Growing In Love | How Faith Nurtures Our Capacity to Love

This means there is no accusation, shame, or guilt for those who believe in Jesus. God does not condemn you or convict you. You are guilt-free and the case against you is closed. You are free and forgiven.

March 13, 2023

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

This means there is no accusation, shame, or guilt for those who believe in Jesus. God does not condemn you or convict you. You are guilt-free and the case against you is closed. You are free and forgiven.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Now, let’s read the last verse.

Romans 8:38,39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The chapter begins with the assurance that you are no longer condemned and ends with the promise that you are no longer separated from the love of God. It’s important to understand that if you don’t have the revelation that you are no longer condemned, you won’t be able to fully experience the truth that you are no longer separated from God. When you realize that God doesn’t condemn you or point fingers at you, you can confidently believe that nothing in all of creation can separate you from His love.

It’s crucial to wholeheartedly believe that God doesn’t accuse you. The accuser is the devil, not God. God doesn’t put you in guilt, shame, or fear; the devil does. Despite knowing the gospel of grace, many of us still struggle with condemnation, fear, shame, and guilt.

Move from condemnation to no separation

Ephesians 2:8 it says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”

But what are we saved from? It’s important to understand what we are saved from so that we can comprehend what we are saved into. We are saved from condemnation and saved into no separation. We are saved from the kingdom of darkness and saved into the kingdom of light. We are saved from accusation and saved into the voice of the Father. Understanding what we are saved from and what we are saved into is crucial. If we are saved from something, we are saved into something as well.

Have you ever been driving at night and found yourself temporarily blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car? The purpose of those headlights is to illuminate the road ahead and guide the driver towards their destination. However, if the light is directed towards you, it can have the opposite effect and leave you disoriented and unable to see clearly.

No matter what happens in your life, always remember that God is on your side. He is for you and with you. The light of God is meant to guide you and show you the path, not to accuse you. If you feel accused or condemned, that is not from God. Either you need to adjust the way you are looking at the situation or the source of the light is not from God. It’s really that simple: anything that separates you from God is not from Him. It is sin. For example, if you have a disciplined habit of reading the Bible but cannot do it for some reason and feel condemned and separated from God, that is sin. Remember that God’s light is always shining, and it is not meant to blind you or accuse you but to lead you to Him.

I want to encourage you to cultivate a daily discipline of reading your Bible and praying, but it must start from a place of understanding that you are no longer condemned or separated from God. If you begin from this place of freedom, it won’t feel like an obligation or a duty, but rather a joyous opportunity to connect with your loving Father. When we approach spiritual disciplines with the mindset of being a servant or slave, we can easily fall into legalism and performance-based faith. It’s not about checking off a to-do list, but rather putting our trust in God and seeking to deepen our relationship with Him. Let’s not put our faith in our own efforts, but in the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Okay, let me tell you this story from the Old Testament. There were two brothers named Abel and Cain who decided to offer sacrifices to God as an act of worship. Abel, being a shepherd, brought a lamb as an offering, while Cain, being a farmer, brought grains. However, when they presented their offerings to God, He accepted Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s. It wasn’t the quality of the offerings that determined the acceptance, but something else.

It was the posture of their hearts that made the difference. Hebrews 11 teaches us that Abel offered a much better sacrifice than Cain by faith. Both of them came with the intention of offering a sacrifice, but Abel’s faith was not in the sacrifice itself. Rather, his faith was in the goodness of God. On the other hand, Cain put his faith in the sacrifice he was offering. He believed that God would be pleased
with his offering because it was the best he had to give, and therefore better than Abel’s humble lamb. However, he was putting his faith in his own offering rather than in God’s goodness. Abel, on the other hand, put his faith in God’s goodness, knowing that God would accept his offering not because it was the best, but because God is good. It is not the quality of our prayers or offerings that cause God to accept them, but our faith in His goodness.

He accepts your prayers not because they are eloquent or scriptural, but because of the posture of your heart. If you can put your faith in the goodness of God, rather than in your own abilities or offerings, you will see the goodness of God manifest in your life. Faith is not just believing in God’s existence, but also in His goodness and His willingness to reward those who seek Him. Before you pray or spend time with God, you must believe that He is good and on your side.

However, if you pray out of fear or condemnation, you will not see the flow of God’s work in your life. Faith attracts God’s grace, while fear does not. Just like in a marriage, doing things out of obligation can create resentment, but doing things out of love is pure and fulfilling. We should pray, read the Bible, and go to church out of love and devotion to God, not out of obligation or duty.

So, move from condemnation to no separation. Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament, and it begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” In between, Paul talks about victorious living in the Holy Spirit. But you cannot experience victorious living in the Holy Spirit if you don’t first start with believing in no condemnation. You have to believe that regardless of how your week went, no matter how many times you missed your quiet time or did not open the Bible, God is on your side and does not condemn you.

I appreciate the importance of discipline, but I believe we should move beyond it and into delight. My wife Betty and I have developed certain habits in our household to show our love and spend time with each other. These habits are good, but if we only see them as obligations, they will eventually become suffocating. Instead, we need to move from discipline to delight.

