Updated: Sep 23, 2022
Many people claim to love Jesus. Some claim to really love Jesus. Others even claim to really, really love Jesus. So when someone says he loves Jesus, conversation over, because he must really love Jesus?
Whether Jesus loves me or I love Jesus is very basic to Christianity, to a proper theological understanding. Yes this is very important and we must all examine ourselves regarding this including myself. Love “rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor 13). Often professing believers hate the message and so the messenger, like people did Christ and the apostles. In their spite for reproof of error or sin, they formulate a plan that involves discrediting the message by maligning the messenger, e.g., concerning reproving or contending for the faith, “its not love but banging and clanging.”
In manipulating 1 Cor 13 for their scheme of rejecting reproof, they only invite destruction to themselves (Pr 15:10; Gal 5:9). But the pejorative agenda doesn’t end there; apparently “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) is referring to our motives and methods but not the message. Wow. Jesus commands saints to “judge righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24); Paul commands sharp reproof of error and sin (Ti 1:13)—that is speaking the truth in love and it isn’t blasting people up with the hammer of Scripture, which ironically is evil judging of motives forbidden in Jam 4. By perverting and forcing Scripture (through ungodly eisegesis) and judging motives, to fulfill an agenda, is that person loving Jesus?
I know what love is. It is of God. It is fruit of the Spirit. Love is a biblical concept, that originates from scripture. It entered the English language from the Bible. What comes to my mind related to these thoughts is 1 Jn 4:7 and 16, "every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. . . . God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." People that love Jesus, love and rejoice in the truth (1 Cor 13:6; 3 Jn 1:4). Error, lies, and compromise of the truth do not aid in edification or perfection or unity (Eph 4). They undermine it and destroy it. Such must be reproved, rebuked and rejected (Lev 19:17; Ps. 50:21-23; 58:1; Pr. 12:1; 13:1; 24: 15:5, 31; 17:10; 24:23-25; 28:23; Ti. 2:15; 2 Tim 4:2-4; etc), no lie or error left unexposed. Love is the first and second great commandments of God, (1) love God, and (2) love your neighbour. The entire law of God is wrapped up or summarized in those two commandments of God. And yes, saved people do fulfill or “establish the law” (e.g. Matt 5:17-20; Rom 3:31; Jn 14:23-24; 1 Jn 2:3-5).
Okay, let’s move onto what Scripture says about loving God.
Scripture says, God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). Love is an attribute of God, so love is who God is. That also means God defines love, though love is one of the most misused and corrupted words in the English vocabulary. Discernment and wisdom is required to discern in ourselves and others whether we love Jesus. It's true that Jesus loves all people, but that doesn't mean they are in fellowship with Him or reconciled to Him or at peace with Him. I.e., it doesn’t mean they are saved and in fellowship. In most cases today, it's more than likely that even though He loves them, they don’t actually love Him and His judgement tarries to cast them into eternal Hell fire. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Cor 16:22). “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt 3:10).
Cain professed to love God. How do I know? He knew where God could be met and how to be worshipped. And then he met God. He brought God an offering. He grew up in a godly home. He brought God his best. He brought God of his own labor. All of that says to me that he had some profession of love for God. And yet he didn't actually love God and we know that not because He murdered bis brother but because he disobeyed God (Gen 4:3-5). I use Cain, because even the "love Jesus" guys would say Cain didn't love God, and yet Cain had it more together than many people who say they "love Jesus."
Judas, more of the same. Nothing about his continual discipleship with Christ for roughly three years said anything other than love for Jesus. Neither his ministry. He obeyed God the Son and preached for sinners to repent. He lived by faith, healed the sick, cleansed lepers, raised the dead, had “pity” on the poor, cast out devils, etc, doing many wonderful works. He appeared very pious but did he actually love Jesus? These appear to be extreme examples and to a degree they are, but they are however examples of ones who professed to love Jesus — though spiritual discernment should’ve told the saint they didn’t actually love Him, before their homicidal exercises. Little things turn into bigger things.
