I’ve been pondering over 1 Corinthians 8:3: “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” It is an easily overlooked verse in the context of conscience regarding whether or not to eat meat offered to idols (a common problem in those days since most everyone had idol worshiping friends). Some were using their knowledge that idols are nothing and eating this meat without thinking about others in their church family who did not have faith to do so. Their knowledge had puffed them up. Paul, for the sake of love, declared he would rather not eat the meat, even though he knew there was but ONE TRUE GOD, than offend a brother in Christ. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies, says Paul. He returns to this thought in chapter 13. The Corinthians were putting knowledge and spiritual gifts above love, but Paul says that these things are those that will remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest is love.
It isn’t that knowledge is unimportant. In 2 Peter 1:3-11 Peter wrote:
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to  his own glory and excellence,  4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities  are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,  be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Notice that all of the qualities we are to add to our faith, including knowledge, lead to love. And knowledge is not only facts, doctrine and Bible knowledge, though it includes that. In this passage and several others knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is stressed. Paul frequently prays for believers to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ’.
To grow in knowledge of a person, or a subject or a skill involves time spent with that person, or reading about the subject, or practicing the skill. Generally, the more time we spend with someone the more we grow to love them. This is how it is with Jesus. We have to spend time with Him in His word and in prayer, enjoying the fellowship of His Spirit, so that we will really love Him with our whole being. Knowledge leads to love and love leads to obedience from the heart.
Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” That is, the law of love written on our hearts by the Spirit. This isn’t a list of things to follow. You have probably noticed that the commands given in the New Testament letters are commands having to do with love. We can DO all the right things, but if we are not motivated by love for God and people all our DOING is useless. We can KNOW all things, but if our knowing is not grounded in love we will only be arrogant.
I’ve always read this statement of Jesus’ and taken it as a command, but as I was meditating on it yesterday the Lord spoke to my heart these thoughts:
“If you love Me you WILL keep My commandments, for they will be a delight to you. My commandments are not burdensome; my yoke is easy and my burden is light. If you love Me, I will know you and I will lead you in the way you should go. I will hold you by My mighty right hand. If you love Me you will come to sit at my feet and learn of Me and I will give you My own strength to follow Me. My word and My ways you will love–My people You will love–The lost and the poor you will love–If you love ME.”
The Lord knows those who love, fear and honor Him, see Malachi 3:16-18. When trying to figure out what to do in a situation we can go to our Savior and ask Him for wisdom. We have our own ‘meat offered to idols’ to deal with and questions about each step of our walk with Him. He will lead us and His leading will fulfill the law of love. We each must do this for ourselves instead of patterning ourselves after other people. Others may give a good example, but we should seek His counsel before we follow it. It may not be what He wants us to do.
Our friend Bernard just wrote this blog post. I commend it to you. He carries this theme out further than I have here.