Pastor Star R. Scott

No Greater Love Pt.5

Let's turn to Ephesians and continue along with our study. The Lord has really been speaking to us in these last number of sessions. How many of you are aware that in these last number of sessions the Holy Spirit has been really ministering to our hearts in a very practical and, I think, productive way to bring unity and strength into the body of Christ? Would you say amen to that? The main thing He has been speaking to us, of course, is the basic principle that we've been talking about, and that's doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, the Golden Rule. And we sure live far from that at times, don't we? You know, most of us here are not people that are moving in great degrees of vindictiveness or harshness or whatever, but all of us battle constantly with the preoccupation of self. As we've been really embracing this Word, what we're looking for in our midst here is to give no place to the devil because there are still some deep-seated conflicts in this fellowship, and they have to go. Amen? "Well, why? So we can have a better fellowship and a stronger fellowship?" No. So you can go to heaven. Amen? Because all of the other stuff that you do--praying and fasting and your quoting of the Bible--is in vain if you have unforgiveness in your heart, and we want to speak toward some of those things this evening.

Now, we want the unity and we want the Holy Spirit to move in our midst. We want to see the power of God manifest, but our primary concern is that none of us would move in that deception, that blindness, of self-righteousness because an unforgiving heart is a self-righteous heart. And the judgment that comes from it is unthinkable. We'll look back at some of those passages today. If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven! Amen? Period. Red ink. And in Matthew 18, we've all looked at the parable over and over again about the man that is forgiven the abundance of his debt, millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars that he's unable to pay. He was freely forgiven and goes out and immediately takes his friend by the throat over fifteen bucks and has him cast into prison. We talked Sunday night about the sea of God's forgetfulness and how thankful we are for that. Amen? And the handwriting of ordinances that are against us that's been blotted out. Aren't you thankful that everything you've ever done in conflict with the righteousness, the holiness, and the law of God, that's ever been written down, every record of every idle word you've ever spoken, when the book is opened, the pages are blank because of the blood of Jesus? Amen? Hallelujah!

But it's that kind of ink that God has a way of (swish!) making it come back. You know that ink that disappears and you do something to make it come back? And the only thing that can make that come back is your absolute rejection of the lordship of Jesus overtly or the rejection of the lordship of Jesus by forgiving not, as you were forgiven, because to have unforgiveness in your heart is to reject the lordship of Jesus Christ in your life. Those are the few things that we've been pointing out and talking about, and we want to see it become practical in our lives and functional in our fellowship. I know it's the desire of all of us. I have no question that we all hold to the same doctrine here. Every one of us has the same doctrine on forgiveness, but I don't think we're all in the same place of application.

So the question this evening is, where are you? The question that we asked last session was this: do you have unqualified, unconditional, infinite love for your brother? Wow, that's quite a mouthful, isn't it? That's how you're loved, and that's how you're told to love. Amen? Unqualified, infinite love--there's no end to it--love never fails. Amen? God loved you, the Scripture says very clearly, before you were formed in your mother's womb. Amen? God's love for us in the covenant that we have in redemption in Jesus Christ is shown in Hosea. In all of our rejection, our fornication, the prostituting of our lives with the world and selfness, Hosea loves. It is a representative of God. God loves us. He redeems us to Himself. It is not a performance-oriented love, and those of us that feel that sometimes we've been mistreated.... Think about this for just a moment. Think about how the prophet must have felt. Think about how the Scripture teaches us that God feels with His heart toward Jerusalem, and they reject and prostitute themselves, and He said, "I love you; come on home. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. �??...Love one another; as I have loved you....'" Now, that's tough, man! There is no getting around it. How badly do you want it? How teachable are you? How hungry are you for yourself and those that maybe you've offended or are crosswise with? How hungry are you for the two of you to be free? Or is your pride, self-righteousness, stubbornness, ego, going to offend one of God's little ones? If that is what is happening, it would be better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck. This is the reality of what Christianity is all about.

Tonight we want to look at a couple of other passages and see what Father has for us. Ephesians, Chapter 4. We were talking about this the other night, but just a quick look at a verse here that might be helpful to us in getting started. Chapter 4, as Paul speaks to us in verse 26, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil." I want to tell you something, man. The longer you put this off, the greater bondage you're in. Don't give place to the devil. For every day that goes by without you resolving conflict in the body of Christ, Satan puts a stronger hold on your neck and reaffirms your justifications and causes you to be more right in your eyes because he is the accuser of the brethren. Amen? It's his job, and he will find every way possible for you to justify your accusation against your brother. He's a liar and he's the father of lies, and there is no truth in him. So when we realize where those accusations are coming from and who you've partnered with, it should frighten you. And he says, "Give no place to the devil." Do it quickly! He gives more admonition to us and he says in verse 29, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."

