Since by your obedience to the Truth
through the [Holy] Spirit, you have purified your hearts
for the sincere affection of the brethren,
[see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.
We are all familiar with the two great commandants given by Jesus ... to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, soul, strength and mind; and to love one another as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27). In the featured Scripture today, the Apostle Peter is encouraging the believers in the midst of persecution. He not only tells them to conduct themselves courageously, so that their character and actions should mimic that of their Savior Jesus Christ, but to continue in their love for another.
He is talking to those who are bonded in the faith of Christ -- whether they are fellow apostles, or those who have witnessed the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord; or those who experienced the miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, or even those who have accepted Christ as their Savior as a result of their witness. These men would have shared the effects of hearing the Gospel message, and their souls would have been purified by the Holy Spirit with a sincere affection for their brethren in Christ. And now, Peter is calling them to a higher degree of affection; to love one another fervently -- which can only be done if the Holy Spirit resides in a man's soul. Our natural, fleshly inclination is to put ourselves first. That's why we must be purified and sanctified by God through the Holy Spirit.
But I would like to point out to you a dangerous deception that has permeated the Church through our culture. Depending on which version of the Bible one reads, you may be left with a decidedly weaker message. The version I have chosen for today is the Amplified Version, which corresponds to the King James and the New King James versions. But other versions, such as the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV) present Scripture in an altered format. Those versions read as follows: Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV) -- or, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (ESV).
Notice the difference? See anything missing? How about the fact that they omit "Through the [Holy] Spirit" from the passage? Do you see that by omitting the Spirit, what it is saying is that ANY truth can be obeyed, and you will be able to love one another. Do you see how this plays into the moral relevancy of today's culture? It has been so easy to convince sinful man in today's world that the truth of Buddha, or the truth of Gaia, or the truth of any number of false gods or belief systems is all you need to be able to love with "a pure heart".
It also has allowed the Modern Church to meet a lesser standard. By omitting the Holy Spirit, the congregants are not called to seek His counsel or guidance in loving one another. The meat of the Scripture is lost without the Holy Spirit! How can you purify yourself; and can Christians reveal what truth they are obeying without the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do you see how this is such a disservice to modern believers? It's like giving them half the tools to a task that effects their eternal life!
So here is what we really need to understand ... Many may hear a similar truth, but are never purified by it, because they are unable to submit to it or obey it without the help of the Holy Spirit, who is God's agent. There are such lusts and biases in man’s nature that without Divine Grace we can neither love God, nor one another, as we ought to.
It is very important to consider the role that the Holy Spirit plays in our ability to rise to the calling that Peter exhorts. And because that role has been ignored, the culture is allowed to diminish Jehovah God to the level of lesser false gods ... it then doesn't matter who you worship, as long as you attempt to love one another. It makes us all equal and all able to achieve that worthy goal. But those of us whose faith lies in Jesus Christ know that all our attempts our futile without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Only through Him are our souls pressed to be better than our selfish human nature, and are we able to be successful in loving purely and fervently. We must guard our faith from such insupportable omissions, and stand for the supremacy of the Holy Spirit in our lives.