Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THEY CALL IT LOVE, BUT GOD CALLS IT NATURAL AFFECTION”

Romans 1.31; Second Timothy 3.3

 Last Sunday morning I brought a message using Psalm 142.4 as my text: “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” I focused attention on David’s complaint, “no man cared for my soul.” Admittedly, the fact that no man cared for David’s soul was a tragedy. The fact that no man cares for any man’s soul is a continuing tragedy that most people object to so strenuously and oppose so vociferously that the great majority of supposedly Christian congregations will not put up with any preacher who advances such a strong commentary on man’s sinfulness. The real question is not whether anyone likes the fact that no man cares for my soul, and by extension and application no one cares for anyone else’s soul either, but whether or not the Bible teaches this as a characteristic of man’s sinful nature. To put it another way, if David did not mean what I said he meant by what he wrote, that did he mean?

When David wrote that “no man cared for my soul,” was he mistaken? Was he in error? Are you suggesting that this Spirit-inspired prophet of God wrote into God’s Word a blatant falsehood? Would you also suggest that Jeremiah 17.9 is mistaken, where we read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” How about when David wrote Psalm 14.1 and 3, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one”? Is his inspired commentary on the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind erroneous? As well, was the Apostle Paul mistaken when he took David’s comment as true, in Romans 3.10? How about Psalm 53.1, where David wrote, “there is none that doeth good.” Was Paul once more mistaken when he took David’s expression as true, also in Romans 3.10? David wrote so much about sin and the Savior who would come in a thousand years, that we are left to wonder if David was mistaken about the Lord Jesus Christ as well as being mistaken about the sinful nature of man. You see, if David was wrong about one, he could very well be wrong about the other. And if the Apostle Paul was mistaken in taking David’s psalms as true, perhaps Paul was wrong about the Savior.

What we are left with is a dilemma. Either David was wrong when he wrote that no man cared for his soul, with the Apostle Paul being wrong for believing what David wrote, or someone is going to have to admit that he does not really and truly care for other people’s souls, as he thought he did. It boils down to two possibilities; either the Bible is wrong and you are right, or the Bible is right and you are wrong. If the Bible is right, then you and I have a useful tool for obtaining spiritual guidance, since Psalm 119.105 reads, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” According to this verse, God’s Word is useful in two ways: First, as a lamp unto my feet, it reveals my footing to me, showing me what I am standing on and how precarious my present situation is. Further, as a light unto my path, God’s Word throws light ahead of me to show me where I can safely place my feet in my journey through life to arrive at my destination. However, what if the Bible reveals to you that you are not standing where you thought you were? What if the Bible shows that your footing is unstable, and catastrophe could occur at any moment? As well, what if you want to head off in one direction, but the Bible clearly leads to safety in another direction altogether? Such revelations can be very troubling, I assure you.

There is also Hebrews 4.12: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In this verse, God’s Word is declared to be both living and powerful, a blade that is superior to any two-edged weapon, capable of slicing between soul and spirit, and discerning the thoughts and intents of your heart. My friend, not even you can do that. No one knows where man’s soul stops and his spirit begins, and none of us is capable of clearly discerning our own heart’s thoughts and intents. In other words, the Bible can reveal a man’s motives even when he is himself unclear about why he does what he does. Therefore, when I point out that according to God’s Word an unsaved dad does not love his son, a lost boyfriend does not love his girlfriend, and that two married people who are lost do not love each other, it is no wonder you become angry. God’s Word has just sliced you to the heart and exposed you for what you really are.

Here is what it boils down to. They call it love, but God calls it natural affection. Stay with me and I will lead you out of the darkness of spiritual error. Six fairly straightforward points to bring us to a better understanding of the truth:

 First, LET US BEGIN WITH OUR CONFLICT

 It is safe to say that the message I brought from God’s Word would have created no end of conflict in most churches. I remember preaching a far less challenging message some years back, titled “Spurious Conversions.” It was a simple message that suggested to the congregation that some members were likely unconverted, using the examples of Judas Iscariot, Simon the Magician, the Corinthian fornicator, and Paul’s friend Demas to illustrate. Though I preached the message here without incident, when I preached it somewhere else the reaction was so strong the pastor was fired. When conflict arises concerning a message from God’s Word, it must be asked what the source of the conflict might be. In Acts chapter two, when Simon Peter directly accused his audience of complicity in the Savior’s crucifixion, saying to them, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain,” their response was conviction that led to their conversion.[1] However, when Stephen preached a sermon that was as undeniably Spirit-filled, the crowd set upon him and stoned him to death after gnashing on him with their teeth.[2]