Both committed murder, though the latter was much worse then the former in that his betrayal of God’s Son, but both are strikingly similar to majority of professing Christians today—minus the physical acts of murder, though anger without cause is equivalent—who claim love for Jesus but disobey and deny His words, bringing self-fulfilling sacrifices to God as they deem fit, rebelling against what God actually says and then selling out Jesus (I.e. betrayal), in so many ways including by not standing and contending for the truth, not receiving reproof, not preaching the one true gospel, not living holy and godly separated lives (from error, sin, the world, corrupted churches, false teachers), etc.
Loving the truth is loving Jesus. People say they love the truth, but they don’t act like the truth is greater than them or their favourite preacher. Truth is eternal and is everything. Loving the truth means loving God which means He comes first. Not second. First. This means obeying God supersedes everything. Not loving man first and then God second, as many that “love Jesus” demonstrate by their allegiance to the man behind the pulpit, regardless of the error propagated. Who is that persons authority actually? The moment you cross that threshold and also the threshold of ignoring error or sin and focus your energy rather into hating the reprover or contender for the faith, you know your affections are contrary to your profession — you actually don’t love God.
Yes you may say you love Jesus, but the Bible says something entirely different. And God’s Word is truth. People that love the truth and thus God, will hate every false way (Ps 119:127-128; Rom 12:9; 16:17-18; etc) and in turn love him that openeth his mouth and reproves error and sin (Am 5:10; Pr 24:23-25) because that is an unselfish act of not only loving the person (Jn 15:13), but loving Jesus. Why? Because Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. . . . Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (Jn 14:23; 15:14). Hundreds of Scripture command reproof, rebuke, contending — against error and sin. Speaking the truth in love is loving Jesus by preaching the truth, even though it may be sharp.
Here are some examples of not actually loving Jesus, in spite of vehement acclamation.
1. One. Lying by logical fallacy is not loving Jesus. Erecting logical fallacies such as straw man or red herring arguments, or ad hominem personal attacking someone is a form of lying and bearing false witness, while God’s Word says “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” (Pr 10:18). You don’t actually love that person, nor do you love God.
2. Two. Is a preacher loving Jesus when he preaches something that is not true to Scripture, not in line with what the Bible says, something that is falsely divided, or Scripture misinterpreted, or is false or bad doctrine, bad practice, etc? Feelings are far from a distinguishing factor of good preaching. Screaming, hollering and pounding the pulpit are not indicators of God’s power or truth.
God never works in a way that circumvents the Bible. If the meaning of Scripture is mangled, is the Holy Spirit in it? Scripture has only one meaning. There may be more than one application, but never more than one interpretation, and the entire Bible harmonizes. False doctrine doesn’t harmonize, nor does false interpretation of Scripture. Scripture is plain and perspicuous (meaning clearly expressed and understood—Pr 8:8-9), and all its words are important since we’re to live by every word (Matt 4:4). The doctrine of perspicuity is about absolute truth, and it, like all scriptural doctrine, is under great attack. Loving the truth by speaking the truth and interpreting Scripture truthfully, is how we love Jesus, but there are other ways we can know when people don’t actually love Jesus, though they may profess.
3. Three. Not exercising discernment and judging all preaching (Ac 17:11; 1 Th 5:21) by the Word of God (Jn 7:24) is not loving Jesus. You are loving a man over Jesus. Since the order is out of whack, you actually don’t love either (1 Jn 5:1-3; Lk 10:25-37).
4. Four. When the Bible commands judgment (Pr 23:3,15; 1 Cor 2:15; 10:15), including commands specifically by Jesus (Lk 12:57; Jn 7:24), and you judge unrighteously (Jn 7:24) by tolerating error and corruption of scripture or sin, are you loving Jesus?
“He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” (Jn 14:24).
If these things are true of you, you are liar about loving Him and even knowing Him:
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” (1 Jn 2:3-5).
