life. When the Bible speaks of patience it is speaking of you enduring situations and circumstances that surround your life. Longsuffering is similar to patience with one big difference. Patience endures things while longsuffering endures people.
When it comes to walking in love you need great longsuffering because every person blows it, makes mistakes, and generally has developed screwing up to the point of it being an art form. If you don't make walking in love a deliberate decision then you will walk away and let that person "get what they deserve". Do you see why this agapee can't be based on emotion and feelings? It wouldn't last without a committed decision to love.
We don't have the time in this teaching to go through all of the aspects of agapee love as God lays them out in His Word. But every believer needs to make time to investigate and study God's viewpoint and description of agapee as He declares in His Word.
That's the first part of the phrase, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. The next part of the phrase is"...in the renewed mind..."
As has been previously handled, Romans chapter 12 begins the section on the practical application of the doctrine that was held forth in chapters one through eight. It begins with presenting [paristemi] ourselves along aside of God by being transformed by the renewing of the mind.
A further breakdown of the structure of this section of Romans is as follows: beginning in verse 9 and going through Romans 15:7 God discusses how this renewed mind walks forth in love. Many aspects of walking in love are handled in this section, 12:9 through 12:13 deals with walking in love toward other believers, 12:14 through 12:20 deals with walking in love toward unbelievers, 12:21 deals with a believer loving himself. Romans 13 deals with walking in love toward those who have a leadership position in the Body of Christ. Romans 14 deals with walking in love between young, or immature believers and mature believers.
God has devoted a great deal of time to a believer walking in love in this Gospel of Grace because it is that important and necessary. We are His children. He has created holy spirit, his nature, within us. God is love and when people see us, He wants them to see His heart just like Jesus Christ gave people that opportunity.
1 Corinthians 8:1
Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity [agapee] edifieth.
Knowledge is wonderful and needful but it is pointless without love.
1 Corinthians 12:31
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
The best gifts is in reference to the gift ministries spoken of in Ephesians chapter 4 but the more excellent way is what God handles in chapter thirteen of first Corinthians, and that is agapee love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [agapee], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [agapee], I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [agapee], it profiteth me nothing.
Remember, Corinthians is a reproof epistle. That means it is correcting the wrong practice they had pertaining to the doctrine of Romans. Specifically, Corinthians would relate back to what God taught in Romans chapters 12 through 16 concerning the right application of the doctrine of Romans. It is Romans 12:9 through Romans 15:7 that details the importance and the how of walking in love.
Let love [agape] be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
The words "be without dissimulation" come from one Greek word anupokritos. This word anupokritos deals with an actor who wore a mask to play a part and is understood as a hypocrite. In other words, he was not what he appeared to be. We are being told to not let our love be a false face, something we put on in public but don't really have in your heart. An easy comparison would be to the rulers of Israel that Jesus had to deal with on a regular basis.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
In all three verses the word translated hypocrites is hupokrites. The two differences between the word used in Romans 12 and Matthew 6 is first, Romans is the verb form and Matthew is the noun. Second, Romans has an "a" as a prefix which means not and accounts for the translation of "be without".
The Jewish leaders put on a certain look for public consumption while inwardly it was all just a game to them. For these leaders it wasn't about the people, it wasn't about God, it was only about themselves. We are to let our love be outwardly what it is inwardly. We are not to put on a false face when it comes to agape love. We don't grin and bear it, we make the decision to act in love and then follow through with the decision. What we are doing is deciding to walk by this new nature as it is described in God's Word.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We have all been there before, wherever "there" is for the person in front of you. The details may not be exact but we have all walked according to the dictates of the world, fulfilling the lusts and desires of the flesh. Therefore, agapee is longsuffering. We will need to feed our minds the words of God in regard to agapee if we want to renew the mind.
Romeo did not have the hope of the return of Christ. Therefore, he had no comfort when he thought Juliet had died. Rather than overcoming evil with good, God's Word, he overcame evil with an evil that was fatal,. He took his own life. I know I am making a point out of a play and therefore it seems silly. But how often does man allow his emotions to control his actions? How much love is tossed aside today because of a misunderstanding, or because the circumstances have changed?
Renewing the mind is a deliberate decision to put the words of God on in our minds and then to act according to those words. We adapt our minds and lives to the Word of God rather than allow the world to control our actions and reactions.
The third part of the phrase is, "...in manifestation." This is what other people see in our lives, our walks, how we handle situations, circumstances, and the things and the people around us.
Earlier when I was talking about the structure of Romans 12 it had different parts to it. Our response to God should be to stand along side of Him by renewing the mind. Our response to believers is also handled in chapter 12. Because the Corinthians did not apply the doctrine of Romans correctly they began to choose which Bible teacher was better, which teacher they followed. God called it carnality and called them babes in His Word.
Then there is our response to unbelievers. If the goodness of God leads man to repentance, what do you suppose an unbeliever will see in your life that will lead him to God? This is what people see in our lives. Do we manifest the love God has defined in His Word, do we manifest what a transformed life looks like? The choice and decision is our own. God will not force a believer to change, He believes in freewill. He invented freewill!
But we need to understand that God has given us newness of life. We are a new creation in Christ and that is what other people need to see from us in order to see God.
The world speaks of "falling in love" and like many others, I believed that was the pinnacle of love. To fall in love and have another fall in love with you. The problem with the fall is the abrupt stop at the end. Falling in love is impulse, it is all emotion. Impulses end and emotions change. Eros gets the hormones racing and charging until they run out of gas and disappear. Agapee love is the only love that is based in a clear and deliberate decision, a willing devotion of heart and mind having nothing to do with emotion, circumstances, attraction, or self indulgence.
Agapee does not dictate an absence of emotion. Agapee simply refuses to be ruled by emotion.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love [agapee] of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
This first epistle of John is addressed to Israel for John was an apostle sent to Israel. But we can learn from what God has declared here in First John. The love of God in the Administration of Grace would be for us to keep His Word that is addressed to us.
Walking in love will always come back to the individual believer being conditioned by the Word and not controlled by the circumstances in the world.
The love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation will always come down to the individual believer making the deliberate decision to feed his nous a continual diet of the words of God, so that, he is transformed [passive voice] by that living and powerful Word of God, which then becomes manifested in the senses world as he acts.