Do not for a moment think I am claiming to be either Peter on the Day of Pentecost or Stephen. I am simply pointing out that adverse reactions are possible even when good sermons are preached with God’s enabling. Therefore, when conflict arises during or resulting from a sermon, some thought needs to be given about why there is conflict. Has the preacher said something that was not true? Has the preacher said something true that was expressed in the wrong way? Or do you have an issue with God’s Word and by extension with God? Those who were in conflict with Stephen disagreed with Stephen’s message because they disagreed with God. This should not surprise us. After all, in John chapter 6 we read of a similar experience with the Savior. The Savior had preached the truth to the multitudes, with many of His disciples reacting by saying, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”[3] The very next verse reads, “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?”[4] After a few more comments, we read in John 6.66: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”

Can anyone doubt that Jesus spoke the truth? Would you question that Jesus spoke the truth in love? Therefore, the conflict that arose between Jesus and His audience was owing entirely to their unwillingness to accept the truthfulness of what He had said. Last week, there was some conflict with some of you concerning my message from God’s Word. The question is why?

 Next, CONSIDER THE LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION

 Though no one came to me personally to ask me any questions concerning my message, I will reckon that the conflict arose from confusion rather than an unwillingness to respond to God’s truth. Therefore, let me address the possible sources of confusion.

One source of confusion could be concerning the difference between natural affection and love. In our culture, love is typically considered to be something one falls into or falls out of. A guy divorces his wife to take up with another woman and justifies his behavior by saying, “I could not help myself. I no longer loved my wife and I found myself falling in love with another woman.” In another situation, a woman will claim that she loves her children, when her sentiments toward her kids are nothing of the kind. Or, perhaps a guy does not love a youngster who is difficult and who constantly misbehaves. Turn to Romans 1.31, where Paul describes the behavior of unsaved people after God has turned them over to a reprobate mind: “Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” Notice that unsaved people suffering from God’s judgment can sink so low that they are even without natural affection, the natural sentiment you would expect of a mother for her child, a father for his son, or for another human being. Turn to Second Timothy 3.3: “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.” Again, and this time in connection with these last days we live in, more and more unsaved people will be without natural affection. If lost people are sometimes missing this thing called natural affection, then what most people possess and mistake for love is in reality only natural affection. They only call it love. I submit to you that if you have never even considered the differences between natural affection and love then you cannot possibly be sure that you know the difference between the two. Therefore, for all you know, you do not love your spouse, you do not love your child, and you do not love your boyfriend, but are only experiencing the sentiment associated with natural affection (plus the likely addition of lust to the mix if your feelings are toward someone of the opposite sex).

Another source of confusion is related to your attitude toward God’s Word. Have you yet decided that God’s Word is always right, that God’s Word is true in every case? It was a settled matter to Jesus, Who in John 17.17 said to His heavenly Father, “Thy word is truth.” I would recommend that you address this matter in your life once and for all. After all, Psalm 119.89 declares, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” The importance of this arises from the fact that there are things in God’s Word you do not know or understand. Therefore, should you be confronted with a truth beyond your grasp, will your immediate reaction be that what is presented is wrong, or will you consider the likelihood that you are mistaken and you need to be corrected? Second Timothy 3.16 reads, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So, you see, one reason God gave to us His Word was for our correction. This means, the Bible is always right and you are right only so long as you are in agreement with God’s Word.

