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Topical - Love Your Enemies (Part 1)

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Matthew 5:43-48

I.                  What Is Love?

A.       Four Kinds of Love

1.    There is “eros” love.

a)         This is love that arises from passion, infatuation, and sexual attraction.

(1)        It is the love (passion) of a man for a woman. The word is never used in the New Testament.

2.    There is “storge” love.

a)         This is love that arises from affection, a natural born affection, the affection of family love.

(1)        It is the love and natural affection between parent and child.

3.    There is “phileo” love.

a)         This is love that arises from affection also, it is a deep, intense, and warm affection.

(1)        It is an affection that fills a person’s heart with warmth, tenderness, preciousness, and a deep consciousness of really loving and really being loved.

(2)        It is the love of precious affection and feelings toward those who are very near and very dear to one’s heart.

4.    There is “agape” love.

a)         It is a sacrificial love.

(1)        It is a sacrificial love, that is, a love that cares, gives, and works for another person’s good—no matter how the person may respond or treat one.

(2)        This is the love that wishes well. It is a love that demonstrates kindness, benevolence, and esteem.

(3)        It is the love of the mind, reason, and choice.  The word Christ uses in saying, “Love your enemies” is agape: the love that must be willed. The Christian must use his mind and reason and deliberately choose to love his enemy.

b)        Note four things:

(1)        The Christian’s love for his enemy is different from the love he holds for his family.

(a)         It would be impossible to love an enemy with affection. Christ knew this.

(2)        The Christian sacrifices himself, bears all in order to work for his enemy’s good.

(a)         The Christian chooses deliberately to love a world of antagonistic men for their own good (their salvation and hope of eternity).

(3)        The Christian’s love is not complacent acceptance of open wickedness and license.

(a)         1Corinthians 13:6 – It is not sitting back and allowing a person to do as he pleases.

(b)        Proverbs 27:5 – Agape love is putting a stop to sin and license as much as possible.

(c)         It is restraint, control, discipline, and even punishment when it protects the offender from himself and protects those whom he hurts.

(4)        Agape love is God’s love.

(a)         A Christian can have agape love only as he allows God to love through him (John 21:15-17)

(b)        The believer deliberately wills to love as God loves, and God empowers him to do so (Romans 5:5).

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.  Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21 cf. 1 Thess.5:15)

If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. (Exodus 23:4 cf. Deuteronomy 22:1-4)

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; (Proverbs 24:17)

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

And the second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:39)

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; (James 2:8)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7)

II.   Love & Commitment – John 21:15-17

A.       Our Love For God Prepares Us For Service

Peter knew that he had let Jesus down by denying Him three times prior to the Crucifixion.  But Peter also knew that Jesus had forgiven him.  So Jesus tested Peter by asking him the searching question, “Do you love Me?” three times.

There is a difference between the questions Jesus asked of Peter.

1.    Question 1 asked Peter who he loved the most, the Lord Himself or these (v.15)?

a)         Just what is meant by “these” is not clear.

(1)        Jesus could have been pointing to the disciples sitting around.

(a)         If so, He meant, do you love me more than you love these men or your family?

(2)        Or, Jesus could have been pointing to the fish, the nets, and the boat.

(a)         If so, He was asking, do you love me more than your profession and career (John 21:3)

(3)        Perhaps Scripture is unclear at this point.

(a)         This could be so in order to make “these” apply to anything and everything in our lives.

2.    Question 2 asked Peter if he loved with God’s love (v.16).

a)         This is seen in the Greek word for love.

(1)        Jesus used one word, but Peter used another.

(a)         Jesus used the word agape, the highest form of love, the love of God Himself.

(b)        But Peter did not reply, “Yea, Lord, I agape you.” He said, “Yea, Lord, I phileo you.”

(1)        That is, I love you just like a brother; I love you with a brotherly love.” Phileo means brotherly love, the love between two brothers.

3.    Question 3 probed the genuineness and loyalty of Peter’s love (v.17).

a)         Here Jesus descended to the human level of love.

