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Lowell Brueckner

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Love that Covers Sins


I read in the news last weekend about Pope Francis. He confessed that the church has been obsessed with abortion, homosexual marriage and other moral issues. He is calling on his people to “heal wounds” and “warm hearts”. Putting aside the many difficulties that we have with doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church, because of its power and its millions of members worldwide, up until now, it has helped to stem the tide of legal abortions and gay matrimony. Those who are challenging the Bible and historic principles have won the battle already in the political world, but now are gaining rapidly in religious circles.

Some Protestant churches have fallen to the attack, even before the Catholic Church, but now we begin to hear evangelical leaders carried by the current of tolerance. Not long ago, I listened to an interview with the new leader of a well-known, conservative Christian organization. He said that the conservative Christian has a reputation for rigidity and hardness, so we need to reach a better understand of our opponents and have dialogue with them. He ascertained that we have to be more tolerant of those who are not in agreement with us. Because I work in Spanish circles, I am aware of some of the statements of world famous leaders among the Spanish-speaking people. One singer was interviewed on CNN and proclaimed that his concerts have adopted the purpose of bringing people together on common ground and that includes uniting Christians and Moslems. (There is a movement today among Arabic people called Crislam – a combination of Christianity and Islam.) Another singer in Spain preaches that since Christ was born, we no longer have to deal with the wrath of God, nor should we refer to it in our evangelistic efforts, but rather to the love of God.

What in the world is happening? The standards clearly set in the Bible do not change, but the teacher who interprets the Bible, I’m afraid, in these cases that I have referred to, is not the Holy Spirit, but a “spirit of tolerance”. This spirit is not holy and is actually preparing the world’s population for apostasy and the reign of anti-christ. But is it not true that we should present the love of God to the world? My friend, first we had better be sure that we have a clear understanding, as to what is the love of God! Please read the following article, in which I attempt to clarify the nature of God’s love and show that it is not the love that the world knows and understands. It is not human love, but actually something very distinct from it. It is a holy love that gives no place to sin. It is that love alone, which the Bible and the Holy Spirit teach us:   

The Love that Covers Sins

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”    1 Peter 4:8

We can only begin to fathom the love of God, because it is deeper and vaster than an ocean. It is 
unique; therefore we have nothing, with which to compare it. It is perfect, so nothing can be added to improve it. It always does the very best in furthering the will of God and in blessing the person, who is called for involvement in His will. It is the motivation behind every act that pertains to God’s purposes.

The things of God stand apart and above all else. When the disciples asked Jesus for more faith, He answered, “If you had faith like a mustard seed…” a very small seed. He turned their attention away from size to a kind of faith. Mark 11:22 can be accurately translated, “Have the faith of God”! Just so, the love of God must be understood as something different from human love. Warren Wiersbe clarifies: “God is love. This does not mean that ‘love is God’… It has accurately been said that ‘love does not define God, but God defines love’.”

Unfortunately, most translations do not differentiate between two kinds of love expressed in the conversation between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection and Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ. Jesus twice asked Peter if his love for him was the kind called agapao in Greek. It is used to express the love of God. Peter’s answered with the word phileo, a brotherly love, and was saddened when Jesus, the third time, condescended to Peter’s level asking, “Do you phileo me?” He did well to grieve, because anything less than God’s love will not suffice in the divine task of feeding the Lord’s lambs and sheep. Peter learned this well by the time he wrote his epistle and wrote of fervent love (apageo) for one another.

The love of God will do everything and anything to transform His chosen vessels and to save the ungodly. “God so loved the world” that He sent Joseph to Egypt as a slave and prisoner, just as He sent His Son to the world to suffer and die. Isaiah reveals that Jesus was “smitten of God” and “the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief”, just as Joseph clearly understood that God’s will was behind his captivity in Egypt for the good purpose of saving his clan and a world that would otherwise starve (see Gen.45:5, 7-8). Not only so, but the interim thirteen years served to refine Joseph and mold him into a suitable governor. The Psalmist saw, “until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (Ps.105:19).