If there are conflicts in our midst, any time you speak toward that individual to anybody else, to them when there is any type of a confrontation, and I don't mean that in a way that would have to do with negative. I'm just talking about whenever you would confront one another and address one another, would you say that all of your words and your heart's attitude is, "I'm going to edify this person. When they leave my presence, they will be built up because I am ministering grace to those that hear my voice." "[Because] by grace are ye saved..." (Ephesians 2:8). Amen? All I've got to show anybody around me is grace. All I do in the body of Christ, as it pertains to my brothers and sisters, is to seek ways to edify them and build them up.

We spoke a little bit Sunday night on this. Verse 30, if I don't have this kind of an attitude, I am grieving the Holy Spirit of God, "...whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." He's the sealer. He's the guarantee, and the moment we walk contrary to His Spirit of forgiveness and grace and gentleness and meekness, that seal is broken, man! You've grieved Him. He backs off. I don't know about you. I don't want to be out here on my own. Amen? I need the Holy Ghost. I want to tell you something. For me to treat you properly, the Holy Ghost has got to be working in me. Because, otherwise, I am in it for me. I can't love without the Holy Spirit. I can't walk in humility without the Holy Spirit. I can't walk in a Biblical compassion without the Holy Spirit. I do not want the Holy Spirit grieved in my temple here, this tabernacle, that's been built for the glory of God. What a tragedy! What a tragedy when we can't speak to edifying about a brother and sister who Jesus died for! "But you don't understand, Pastor, they said something that really hurt my feelings or they said something that wasn't true about me. You just don't understand." That's true. I've never had anybody do that, but the reality is, I'm the debtor. Amen? I'm the chief of sinners. Jesus made it very clear. So somebody said something that hurt your feelings, wasn't totally accurate, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Jesus said, "Pray for them." Amen? He didn't say write them off. And that's for our enemies. How much more for people that are part of us that are struggling against the same flesh that we are, that we should be speaking words of grace and seeking opportunities to edify them?

Keep your finger here in Ephesians and turn over to Matthew for just a moment here; the Lord is teaching us here on the Sermon on the Mount. Chapter 5, verse 43, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Why? Why would we be admonished to do this? "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven...For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the [sinners], the publicans, [the pagans], the same?" And if ye [greet] your brethren only [those that you choose to be in your little club], what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans the same?" Now, watch: Forgiveness, humility, doing away with all schism and seditious activity, verse 48, is what makes you perfect "...even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." There is no greater demonstration of the love of the Father, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the lordship of Jesus, than to respond to others this way. How are you doing tonight in your being perfect in the Father? Do you think those verses describe you?

"Well, I'm not really in conflict with anybody." Well, has everybody been doing good to you? No one ticked you off lately? It's not how we respond when everything is going the way we like it. How do you respond to people when there is conflict, when you have been abused, you've been misunderstood? Wrongs--listen--wrongs, whether true or perceived, even a perceived wrong still hurts, doesn't it? What do you do with those things? What kind of a spirit are we walking in? What is your reaction when somebody comes up and slaps you in the face? Jesus told us what to do. What do you do? Are you good at that? I think we need to pull out a couple of those verses we have been quoting, right? "Lord, increase our faith. Help our unbelief." Amen? I've experienced that a number of times; and many of you have. See, that slap in the face is somebody trying to humiliate you. It's a demeaning of your self. This isn't like somebody trying to assault you. Are you ready to turn the other cheek?

About a year or so ago, as we were teaching a lot on the cross and we were talking about the fact of how do we really perceive ourselves? See, if we see ourselves as truly low and humble, then can anybody ever do anything that's humiliating to us? Can you be humiliated if you're humble? And the response is you turn the other cheek. You pray for those people. You look to speak in grace into their lives and speak unto edification. Why? That you might be perfect like your Father in heaven is perfect. "Man, I don't know if that's possible." It's possible. The blood of Jesus provided it for us. Amen? The indwelling Holy Spirit brings sufficient grace and faith to be able to fulfill these admonitions. Make sure, back to Ephesians 4, verse 29, that it ministers grace to the hearer. "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God...Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:" Now, remember what is happening here. He is speaking to a fellowship. This is not being addressed to an individual. This is a letter that is being addressed to the church of Ephesus.

