Counterfeit love vs. Biblical love

by Mike Ratliff

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. (Colossians 3:5-7 NASB)

In Ephesians 5:1-2 the Apostle Paul gave us exhortation to line up our lives with God’s standard of self-sacrificial love that mimics His own for His beloved Children.

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB)

He then, in vv3-7, gives us the opposite, which is counterfeit love. This form of fleshly love always results in impurity of life. I find it amazing how I find so many professing Christians ready to call what I am teaching here “legalism” because they want to embrace the very things Paul lists in these verses which are Satan’s perversion of God’s creation.

First, here are vv3-7 from the NASB.

3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; (Ephesians 5:3-7 NASB)

Here are vv3-7 from the NA28 Greek Text.

3 Πορνεία δὲ καὶ ἀκαθαρσία πᾶσα ἢ πλεονεξία μηδὲ ὀνομαζέσθω ἐν ὑμῖν, καθὼς πρέπει ἁγίοις, 4 καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία ἢ εὐτραπελία, ἃ οὐκ ἀνῆκεν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία. 5 τοῦτο γὰρ ἴστε γινώσκοντες, ὅτι πᾶς πόρνος ἢ ἀκάθαρτος ἢ πλεονέκτης, ὅ ἐστιν εἰδωλολάτρης, οὐκ ἔχει κληρονομίαν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ. 6 Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς ἀπατάτω κενοῖς λόγοις· διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας. 7 μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν· (Ephesians 5:3-7 NA28)

Here is a word-for-word translation of this passage from Koine Greek to English.

Fornication but and uncleanness all or greediness but not let be named in you, just as it is fitting to holy ones, and shamefulness and foolish words or coarse joking, which not is proper, but more good favor. This for you know knowing, that all sexually immoral one or unclean one or greedy one, who is idol server, not he has inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and God. No one you let deceive in empty words; through these for comes the anger of the God upon the sons of the disobedience. Not then become co-partakers of them;

The word I translated as “fornication” and the NASB translated as “sexual immorality” in v3 is πορνεία. It originally referred to prostitution. It is derived from the related word in Greek which means “prostitute.” It was used in the Septuagint to refer not only to common prostitution, but religious prostitution that was part of the fertility rites of Baal worship. By sexual relations with temple prostitutes, humans, supposedly, could share in the fertilizing power of and cosmic harmony with the fertility god Baal.

However, in in later rabbinical language, which heavily influenced the New Testament, πορνεία came to be used for any sexual relations outside of marriage, including: premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. In the Graeco-Roman world, this became so perverted that all of these activities were indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the common people, but by the social elite as well.

Look around you my brethren. Our time is no different. In fact, indifference to the practice of these things runs deep in our society, and tragically,  in the visible church as well. However, lest we become distracted, we must not forget that all Christians are commanded to turn from these things in repentance.

The NASB translated ἀκαθαρσία as “impurity” and I as “uncleanness.” This the state of people who have are so far gone, so past even feeling guilt for his or her sin, that they are totally given over to filthy living. This concept, ἀκαθαρσία, is actually tied in with the Old Testament standards of “clean” and “unclean.” Paul is telling Christians that everything propagated by Satan’s counterfeit love is unclean, impure, and polluted. This includes not only the imoral acts themselves, but immoral thoughts and fantasies as well. Pornography is built around this and is big business.

The third characteristic of counterfeit love is πλεονεξία, which is covetousness or greediness. It is a desire to have more. Christians should learn to be content with God’s provision as they rest in God’s promises to supply their needs. However, when people are consumed by πλεονεξία it causes many other compromises that lead to things like idolatry and move the heart away from God.

The next three characteristics of counterfeit love involve impure speech. The first one of these is αἰσχρότης which the NASB translates as “filthiness” and I translated as “shamefulness” when referring to how one speaks. This is referring to improper conduct that is ugly, indecent and reveals that there is deep impropriety in a person’s life and conduct by how they talk.

The next improper way of speaking is μωρολογία, which the NASB translates as “silly talk” and I as “foolish words.” This is not seen “as bad” as αἰσχρότης so it is tolerated by many people, but we are still commanded to not do this. It is “silly, stupid, and foolish.” It is speaking of things that are foolish and pointless.

The third and final wrong way of speakings is εὐτραπελία which is “crude joking” or “coarse joking” or “jesting.” To be honest, I deal with people who do this quite often. They do it intentionally. The word actually means to to turn something spoken into a different meaning. They take something good and twist it into something else, into a double meaning. I find this one very prevalent within the apologists for the men and ministries I have revealed to you to be apostate or at least on that road using discernment and God’s Word. They come at us with their deceit and this is their favorite weapon.

There you have it my brethren. Counterfeit love is Satan’s attempt to take what is good, confuse the issue and turn it around to cause destruction. All these things are based in the flesh. I have asked professing Christians who have attacked this ministry using εὐτραπελία, for instance, how they could justify doing something they claimed to be doing in God’s name that was nothing more than deceitful works of the flesh. I never got any answers to that one.

My brethren. We must all examine ourselves. Are any of these things found in our hearts? We must turn from them in repentance. We must seek healing from God and move toward Him in obedience by faith. We cannot live in the flesh and please Him. We must walk and serve Him by faith alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “Counterfeit love vs. Biblical love

  1. Excellent, my brother! My pastor plans on teaching on biblical love this Sunday. I’ve given him a few resources and will pass this along to him as well.


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