When it comes to prayer and reading the Bible, it’s not about feeling obligated to do these things. We should see them as privileges, opportunities to connect with God and hear His voice. We shouldn’t read the Bible just to get to heaven – we’ll get there regardless. Instead, we should read the Bible because we love God and desire a relationship with Him. Regardless of our struggles or shortcomings, God is still on our side. He is for us, not against us. We shouldn’t see Him as an accuser, but rather as our loving Father who wants the best for us.

Faith can be heard

Colossians 1:3,4 – We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,

So, this is Paul writing a letter to the church in Colossae and introducing himself. He expresses his gratitude towards the church and in verse four, he highlights the power of their faith. Notice the word “heard.” Your faith makes noise, it cannot remain silent. Whatever you do in faith will get noticed. Even if you feel like nobody is paying attention, your faith will be noticed. Hebrews 11:2 teaches us that the people of the Old Testament were commended for their faith. Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, and God commended him by accepting his gift. Through his faith, even though he died, his voice still speaks. Your faith has the power to immortalize your voice, even after you’re gone.

He still speaks. Although the Bible later teaches us that the blood of Jesus speaks better words than the blood of Abel, it’s important to understand that every act of faith is an eternal act. It doesn’t just impact the current generation, but it also impacts generations to come. When God called Abraham, Abraham may have been focused on land and a child, but God had a bigger picture in mind, looking towards future generations. That’s why God told Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to many nations and generations to come. Abraham didn’t live to see it, but every act of faith that he took was a blessing for future generations. Your faith can be heard, which is why it’s so important. Every act of faith that you take, even in the privacy of your own space, can be heard and can impact generations to come. Consider Noah, who built the ark for 120 years, even though no one had ever seen rain and had no concept of what it was. But look at
that one act of faith that has spoken volumes throughout generations. Your act of faith can be heard.

 Faith in Christ shown in love for people

Colossians 1:4. It says, “since we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.”

Your faith in Christ Jesus is intertwined with the love that you have for all the saints. You cannot claim to have faith in Jesus and not love His body. Your faith in Jesus is reflected in the love that you have for the saints.

Faith in Jesus is not just a belief system, but an expression of our love for others, especially our fellow believers. Without faith, it’s impossible to love one another. This is true not only in our relationship with God but also in our human relationships. To deepen any relationship, we must trust that the other person has our best interests at heart. If we’re always questioning their motives or expecting the worst, we cannot truly love them. That’s why faith and love are inseparable. By having faith in the goodness of others, we open ourselves up to love and be loved in return, and ultimately to show the love of Christ to the world.

As Christians, the love we have for people is the expression of our faith in Christ. Therefore, the growth in faith is evidenced by the ability to love unconditionally and more people. The evidence of growing in faith is not defined by a promotion, a career, or even a mission field. The purpose of faith is not solely to acquire material possessions or status, but to become a blessing to others. It is not enough to receive blessings from God and keep them to ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing, and our faith in God should reflect in our desire to bless others. When we seek God’s kingdom first, we receive all other things as well, but the ultimate goal is to love and bless others. Loving without giving or blessing is incomplete, just like telling someone you love them without any actions to show for it. Therefore, our faith in Christ should manifest in our love for others and our desire to bless them.

Love is inseparable from giving, and it is through giving that we express our love. As Christians, our faith in Christ is demonstrated through the love that we have for all people. Consider for a moment living in the first century, where believing in Jesus was not a comfortable or easy option. It was a life and death decision. The threat of persecution and death was very real for those who professed their faith in Jesus. Yet, despite the danger, people still chose to believe in Jesus. What was it about this faith that was so compelling?

Greek philosophy was highly esteemed during that time, and most of our modern psychology and philosophy derive from it. Even those who lived in that culture at that time recognized something more captivating in the gospel than in all the intellectual philosophies of the world. And do you know what that was? It was the faith in Christ Jesus that produced a radical, sacrificial love for one another. Even intellectuals observed that these individuals possessed a passion to give up their lives for one another because of their belief. This led them to question whether these individuals were either crazy or absolutely right.

It’s not just one thing, you know? I go to church sometimes, but then I do whatever I want. However, for some people, faith in Christ is not just a part of their life but is their whole life. The love that one has for others is a true manifestation of one’s faith, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul explains that even if one possesses mountain-moving faith and speaks prophetic words, without love, they are like a clanging cymbal.

Faith works through love

Galatians 5:6 states that faith works through love, and the purpose of faith is to love people. But why is that so important? It’s because people are imperfect and can sometimes be irritating and frustrating. It’s through faith in Jesus that we can love people despite their flaws, shortcomings, and weaknesses. Our faith in Jesus will overflow to love people and see their hurts, their ugliness, and their bad traits, yet still say, “I know all of this, yet I love you.” We don’t love people because they’re perfect; we love them because we choose to. And this choice is only empowered by our faith in Jesus.

