Lesson 8 - Personal Love for God

Personal Love for God

There are four words in the Greek language for love:

1.    Agape - mental attitude love

2.    Philos - rapport love or compatibility

3.    Eros - sexual love

4.    Storges - natural affection as in a family (used in the negative in the Bible- astorges) Romans 1:31; II Timothy 3:3



Human agape is a deep, abiding love based on personal integrity and virtue. Human agape is produced by unbelievers and out-of-fellowship believers. Divine agape is also a deep, abiding love based on God’s integrity and virtue and can be produced only by a believer in fellowship with God. (Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:12-13; Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22; I John 2:5)

Divine agape describes:

1)      God the Father’s love for His Son - John 17:26

2)      God’s love for all mankind - John 3:16; Romans 5:8

3)      God’s love for the believer - John 14:21

4)      God’s essential nature - I John 4:8

5)      The believer’s love for God - Luke 10:27

6)      The believer’s love for other believers - John 13:34, 15:12-13

7)      The believer’s love for everyone - I Thessalonians 3:12; I Corinthians 16:14; Romans 12:9; II Peter 1:7; I John 3:18; Ezekiel 33:31

8)      The believer’s love for his enemies - Luke 6:27

9)      A husband’s love for his wife - Ephesians 5:25

Divine agape love is constant, non-emotional and unconditional, though human emotions are often ascribed to God in the Bible in order to assist us in our understanding. Divine agape love is not drawn out by any excellency of its object. Divine agape love is based on God’s integrity (complete, honest, pure, virtuous love based on truth) and His virtue (strength of character). God loves the believer because the believer possesses the righteousness of God. God loves His own righteousness wherever He finds it.

Divine agape expresses the deep, constant love and interest of a perfect God towards imperfect, and therefore unworthy, objects (unbelieving mankind). Upon faith in Christ, this love and interest has the potential of producing in these now “perfect” and “worthy” (positional sanctification) objects (believers) a love towards God. In turn, God’s love is able to produce in the life of the believer virtue-love towards others. Virtue-love is a synonym for divine agape love. Virtue-love is love based on the virtue of the one doing the loving. This virtue-love desires to see others come to know the source of this love. (I John 4:18-21)

Under the control of the Holy Spirit, this divine agape love can be reproduced in the life of a believer. This unconditional love, whether exercised toward believer or unbeliever is not emotional, it is a matter of the right mental attitude. It does not depend on the “love-ability” or compatibility of the object. This love seeks the welfare of others. (Romans 13:8-10, 15:1-3; Galatians 6:10; Colossians 3:12-13)


Human philos love is rapport love or compatibility with another person and is produced by unbelievers and out-of-fellowship believers. Divine philos love is also rapport love or compatibility, but is based on the Word of God in our soul and can be produced only by a believer in fellowship with God. (John 21:15-17)

Philos describes:

1)      God the Father’s love for His Son - John 5:20

2)      God’s love for the believer - John 16:27

3)      Christ’s love for the Apostle John - John 20:2

4)      The Pharisees’ love for public recognition - Matthew 6:5, 23:6

5)      Believers’ love for one another - Romans 12:10; I Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; I Peter 1:22

6)      Wives’ love for their husbands - Titus 2:4

7)      Mothers’ love for their children - Titus 2:4

Human philos love is emotional, ever-changing and conditional. It is based on rapport with the object. Human philos love CAN be drawn out by the excellency of its objects. Human philos love is based on the integrity, virtue, attractiveness or value of the object of love.