5. Five. I hear people singing songs "to Jesus" that sound like pop singers singing to their girlfriends. Such ear bleeding is common practice at the Evangelical Bergthaler Mennonite Churches (EBMC), and Reformed Calvinist Churches and at Evangelical Mennonite Conference (EMC) Churches such as La Crete Christian Fellowship. Without even considering the worldly and fleshly beat that only feeds the carnal nature of lost man, we note the showmanship of scooping, sliding and syncopation with the breathy voice, throatiness, all artificial signals of fake authenticity reflecting the love they have for themselves, but not Jesus. But they’re apparently “loving Jesus." Right. No, wrong. No man can serve two masters (Matt 6:24). We don’t become someone by what we do. What we do, our behaviour and beliefs, proves our position whether we are in-Christ or out-of-Christ.
A very basic consideration must be, "How do we love Jesus?" By Sentimentalism? Sappiness? Sensualness? Eyes clenched? Hands raised? Sincerity? No, those are not evidences of loving Jesus. What they are, are evidences of you following “the lusts of [y]our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” which reveals you are “by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Eph 2:3). But these might even be considered to have some kind of authentic love for Jesus, since they use that type of sound and song. It's to the point that many young people especially think that the 'girlfriend song' does a better job at saying "I love Jesus" than the old hymn.
6. Six. Is someone loving Jesus that loves the ungodly music of this world (yes that certainly includes CCM and country music and anything else that has worldly beats and singing techniques). You are not loving Jesus if you’re a spiritual adulterer. You can’t even love Him because you’re His enemy. Spiritual adulterers (and adulteresses), those mixing clean with unclean, the profane with sacred (Ezk 44:23)—i.e. friends with the world—are at enmity with God (Jam 4:4). You don’t love Jesus (Jn 14:23-24), nor is the love of Jesus in you (1 Jn 2:15). You are not a “true worshipper” that “worships the Father in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:23-24). If you were truly born again, you wouldn’t tolerate it or have anything to do with it because it’s disgusting. Nauseating of the face-in-palm kind.
God commands us to love His commandments and “hate every false way” (Ps 119:127-128), to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11), so you will hate this CCM/“Christian” rock worldly trash and reject professing “Christians” and “Churches” that compromise and apostatize with it, you’ll hate what they do and the way they do it; you’ll hate the philosophy of ministry that it represents and the way it misrepresents the God of the Bible; you’ll hate the way it deceives the people involved in it and what it does to churches and homes; you’ll hate the way that it ruins discernment and perverts a biblical or true understanding of spirituality and love; and you’ll hate the way it endorses false worship for churches. Loving the truth means hating error and sin (Ps 119:127-128).
7. Seven. A woman keeping her hair short (1 Cor 11) or dressing like a man (De 22:5) is also not loving Jesus. This is a reflection of her heart (Pr 23:7a). She is actively antagonistic to the Authority of her Creator, who made male and female and deems it abominable when men and women crossdress (De 22:5). Neither does she consent to the doctrine of godliness (1 Tim 6:3). Immodesty is also a gospel issue, revealing carnality and love for the world, not spiritually mindedness and love for God, thus most often unsaved (Rom 8:1-9; 1 Jn 2:3-5, 15-17). God created distinctions in clothing (De 22:5) and if lost religious people (such as Orthodox Jews for all their history, and conservative Mennonites, Mormons and others) follow the Biblical pattern, how much the more the truly converted!
True Biblical love.
Almost certainly, the above people do not love Jesus. Their love is a type of self-serving lust-fulfilling “love” based on emotions. But love is not an emotion. Emotions are unstable and undependable. Love is not broad-mindedness. It is not non-judgmentalism. It is not non-critical tolerance. Love is certainly not disobedience to God’s Word. God gives us the definition of true love in many places in Scripture and as we’ve seen, this love is never divorced from obedience.
