"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
Absolutely everything extraneous is stripped away as the gospel is reduced to one thing only. And that is that we know we love God whom we do not see if we love our brother whom we do see. If there are any litmus tests, that would be the one, and no other.
That strips away knowledge. Nothing wrong with knowledge. But it has nothing that it can add to love. Little untaught children can love.
That strips away the performing of miracles or other acts of so-called power. It isn't that that those things do not happen; indeed they are to be expected from time to time. But healings and miracles do not prove the love nor necessarily exhibit it. Love stands of itself.
Love has many definitions but the best definition for me is "love seeketh not its own."
To "seek its own" is the "garment spotted by the flesh," which we are to hate. Love does not see any "its own" (something for "me," "mine"), because love exists only to lift up and to bless and to give, as the sun exists to give light, and life thereby.
Love is to be as the sun, which as I said above has one purpose, to give light, which is to produce life. The sun doesn't differentiate its shining according to the supposed morality of the sunlight receiver, but shines freely to all and on all and becomes the life of all, even the life of those who shun its rays, because there is no life on this planet that does not owe the sunlight its origin.
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you."
Simply put, "in the flesh" means "something in it for me" and "in the Spirit" means "I exist and live for the good of others."
One is the kingdom of the false god, the usurper, the deceiver, and the other is the kingdom of the One True God, Who Is All in all, and is all, in you and in me. The liar says The Living God is not All in all, and fragments the world into conquerable portions that we can have for ourselves, and paints us a picture of ourselves that is altogether false and wholly a lie: he tells us we are whores, or liars, or bastards, or thieves, or mistreaters, or that we deserve better, our rights have been violated, we have been put down by "the others": we have no evidence for a long time except to believe what he has told us and by the case he builds in our sight and hearing year after year. But it's a desert life and we are always thirsty and hungry.
When we step into the new kingdom and all things are new, there is no gradual improvement, but instead there is an immediate and complete washing away of everything that was past, and by the infusion of the Spirit of God within our spirit to make one new person, we stand up with the exact same "past" as before, but it has now been resurrected and made anew just as we have been, and everything, past, present, future, becomes part of the one Eternal and is as clean and fresh and new as the Eternally Begotten Son is with the dawning of each new day.
"Wilt thou be made whole?" asked Jesus of the man who had been crippled for 38 years. Simple question. First he made an excuse. "Well, sure, I'd love to. But the water is way down there & I can't get there in time; somebody always beats me to it."
The question Jesus asked bypassed the pool, getting there in time, finding someone to help him down there -- all his listed obstacles. Jesus' question cut to the chase: "WILT THOU be made whole?" A yes or no answer is all that is required.
Love bypasses every obstacle and lives in grace. It is a gift and not earned, nor can it be worked up in the flesh. The man has listed all the things he'd "tried" to do and he could not perform well enough to get the healing. Jesus is offering a bypass of the regular way of doing things, bypassing the traditions, and says basically, "Look, this is a gift being offered to you now, and all I want to know is if you want it or not." Jesus if offering this man something he hasn't earned "by the sweat of his brow." A breakout from the curse of the Fall, right there on the spot. It cost him, but the man took it.
Either we ARE love, which is Christ in us, or we are not His. If we are not love, we are of the wicked one John says.
To be Who He is means to be What He is, which is Love, and that means that the reality of our lives is fulfilled, the true desires of our hearts are met, when our life is in some measure given to give, and there is no other purpose to our existence, except to be nothing but love.
When Paul said "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified," I don't think he was making a big giant theological statement. He was expressing the center of his life, which was the cross exhibited and lived in love, "to spend and be spent" for others, without regard for his own life.
Now that's the life of all of us in Christ. We exist to lift up, to bless, to testify to the truth, to impart wisdom, and to give life. That requires a corn of wheat to fall into the ground and die, before it brings forth much fruit.
And that is also seen to. As we are loved, we love. As we are comforted, we comfort. As we are blessed, we bless. As we are led, we walk. If we happen to walk into hell, we are not misled. Because we come back out, bringing freed captives and gifts for everyone.
Grace leads us on and will not fail.
"I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."
Sons of God, hear the word. You SHALL NOT DIE, BUT LIVE, and DECLARE THE WORKS OF THE LORD."
Wilt thou be made whole?
Now let us all stand up and walk and be ourselves -- as we are individually and corporately found hidden in Christ in the heart of God.