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Articles By Dr. Cathy Burns

New Age Love

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, IF ye have LOVE one to another" (John 13:35).

Love is an important ingredient in the Christian's life. In fact, if a person does not show love, it is a sure indication that that person is NOT a Christian, for love is the sign by which Christians are to be known. However, today there is a new threat facing the Christian community. That new threat just happens to be called "love." Whenever a Christian calls out against sin, someone is sure to approach him and ask, "Where is your love? If you had love and were a Christian, you would not be condemning what is going on."

The New Age Movement relies heavily on "love" as an excuse to condone sin and wrong. One New Age book tells us that the one thing most people have in common when they have a near-death experience is "the meeting with a Being of white light who stood by with UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, NO JUDGMENT, and humor as they watched their lives roll before them like movies. The only judge was the person watching his/her own life" [emphasis mine]. No matter what kinds of sin the individual had committed, there was no judgment. Of course, this IS NOT what the Bible teaches! These same people try to silence the Christian by saying that when a person calls out against sin, he is not showing "love." The New Agers are not the only ones, however, who are using the "love tactic" to silence the Christian. This very same tactic is creeping into our fundamentalist churches. As soon as one Christian calls out against worldliness or other things that are coming into our churches, there are those right in the church who say that this person does not have love, is critical, or is not sanctified. I realize that the Christians will not see eye to eye on every issue. For example, some godly people cannot drink coffee while others can. Do we accept those who differ in this area? Of course we do, because the abstinence from coffee is not a scriptural command; it is a conviction. A conviction is something that a person feels he or she cannot do, even if others do it.

However, when the Bible gives us a COMMAND, we are obligated to OBEY. Calling out against SIN and WRONG is a Biblical command, even though people would like to believe that "anything goes." Many people believe that someone who calls out against sin does not show love. Lots of people have a wrong connotation of the word love. Love is a feeling of acceptance for a person while AT THE SAME TIME not condoning the individual's sin. However, many people feel that love means the condoning of EVERYTHING an individual does. This is not true. A parent loves his child even though the child has disobeyed, but he certainly does not love the child's act of disobedience. Let's look at an example of love in the Bible. To a casual reader, this passage (John 2:13-17) certainly does not look like love at all, but let's take a closer look. These verses give us the incident in which Jesus went up to the temple and found the changers of money in the temple with the oxen, sheep, and doves. What did Jesus do? Did He say, "I love these people too much to do anything to hurt their feelings?" NO! Instead He made a scourge of small cords, went into the temple, poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables. If something like this happened today, the person would be classified as carnal, unloving, and unsanctified. Where was Jesus' love? His love for His Father was so great that He went in and cleansed His Father's house. His action DID NOT in any way decrease His love for the moneychangers, but He could not tolerate the moneychangers' sin. We cannot use "love" as an excuse for all kinds of rash actions, but there are times when love MUST take action. Paul tells the Christians time and again that we are to love the brethren, but let's see what else Paul has to say. In II Timothy 3:16 we find:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for instruction in righteousness."

 I Timothy 5:20:

 "Them that sin REBUKE before ALL, [why?] that others also may fear."

 II Thessalonians 3:14-15 tells us:

"And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but ADMONISH him as a brother."

"Admonish" in the Greek means "to caution, reprove gently, or warn." This reproving and admonishing must be done in an attitude of love and with concern, but nevertheless, there are times that a Christian must reprove, and when he does so, it does not in any way make him unsanctified or bitter. In fact, part of the ministry of the Comforter was to reprove:

And when He [the Comforter] is come, He will REPROVE the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on Me; Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged (John 16:8-11).

One fundamentalist minister recently stated: "We are to love each other. This is not conditional; Hebrews 13:1, 'Let brotherly love continue'. This means under all circumstances." This minister insinuates elsewhere that the people who have called out against New Age herbal teas, etc., are not showing love because they have advised people against the New Age and its trappings. Are those who call out against the New Age or any worldly or sinful practice unchristian because they cannot condone the wrong? Are these people not showing love because they have voiced their opinion and have shown the facts? Of course not! The Lord told Ezekiel to

"give them warning from Me" (Ezekiel 3:17).

The Lord went on to tell him,

 "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou DOST NOT SPEAK to WARN the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, BUT his blood will I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND" (Ezekiel 33:9).

 Ezekiel was, however, not only to warn the wicked but also to warn the RIGHTEOUS. The warning to the righteous was this: The righteousness of the righteous SHALL NOT DELIVER him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; NEITHER shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live, IF he trust to his own righteousness, and COMMIT INIQUITY, ALL his righteousness SHALL NOT BE REMEMBERED, BUT for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it....When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby (Ezekiel 33:12-13, 18). NO ONE is so righteous that he cannot possibly sin. We can KEEP from sinning with the Lord's help, but we ALL have the POTENTIAL to commit sin. Paul warns us in I Corinthians 10:12: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth TAKE HEED lest he fall." The Christian has restrictions placed upon him by God, but this does not show God's harshness. Hebrews 12:5-6, 9-11 explains:

My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are REBUKED of Him: for whom the Lord LOVETH He CHASTENETH, and scourgeth EVERY son whom He receiveth....we had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He FOR OUR PROFIT, that we might be PARTAKERS of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: NEVERTHELESS AFTERWARD it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Warnings and restrictions from God are not meant to keep us miserable, but to make us happy and joyful. Likewise, some Christians can perceive areas of POTENTIAL worldliness, and therefore give a warning that there could be danger up ahead IF the warning goes unheeded. This does not show an absence of love, but actually manifests REAL LOVE, a love that most people are unaware of. We find in Proverbs 27:5-6:

"Open rebuke is BETTER than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."

As is clear from the passage in Ezekiel, the Christian is to warn both the wicked and the righteous. Giving someone a warning does not mean that there is not love. Parents quite often warn their children NOT to do certain things, not out of meanness, but out of love. If your child were ready to put his hand on a red-hot burner, and you saw it coming, you would show an absence of love if you DID NOT warn. You could see that danger was near when he could not see it, so you sent out a warning signal. When a child is ready to run across a street with a car rapidly approaching, would you keep silent? After all, your child may feel that you are forbidding him to go to his friend's house across the street and you would not want to hurt his feelings. When you warn your child about keeping company with the wrong crowd, your child will most likely resent you, but some day he may understand that you did not restrict his friends out of meanness, but out of love and concern for his welfare. This "New Age love" where no one is supposed to warn or rebuke is one of Satan's tricks to try to defeat the Christian. If he can get the Christian to feel guilty, question his salvation and sanctification and keep silent the next time, he has accomplished a great deal. If he can intimidate the Christian to the point of keeping him silent and making him afraid to rebuke sin, sin can prosper and Satan will gain ground. The sad part is that this "New Age love" has found a foothold in our fundamentalist churches. Oh, Christian, DO NOT let the devil's crowd silence you! DO NOT be frightened or feel guilty when they tell you you are not showing love when you rebuke. The Christian has a much greater love than the world can recognize. The Christian has a love (and an obligation) to his heavenly Father that far surpasses the condoning of sin! Paul says: "These things speak, and exhort, and REBUKE with all authority" (Titus 2:15). He also tells us:

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; REPROVE, REBUKE, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2).

 Yes, as a Christian, we are to show love, for this is our mark, but we are not to be caught up in the "New Age love" which condones not only the individual, but also the individual's sin. Paul forewarned us that "all that will live godly shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:13), but he also encourages us not to "be weary in well-doing; for in due season we SHALL REAP IF we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). --Dr. Cathy Burns


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