A very simple and short verse of scripture has been used to become a license to sin many times. In the sixties it was used as reconciliatory stardust sprinkled everywhere sinners wanted to ease their conscious from the conviction it felt from being godless. God is love, but love is not what the world wants it to be, and God is not what they want him to be. The world wants pampering and praise for unchanged and selfish behavior, and affirmations for its lusts. They want a figure of authority reduced to a benign concept of unconditional acceptance. The truth is God’s love is conditional, and his acceptance is based on righteousness. The condition of God’s love is his son Christ Jesus the Lord.
God so loved the world that he gave his son for the penalty of sin, to pay the price that none could pay, so that we could be really accepted. The condition is our accepting Jesus, and rejecting him leaves God no choice but to reject us. This is something, by the way, that comes through knowing God’s word, and not man’s perversion of a concept. It is put this way in the Bible: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1Jn 4:8; emphasis added). Real love is predicated on knowing God, and to have knowledge of God a person must be born again by the spirit, for the Bible also says: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1Co 2:11). To know God, a person must have his spirit dwelling in them, he must receive God on his terms, and God’s terms are all met in the life and finished work of Christ Jesus.
To receive Jesus as Lord and Savior means more than acknowledging an idea that makes sinners comfortable with their sin. It means receiving a new spirit of power over sin, and power to actually know God. It means being able to say: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1Co 2:12; emphasis added). We can only know this the same way we get the faith to act on this, to come to Christ and receive him; we know it by the word of God: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). If it is more than a catch phase for encouraging sin, what is this word of God?
The Bible calls the word of God doctrine; it is teaching to make one wise unto salvation (2Tim 3:15), it is the instrument the Holy Spirit of God uses to reveal himself and his Son, and to give instruction in righteousness. When we have knowledge and acquaintance with God’s righteousness, we can begin to see unrighteousness for what it is, and we have power of God to overcome it. In simple terms, we can say that unrighteousness is opposite of God’s word, and that persons using God’s word to make claims that are opposite of what God states are practicing unrighteousness. Sometimes they are as easy to recognize as a simple catch phase.
Anytime a person purports the false dichotomy between God’s love and God’s doctrine, they are guilty of practicing and encouraging unrighteousness. It was true in the sixties, and it led to legalizing abortion, among other things. It is true today, and is has led to apostasy. Rick Warren and others always make efforts to separate out doctrine from Christianity because they seek to establish their own religion. They use Christianity because it is easier and more acceptable; with teachings on love, and charity, and sacrifice that can be perverted to proselytize converts to their corrupted knowledge system. The Gnostics used it against the first century Church, and Warren and other are using it against us today. They are Christian imitations, they are antichrists; and we were warned about them and comforted to know their end: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2Pe 2:3). And we know and can tell of these things because of doctrine.