When we become believers, the very nature of God (His agape love) is deposited as a seed (1 Peter 1:23) in our hearts. It shows up in “agape” love towards God, a supernatural love towards God that demonstrates itself in submission to God’s will and rule in our lives. We call it obedience, and Christ sees it as a demonstration of our love.
“If you love me, keep my commands”. (John 14:15)
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10)
This agape love that is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5) and loves God also demonstrates in an overflow of our love for other people. This agape love is shown in our sacrifice, just as Jesus’ sacrifice reflects His love for us. When we make a sacrifice – it goes against our self-nature (flesh), and we choose to love others.
So how will love become cold?
In a previous post, I have shared my concerns about a “coldness of heart” in the church and in me. In Matt 24, Jesus is answering the disciple’s question, “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (verse 3) and here, He says in verse 12 that for many believers, this agape love in us will become cold during that time:
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt 24:12-13)
We know He is speaking about believers, as in v10, He says that “many will turn away from the faith.” Jesus warns that in the last days, a level of wickedness (in other translations, “lawlessness”) will bring about a coldness in the agape love. It will be seen in believers who no longer have a warmth of love towards others; their love is now hypocritical and translates to hate that “will betray and hate each other” (verse 10 again).
This coldness is a shell of the agape (familial) love between believers, and Jesus says is a…
Direct result of lawlessness.
What is lawlessness?
Lawlessness is a deep rebellion against authority, especially against the authority of Jesus in your life. So it is when we choose not to submit to God’s authority in our lives- we choose to go our own way, follow our own rules and determine our own fate. We show agape love to God through our submission to His authority and our obedience, so the opposite of obedience is lawlessness. It is also an anti-authoritarian attitude that permeates our lives – a determination to go my own way outside of God’s will for my life.
We also see this in the language of Paul: when he compares people who have “the mind of the Spirit” to those who have “the mind of the flesh.”
“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].” (Romans 8:5 AMP)
“the mind of the flesh [with its sinful pursuits] is actively hostile to God. It does not submit itself to God’s law, since it cannot, and those who are in the flesh [living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses] cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8 AMP)
The direct result of lawlessness is that the “agape” love towards God will become cold. Following that, agape love towards other believers will also become cold. This, is what we will see at the end of the age.
This coldness of heart we recognise on the outside between believers is caused by a cooling off in our relationship with God.
True love for others is sustained by a relationship with Christ, as seen in the post “My Little Love.” Our relationship with God and His power enables and empowers us to love as we should. It follows that when our love for God is cooling off, our love for other people will also cool off.
In Jesus’ letter to the Ephesians in Rev 2:4-5, He warns that “they have lost their first love,” their first “agape” love and warns them to repent, i.e. to turn away from lawlessness. They have been good believers; Jesus knows their hard work, good deeds and their perseverance. He sees they have not grown weary but lost their first agape love. Therefore, he calls them to turn away from their own way (repent from their lawlessness) and do the things they did at first; in other words, a call to obedience that previously characterised them when their agape love for God was strong.
Jesus also promises in Matt 24:12-13 that the “one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
How does one guard against this coldness of heart?
- Seek out your first love, and submit your life to Him repeatedly because we are “living sacrifices” that keep creeping off the altar (Romans 12:1).
- Guard against an attitude of arrogance, pride and self-sufficiency. Actively work against it within yourself, regularly examining your heart and motives in order to repent. (2 Cor 13:5)
- Watch out for words that say: “I don’t like being told what to do, not by other people and even more so, by God.” This spirit of lawlessness elevates the agenda of ME, above all else. So it is when your own law is king over everything. We create our own selves, our own meaning, our own identity, our own rules, our own person. In doing this, we cut ourselves off from Christ and the Holy Spirit and, therefore, the experience of agape love.
Lord, thank you for your Word that is full of warning and instruction, both in telling us what to expect in the end days and instructing us how to live Your way. Examine my heart, Lord. Do I have the language of rebellion that chooses my way before I choose Your way? Is my heart stubborn? Do I work against submitting to Your plan and purpose for my life? Come, Holy Spirit, examine my heart and help me to discern the temperature of the agape love in my heart. Do I still love with a heart quick to obedience and a heart that is willing to make a sacrifice because of Your love for me? Do I still love as I did at first? Lord, I repent of going my own way, wanting to be my own person and not Yours. I repent of seeking my agenda and not Your agenda for my life. I confess that I have a new language that comes from my tongue, a language that demonstrates a heart of obedience.