The church of Ephesus was probably one of the most doctrinally correct, spiritual churches in existence at this time. It was a powerful church, a biblically orderly church, a church that loves the Bible, studies the Bible, seeks out those that are involved in false doctrine. "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee..." the book of Revelation says about the Ephesians church, "You've done something." What? "...Thou hast left thy first love." You've lost sight that all of this doctrine you know, and all of these principles you've learned, and all of this Word that's right off your tongue is all to be governed by love. The only reason you know all this stuff you know, and the only reason you've experienced all the things you've experienced, is because while you were a sinner God loved you. And now some of us think that we can love more than God loves, that our system of justice is higher than God's. He basically said in that one statement to the church of Ephesus--listen--let me just filter this thing down for you. "Love never fails. You've started living for yourself and not for My glory." Part of the reason we know that's what's being said in the Revelation passage is because what the Holy Spirit is saying to them right here. He said, "I want all this bickering in the church to stop." This is what the Holy Ghost is saying. This is what the Apostle Paul is saying. "You guys are grieving the Holy Spirit. Let this nonsense, this bickering, this pettiness, not be once named among you," he goes on to say in the next chapter. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you... [Here's a word from the Holy Ghost.] And be ye kind one to another...."

What would you say your response to individuals... Hey, we're going to have conflicts. Amen? As well as we all know each other, as intertwined as our lives are, we're going to have conflicts. How do you resolve the conflict? By you being the first one to humble yourself and seek healing. Amen? "Yeah, but I was the one that was wronged." Well, now you can be right, again. Amen? Look what he goes on to say. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, [forgiving one another, forgiving one another--say the next three words] forgiving one another..." Say it again. Huh! For whose sake? So you can't forgive for Christ's sake? "They don't deserve it." How about for Jesus' sake, just doing it? "They should be the first ones to make it right. They didn't repent the way I wanted. They didn't say the words that I wanted to hear. I don't see any change." How about for Jesus' sake just forgiving somebody like God forgave you. Amen? If you don't, the handwriting of ordinances will come back. Your sins will re-emerge from the sea of forgetfulness, and you will be cast into outer darkness if you don't forgive. "Well, I've forgiven. I just don't choose to have anything else to do with them." You have not forgiven.

If aphiemi is manifesting itself, if this thing has been blotted out, if it's been cast away, if it is non-existent--forgiveness means it never happened--and if it never happened, then there can be no requisite that has to be met as to why we can now relate to one another. It never happened! It never happened. It never happened. "I want to believe that, but inside of me my emotions, the pain!" "...even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." So are you going to believe your emotions, or are you going to believe what God has told you to do? Are you going to be obedient, or are you going to let your emotions govern your life? "But I still feel..." Then why don't you, as an example of the grace of God and the mercy of God, why don't you just walk in faith then? Because without faith you cannot... How much of the rest of your Christian life are you going to let feelings dictate and govern your life? Do you do it anywhere else? Well, then why do your feelings direct your life in relationships? God is trying to set us free, and as He's speaking these things to us and as we were looking in the last session, God has called us to live lives that are lives of forbearance and walking in this love as Christ has loved us and obeying the Spirit through this unfeigned love, this love without pretense.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4, as the Holy Spirit begins to give us a little understanding of practical love and how it works, he starts off and says, "Love suffers long." Amen? "Well, I love this person; I just don't necessarily want to be around them." No, you don't love them, and you have not forgiven them. Stop lying against the truth! "Pastor, you don't know what's in my heart." The Holy Spirit does, and I'm just telling you what the Word says. I'm not judging your heart; the Word of God is judging your heart. You don't love anybody if you don't prefer them over yourself. So just stop lying to yourself. As we look at 1 Corinthians 13, it's a very interesting thing as it pertains to the spirit of forgiveness and forbearance. See, forgiveness is different from forbearance, and that's why we were talking about sins and conflicts. Some of our conflicts are where we're just irritated by somebody. Somebody hurts our feelings. Hurting your feelings is not a sin. If somebody sins against you, what do you do? You go to them alone. If somebody hurts your feelings, what do you do? Hmmm? You forgive them and you forbear them. Forbearance is just edifying them, building them up, speaking good things about them, because love doesn't assume evil. They didn't mean that. They're just in the same flesh you are. They said something that hurt your feelings. Big whoopee! Like you never hurt anybody's feelings? Man, if we start having to go and try to work out everything that somebody does that we don't like, we wouldn't have time for anything else. So you forbear. You endure. You put your "big boy" pants on, and realize they're fighting the same devil you are. Amen? And you pray for them because you know they don't want to do that and act like that. Do you like it when you mess up? "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31 NIV). Love suffers long. Amen? How longsuffering are you? What is it that God is calling us to here?

