If you are like me, spiritual love is something hard to wrap your mind around. Love itself is hard to fully grasp and so spiritual love seems even more abstract. Yet, spiritual love is the dominant characteristic of a believer who is full of the Holy Spirit and walking in the Spirit. Lewis Sperry Chafer lists seven evidences or characteristics of genuine spiritual love. * (I paraphrase for the sake of brevity.)
Spiritual love is not experienced by the unsaved: “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42 – Jesus addressing the Temple leaders who were conspiring to kill Him.)
Spiritual love is without favoritism and reaches out to the whole world. A desire for salvation for others is at the core of spiritual love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 – Jesus to Nicodemus on the new birth and eternal life). “And he [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).
Spiritual love abhors the present world system (GK. cosmos). “Love not the world [cosmos], neither the things that are in the world [cosmos]. If any man love the world [cosmos], the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).
Spiritual love is naturally shown to God’s Spirit-born children. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. …if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (I John 4:11-12).
Spiritual love is limitless, eternal, unending– like God’s love for us. [Love] “…Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” ( I Corinthians 13:7).
Spiritual love has a special affection for Israel. The spiritual believer will learn to rejoice in the great promises and purposes of God for the people for whom He is in everlasting covenants, and for whom He has an everlasting love. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Spiritual love is sacrificial. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). Such an attitude on the part of the Son of God toward eternal riches must, if reproduced in the Christian, affect largely his attitude toward earthly riches.
* He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 48-51)
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
I John 4:10
“There is very real human love; but all Christian love, according to the Scriptures, is distinctly a manifestation of divine love through the human heart. A statement of this is found in Romans 5:5, “because the love of God is shed abroad [lit. gushes forth] in our hearts by [produced or caused by] the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us.” This is not the working of the human affection; it is rather the direct manifestation of the love of God passing through the heart of the believer out from the indwelling Spirit. It is the realization of the last petition of the High Priestly prayer of our Lord: “That the love wherewith thou has love me may be in them” (John 17:26). It is simply God’s love working in and through the believer. It could not be humanly produced, or even successfully imitated and it, of necessity, goes out to the objects of divine affection and grace, rather than to the objects of human desire. A human heart cannot produce divine love, but it can experience it. To have a heart that feels the compassion of God is to drink of the wine of heaven.” *
* He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (page 48)
“Compressed into these nine words we have not only the exact statement as to what Christian character is, but a description as well, of the life that Christ lived while here on earth. It is also a statement of that manner of life which He would have the Christian experience here and now. These nine words form a Bible definition of what is meant by the phrase, ‘For to me to live is Christ.’ Though the world strives at a shadow of what these nine words represent, the reality is foreign to human nature, even when that nature is at its best. These graces, as here presented, are exotics and are never found in human nature unless produced there by the power of God. They are the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ Christian character, therefore, is not developed or ‘built’ through human attention and energy
“There are…two principles of life which are open to the Child of God: the carnal walk which is by the energy of the flesh, ‘as men,’ and the spiritual walk which is by the energy of the Spirit, or as Christ. This passage in Galatians states, ‘This I say the Walk in the Spirit [lit. by means of the Spirit], and ye shall not fulfill the lust [desires] of the flesh.’ These two principles are absolutely opposed to each other and therefore cannot be mingled. Walking by means of the Spirit, or ‘being led by the Spirit,’ is not the flesh being helped in some degree by the Spirit. It is said to be a direct accomplishment of the Spirit in spite of the opposition of the flesh.
“The nine words which define Christian character may be traced through the New Testament and, when so traced, it will be found, (1) that they are always present as being divine characteristics, though they sometimes have a shadow of their reality in the relationships and ideals of the world; (2) they are assuredly expected by God in the believer’s life; and, (3) they are always produced only by the Spirit of God.” *
* He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 44-48)