Love is not Acceptance

We, in our day and in our culture, like to think that to love others is to accept them as they are – you be you, is what I’m told. In return, for you to love me, is to accept me as I am.   That may be permission or acceptance or tolerance (if those definitions still hold), yet it is not love.

God does not accept sin, and we are sin.1, 2  Logically, He cannot accept us. But we are told that He loves us.3, 4  If left alone, those two states of being – us being sin and God being love – are mutually exclusive. Yet God does not leave it alone, and God, being God, is beyond anything we could ever comprehend.

Ever since the Fall of mankind, sin is part of us; it is woven into our very fabric. I think it was CS Lewis who said something to the effect that we are not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners.

God brings us together with Him in a way that is consistent with His Word and is coherent with His Creation – not illogically or wishfully, nor by removing or redefining whole sections of Scripture.

We all want to offer some excuse or justification to the Truth of our very clear and present evil. We want to be accepted as we are – because we haven’t yet become as bad as our potential allows.   We know the evil that men do, and we know that we are men.

But we want to say that we aren’t all that bad. We justify our flaws as no big deal – it’s rather the flaws of that person over there that are what is wrong with the world today. Because Hitler is who we compare ourselves to, we justify our own intermittent lack of propriety as extraordinarily enlightened behavior – then we pat ourselves on the back. GK Chesterton, I do believe, said that we can only judge what is crooked by what is straight. If our standard is Jeffrey Dahmer, we will judge ourselves totally in error.

Without looking to Christ, we can easily claim to be the straight ones. The best of people look like us, and we enjoy their company. Even as we wish death upon our political opponents and demand that the line we’re stuck in move quicker, we know that we don’t measure up even to our own standards, let alone to God’s.

We cannot reach God because of our sin, yet God can reach us because of His perfection – our option is either to let Him do His work in us, or to push back against Him and His standards. If we allow Him to work in us, He transforms us into something wholly different than who we are. And wholly different than what we imagined we would be. Not only are we sinful, we are also limited.

I’ve heard the argument that accuses the God of the Bible as just looking for His pound of flesh; no different than ancient civilizations, like the Mayans, and their child sacrifices. The charge is that the God of the Bible needed to be appeased. Seriously, though.

We all need a heart to survive. To remove sin is to remove our heart.5  It is Jesus who provides us with His own heart.6  Jesus accepted our death, which was our inheritance from Adam – his suicide killed us and the whole human race – and offered us His own living heart in exchange.7

It wasn’t a pound of flesh. It wasn’t appeasement. Our birthright is Adam’s legacy, in accord with Eve’s choice, which originated by accepting Satan’s lie.8  Don’t blame God. We inherited death, but God is offering to exchange our dead-hearts for His living-heart. God gets the glory, not the blame.9

Of course that free gift (free to us – it cost Him everything) has consequences: we can no longer accept our sin. We cannot give sin any room to grow nor make excuses for it remaining within us. Indeed, we must hate it, and so we are to kill it.10

To kill sin, is to love God. The fancy word for that action is ‘repentance’. Flipped into the positive, To obey Jesus is to love Him.11


1.           Psalms 14:3 (ESV) They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good, not even one.

2.           Matthew 15:19 (ESV) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

3.           Joel 2:12-13 (NLT) That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

4.           Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

5.           Ezekiel 11:19-20 (LSB) And I will give them one heart and give within them a new spirit. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.

6.           1 John 4:10 (NKJV) In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

7.           Romans 5:18 (NLT) Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

8.           Genesis 3:12-13 (NLT) The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

9.           Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

10.         Genesis 4:7 (NLT) You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

11.         John 14:15 (NLT) “If you love me, obey my commandments.