John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (PHILOS – φίλος (fee’-los) loved ones = fellow believers).”
1 John 4:7-12, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
1 John 4:18-21, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19We love, because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
1 John 5:1-3, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the £Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
In the command to love by “laying down our lives,” Jesus is comparing all realms of love to the love that is self-sacrificial for the benefit of our fellow believers, (whether they are current or future believers). There is not greater love in the entire universe than that AGAPE – ἀγάπη (ag-ah’-pay) love that puts others first and ourselves second.
1 John 3:16, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
- “Laying down your life” is in the Aorist tense which views the entirety of the action.
- Therefore, it does mean suffering martyrdom for the sake of fellow believers, but that is just one aspect of “laying down our lives”, Rev 6:9; 20:4.
- “Laying down your life” is also the day-to-day carrying of your Cross for the benefit of others, Luke 9:23-24; Gal 5:24-25.
Our Lord said in Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
Gal 5:24-25, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
- “Laying down your life” is also the day-to-day self-sacrificial AGAPE love for the benefit of loved ones (fellow believers current and future).
- Whether we are witnessing the gospel or serving our fellow believers, we are in fact laying down our lives for their spiritual benefit whatever it may be.
Gal 6:9-10, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
As Believers, We Each have Received at Least One Spiritual Gift at the Moment of Our Salvation, which we should be applying in the service of God each and every day.
- As you learn what your gift is and apply it on a consistent basis, you are fulfilling the command of John 15:12-14.
- How so? Because there are many other things you could be doing with your life each and every day, yet when you put those things aside to serve God in the application of your spiritual gift, you are sacrificing those “other things” of your life, you are sacrificing your life. See: 1 Cor 12:4-7, 12-21; 13:1-7; Gal 5:22-23.
1 Cor 12:4-7, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Scripture Provides Detail as to What “Laying Down Your Life” Entails.
- There are two aspects, a) your mental attitude, and b) your actions:
1 John 3:23, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth (Bible doctrine resident in your soul).”
The Appropriate Mental Attitude for “Laying Down Your Life,” Rom 14:7-8; Phil 1:21-25.
Rom 14:7-8, “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
- Mentally put God’s will for your life before your own will or anyone else’s, Luke 22:42.
- Our Lord prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
- Mentally put aside worldly titles, credits, power, and prosperity that are a hindrance to serving God and his children, Phil 3:7-8, 15-17.
- Overcome the sinful desires of your Old Sin Nature with the Word of God resident in your soul, Gal 5:24. The precursor of mental attitude that leads to “carrying your cross daily.”
Gal 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
- Do not judge your fellow believer, Rom 14:10, 13
Rom 14:10, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Rom 14:13, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”
- Have an absence of hatred, (for whatever reasons), toward fellow believers, 1 John 2:4-11
- Dwell on righteousness rather than the garbage of the world, (Satan’s Cosmic System), Phil 4:8-9 with 1 John 3:7.
1 John 3:7, “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.”
- Strive for peace with your fellow believer and the edification of their souls, Rom 12:18; 14:19.
Rom 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Rom 14:19, “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
Your Actions in “Laying Down Your Life”.
- Behave according to God’s mandates in society, Romans 13:8-14; Gal 5:24-26.
- Suffer and rejoice with others when they are suffering or honored, 1 Cor 12:26.
- Give graciously to your fellow believer who is in need, 1 John 3:17.
1 John 3:17, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
- You are not the 007 of Grace. Do not use Grace as a license to sin, Gal 5:13-14.
- Do not gossip or malign in order to get ahead, Gal 5:15.
Gal 5:13-15, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
- Have an absence of self-righteous arrogance, Gal 5:26.
Gal 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”
- Forgive the sins of others and encourage them to go forward in the Plan of God, Gal 6:1-2; Eph 4:1-3; Col 3:12-17.
Gal 6:1-2, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
Eph 4:1-3, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Col 3:12-17, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
- Strive for harmonious rapport inside the body of Christ, 1 Peter 3:8-12 with Gal 6:10.
1 Peter 3:8-12, “To sum up (what AGAPE love is), all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10For, ‘The one who desires life, to love (AGAPE) and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’.”
- Have harmonious rapport inside your marriage and family, Eph 5:22-6:4; Col 3:18-21.
- Apply authority orientation to human institutions, governments, bosses, Pastors, etc., Rom 13:1-7; Col 3:22-25; 1 Thes 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17-18; 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; 3:1-2.
- “Laying down your life,” means living righteously with confident expectation in the Plan of God, Titus 2:11-14.
Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14who gave Himself for us (laid down His life) to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
- In John 15:13-17, we have the friendship of Jesus Christ, and in verses 18-27, we have the hostility of the world. So that leads us to…
“Will You Lay Down Your Life?”
By Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends …
I have called you friends …” (John 15:13, 15)
Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing—our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways. There was only one bright-shining moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was there that He emptied Himself of His glory for the second time, and then came down into the demon-possessed valley (see Mark 9:1–29). For thirty-three years Jesus laid down His life to do the will of His Father. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Yet, it is contrary to our human nature to do so.
If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is. Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” And Jesus says to us, “… I have called you friends …” Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.