In Matthew 22:34-40, a Pharisee tried to test Jesus, by asking Him, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus responded “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.” Loving God is the something we should do. Jesus said it was the greatest commandment, in other words, if there is one thing that we need to accomplish, it should be loving God. This account is also recorded in Luke 10:25-28. In Luke’s account, the Pharisee asks the question a little differently. In Luke, he asks “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers him with a question, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” Looking back at Deuteronomy 6, we see that the first commandment given by God to Moses is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Jesus confirms, that the pharisee had the correct answer.
How do we love God? Does going to church every Sunday show we love God? Does volunteering at a homeless shelter show we love God? If this is the most important thing we should do, hopefully there is a clear description in the Bible on how to do this.
Praise God the Bible is very clear about this. Let’s start with 1 John 5:3. “For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome”. In John 14:15, Jesus clearly states, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Based on John 14:9-14, we understand that the commands Jesus is referring to are the commandments of God as the two are in perfect unity and Jesus is speaking the words of God. This can be confirmed by 2 John 6 “…walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning…” Keep in mind that in Matthew 5:17 Christ states that he came to show us how to follow the commandments to their fullest possible definition. Christ did not bring new commands but rather lived and preached the same commands that God has always required His people to follow.
These commandments can be found starting in Exodus 20 when God gave Moses the 10 commandments, regiven in Exodus 34, and reiterated in Deuteronomy 5 and 6 It is important to note that after God had given the Israelites the 10 commandments, God did not stop talking, the Israelites interrupted him. They were overcome by the fear of the Lord and asked that God and Moses continue the conversation and then allow Moses to relay the message to them. The 10 commandments are better translated as the 10 categories because the subsequent verses expound how to fulfill the category’s requirements.
At this point you are probably asking “Aren’t they for the Jews only?” From as early as Adam and Eve, there is evidence that God taught His commandments directly to Adam and Eve who taught their children, and so on. Abraham was not a jew yet he followed the commandments of God (Genesis 26:5). It wasn’t until Mount Sinai that they were written down. Numerous times God explained there was one law for native born Israelites and the same law for the non-native born. (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 19:34, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:15, Numbers 15:16, etc…)
But Jesus fulfilled the law so I don’t have to, right? Wrong. Jesus did not come so that His works would take away the law. His works were to be the perfect example of how to fulfill or do the law as stated in Matthew 5:17-18. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” The law or commandments of God aren’t going away until after all is accomplished which will be when we are all in Heaven (Rev. 16:7). God is "the God”. There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) and He wants to be treated the same by all who love Him. Romans 3:29-30 “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” While we are saved by faith, we love God through obedience to his law. This is evidenced by Romans 3:31 “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
Once we profess our faith in Jesus Christ, God sees us all the same according to Galatians 3:27-28 and Ephesians 2:14-16.
Many of us have been taught that Jesus followed the law because He was on earth before He took it away. Now that He’s back in Heaven, no one does it any more. That is simply not so. Paul followed God’s commandments and when accused of not, he took a vow to prove he was teaching God’s laws (Acts 21:18-24). In fact, Paul did this three different times. Jesus told us to teach others to follow the law. (Matthew 28:20). Stephen was stoned because he was falsely accused of teach people to not follow God’s law (Acts 7:54-60). There are so many examples showing that the apostles and early church kept the law it’s easier to say you can’t find someone not preaching it.
Most people think that the law is burdensome, a yoke that no one can bear or do. That simply is not a biblical teaching. 1 John 5:3 states “the law is not burdensome” and in Matthew 11:30, Jesus says that it is light and easy. The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119 is devoted the how great it is to follow God’s law.
For some, this is a newly realized biblical truth that may rail against what you’ve been taught in church. The Bible teaches us that this is what God wants from as a proof of our faith. Also, in order for God to be our God, we need to follow His laws, it is how His contract works. He will be our God and we will be His people if we agree to follow His laws. These words are taken directly out of Genesis 17:7, Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:45!
As His people, we are to offer our bodies (clothes we wear, what we eat, how we behave) as living sacrifices as an act of worship (Romans 12:1). How is that an act of love? In John 15:13 Jesus says “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus continues in the following verse “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
In addition to following God’s law as a form of love, according to Galations 3:29 if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s offspring and an heir according to the promise! Read Genesis 17:8 for details on your inheritance.
Even during the millennial reign of Christ, Jesus will be preaching God’s laws (Micah 4:2). It will be mandatory to observe God’s feasts (Isaiah 66:23, Zechariah 14:16), keep the sabbath (Isaiah 66:23, Exodus 31:16), keep the leviticus 11 dietary laws (Isaiah 66:17), levitical priesthood will be reestablished (Isaiah 66:21, Hebrews 8:4), construction of a temple, and animal sacrifices (Ezekiel 40:48).
From the beginning to the end God, is the same and He has always wanted His people to love him in the way He defines. We have the Holy Spirit to help us, the examples of Christ to follow, and the promises of God to look forward to.
Something else to think about...
How does loving God give eternal life when salvation comes by faith in Christ? It struck me as odd that the Luke account said that loving God is also the way to inherit eternal life. 1 John 5:1 explains the connection between loving Jesus and loving God when it says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.”