Colossians 1:4 – since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,

This verse emphasizes that our faith in Christ Jesus is reflected in the love that we have for all of the universal body of Christ, not just some specific group or denomination. It’s easy to love those who have already passed away, but the challenge lies in loving those who are still here with us, especially the people who are closer to us and whom we know inside out. Despite any differences or conflicts that we may have, it’s crucial to love all the saints, as it is through Jesus that we become saints, and loving others is an essential part of our faith.

When we talk about faith in Jesus, what exactly do we mean? What is this faith? Faith in Jesus means believing that God loves you unconditionally. It means knowing, without any doubt, that you are deeply loved by God, without any regret, guilt, shame, or condemnation. This unconditional love empowers you to love others in the same way. When you realize that God loves you unconditionally, regardless of how you’ve treated others, it will inspire you to extend that same love to those around you. The work of the cross is a powerful reminder of this love, and it shows that, even when we have harmed others, Jesus paid the price for our wrongdoing, not just for our sake but for the sake of those we’ve hurt as well.

When you believe in the gospel, the good news of God’s unconditional love and have no doubt that God loves you, you will naturally love other people. Gratitude for knowing God’s love will overflow into faith, which enables you to love people without any reservations. You won’t say, “I want to love them, but…”. Love has no conditions or excuses, you just love. A valuable lesson I learned from God is that if I have difficulty loving someone, I begin by praying for them. It’s impossible to complain about someone you pray for.

Oh God, I pray for them, but you know, complaining in prayer doesn’t work. If your heart is truly for them, you will begin to love them. Remember the parable of the good soil; the good soil holds a seed in an honest and good heart. So be honest with yourself. If a particular situation, group of people, or individual is stretching your heart, you need faith and the revelation that God does not condemn you, that you are not separated, so that you can be empowered. Without that, loving people is like driving a car without fuel, and you will get burned out. It’s the love of God that can keep you burning without burning out.”

So if you have the revelation that God loves you unconditionally and calls you his beloved, and you know this without any doubt, then you can begin to love other people. However, when you begin to have doubts and accusations, be honest with yourself and go back to God in prayer, thanking Him for not condemning you and being grateful for His love. It’s important to regularly align yourself with this reality and have faith in Jesus, as the cross is a powerful expression of God’s love that empowers you to love others automatically. Without Jesus, God’s love would just be a concept, but with faith in Him, you can fully embrace and live out God’s love for you and for others.

So if you’re struggling to love people, it’s important to understand that God’s love for you comes first. We love because He first loved us, and this love is like an unlimited flow of energy that can fill your heart and enable you to love others despite their imperfections. It’s important to recognize that we are all different, even when we speak the same language. Love can transcend these differences and cover all wrongs. Instead of getting irritated or snapping at others, love is patient and kind.

So if you’re not there, it’s absolutely fine. There’s hope. Put your faith in Jesus. Remember how deeply you are loved by the Father. It’s like a love letter from God reminding you again and again of his love for you. He says, ‘I have drawn you with an everlasting love. My grace is upon you.’ Even though you were dead in your sins and trespasses, God’s mercy is so rich that it shows how much He loves you. However, if you view it from a place of condemnation, it will accuse and condemn you. Instead, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that there is always hope. Don’t worry about what you did or didn’t do yesterday, focus on trusting and loving God.

So your relationship with God should begin without any sense of condemnation. Remember that God is on your side, for you, with you, and His love is for you. This is the foundation of our faith, and it’s why faith works through love. Your love for people is a reflection of your faith in Christ, not the things you possess. The things you desire or pray for should be an expression of your love for others. So when you pray to get married, to get the next promotion, or to start a business, ask yourself what your true motivation is. Is it to be a blessing and to love people, or is it driven by your desire for money and wealth?

Your faith in Christ will expand your heart and increase your capacity to love people. That’s why church is such a wonderful place to exercise your heart. However, people often leave the church, not because of bad doctrine, but because they get offended by others. But here’s the thing: offense is actually good. When you get offended, it proves that you have a heart. Dead people don’t get offended, so if you’re offended, it means you’re alive. Instead of distancing yourself from people and God when you’re offended, we need to learn how to deal with offense in a healthy way and remain connected to the body of Christ.It all begins with no condemnation. You have to be convinced that God does not condemn you, nor does He accuse you anymore. The case is closed, and you are set free. Even if you feel like there’s more you need to do, remember that God saw your past, present, and future, and He says the case is closed. You are no longer condemned. It’s essential to believe that you are loved unconditionally and deeply by the Father. Coming to church is an excellent opportunity to exercise your faith in loving imperfect people, not just by listening to the word and going back home. If you only do that, you’ll become a spiritually obese Christian, one with no exercise. But if you want to strengthen your faith, come to church, meet imperfect people, build relationships, get offended once in a while, and stretch your faith even more by asking God for healing. Through it all, remember that offense is a part of the
journey, and if we can look past it, God can bless us immensely.

Offense is a part of the journey, as Jesus mentioned in Mark 10:30. Whoever has sacrificed their mother, father, lands, or properties shall receive a hundredfold, but with persecution. So, if you love one another, you will get offended, and that’s okay. Learn to put your faith in the love of Jesus, knowing that you are loved more deeply.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

Recent Sermons