One of the things as you study this out, you'll see that the Holy Spirit is trying to say to us here, generally, that longsuffering is patience. It's endurance. It's bearing up under these real or perceived assaults on our divinity, and so if we truly understand the love that God has for us, and the love that He has for our brothers, just start putting the same value on one another that God did when He loved us before the worlds were created. The Holy Spirit is speaking to us here and talking about this longsuffering. It manifests itself in believing the love that God has to us in the midst of trials, to where we can endure hardships and these different aspects, but what about in relationships? What does it mean to be longsuffering as it pertains to relationships? This is one of my favorite renderings of longsuffering. You put it in your notes before, but write it in there again tonight. [Longsuffering is] self-restraint under provocation, self-restraint under provocation. Love suffers long. Amen? And we're to love as we've been loved.

Another rendering of forbearance, or longsuffering, is to have no desire to retaliate. "I'll show you. I'll teach you. I'll punish you." A spirit of separation, a seditious spirit, is a spirit of witchcraft. This pouting and separating and promoting of self, demeaning others, is just a carnal form of witchcraft, of manipulation. It's the fruit of strife and, as we know, where there is bitter envying and strife, there's every evil work. And so the spirit of forbearance, of really believing and knowing the love of God to us, toward us, gives us this ability, then, to restrain ourselves under provocation. We don't render evil for evil. We don't speak harshly. We're not quick to respond. We just absolutely, guess what? We take it. Amen? Let's say it this way, "Love takes it, man. Love takes the slap in the face. It takes all of the railing and vileness, and it takes it." Let me share it another way. It doesn't take it personally. I'm not saying that love does not respond to sins. I'm talking about the attitude. I'm talking about the attitude of heart. If what they're doing is sinful, there will be the addressing of the sin in the situation, but love doesn't take it personally. Love realizes that we're all in the same war with the same devil who is trying to destroy us. Love isn't quick to try to vaunt itself. It's not puffed up. It doesn't become the determiner of truth in every conflict.

As it pertains to relationships then, it's actually the opposite of anger. Do you have a very quiet, peaceful spirit? Are you full of the grace of God and mercy of God? The angry spirit, an angry man, is a man that's always quick to defend his position, his rights. "When I'm wronged, bless God, I'm..." But love is patient. It's longsuffering. It doesn't retaliate. He said in Ephesians, "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted..." This spirit of love that is at the root is what causes us to be able to forgive. Knowing the love of God, knowing the forgiveness of God, of course, not only is mandated, but it enables us to forgive, to love.

Kindness, the word actually speaks in the Greek--this definition and put it down--we're looking at ourselves right now and asking, how do we respond when things aren't going our way, when people aren't doing what we want to be done, the way we want it to be done? What are we doing when people irritate us, when people either transgress against us, or just become unpleasant to be around? How do you treat people who have let you down? Can I tell you something? If you hang around with humans, they're going to let you down. Amen? How do you respond to people that let you down? "Oh, I thought they were better than that. Oh, I thought we had a better relationship than that. Why would they say that about me? How come..." Love suffers long, and love is kind.

This kindness, as we're talking about it, is a very interesting word. I think as we look at it practically, Kindness is best defined as goodness in action, goodness in action. Now, what is it that we render for evil? What does the Bible say, render what? Good, goodness in action. The love of God that's working in us enables us to do good to those who are doing evil to us, whether it's evil that is just an overt work of the flesh, whether it's malicious, whether it's unknown, we render good. Man, this is tough, isn't it? But can I remind you of just one little phrase? Even as. Amen? Even as. How many of you are glad that when you willfully choose to make yourself lord and disobey God that He's still good toward you? Amen? How many of you are glad when you hurt God's feelings... Do you know God has feelings? We forget that God has feelings; He's a person. God is a person. How many times do you think in your Christian walk you slapped God in the face? How many times, as He was reaching out to do your best, did you judge Him unkind, not understanding? "Where is Your mercy; why me?" What do you think? How many times? And I could go on and on. You all have the Bible knowledge. I could go on and on, and can I remind us of something tonight? Even as. Amen? Who do you have by the neck tonight for fifteen bucks?

As we see God wanting to work this in us by the Holy Spirit--goodness in action--it's a heart of tenderness. It's a heart that's touched with the feelings of one another's infirmities. Beloved, we have got to let God work that compassion in us for one another as we all war with this human condition of sin in our members. Be kind. Be gentle. Be longsuffering. Be the big boy. Endure that you might be perfect like your Father in heaven is perfect. Amen?

Father, we thank You for Your Word tonight, and we just ask that You would help us. This can't be done in the natural, but what a work You've done in our lives! What grace and what mercy You've shown us! Father, this is beyond us, so we ask You to help us in our unbelief. Increase our faith. Jesus, help me to learn of You. Help me to learn and to love as You've loved us. We thank You for it, Father, in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.

"Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Amen? Turn to somebody next to you and say, "Even as." Praise God! Go in peace; God's love go with you.