Fundamental Attributes Of Biblical Love

“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”   —Romans 12:9


Love, of course, is central to Christian theology. As we know, the theme of the two great commands given by Christ is none other than love.


“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”    —Matthew 22:37-40


Here, Jesus forever linked these two commands together, which were formerly separated in the O.T.  Indeed, it’s no mere coincidence that this pair of divine statutes harmonize to form the abbreviated essence of God’s moral law.  Moral law addresses our moral duty to moral beings, namely, God and man, as there are none other.  Moreover, the latter command is contingent upon the former: if we do not love God, we cannot properly love men.   Thus, the two are presented hand in hand, expressing man’s obligation to his Maker and his moral duty to his neighbor.


Now, many Bible doctrines are utterly despised and rejected today, so much so, that even the mentioning of such doctrines are unpopular. However, love is very, very fashionable both among professing Christians and unbelievers alike. You can bring love” almost anywhere and in any conversation without fear of offense (though not so with other Biblical doctrines like hell, sin, etc).  “Love”, as it were, is constantly lauded and celebrated from the worst pulpits in America.   No doubt, among the modern apostate church, there could be no theme more important, more expounded upon, and more cited as central to spirituality as “love”.  Hollywood can’t get enough of it and it’s sung about from New York to Nashville and from Nashville to LA.  Indeed, there is much talk of love and yet, the question must be asked… 


“Is this ‘love’, the ‘love’ so accepted and applauded by religious hypocrites and the world, to be understood as the same love the Bible commands us to have?”


The answer, is obviously a resounding NO; remember, the Scriptures teach… 


1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.


As we know, the Bible also declares… 


Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.


If the sinner and hypocrite hate God, how can they appreciate true love?  No, no, just as the sinner and the hypocrite have their false christs and their false gods, so have they also fashioned themselves their own counterfeit love.  As we shall see, Biblical love has qualifications.  As we more closely examine our text, we will see that the love so popular today does not qualify as Biblical love.  For, Biblical love has unmistakable and fundamental attributes… 




Romans 12:9a  Let love (agape’) be without dissimulation.


Dissimulation: {Greek} anypokritos Unfeigned, without hypocrisy.


The “love” God commands of us must be without hypocrisy.  This is a very, very important absolute. God’s love, the love He demands we display, must be pure, sincere, and without any hypocrisy.  Simply meaning, it must be without moral contradiction.  Under scrutiny, it must be philosophically consistent, proving itself sound and equal with all the theological claims of Scripture.  For example, it cannot one moment wax sentimental about the souls of men and the next live self-centered.  Likewise, it must be on par with the revealed character and nature of God.  Biblical love must transcend natural love, which is so often defined as something like mere preference, or fondness, or fancy.  It cannot inspire boasting, pontification, and great swelling words but then fail to provoke action.  And yet, this is what we find among most sinners and professing Christians…a love, under intellectual scrutiny, that makes absolutely no sense at all. 




Romans 12:9b Abhor that which is evil….


So, what would a love, pure, sincere, and without hypocrisy look like?  Well, it would be a love that would naturally and logically have to hate evil.  Contrary to the shallow, humanistic, sugar-pop” theology of today’s church, hatred is an essential spiritual characteristic we should embrace, not shun.  Biblically illiterate hypocrites will claim Jesus never hated, but the Scriptures declare…


Hebrews 1:9 Thou (Jesus) hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity…


And make no mistake, as the Bible prominently mentions such hatred, it will be something we can immediately detect. 


1 Corinthians 13:6 (Charity, or love) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth…


In order to have the capacity to love, one must also have the capacity to hate. The Holy Ghost obviously understood this when He inspired… 


Psalms 97:10 Ye that love the LORD, hate evil…


Whatever the object of our supreme love, we must logically hate what threatens or is opposed to the object of our love. This is called the “reciprocating law”. This is not to say we purpose to hate, we purpose to love.   However, if our love is pure, if our love is without hypocrisy, our hatred will be likewise, directed in the proper way.  How can it be otherwise?


 Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.


If we do not hate what God hates, then we do not fear God. If we love as God loves, we also will hate as God hates. The two are inseparable, to love perfectly is to hate perfectly. The greater our love, the greater our hatred. The more our affection burns for what is right, the more our disaffection will rage for what is wrong.


Psalms 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.


Moreover, as we, the church, walk in true love and hate evil, God’s character is unveiled afresh…


Amos 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate…


Thus, any love that professes to be godly, holy, and Biblical but fails to hate evil is counterfeit.  We must understand, hating evil is not something separate from loving God, but is actually a reflection of our love for God. Now, with all this positive talk of hatred, let us not misunderstand. Sinful hatred is never justified and it is akin to murder and, as we know, no murderer hath eternal life.


Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.


We have no right to hate men, we must love men, even our enemies, but we must also hate the evil.   Now, it is true, the Biblical concepts of sinners hating God, God hating sinners, and we hating evil are all seemingly lost truths.  But in our recovery of these truths, let us guard our heart and have a right understanding: we must not hate men, even the most wicked.  This is especially true while preaching the gospel.  It is not enough to merely point out sinners as wicked God-haters who are hell-bound. We must reason with sinners, especially those who are open to the truth and convicted of their sin.  Let the law of God be a heavenly tool to reveal the sinner’s need.


Romans 3:20 …for by the law is the knowledge of sin.


We must awaken the sinner to his condemnation, show him why.




Romans 12:9c …cleave to that which is good.


The love God commands us to possess, must discern between good and evil and choose the good.  Such a love is without hypocrisy.  It is a love that stands with the good and shuns evil.  Notice, the text uses the word cleave, which means to…


Cleave:{Greek} kollao; To glue, to stick, to join self, and keep company.


If we properly love, we will reject evil communications, sinful influences, and bad company.  In a phrase, a people who display a love free from hypocrisy, will be a separated people, delivered out from the world. It is important to note also: if love demands we hate evil and therefore, choose the good, which of course, necessitates moral judgment. 


 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.


This debunks the popular notion that it is unloving to judge.  Lastly, notice, the very two things that the modern church teaches are the most contrary to love, expressing a hatred for sin and moral judgment are the first two attributes necessary for a love free from hypocrisy.  Be warned, a love that refuses to show any hatred for evil or judge between the holy and the profane is a counterfeit, hypocritical love.