Paul makes us wonder at the astounding, but vain, measures that people take without the love of God. With the commitment of a Mother Theresa, they can give all their possessions to feed the poor. In Orissa, India, I was told, as professing Christians heard of the approaching mob of persecutors, they sought the Lord to see if their hearts were right, lest they would be beaten and killed simply as nominal Christians. Paul added, “If I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love (agapeo), it profits me nothing.”

The perfection of the love of God eliminates the need for a counter weight to balance it. If it is correctly presented, it lacks nothing, and there is no danger that any listener will be deprived of the harmony of qualities, such as righteousness or divine truth, because of an emphasis on God’s love. On the cross, other attributes joined to God’s love and the work of Christ there was completed to perfection. As the Psalmist revealed, “Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps.85:10).

Now, I will lay before us an important question and try to deal with a misunderstanding that many adopt, presuming to cover a multitude of sins. How can these sins be covered and how does the fervent love, that Peter writes about, deal with the sinner or sins among believers? I recall some statements, many times repeated, concerning treatment of especially difficult cases, who come under Christian influence: “We want to love this person; we want to show him that we love him. We need to be tolerant and walk softly, overlooking and ignoring his many errors, while dealing kindly with him.” Is that your interpretation of our text and an almost identical Proverb (10:12)?

Returning to Psalm 85, having mentioned already that it is a Psalm that points to the cross, we notice verse two: “You forgave the iniquity of Your people; you covered all their sin.” Paul quotes from Psalm 32:2, teaching “blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (Ro.4:7, 8). Is Paul sanctioning forgiveness and resulting salvation, simply by the good will of God, pardoning and covering sin? Are we to demonstrate an attitude of brotherly love, tolerating and co-existing with the sins of our fellow man? Is that the meaning and manifest work of the love of God?

We will go to James for some help in answering these questions: “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” Ah, here we see some steps taken besides good will and tolerance. There is a turning from error here, for one who has strayed from the truth, and that is synonymous with repentance. Repentance is involved in covering sins and is necessary to save that soul from death. According to James, there is no covering of sins without repentance and Christian salvation. God’s demanding of repentance from his people was a token of His love and mercy, while the Gentiles were given over to a reprobate mind (Ro.1:24,26,28). Now He demands repentance from Jew and Gentile (Ac.17:30).

Christian parents need this same fervent love to discipline their children and thus to cover their sins: “You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol (hell)(Pr.23:14). My dad used to say that in order to raise children a father had to be full of the Holy Spirit. He alone fills with the love of God so that a parent can do what is necessary for the good of his children:  “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Pr.13:24).

Adam and Eve covered
with animal skins
We wrote of Joseph earlier and now we will see him dealing with his brothers in Genesis 42. He “spoke to them harshly” (v.7), and then, “he turned away from them and wept” (v.24). Joseph loved his brothers fervently. Here is a man, who has learned God’s love through 13 years of slavery and can now feed His lambs and sheep. As one studies the story, he sees that Joseph brings his brothers through to an amazing repentance.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God sacrificed an animal and covered them with his skin. Sin is not covered by a love that comes without blood. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb.9: 22).  The Old Testament writers could tell of their sins being covered, because the blood of Christ is the timeless sacrifice that covers the sin of His saints, Old Testament and New. In Christ´s sacrifice, divine justice was applied and divine righteousness satisfied. Holiness cannot be compromised and divine wrath must be appeased. Only the precious blood of the God/Man, Jesus Christ, removes the sin separation between God and man.  Because faith in His blood is essential doctrine, therefore there can be no fellowship between true Christianity and liberal pretenders or others of the world’s religions. Handle this as you will, but this is the fundamental doctrine of God’s Bible. It will stand long after this generation’s humanistic mentality, ecumenicalism and degenerate “gospel” falls.


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