Abide in My Love
“I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
John 5:41-47 NKJV
With the first covenant, God presented the conditions of the agreement through Moses and promised that if they meet those requirements, God would be with them. What were those requirements? Jesus said it was to “love God and love your neighbour as yourself,” simply put. He said that was what the Law hangs on.
He promised them that if they love God and men, God would love them also and be with them. However, they broke the promise as soon as it was made. They betrayed Him badly in the desert, and even after they entered Canaan, they were unfaithful for hundreds of years. It is a history of unfaithfulness.
God said, “I will establish a new covenant. Since it is impossible for Me to be with you with the old covenant, I will make a new one.” Finally, Jesus came and said, “Now I know. I know that the love of God is not in you.” This is a huge change. Up until then, they were told to love God, and God would then love them also. But the Son of God came and said, “I know that the love of God is not in you.” Yet He does not tell them they should just perish. Instead, despite telling them that they do not have love, He goes on to change the covenant. ‘I should establish another covenant.’ He is proposing another righteousness to us that does not rely on our own righteousness. We have to have righteousness in order to be with God since God is righteous.
So then, how can we attain that righteousness? How can we be one with God? Obviously, it cannot be expected that we love God. So Jesus says, “You abide in My love.” Before that, God said, “You ought to love Me.” But now He says, “Abide in My love.” This is the difference between the Law and the Gospel.
The Law commands, “Love God,” whereas the Gospel says, “Abide in My love.” Which is easier? To abide in His love is easier.
Loving God is actually impossible because we are sinners. We can pretend to love Him for a short time, but we cannot sustain that forever. There is the notion of the absolute, which is righteousness, which cannot be reduced. God is righteous because He is the Absolute.
Therefore, when we love God, that love has to be absolute forever. But concerning that, God already proclaimed, “I have no expectations anymore. Therefore, receive My love for you.” He told us to come into His love. I think it is John 15:9 where He says that.
Whoever receives in His love can abide with God. Who receives that love? Whoever admits that he is in need of that love. If one thinks he does not need it, obviously, he will not receive it. Though it is offered, if one does not accept, then there is nothing to do about it. Only those who feel the need for it will accept it. So, who accepts it? Only sinners do. Who is a sinner? The person who confesses and acknowledges that he needs to receive God’s love is a sinner. Who denies God and opposes Him? The people who claim to live without God’s love. Some people say, “I’ll just go to hell. Don’t bother me. I want to live like this and go to hell.” These people believe that they do not need God’s love. They think they can live just fine. They do not even know how to be grateful for the fact that they are living now because of the sunshine and rain God provides. Furthermore, they are ignorant of the great grace God is giving and, therefore, do not acknowledge that they believe they do not need God’s love.
When God first created man, He created man from the start as a being that cannot survive nor exist without the love of God. A creature that cannot survive without being loved. Let’s say a mother gave birth to twins. One of the twins is healthy, but the other has cerebral palsy. What would the mother do as she raises her children? The healthy one will grow up perhaps feeling like he was not loved by his mother. It is possible he feels that way when he grows up. ‘Mom only loves my brother and cares about him only.’ That is because the mother needs to focus more of her care and attention on the child who has cerebral palsy. Though he becomes 20 or 30 years old, the mother needs to feed, wash, look after and nurture him. The child who is healthy will probably be sent off to serve in the army when he turns 20 years old, after which he would find a job and leave home, only to visit his mother once in a while. But the other one would still be in his mother’s care. Why? Because he has that deficiency. He cannot live without his mother.
Similarly, God created the angel and man, but the angels can live without the constant protection and care from God. Since they are without a body, as long as they do not abandon the duty and position entrusted to them by God, they do not really have any issues surviving. But man has a body, and where did God create the body of man? He created man in Hades, where the devil is at work. And then He poured the spirit into man so that man became the only being who can commune with God. So what would happen if man does not receive God’s love? The devil will not leave him alone for a single moment. If God’s love does not protect us, we will not be able to live peacefully like this, even for one minute, and we will not even be able to sustain our life. There are all kinds of diseases in the world. Whenever we see and hear about those diseases and rare illnesses, we realize that it is not a natural thing nor a matter of course that we are alive just fine.
For example, when we have an ulcer on our tongue, it is quite painful. That is when I realized something. Our tongue is constantly bumped against the hard teeth. Nevertheless, we normally do not feel any pain. If we were to push our hands on a hard surface like this and keep it there for an hour, what do you think would happen? It will bleed. There will be a bad cut, and it will bleed. When you buy new shoes and wear them, even for a day, the skin around your heels or ankles gets grazed. Perhaps the shoes nowadays are well made and do not happen too often, but in the olden days, it was always the case. So it is amazing how our skin usually does not get cut. Also, we move our knees constantly, bending and straightening them. There is soft flesh covering the knees, and yet the flesh is not cut through by the constant bending. Moreover, there is cartilage in the knee, and when we jump down from somewhere high, it stays in place. There is cartilage in between bones in our spine also, and it is amazing that they stay in place without popping out. We think it is just natural. But when you get a spinal disc, that is when they pop out of place, and you experience severe pain as though your back is breaking. Only then you realize you have been taking it for granted. That is when you realize how remarkable it was that they stayed in place. Every time we eat, we produce saliva and, therefore, we can enjoy our food. But those who have tongue cancer cannot produce saliva. And because they do not produce saliva when they eat food, it feels as though they are chewing sand. Only then we realize that that is the reason why we salivate when we see something tasty, because the saliva helps us to swallow food smoothly. And it is remarkable.
