Identifications of Love

Idolatry in any form is a sin, even when that which we idolize seems good and necessary for our lives. God designed our spirits to seek and to give love for His glory, but when we worship our own chosen forms of love; we serve ourselves instead of God and others.

Identifications of love are those words, gestures, actions and attitudes we interpret as love from others. These "packages" are idols, which define and limit our idea of what true love is; they almost assuredly deny us the full joy of giving and receiving it. When we demand these "packages" of love from those around us, we practice unregenerate love.

This lesson includes presentations on the subject of identification of love: unregenerate love, and the problem of idolatry.

Identification and unregenerate love

God's design for relationships is that we "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" Ephesians 5:21 God describes how relationships should and do work.

To the degree of our closeness to the cross (meaning how much of our flesh has died on that cross with Christ) that is the degree of our ability to "be subject to one another".

The inverse is also true: to what degree of our distance from the cross, we will "be subject to harmful things in each others flesh. "Love is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way: it is not irritable or resentful." I Corinthians 13:5 unregenerate (worldly) love arrogantly, rudely and resentfully "insists on its own way."

Father God created us to receive love. When love comes as He designed it, we identify it properly for what it actually is, through affection, wise discipline, and affirmation, we see sacrificial love. When we don't receive proper love, we identify it as whatever we get from the primary people in our lives. We might see love as abuse, criticism, battering, and neglect as substitutes for love, and attention, as gifts.

Other than God designed sacrificial love, every other identification of love can he harmful.

Identifications of love in marriage

We tend to demand what our identification of love is. We measure and judge others by what we have grown up with as love. We must have more and more. For example: A woman's father withheld himself but gave her material things. Hungry for love from her husband, she demanded things and more things, but it was never enough.

Having identifications of Jove is like buying a candy bar, only to throw away the candy and eat the wrapper. An example is that a woman brings her husband to counseling to be "fixed." Her identification of love was to comfort a weak, crying man. Her husband's identification of love was to be fiercely scolded. When he felt as though he needed love, he would provoke his wife until she scolded him. When she went too far and he cried she comforted him. Their faulty pictures of love drove them into a destructive cycle.

Another example is a woman whose father was a busy rancher. When she was sick as a child, he would stay home and comfort her. She learned to make illness last as long as she could because this was the only time that her father would show her affection, and comfort. When she mates, she measured her husband's love by the extent to which he was willing to comfort her during an illness. When he would leave her to go to work after she said that she had a headache and wasn't feeling well, this told her that he didn't love her.

Gender and identification of love

A man often identifies love by what his mother did. He may unconsciously demand that his wife fulfill that picture. He may have formed an identification of love based on fantasy. Sometimes a boy needs to believe that his mother was much more noble, holy, righteous, loving or comfotting than she actually was. Thus he may make demands based on a picture of love formed out of that fantasy, as opposed to what was truly received.

A woman ofien identifies love by what her father did or did not do, and measures her husband's love by that standard.

The dynamic of counter balance

A dynamic in all relationships, especially in marriage is similar to a seesaw or a teeter-toner. For example one partner may be very talkative, and the other is silent; because of the silence the talkative partner talks even more. When away from the partner the silent one talks freely and vice versa. Together neither are flee to be themselves.

Another example is that one is a strict disciplinarian, so the other withholds, or placates and mediates. This causes the first to discipline more, and so on... Mother example is that one becomes super religious; the other counters by becoming more earthly and worldly. This causes the first to be more "spiritual," and so on..

Putting Our Identification of Love to Death on the Cross may not change the way that we do things, or the way we are, but it can transform the way we react to our spouse. There won't be that bitter root expectation that my spouse will never meet my need. There will be a greater ability to receive the love that your spouse shows as their expression of love. We will be able to ask for what we need and it will be enough, because that wrong identification will have been put to death on the cross.

Until unregenerate love dies

o We can't be free to be ourselves with each other

o We feel imprisoned, controlled, measured and judged.

o We unconsciously counterbalance each other and thus are never really in balance.

o We live in a world of tension, frequently trying to anticipate demands and potential criticisms.

o We cannot be real having to "act out" whatever may please or placate the other.

o We will manipulate, push and pull, tying to force the other to fulfill what we think will make us feel loved.

