The love that covers sin
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8
Peter addresses one aspect of the working of Christian love in this verse. The love that is to mark the people of God is clearly defined in Scripture. It is so because it is a vital evidence of the true Christian. Cp Jn 13:35, 1Jn 3:10, 14, 4:8. The functioning of this love must be clearly understood as it is one of the key proofs of being a Christian.
The nature of Christian love is much misunderstood and misrepresented today.
I CHRISTIAN LOVE HAS A SPECIFIC ATTITUDE TO SIN.
- It recognizes sin. Even the use of the word sins here indicates that that is love acknowledges the existence and working of sin. By definition therefore this love is guided by the law of God! Cp Rom 13:10. This love not only recognizes sin in a generic way but individual sins are distinguished. There is a preciseness indicated.
- Love works to cover sin.
- Intolerance. Christian love cannot bear with sin. Cp 1Cor 13:6. The instinct of this love is that it must be covered.
- Not a cover-up. Cp Prov 28:13. Love does not simply turn a blind eye to sin any more that God, Who is love, can do so.
- Sin is covered when it is atoned for. Only in this way is sin effectively covered. Love therefore works to promote the pardon of sin. This clearly involved confession and repentance as Prov 28:13 indicates. Christian love must work with sin as God, the author of atonement, works with it.
- Focus. Christian love therefore engages in activities to promote repentance and confession. This involves the exposure of sin by the application of the word of God. This will mean more than merely stating the nature of sin. It will entail all actions that are required by Scripture to enforce those lessons in the lives of the saints. Discipline and enforcement of Divine standards of life in the church will be a necessary component. Cp 2 Cor 2:3-9 (1Cor 5:4-5, 11-13), 2Thess 3:6, 14-15, James 5:19-20
- Holiness. This work of love is simply the desire for holiness of life in the church of Christ. It works in self and in the lives of others. Cp Matt 7:1-5, Gal 6:1-2—the law of Christ is the love which fulfills the law! Many who speak of Christian love have no place in their definition of it for the holiness which God requires. Christian love has God as its first object and desires to be like Him.
- A multitude of sins. This suggests a thoroughness and consistency to this love. It functions a multitude of times. It does not grow weary in fighting this warfare. It is not content with only dealing with a few sins here and there. How many sins we all have about us that must be dealt with in this way. How much scope there is for love to work!
II SUCH LOVE AS THIS IS TO BE A PRIORITY FOR THE CHRISTIAN AND THE CHURCH.
- Above all things. There is nothing more important or pressing! He has spoken in the context of the things that make this a pressing duty. Specifically, the battle against sin and the world, v1-2; the end of all things, v7.
- A duty to be fervent in. The word indicates an eagerness, assiduity—‘stretching out’.
- As this love is given and received the bonds of the church are strengthened. This love is to be a mutual experience—among yourselves. Cp Prov 17:9. Peter envisages God’s people in a condition of warm mutual love as each deals with sin and promotes holiness of life and conduct.