Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). God’s love for us is eternal and unchanging. Even when we are faithless, God remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). However, there are things that can affect our experience and enjoyment of God’s love.
Unconfessed sin can disrupt our fellowship with God and prevent us from experiencing the joy of His love. When we harbor sin in our hearts and refuse to repent, it creates distance in our relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). We may still be saved, but we won’t have an intimate connection with our Heavenly Father.
Examples of Unconfessed Sin
Thankfully, God is quick to forgive us when we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9). As we maintain a repentant heart, we can continue to receive God’s love without hindrance.
Not Abiding in Christ
Abiding in Christ is vital for experiencing the fullness of God’s love. Jesus said, “Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9-10). Obeying God’s Word and walking closely with Jesus keeps us connected to the vine so that His love can flow through us.
Ways to Abide in Christ
- Reading the Bible
- Fellowship with other believers
When we neglect these spiritual disciplines, we drift from intimate fellowship with the Lord and miss out on the joy of His love. But as we prioritize abiding in Christ, we open ourselves to receive the fullness of His amazing love.
Not Forgiving Others
If we do not forgive others, we cannot fully receive God’s forgiveness and love for ourselves. Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Holding unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It only hurts us and blocks God’s love and healing.
Keys to Forgiveness
- Recognize that all people fail and need grace
- Understand that Christ forgave you
- Pray for the one who hurt you
- Release them from your judgment
- Ask God to change your heart
As we choose to forgive, our hearts expand to receive more of God’s limitless love and mercy.
Not Loving God’s People
If we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ, the love of God is not in us (1 John 4:20). When our hearts are filled with bitterness, unforgiveness, prejudice or apathy toward other believers, it squeezes out God’s love. We cannot isolate ourselves and still experience the joy of His love. God’s love flows through community, fellowship and unity among Christians who lay down their lives for one another.
Cultivating Love for God’s People
- Serve those in need
- Encourage the discouraged
- Comfort the grieving
- Forgive those who hurt you
- Pray for your church family
- Invite new people into your life
As we open our hearts to reflect God’s love to others, we receive His love in ever-increasing measure.
Not Receiving God’s Love
God pours out His love on us daily, but sometimes we are not receptive. We may believe lies that God doesn’t really love us or that we are unworthy of His love. Our hearts may be closed off due to past wounds and rejection. But God’s love is not dependent on our worthiness – it flows from His gracious nature. What we must do is humbly receive His love by faith.
Opening Yourself to God’s Love
- Renew your mind with God’s Word
- Repent of any lies you’ve believed
- Ask Him to heal your heart
- Trust that He loves you unconditionally
- Receive His love by thanking Him for it
As we open ourselves to God’s outpouring of love, it will change us and fill us in ways we can hardly imagine.
Hardening Your Heart
At times, difficult circumstances can cause us to harden our hearts and become resistant to God’s love. We may allow disappointment, resentment or anger to cause us to pull away from the Lord. We stop seeking Him and receiving from Him. But God’s love remains constant. He patiently waits for us to soften our hearts so that His love can penetrate our pain or bitterness. He is always ready to restore the joy of our salvation when we turn back to Him.
Softening a Hardened Heart
- Invite God into your pain
- Confess any anger or resentment
- Ask Him to give you a heart of flesh
- Open yourself to His Word
- Obey despite your feelings
As we yield to the Holy Spirit’s leading, He is able to soften and heal our hardened hearts to experience God’s love anew.
Depending on Feelings
Since God’s love is unchanging, it cannot be based on our fluctuating feelings. When the highs wear off and emotional intensity fades, God’s love remains constant. If we rely only on our feelings, we will have an inconsistent experience of His love. We must depend on the sure foundation of Scripture and trust in God’s unfailing character. He said He loves us, so we can confidently rest in His love each day.
Standing on the Truth of God’s Love
- Renew your mind with Scriptures about God’s love
- Recall past times when you experienced His love
- Thank Him for loving you, even when you don’t feel it
- Step out in faith to love others
- Ask others for encouragement about God’s love
As we ground ourselves in the truth of God’s unconditional, everlasting love, our feelings will eventually align with the reality of His love.
Living in Sin
Persistent sinful living numbs us to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and interferes with experiencing God’s love. We feel too guilty to draw near to Him, even though His love is unchanged. Knowing God loves us as we are should lead us to repentance, not continued disobedience. His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4). God disciplines those He loves, for our good (Hebrews 12:6). His love moves us to live holy lives that bring Him glory.
Steps to Overcome Sin
- Confess your sin
- Repent and turn away from sin
- Renounce any ties to sin
- Ask God to fill you with His Spirit
- Pursue righteousness with God’s help
As we allow God’s love to set us free from the power of sin, we can walk in the fullness of that love each moment.
Doubt and Unbelief
If we struggle to trust in God’s love for us, we won’t experience the security and comfort of His love. We may doubt His goodness, doubt that He cares for us, or believe we have to prove ourselves worthy of His love. But faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). He wants us to take Him at His word, trusting completely in His unfailing love for us. His love is not dependent on our performance. He wants us to rest confidently in His love.
Developing Faith in God’s Love
- Study the truth of God’s Word
- Reject negative thoughts that fuel doubt
- Thank God that He loves you
- Take a risk and act in faith
- Spend time in worship and prayer
As we choose to believe, regardless of our feelings, the Spirit will confirm God’s steadfast love in our hearts until it casts out all fear and doubt.
Not Demonstrating Love for Others
An inability to show unconditional love for others can hinder our receiving God’s full love. We cannot isolate God’s love just for ourselves. Jesus said that loving our neighbor as ourselves sums up the entire law (Matthew 22:39). As we open our hearts to let God’s love flow through us to others – even those who mistreat us – we open ourselves further to His love. God’s love is abundant; the more we pour it out, the more we are filled.
Ways to Walk in Love
- Let go of judgment
- Be patient with difficult people
- Speak words that uplift
- Demonstrate kindness to strangers
- Forgive those who hurt you
- Encourage someone who is struggling
The more we yield to God’s love, the greater capacity we have to give and receive His perfect love.
Nothing can separate us from God’s infinite love. But if we allow unconfessed sin, bitterness, doubt, or other things to create distance in our relationship with God, we will not fully experience the joy of His love. As we prioritize daily fellowship with Christ, believe in His unfailing love, and let His love flow through us to others, our lives will be transformed by the depth and power of His amazing love.