Unregenerate love is:

o Use - manipulation, exploitation, demand, control and possession

o Idolatry - we worship a "form" of love rather than leaving ourselves open to the true love of God. We try to enslave others to the worship of those same idols,
o A source of fire to heat the furnace of our anger when others refuse to give in.
o Selfish rater than sacrificial is unregenerate love. Unregenerate love makes demands. Sacrificial love lays down life for others.

Healing those with identifications of love

o Recognition - Help individuals to clearly identify~' their own identifications of love. Help them to understand their need for love in "other packages", and identi~' the bitterness which was always hidden under the identifications of love.

o Lead to confess, repent and receive assurance of forgiveness for the sin of idolatry, the underlying bitterness, and the defilement of loved ones caused by demands.

o Pray to bring all unregenerate ways of loving to death on the cross and to release in us Jesus' way of loving (our love imprisons; Jesus' love sets free). Pray to reclaim the ground given to satan, and ask the Lord to restore the ability to give and receive truer forms of love. Take the expectations to the cross (even if feelings of loss or anger are not there). Bring to death the structures of demand and counterbalances.

Identifications of love are formed out of snapshots from childhood; we all have them. When the expressions of love we've experienced are profuse and varied, we learn to recognize and receive love in many packages. It is when love has been handed out sparingly that we latch on to a few meager expressions and turn them into idols.

Sharing identifications of love can be a fine way for a husband and wife to learn to know one another; it can create closeness and understanding, and truly be fun. However, even when there are wholesome identifications of love, it is crucial to remember that all human love must be redeemed on the cross. God hates idols and will see to it there are no other gods before Him. In prayer, mates can come to see the idols they have tried to force upon one another. They will recognize how they have defiled one another, and can then repent and ask forgiveness.

Recommended reading for this lesson...
The Transformation of the inner Man Chapters 19-20
Healing the Wounded Spirit Chapters 8-9


Psalm 19:1 - The heavens declare the glory of God:
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 23:1 - The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Psalm 115:4-S - But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

Jeremiah 18:6 -"0 house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, 0 house of Israel."


Matthew 13:31 -- He told them another parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.'t

Matthew 20:1 -"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard."
Luke 9:24 - For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

John 12:24-25 (NAS) - "Truly, truly, I say to you. unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal."

John 15:1 - "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener."

Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divinenature-have been clearly seen, being under-stood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Colossians 1:17-He is before all things, and inhim all things hold together.

Ephesians 4:6 - .. .one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

I. Jesus Counters our Common Counterbalances

Sometimes, when we were children and wanted to play on the teeter-totter, we couldn't find a playmate just our size. If we got on with someone roly-poly, we got catapulted to the top while our rotund friend remained seated unhappily on the ground. So we would say, "Move in, you're too heavy," and we'd scoot out tote end as far we dared. But even so, neither got a very satisfying ride. If our friend got disgusted and jumped off, we came down with a jarring thud - and then we were really angry!

But if we saw big brother nearby, we'd call out, "Hey, come help us!" If he stood in the middle and used his strong legs to swing the seesaw up and down, we'd both get a good ride.

Jesus is our big Brother, using His cross to equalize us and smooth our ride in life. But that can happen only if we invite Him daily, momentarily, by prayer - petitions that include our death on the cross with Him, and resurrection life that lets Him live in us, as us, for us.

Common Counterbalances

gregarious, talkative . . .............. .............silent, withdrawn
earthy, plodding........... ...........................mystical, dreamer,
absent-minded, impractical .............................practical, attentive
emotional, demonstrative ...........non-demonstrative, controlled.
permissive, placative. ..............disciplinarian ,authdritative
pious, prayerful............. .........................worldly, unbelieving~
workaholic, serious..... ............................laid back, fun-loving

Until Jesus balances us, we drive one another to extremes
When His cross sets us free, our differences no longer drive or threaten they become the fun and spice of life!

Click on the praying couple for prayer to restore true love
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Site Last Updated: October 23, 2023