 Third, CONSIDER THE NECESSITY OF CORRECTION

 What are the odds of someone being a bit confused when he finds himself in unfamiliar territory? The odds are high. What are the odds that someone in unfamiliar territory is heading in the wrong direction and needs a course correction? Again, the odds are high. Allow me to help you find your way out of the woods with respect to this matter of the nature of love and the nature of man:

First, a few words about the nature of love. The most familiar verse in the Bible is John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” From this verse alone we see that love must somehow involve giving what is needed to someone. Thus, love is not taking from someone, but giving to someone. Natural affection, on the other hand, typically involves feelings you get rather than giving to meet another’s needs. Turn to First Corinthians 13, where we find love described (with charity meaning love), in verses 1-8:

 1      Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2      And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3      And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4      Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5      Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6      Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7      Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8      Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

 From verse 1, we see that nice words are not love. Verse 2 shows that Bible truth, knowledge and faith does not equal love. Verse 3 shows a willingness to sacrifice even unto death does not mean there is love. Verses 4-7 shows that love suffers, is kind without envying, does not exalt or promote self, has a definite shape without seeking for selfish reasons, is not easily provoked to do or to think evil, sides with truth against error, and bears all, believes and hopes, and is durable. Love never fails. So you see, most of what passes for love these days is not love at all, but is actually only natural affection. Turn to Galatians 5.22. Notice how the verse begins: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love . . . .” What is produced in the life of the believer by the indwelling Spirit of God is love. So, what is in the lost person’s heart for his spouse, for her boyfriend, for his son, so long as he is unconverted and the Spirit of God does not indwell him? Natural affection, my friend, not love. The nature of love is that it cannot be ginned up in the heart of anyone who is lost, not love for others at any rate.

Next, a few words about the nature of man. Where was love in Eve’s heart when she took the forbidden fruit and ate it, and then immediately offered it to her husband?[5] Where was brotherly love in Cain’s heart when he slew his brother Abel?[6] Where was Ham’s love for his father Noah when he dishonored him upon the discovery of his nakedness?[7] My friends, these are but illustrations of a universal truth about the nature of man. Man is dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2.1. Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually, Genesis 6.5. Psalm 14.3 and Romans 3.12 both unequivocally insist that man does not do good. Is it not good to love someone? Yet no one does good, according to the psalmist David and the Apostle Paul. If man does not and cannot do good, but only appears to do good things without having any love in his heart toward someone at all so long as he does not know Christ, how can a lost man claim to love his spouse, claim to love his children, claim to love his girlfriend? The answer is that he is confused about the nature of love, and it is my ministry to make use of the Word of God to correct him. Why is he confused about the nature of love? He is confused about love because he is confused about his own nature. Lost man thinks there is some good in him, but the Bible says there is none.[8] Lost man thinks he understands, but the Bible declares that he is deceived.[9] Lost man thinks he sees, yet the Bible teaches he is spiritually blind.[10] At best, the spiritually enlightened Christian admits that he sees through a glass darkly and only understands in part.[11] Therefore, correction is needed. God’s Word corrects us about the nature of love (so you can distinguish it from what is only natural affection), and corrects us about the nature of man (so you can see your confusion, your blindness, and hopefully your sinfulness and need of Christ).

 Fourth, CONSIDER THE BENEFIT OF CLARIFICATION

 Allow me to provide some characteristics of each to show you the difference between natural affection and what God refers to as love:

First, there is natural affection. The Greek word found in Romans 1.31 and Second Timothy 3.3 is astorgoV. The Greek letter a placed in front of storgoV has the effect of making it opposite. So, storgoV means natural affection and astorgoV means without natural affection, which means “unloving, without tenderness. It refers to the lack of the feelings of natural tenderness, as seen in a mother who exposes or kills her child, a father who abandons his family, or children who neglect their aged parents.” It is “without family affection, without love of kindred, destitute of love toward those for whom nature herself claims it.”[12] A young mother’s feelings for her babies is not love, but is natural in its origin, and biological and hormonal in origin. Will a young mother risk her life to protect her baby? Of course, but First Corinthians 13.3 clearly points out that such is not love. How about a guy’s love for his girl? Is he a Christian? If not, it cannot be love, since love is produced by the indwelling Spirit of God. Therefore, he has only natural affection for the girl, with the likely addition of lust if he finds her physically attractive. Call it love all you want, but it falls far short of love, because it is entirely natural and possesses no supernatural component whatsoever.