Philos love is never used in a command for men to love God. However, under the control of the Holy Spirit, divine philos love can be developed for God and other believers. It is developed by building rapport and compatibility based on knowledge of Bible doctrine. This rapport must be based on agape love already resident and operational in the soul of the believer to be successful. In other words, divine agape love must come first. (Romans 12:9-10; I Corinthians 2:16; I Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; I Peter 1:22, 3:8)

God loves you and me because He has integrity; you can love Him in return when you acquire Christian integrity. Christian integrity is defined as a strict adherence or loyalty to the truth, soundness of moral principle, and a state of honesty and uncorrupted virtue as found in the Word of God. Virtue is defined as strength of character exhibited in such characteristics as stability, courage, capability, worthiness, honor, high moral standards, kindness, humility, faithfulness, and patience. Christian virtue refers to these qualities in a person as God designed him to be.

Virtue in the Christian life can be produced only under the control of the Holy Spirit by maximum application of the Word of God. A believer needs a power greater than himself in order to acquire and apply virtue. He needs the same power that our Lord Jesus Christ had while here on earth (the Holy Spirit). Remember, Jesus pioneered the Christian life for us while being tested in every way that we are tested, except without sin. (I John 4:9; II Peter 1:2-4)

The Greek word “arete” is translated virtue in English. Paul uses this word in Philippians 4:8-9 and tells us that we as believers in Jesus Christ should be concentrating on the qualities from the Word of God that develop virtue. Christian virtue is not avoidance of a set of taboos laid down by some religious organization. Christian virtue is forming and exhibiting the character of Jesus Christ by consistent intake and application of Bible doctrine, which is the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5) God loves you and me because He has integrity and virtue. He loves each believer personally because we possess His righteousness, not because we merit God’s love. God’s love towards us is a grace gift. This same integrity and virtue is available to us and is the means whereby we are able to love God and our fellow man. (I John 4:7)

Personal Love for God

Personal love is based on the virtue of the object, the one who is loved. Personal love for God is a function of the Royal Priesthood of the believer. Before we can love one another, we must learn to love God. We learn to love God only by getting to know Him through His attributes as revealed in His Word. As we get to know Him through His Word and obedience to His Word, we develop capacity to appreciate Him and enjoy His blessings. Our personal love for God is based upon our thinking, not our emotions. No one can be forced to love God. As with everything in the Christian Way of Life, it is a matter of personal volition. However, I must tell you that you are commanded to love God. (Deuteronomy 6:5) Loving God changes our human norms and standards to divine norms and standards and gives us a foundation upon which to build our Christian lives. This, of course, not only affects our relationship with God (our spiritual life), it also affects our relationship with others (our Christian life). (I Peter 1:8; Ephesians 3:19)


The Attributes of God

1)    Sovereignty - God is the Supreme Being and the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. He has absolute authority over all creation.

2)    Righteousness – God is perfect in His character and His person. He is perfect goodness. His attributes and actions always conform to His perfect nature.

3)    Justice – God is always fair. It is impossible for God to be unfair to any member of the human race or to angels.

4)    Love – God is constant and everlasting love. His love is far superior to human love and does not depend on emotion for its expression. His love is unchanging, it never lessens nor does it vary in quality. God’s love cannot be improved - it is perfect.

5)    Eternal Life – God has always existed. There never was a time when God did not exist. He has neither beginning nor end. In His grace, God extends to us an offer to share His eternal life.

6)    Omniscience - God is all-knowing. He knows all the knowable, both actual and possible. His knowledge of events before they happen, however, does not mean that He interferes with human volition. We are always free to choose for or against God and His grace. God is perfect wisdom. From eternity past God knew every facet of our individual lives - our problems, our experiences, our relationships, our failures and our successes.

7)    Omnipotence - God is all-powerful. His power is infinite and He is able to do all things consistent with His character. He cannot violate His own nature. God can do all He wills to do, but He may not will to do all that He can.

8)    Omnipresence - God is everywhere present. He is not limited by time or space. His entire essence is always present throughout the universe.

9)    Immutability - God never changes. God is consistent with His essence at all times. He is absolute stability and therefore His Word and His works cannot be altered.

10)    Veracity - God is absolute truth. He is always true to His character. He is the source of truth and therefore His mandates, His words, His promises and His ways are true.