As I’ve explained before, not only is the world a mission field, but the visible church is as well. The battle is for truth, through rightly divided Scripture and sound doctrine. If you’ve tried to correct a fellow believer in Christ, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the desire to see that person set free from lies. We should share our corrections out of love; however, at times, our sincere attempts may well be misinterpreted as being divisive. Thankfully, there are those who are teachable; sadly, I often receive this verse from those who are deceived:
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Yes, you are correct – that is not a verse from the Bible; it is a verse from a worldly song*. Despite Scripture’s clear warning, exposing error seems to have no place in the church these days (Ephesians 5:11). The cry of the wolf pack is “love, love, love one another” in spite of the truth. These days, the command to love resembles a free pass, while the call to truth inexplicably denotes divisiveness.
Well, I say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
How Do You Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways
How the World Loves Us
The world flatters and seduces as it tells us what we want to hear. It builds us up and invites us to believe that we deserve everything simply because we exist. It whispers sweet nothings about our inherent goodness. It enchants us as it temptingly dangles in front of our eyes beautiful baubles and trinkets, and so it cunningly ensures that we become secure in ourselves and in our possessions. The world strokes our egos and we become self-righteous as it reassures us that we are gods.
Those who are worldly succumb to the lies. They inhale the buffet of false arguments, pretensions, and myths (2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Timothy 4:4). The world gives comfort at first, and we feel secure, important, and wanted in its arms; then slowly it constricts us when nothing is enough anymore…and so the lies trap us. We miss the betrayals because we are mesmerized by the narcissistic images the world holds up before us in its mirror. The world seductively whispers, “All you need is love”, before it kills and destroys. The world lies, and we follow it down its wide path that leads to destruction.
How False Teachers Love Us
Like the world, false teachers lie and corrupt minds (2 Timothy 3:8:Jeremiah 28:5-9). Many of them follow their sensuality (2 Peter 2:2), are greedy (2 Peter 2:14), and use apparent godliness as a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:5). Even their actions, which seem godly, are not godly (Matthew 7:22-23). Like the world, these teachers do not speak of sin and repentance because “God loves us and we’re doing just fine” (Jeremiah 6:13-14, Jude 1:4). They too offer a buffet of falsehoods (Ephesians 4:14); unsuspecting listeners swallow these lies and become confused and bloated from false hope and empty promises (Jude 1:12)
False teachers love us as the world does–by telling us what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). They craftily cater to the flesh by providing entertainment, and they dangle material “wants” that soon become “needs”. They promote mystical practices which satisfy the desire to become god-like. These teachers also say, “All you need is love”, as they persuade the deceived that sound doctrine divides when, in fact it is false teaching that divides (Jude 18-20). These false teachers love as the world loves, and since they speak for the father of lies (John 8:44), their path leads to destruction as well.
How Sound Teachers Love Us
God has given us biblically sound pastors and teachers who know they are shepherds, and who realize they are responsible for the spiritual growth of their flocks. They speak the truth in love, so the church can grow to be more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
We are to be renewed in knowledge (Colossians 3:10) and in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:23). The Word of God brings growth, and if the flock does not have a right understanding of the Word, its members will become spiritually immature and worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). These sound teachers teach from Scripture, not from man-made books and fables (2 Timothy 4:4). True shepherds teach of sin and repentance and do not permit Jesus-Loves-You-As-You-Are altar calls. Sound teachers tell us the hard things that the flesh does not want to hear, and they nourish us in good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6) so that we might become mature in Christ–we are sanctified in the truth, which is the Word (John 17:17). Sound teachers aim to keep us off the broad path, and steer us toward the narrow gate.
How Jesus Loves Us
Jesus does not attempt to flatter us; in fact, He tells us what our flesh does not want to hear. He called the scribes and Pharisees blind fools, hypocrites, serpents, and vipers (Matthew 23:1-33), so that we may know truth. Through the Holy Spirit who indwells all born-again believers, we are guided into all truth (John 16:7), and so the truth of our wretchedness is revealed and the lies are exposed. Jesus does not water down truth. He does not dangle the possessions and treasures of the world in front of us–we are not to be of the world (1 John 2:15-16). Jesus does not offer a smorgasbord of doctrines to choose from; He offers the only way to salvation–Himself. Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. Jesus loves us in truth. He is truth (John 14:6).
Friends, we cannot separate truth from love and still call ourselves Christians. We must unite because of sound doctrine–not because of appeasing, worldly love. Yes, God is love, but love is not God; so, let us tear down any false idols that this popular misconception might have created. Let us pray for wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and brotherly love.
Contend in the love of Christ.
* All You Need Is Love, The Beatles, 1967.