Then, there is love. We know from John 3.16 that love gives to meet the needs of the one who is loved. We know from First Corinthians 13 that natural affection can produce some admirable behavior, so real love should be even more impressive. Would you not agree? In Ephesians 5.25, Paul describes the conduct of a husband who is Spirit-filled and who really loves his wife: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Notice the component of sacrifice. As Jesus gave Himself, so Paul urges loving husbands to sacrifice for the benefit of their wives. Is this the behavior of lost people toward the people they claim they love? A man who loves his wife does not cheat on her or divorce her. A man who loves his child does not abandon him to be raised by another man, or to be raised without a father in the house at all. A man who loves a woman will do anything he can to see her converted to Christ, either by coming to Christ himself or by removing himself as an obstacle to her conversion. That is the kind of behavior that shows care for one’s soul. Thus, all those feelings that we observe and mistake for love is not love at all. It is merely affection that is natural and without any supernatural source of any kind. Love, on the other hand, comes from God, meaning it is supernatural in its origin and has the best good for the other’s soul as its goal.

 Fifth, CONSIDER THE CONVICTION OF YOUR SINS

 How should you react upon the discovery that you do not really care for the soul of the person you thought you loved? You ought to be convicted of your sins. You see, on several occasions Jesus said you ought to love your neighbor as yourself.[13] To love someone, be it yourself or your neighbor, is to provide for that person what he most needs. What does God’s Word declare to be sinful man’s greatest need? Forgiveness, salvation, reconciliation to God through faith in Jesus Christ. That is why Second Corinthians 5.14 reveals to us that Christ’s love works through the Christian’s life to see the unconverted saved from their sins.

Have you done anything to bring that about? What steps have you taken to urge your unsaved spouse to consider the claims of Jesus Christ? How are you actively seeking the salvation of that person you claim you love? Do you help him think on Christ by allowing him to hug you, to kiss you, to think about you all the time instead of the things of God? Look back over your child’s life and honestly take note of the direction you have been leading him. Will he seriously want to become a Christian as a result of your influence and guidance? Jesus told us in John 16.8-9 that the Holy Spirit would “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me.” In other words, the Holy Spirit’s task is to make you feel guilty for not believing in Jesus, as well as for committing the sins that effectively interferes with those you say you love becoming Christians.

Do you see the damage you are doing by giving someone that poor substitute for real love? You call it love, but God calls it natural affection, and it tricks people into thinking it is real love, distracting them from the love of God that is in Christ with a counterfeit for love, a phony love, and robbing them of the love of God that would be in you if only you were a real Christian.

 Finally, CONSIDER YOUR CONVERSION TO CHRIST

 Do you recognize that so long as you are unsaved you cannot love anyone, that the best you can do is gin up some sort of natural affection? Of course, the trouble increases if the person you say you love is so convinced by what you give them that they will settle for your natural affection and have no appetite for the love of God which is in Jesus Christ. In the end, they will be not only disappointed, but also suffering the eternal wrath of God.

Real love for God will produce real love for the person you claim to love, the person you may be convinced you would like to love. However, real love for God will only come when you come to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Should you come to Christ, the love of God will be shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto you, Romans 5.5, and not before.

 No man cares for your soul. Neither do you care for any man’s soul, be it your spouse or child, be it your mother or father, be it your best friend or lover, so long as you are without Jesus Christ. Failure to love others as yourself is a sin. Jesus died for sins on Calvary’s cross. Jesus rose from the dead and sits at God’s right hand on high. Jesus forgives the sins of those who come to Him for salvation full and free.

Jesus will forgive your inability to love those you should love, and He will give you the Holy Spirit and will love others through you. However, it must begin with your recognition that you do not love others, you do not care for any man’s soul, and that it is a sin that only the blood of Christ can wash away.

Come to Christ, my friend. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior, and experience the forgiveness of your sins and then the love of God will be shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit which is given to you. Then you will care for the souls of others, and will be numbered among those few, those very few believers who, by God’s grace, care for the souls of others.



[1] Acts 2.23

[2] Acts 7.54-60

[3] John 6.60

[4] John 6.61

[5] Genesis 3.6

[6] Genesis 4.8

[7] Genesis 9.22

[8] Roman s 3.12

[9] Jeremiah 17.9; James 1.22

[10] 2 Corinthians 4.3-4

[11] 1 Corinthians 13.12

[12] See comment on Romans 1.31 and 2 Timothy 3.3 in Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), pages 351 and 644.

[13] Matthew 19.19; 22.39



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org