The Greatest Commandments

The Greatest Commandments

Matthew 22:35-40 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus summed up all of the Bible in two commandments. The Bible gives us the details of how to love God and others, and it gives us the consequences of obeying or disobeying these commandments. The Bible also shows us how much God loves us.

Perhaps all of us would say, “I love God.” But before we say that, we first need to know what love means. Love is not a feeling, it is an action. There are many aspects of love, but to obey the greatest commandment, we need to understand that love pleases the object of love, which is either God or ourselves. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, do we truly love God? Here is the test:

John 14:23-24 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Jesus links a genuine love for Him to obedience to His commands. If we love Him, we will obey Him, not because we have to, but because we want to.

Just as important as what Jesus said is what He did not say. Jesus did not say, “If you obey my teaching, then you love me.” We can’t turn a cause and effect statement around without changing its meaning. “If you obey my teaching, then you love me” means that love is a product of obedience or love flows out of obedience.

No, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my teaching.” In other words, love produces obedience. It is possible to obey Jesus words and not love Him, but it is impossible to love Him and not obey Him.

For example, all of us as parents know that our children will obey us for many different reasons. I know there have been times that my children obeyed to get something that they wanted; at other times they obeyed because they were afraid of being punished, and believe it or not, there were times that I had to make them obey. Yet, there was no better feeling as a dad then when I knew my kids obeyed me simply because they loved me and wanted to please me.

So, why do you obey Jesus? Do you obey Jesus because you are looking forward to the reward of Heaven? Do you obey Jesus because you are afraid of being punished? Or do you obey Jesus simply because you love Him?

Those who love Christ will obey His commands simply because He said it. Whether it is the spoken commandment in Scripture or the still small voice of His spirit speaking to their heart, those who love Him will obey Him.

Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

Jesus said in Luke 11:28, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

If our obedience is because of convenience or our personal belief, then we are serving ourselves and not Christ. If our obedience is the result of those in authority over us and our desire to please them, then we serve man and not Christ. Only as we wholeheartedly respond to Christ out of love do we serve Christ and Him alone.

If I love Christ, I will do whatever He says and whenever He says to do it. I won’t pick and choose what I will obey, nor when I want to obey. It’s like I told my children, “Partial obedience and delayed obedience are still disobedience. You did what you wanted instead of what I told you to do.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We may not always understand the path Christ wants us to walk. We may think we know a better way. However, love for Christ keeps us walking in obedience to the direction He tells us to go. Love makes His way our way, even when we don’t understand it.

Love obeys Christ’s commands cheerfully. Love never obeys begrudgingly or with remorse. Love obeys willingly. Love’s desire is to please the one it loves through glad and joyful obedience.

Love obeys Christ’s commands consistently. Love never quits obeying.

Psalm 119:44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.

It’s the Holy Spirit that enables us to have a consistent love for Jesus. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we cannot do anything except what our sinful desires want. That’s why we must be born of the Spirit. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, we need God to fill us with His Spirit every day. Life in the Spirit is a daily decision, a constant spiritual battle, and a glorious life of loving God and others.

So, come to the throne of grace every day, all day long, and ask to receive the Holy Spirit so you can love God and love one another. Then God is glorified. Unbelievers will see Jesus abiding in us. We will have power to effectively witness. The powers of darkness that come against us will be defeated by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be satisfied with a form of religion when you can have the Living God abiding within you, empowering you to love Him and to love others. Give Him complete control of every area of your life and He will live through you. His purposes will be accomplished in you and through you, and you will be blessed.

God created us in such a way that He is to be our most significant relationship. That is why loving God is the greatest commandment. When we get that relationship right by the grace of the Holy Spirit, then our relationship with our spouse, our children, our parents, and our friends will have the proper priority and blessing.

In addition to obedience to God, love has several other attributes that relate to the Second Commandment: to love others.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This description of love does not describe a feeling. Look at all the action! Many people are hurt and disappointed because they accepted a concept of love that is different from this description. If someone tells you they love you, but they don’t demonstrate these characteristics, then they do not love you and they do not love God!

If a person does not have Jesus Christ living in them, then they may like you, be attracted to you, or use you to fulfill their desires, but they do not love you. In addition, when you are no longer attractive, or do something they dislike, or are no longer giving them what they want, they will end the relationship, proving they never truly loved you.

True unselfish love is only in us when we are full of Holy Spirit. When God is in us, we will exhibit the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13. God in us is the only hope we have for obeying the Greatest Commandments.

Romans 5:5 Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

The source of true love is God, because God is love.

1 John 4:7-10 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

God and love are synonymous. God is love. Whatever God is, that is what love is. Therefore, if our conception of love does not include God’s justice, judgment, purity, and holiness, then our idea of love and God are wrong. It is not true love nor the true God, but some vague impure god, all emotional, selfish, and weak.

God is love and love is an action word, not a feeling. Therefore, love must be demonstrated. God demonstrated His love in an amazing way.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

The greatest demonstration of love that God has shown to humanity is the sending His one and only Son into the world to atone for our sin on the cross. To those who believe in the Son, He gives a new life, born of His Spirit. To receive that new life, we must give up our old life of sin and self-determination. Then by His Spirit, Jesus enables us to sacrificially love God and one another just as He loves us.

Where God lives, there is love, including joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, and all the fruit of His Spirit. No one has ever seen God, but if He lives in us, people around us will see His love and the fruit of His Spirit in us.

It is amazing to me that God chooses to dwell in us when we choose to give Him our life. We become the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Living God, and He is progressively perfecting us until we become just like Jesus.

1 John 4:17-18 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Love is progressively made perfect in those who have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior, given their life to Him in baptism, and been born again of the Holy Spirit.

God’s perfect love, abiding in us, delivers us from fear of judgment or punishment through the blood atonement of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

In summary, we learn what love is when we focus on God, who is love. Everything else that calls itself love is a false love. God created us to love Him and to love others. It is impossible to do this without God living in us by the Holy Spirit.

Saying we love God or we love others does not cut it. True love must be demonstrated. This is how we demonstrate it: we obey His commandments and we show love to others. God commanded us to love, but love comes from God. So we must be filled continually with the Holy Spirit to truly love Him and others.

If we try to prove to God and others how much we love them, it is a sure sign that love and God are not in us. God is love, and if God is in us, then love will express itself in spontaneity and seem natural. We just love God and others according to the nature of God in us. The life of God manifests itself in this spontaneous way, because the source of love is the Holy Spirit, who abides in us. Therefore, if we love Jesus, it will seem natural to obey Him and to love others.

We all need love. We all need God. If you want God in your life, if you want love in your life, then receive it by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, repenting of your sin, following Him in baptism, and being born again of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be filled with God, who is love.