1 Corinthians 16:22
“If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!”
This passage appears at the end of the book of 1 Corinthians. It is a crucial and critical passage that we can sometimes miss or overlook and do not notice. Studying this passage a little deeper will help you get a better perspective of what a relationship with God means and to take this opportunity to examine your walk with Christ or determine if you are merely religious.
When we look at this passage in context, when Paul says, “If anyone has no love for the Lord,” the “anyone” is not referring to unbelievers. Instead, he is speaking about those in the church community at Corinth. In other words, he is speaking to those who are professing to be Christians.
When we look at the Corinth church’s problems, Paul felt it necessary to add a solid warning to understand authentic Christian living. This passage encourages us to go beyond the outward religion and instead examine the heart of those professing to be Christ-followers. The Corinth church had lots of problems, but the cause of these problems, when you boil it down to its root cause, is a lack of love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
We can go to church and do all those things that Christians do. We can worship, pray, participate in communion, and do everything else, but that does not mean anything unless you love God.
From all the arguments and controversies in the church that forms most of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul brings back the Corinthians’ thoughts to the true test of their faith in Christ in the last chapter. Through this book, Paul has been teaching the Corinthians church doctrine, reproof and correction.
Likewise, if you search deep within your heart, are you calling yourself a Christian because of genuine love for God. Take some time to examine yourself and search out the real reason for your religion? Is it to meet some immediate need. Is it because you think there are some extra blessings if you are a Christian, is it for the sole purpose of receiving healing from sickness, or that God can help you financially or meet some need in your life?
On the other hand, is it because you are comforted by the good deeds you try to do in the name of Christ or of an internal fear of hell and judgment? It could even be because it makes you feel better by coming to church or helping other people and making you feel fulfilled, or you think the works you do are pleasing to God. You see, all of these are self-seeking, but if they are not done with the root cause of your love for God, then they are useless.
So, what does love for God look like? Love for God is to desire God and yearn for His righteousness, His word and His grace. Psalm 42:1 says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” To love God is to put Him first, and because of your desire for Him, there is worship and praise for Him and your desire to magnify Him. Not just in words but from the depths of your heart.
It is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It means to reserve the best of your affections for him, to dedicate your life to Him, to learn about Him through the word of God and spend time in prayer, and to persevere for Him in your daily walk. To love Him is to obey Him. John 14:15 says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Amen!
The warning given here is that if you do not love the Lord, you will be accursed. It is a strong warning. Anything done in a self-seeking manner and not with the heart of love for God means that you are under the judgment of God and accursed.
The love that is being referenced here is “phileo“. Usually, the word used for the love of God is “agape“. The difference between the two is that agape speaks of the most powerful and noblest type of love; it is sacrificial love. It is a love that goes beyond feelings, and it is an act of the will. This is a love with which God loved his people and gave His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.
Whereas “phileo” refers to brotherly love and is exhibited in a close friendship or associated with family love. An example of this from the Bible is David’s love for Jonathan – it was a brotherly love even though he was an enemy of Saul, Jonathan’s father. 1 Samuel 18:1 says, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”
The one who does not have such a love for the Lord is to be “accursed”. In other words, let him be “Anathema“, which signifies being condemned or being devoted to destruction. Straight after calling this curse on those who do not love God, Paul finishes by saying, “Our Lord, come”, or “Maranatha“, This is to mean the Lord comes, namely to execute vengeance upon Him.
The Apostle Paul uses the same word in Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Anathema Maranatha were the words which the Jews began their greatest ex-communications, whereby they not only excluded sinners from their society, but delivered them to divine Cherem, or Anathema; that is, to eternal perdition (Benson Commentary).
When a person attends church and is a professing Christian; but they are secretly alienated from Christ and attend for personal benefit to only receive something for self and not with a genuine love for God, then they are to be “Anathema“. It is a stern judgment on those who do not love the Lord.
Friends, this is the same curse if you are a so-called Christian or an unbeliever. Calling yourself a Christian and doing religious activities for personal gain and without a love for God is only a religious activity and not a relationship. Christian faith is all about a love relationship with God. Not that we loved Him first; rather, He loved us first. 1 John 4:19-20 says, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
True love for God translates into love for your brother and neighbour, fulfilling the two greatest commandments on which depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:36-40).
In conclusion, if you do not have a love for God, then you are accursed. If you are a professing Christian, take some time to examine the motives of your heart. Search out your soul and verify if you love God or is it something else. If you are an unbeliever and do not know God, then you are an enemy of God, and there is a fearful judgment awaiting you. Seek Him and turn to Christ in repentance. Accept the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins. Be born again in the Spirit and love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen!