The one concept unique to early Christianity was “love of the brethren.” Once the early Christians had received Christ and the truth, the Apostle Peter urged them to love one another. Observers in Christianity’s early days were amazed by this outstanding fact more than any other. Yet there were many who heard this truth, but never let it purify them—because they refused to obey or submit to it. Yet there is no love according to the nature of God when believers refuse to obey or submit. Fellow believers are to be loved as brothers in Christ, with the kind of love that doesn’t hide under any false appearances. When their love is real, both in action and in truth, then it is to be put to use all the time, and should last for all time.
In relation to this, Peter tells us that Christ was “…manifest in these last times for you, Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing that you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently…” (1 Peter 1:20-22).
This “unfeigned love of the brethren” is not the hypocritical kind, but the love that emphasizes operating without pretending to be something it’s not, according to our own free will. This love is genuine and sincere. It is the God-kind of love, which only comes about as a believer links his faith to the Cross alone. Don’t imagine that this is an easy thing, as some think it is, and that it can’t be achieved at all on the path some people take looking for it. Yet, how can it be that there are some who claim to follow Christ—without also loving the ones He died for?
All Christians have the duty of loving each other sincerely and fervently. Our affection for each other must be both real and coming from a heart that is genuine. The true spirit of brotherly love is the Spirit of Christ in our heart. Once our heart and soul have been purified, cleansed and sanctified by Him, then we should make certain that we “love one another with a pure heart fervently.”
Our personality also needs to be purified. This comes by receiving what God has revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. When we have the disposition of “unfeigned brotherly love” which this kind of purifyingproduces, then we need to be certain that it has an opportunity to display itself through our loving deeds to other believers. This is the duty of brotherly love, which both Christ and the apostles were in favor of and encouraged most often. We should have the same kind of brotherly affection which every true Christian primarily gives to his fellow Christians.
Christ died on the Cross to purify a peculiar people to Himself. And “through the Spirit” our hearts are purified by faith in His shed blood. We therefore need to be certain that the Holy Spirit has made it possible for us to lay hold of Christ, both by faith and by His blood. We are thereby able to exercise our faith concerning the blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin by the Spirit, and also by the word of God.
Love is both the final result and the proof that we have been sanctified, or set apart unto God. We are also to have been purified from all selfish, unreal love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the early believers had purified themselves from obeying the Gospel based on pride and love of self. Then they needed to work hard on growing in the sincerity of their love for each other. This love had to be continual, far-reaching and fervent—meaning a glowing hot love which displays great intensity of feeling.
We can determine how obedient we are to Christ by how pure we are. And the amount of purity we have determines the amount of brotherly love we have. The goal and natural outcome of our purity is to be love, but we won’t be able realize it if we make no effort on our own part. That is why Jesus said that we should“see that [we] love one another with a pure heart,” which has been made pure by “fervent” or passionate obedience. That’s the kind of love we’re to have for one another.
If we do this, we will find ourselves in the most intimate of relationships with the rest of the redeemed, who are objects of the same love. We were all washed by the same precious blood of Christ, and redeemed by the same Lamb of God. All those whose hearts are purified by receiving the truth through the Holy Spirit become the objects of a tender, genuine brotherly love. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, let’s make certain that we continue to “love one another fervently with a pure heart.”
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). The greatest demonstration that Christians can give to the world concerning what God has done for us is showing our love for each other in the body of Christ. This is the kind of love that is “unfeigned” or genuine love, not the counterfeit kind of love that this world knows all too well.