We cannot live without receiving the love of God. We do not know how the devil will attack us using demons, and we are only free from them in the present because God protects and guards us from all of those attacks. Even for a person who feels like God is not helping, if they only consider each and every part of their body where something could go wrong, which would add up to hundreds of thousands, they might realize it is actually God’s protection they are receiving. If God were to take His hand off any one of those areas, they would be the demon’s prey. When that happens, for some, a tumour suddenly grows in their brain. For others, their face might puff up, and with others, an abscess grows on their skin and becomes bigger to make the skin hard as a rock. For others, their wound did not heal properly but get infected, so they have to amputate their leg. All kinds of things can happen. Some even have hair growing all over their faces and over their bodies. So why are not these things happening to us? Because God protects us, and we are receiving His love. This is not only for matters pertaining to our flesh but also for spiritual matters.
In this way, we are surrounded by the devil, and suffering follows. Suffering continuously accompanies the flesh. That is because God made us as such weak beings. Why? He made us as creatures that are susceptible to the devil’s attacks. The reason for that is that Jesus had to come amongst them. Jesus had to come in the weak flesh so that the devil may attack Jesus and push Him towards death, doing everything in his power to do so that what the devil did before may be exposed, and then God can raise up that helpless Jesus from the dead and prove that He is righteous. For all these things, man was prepared in advance. Thus, man was created with a flesh of weakness, and he was placed in the very place where the devil was at work. Hence, it is natural that the flesh of man is subject to attacks and suffering. In return, God has allowed us to receive His love, which is not merely a love that is temporarily given in the flesh but an everlasting love. Therefore, in exchange for the temporary suffering we face, He allows us everlasting glory. So God does not need to feel sorry for this temporary suffering we undergo. Why? Because afterwards, He is going to give us something so good. Until a baby is born, it is painful. And there are some women who hold resentment towards the Creator or against their husbands because of the temporary pain they underwent. Once you deliver the baby, you forget the pain because the joy far outweighs it. And that joy continues.
In the same way, the suffering we face in the flesh on earth is momentary, and the more we face it, the more we would have to rely on God. And since the love we receive from God is everlasting and so great, God does not need to feel sorry for us for the sufferings we bear.
When Jesus called His disciples, He said, “Follow Me.” He told them that they would be blessed if they followed Him. But later, they either die hung on a cross, beaten to death, or by the sword. Even so, Jesus is not sorry. Why? Because He will give them something far greater that cannot be compared.
That love, therefore, is incomparable. He says, “Abide in that love.” That is the gospel. Abide in His love.
We are not accepted by God by loving Him. Rather, we were sinners who could not love God nor men nor our own selves. We were sinners who were alienated. But by abiding in Jesus, God’s love, by receiving His love, we came to be one with God. We give thanks.
This is not difficult. If we just believe in the grace of God and how Jesus Christ obeyed God the Father to shed His blood for us, and through it all, He destroyed the devil and delivered us, then God will be with us.
Therefore, we need to receive the love of God. The fact that one does not pray proves he thinks he can live without God’s love. People do not pray, do not listen to God’s words and do what they desire. Some people come to me for counselling, but when they leave after all the advice I give them, they say, “I’ll pray about it.” These people enervate me. They ask me all that time, and their response is, “I’ll pray.” They pretend to be spiritual men, but because they cannot say to my face that they do not like my advice, they just answer, “I’ll pray.”
They are unwilling to receive God’s word and only say, “I’ll pray. I’ll pray about it.” They are not willing to take God’s help when it is available but want to keep a distance all the time. Such a person is bound to lose to the devil. Why? Man has the condition to be susceptible to the devil, and the only to escape him is receiving God’s love. Yet if man rejects that love, the devil’s attacks will come straight at him. And then he blames God for it. He does not think about how God loved him and that he was made as a being who should be loved by God. He only blames God for his circumstances saying, “Why did God put me here!” Instead of doing that, we need to recognize that God made us as creatures to be loved by God and trust in Him. Depend on Him.
In order to go before God, we have to go through the Holy Place. But before you can enter the Most Holy Place, what is the last step? The incense, is not it? What does that mean? It means to rely on God. It means to depend on God. Our relationship with God is about relying on Him. Before we can behold God’s face, we do need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and offer our dedication. But just before we meet Him, what we need to get burned is the incense, which means a heart with full reliance on God. “I cannot live without You, God. Though I may have power, I am full of the Holy Spirit and offered dedication. Without relying on You, God, I can’t do anything. Help me.” This is the heart we always need to have. That is the attitude one must have as a creature that must be loved.
“Lord, I rely on You.” Maybe that is why when we come to church and sing that hymn “Lord, I trust myself unto Thee,” tears run down our faces. We are in tears the first time we come, and then when we are in the midst of hardships because we are touched. Our spirits break down before Him. Our spirits must rely on God. O my soul, rely on God! Let us pray.
Our Father God, we confess that we are beings who cannot live without the help of God. Father God, please help us. Truly, let our spirits always rely on God, let us trust in God, and let us find rest in God. Lord, help us to do so. Even if we have skills, abilities, diligence, and sincerity, we acknowledge at this moment that without God’s help, we can achieve nothing, and no results can come forth. Our Father God, always help us. We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 30, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team