A very basic answer to this very basic consideration is that Jesus wants His commandments, words, and sayings obeyed. That is loving Jesus. That much is crystal clear in Gods Word. It’s by obedience to the Word of God that the love of God is perfected. So if someone says they love God but they keep not His commandments, they are a liar and the truth is not in them (1 Jn 2:3-5). That definitely means they are unsaved, since the truth never leaves saved people (2 Jn 1:2) and all saved people know Him (Matt 7:23). They don’t know God and they certainly don’t love Him.
There is a domino effect with love. You cannot love people if you do not love God, and you cannot love God if you do not obey His commandments, and you cannot obey His commandments unless you are first born again. You can see that here: “BY THIS WE KNOW that we love the children of God, WHEN we love God, and KEEP his commandments. FOR THIS IS LOVE OF GOD, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.“ (1 Jn 5:2-3). “And now I beseech thee, . . . that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And THIS IS LOVE, that we walk after his commandments.” (2 Jn 1:5-6a).
My biblical knowledge of Jesus clashes with bad preaching, false doctrine, perversion of Scripture, unBiblical and ungodly argumentation, rejection of Biblical reproof, sappiness, sensuality, CCM and rock rhythms, and other expressions of worldliness, in relation to Jesus. Real love does beat sentimentalism.
A true believer who consistently and diligently studies what Jesus said in the KJV cover to cover (because he loves Him and His Word) and then puts what he studies into practice, works hard at it (because he loves Him), is actually loving Jesus. Most don’t love Jesus like this, they’ve simply adopted another religion and they know next to nothing about the Word of God. But they love Jesus. The “Jesus” they love is “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), the product of their own carnal imagination.
Jesus may be a friend to us, but I don't relate to Him like a buddy or a pal. That's not how I express love to him. That level of disrespect for him is not love. It's essentially self-serving. It's so incompatible with Jesus that I hate that perceived love. That love should be hated. If someone loves that love, it says to me that he doesn't know Jesus. You won't love Jesus if you don't know Him. Even the friendship of Jesus is connected to obedience which demonstrates love:
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. . . . Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (Jn 15:10, 14).
Unsaved people cannot love in truth or Jesus.
Scripture teaches that an unbeliever or an unconverted person cannot love in truth. Love is of God. If he is not dwelling in God and God in him, he can't love according to how God loves. To truly love, to love in truth, someone must be born of God and know God. Even if most people in the world use the term, it doesn't mean that they love like what God means by love. Unsaved people live how they want without the restraints of Christianity. This is the pleasure of sin, not love or joy.
People shouldn't use the word "love" outside of its actual meaning and the original context of its definition. People should stop using it in a false way. If these people are going to reject Christianity or renounce it, they don't get to hijack it or borrow from it, as they do with love. They are thieves. They steal words and emotion from God, without giving Him the credit. They are not of God and they do not love according to truth. People express feelings they call love, but it isn't love. Love stays with the Bible and with Christianity and not with them, even if they claim otherwise.
If what unbelievers have and use isn't love, then what is it? Love isn't a feeling or an emotion. I'm not saying it is bereft or disengaged from emotion. True love is not an emotion, but it is emotional. It isn't first emotional, but the emotions will come, just like repentance brings with it sorrow. Emotion is a necessary component of biblical love, but it isn't an emotion. Unbelievers are using the term love in a naturalistic way, when it is a supernaturalistic term or concept. Very often what they call love is really lust or just an expression of human care or sympathy. It means I've got some kind of commitment to you. It isn't love, but it is sharing a human camaraderie. It can't be love though, because it isn't going to provide or supply the greatest or the most essential needs the person has. It's to say that I will provide you some well being as we both head towards a temporal life of pleasure that will end in eternal torment. The highest value will be human. It won't be divine, so it will be vain or superficial.
This "love," that isn't love, is what men think they want. It is Esau trading his birthright for a mess of pottage. It sacrifices the permanent on the altar of the immediate. It anesthetizes someone against the vexation of the harmful effects of the curse, helping deaden the pain of the rejection of God.
To be able to truly love Jesus, ye must first be born again, which you can read about here: How to be Born Again So You Can Love the Lord Thy God With All Thy Heart, Soul, Body and Strength.