(1)        He used phileo.

(a)         He simply asked Peter, “Peter, do you really love, phileo me—even as a brother?”

(1)        Questioning the loyalty of his love grieved Peter.

(2)        But Jesus assured Peter that his love would one day reach the ultimate height (John 21:18). 

(3)        Peter would be called upon to demonstrate agape love, the sacrificial love of God. Peter  would be called upon to die for Christ, to give his life for preaching the love of God to those who do not care for it and who react violently against it.

b)        Jesus was preparing His disciples for agape love.

(1)        In Christ, God was showing the world a new kind of love—agape love.

(a)         Agape became the love that was willing to give and die even for an enemy (Jn.3:16)

(2)        Peter and the disciples did not yet understand this.

(a)         The Holy Spirit had not yet been given, and agape love is shed abroad in the heart only by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22 cf. Phil.2:13).

c)         Agape Love Means At Least Seven Things

(1)        Agape Love is not only a love of emotions.

(a)         It is a matter of the mind as well of the heart, of the will as well of the emotions (Romans 5:6-8)

(2)        Agape Love is God’s Love—His very nature.

(a)         Deuteronomy 7:7-8 cf. 2 Thessalonians.2:13

(b)        It is the love that God extended toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (1Jn 4:7-10, 16).

(3)        Agape Love is a seed that can be planted in the heart only by Christ.

(a)         It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:3)

(4)        Agape Love is the Love that God has for His Dear Son

(a)         John 15:10; John 17:26

(5)        Agape love was perfectly expressed when God gave up His own Son to die for man.

(a)         2 Corinthians 5:14; Eph.2:4-10; 3:19; Eph.5:2


(6)        Agape love is the love which holds believers together.

(a)         For three years Jesus Himself had held the apostles together. Now that He was about to leave them, what was going to keep them together and keep them at the task?

(b)        One thing: the new commandment (John 13:33-35; 1 John 3:17-18)—agape love.

(1)         It Reveals To the World That We Belong to Christ (Jn.13:35)

(2)        It Reveals Our True Identity (1Jn.3:14)

(3)         It Delights God (Ps.133:1)


(7)        Agape love is the love, which believers are to have for all men.

(a)         Agape love is to be for all men (1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 Thess.3:12; 2 Peter 1:7)

(b)        seeks the welfare of all (Romans 15:2)

(c)         does no harm to his neighbor (Romans 13:8-10)

(d)       seeks opportunities to do good to all men (Galatians 6:10; Colossians 3:12-14; 1   Cor.13:1ff.)

B.       Do You Love Me?

1.    A Person who loves the Lord

a)         Will long for personal communion with God

(1)        Psalm 42:1,2; 63:1-4

b)        Will love the things that He loves.

(1)        How do we know what He loves?  He tells us in Scripture.  

(2)        Therefore, whoever loves the Lord will love His word - As you are being made more like Jesus, you will start loving what He loves.  You will love righteousness, you will love what is good

(3)        Psalm 33:5; 119:97; Proverbs 15:9; 22:11; 29:3; John 10:17; 2 Cor.9:7; 1John 3:9.

c)         Will hate what God hates.

(1)        As His nature becomes our nature, we will begin to recoil from everything that displeases God

(2)        Psalm 97:10; Psalm 101:3; Proverbs 8:13.

d)        Will long for the return of Christ.

(1)        The Bible teaches that Jesus is going to return for His people and we're going to be caught up together to be with Him in the air (1Thessalonians 4:13-18;1Corinthians 15:51-52)

(2)        Do you believe that Jesus is going to return?  Does this thrill you or does it frighten you?  Those who love the Lord should be looking forward to His return (2Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:11-13; 1John 3:2-3)

e)         Will keep His commandments.

(1)        1 John 2:4-5; 5:3;  2 John 6

(2)        John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10

f)          Will minister to Him

(1)        Matt.27:55; 25:40

2.    This passage illustrates the magnitude of God's love for you & me (Luke 15:11-32)

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