by Terry Wane Benton
It is common these days to hear people use scriptures that say that God "loves" everyone and commands us to love everyone. But they use this to mean that God "accepts" everyone regardless of their sin and attitude toward sin. They often call this "unconditional love." Often we are told that if a church does not "accept" adulterers, homosexuals, drug-addicts, and drunkards that we do not "love" them. This is another example of not handling the scriptures correctly.
Love and acceptance into fellowship are actually two different things. Love desires reconciliation and fellowship, but love cannot accept destructive attitudes and behavior. Love appeals to the person to make needed changes, but the person that is acting rebellious and irresponsible is rejecting those loving appeals. Love does not accept rebellion and pretend it is acceptable. We can certainly love our children while not accepting certain behaviors and attitudes. Lack of acceptance does not mean hate or lack of love. It means love desires the best and expects better attitudes and behavior. That is why "repent" is always commanded. No blessings of forgiveness are given without repentance on our end (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19). God loves us and desires for us to have forgiveness of sins, but God will not give forgiveness where there is no repentance. So, love and acceptance into fellowship are two different issues. One does not handle the scriptures aright while using the verses on God's love in such a way as to cancel or override the verses that demand change through repentance.
Jesus said to people He loved, "Except you repent, you will all likewise perish." Those are the words of true love. Whether we accept the blessings of such a love is up to us. No repentance means we cut ourselves off from the blessings of His love. The members at Corinth went through repentance to reach justification. Formerly, they practiced all kinds of sin (I Corinthians 6:8-10). "Such were some of you" means that they no longer live those kinds of behaviors. It was the love of God that moved them to change. Those in Corinth that did not change, did not get the blessing of justification and sanctification and washing away of sins.
One does not handle the scriptures aright if you use one set of scriptures on love to cancel the scriptures that demand repentance. All of God's word must be used correctly to inform us on whether we are using verses correctly. We don't get to pick a few verses, apply meanings to those verses not allowed by other verses, and build a way of life from a misuse of scriptures. Yet, it is very common in religions of today. Be very careful to handle the scriptures aright.