Q7: What does the law require?
A:Personal, perfect and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves. What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.
Matthew 22:37-40, “And [Jesus] 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.”
Vertical Truth in Faith – What does this truth mean in my relationship with God?
As I read about this call of a believer; to live in personal, perfect and perpetual obedience to God, my mind drifts to the book of Romans. I think of Romans 7 where Paul speaks of how he has the desire to do what is good, but his ability is lacking. Paul sees that, like us, he is ultimately entirely dead in sin and in need of a Savior. He says things like this in Romans 7:24-25, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” We can do no good apart from God. He saw us in our bondage to sin and made a way for us to be set free and have relationship with Him through Jesus and that truth begs us to worship Him. This understanding of the magnitude of grace poured out to us should cause our affections for God to stir and the natural response to this kind of love is an obedience to the Lord in what the law commands.
Ephesians 2:4-10:“ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Psalm 18:1-2:“I love you, O Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
The Horizontal Truth in Love – What does this truth mean in my relationship with humanity?
Not only are we called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength,but we are also commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. The order of these things is in no way by accident either! When we have our heart, mind, soul and strength focused on God, then our hearts will be aligned with His. We will see the needs of others and think to put their needs before our own. There is a quote that I have in my office that reads, “Let each of you look not only to your own financial affairs, your own property, your own family, your own health, your own reputation, your own education, your own success, or your own happiness – don’t just think about that, don’t just have desires about that, don’t just strategize about that, don’t just work toward that, but look to the financial affairs and property and family and health, and reputation, and education, and success, and happiness of others.”
In John 15:13 it reads, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus came and left us with the greatest picture of this. We will most likely never find ourselves in a situation where we are laying our life down for a friend – however, dying to self and putting others before ourselves, that is something that we should do. It is something we are called to do, and we can do it by first aligning our heart with God’s heart through loving Him with every aspect of ourselves.
Philippians 2:3-4:“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Practical Truth in Action – How can I put this truth into action?
If the law requires us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we should pursue ways to make this happen. We hear this encouragement all the time, “Spend time with God through reading the Scriptures and in prayer” and most often we hear excuses that life is just too busy. I read a quote a few years back that said, “If you are too busy to spend time reading your Bible and praying consistently, then you are probably much busier than God would want you to be.”That may seem like a silly quote, but in reality, it is probably true. We need to be abiding and spending time with the God who made us, loves us and saved us. You would not get married to the love of your life, then stop spending time with them and expect to have a great relationship. If we do not expect that of our human relationships, then why would we think our relationship with God would be any different? You grow in your affections for the Lord by spending time with Him. So, we should prioritize our days in a way that places time with the Lord as first priority.
Once you make regular time with the Lord a priority and your heart begins to be aligned with God, loving the people around you becomes a lot easier. You are convicted quicker to respond as Jesus would and you desire to glorify God with the way you handle relationships around you. Again, this is why the instruction is in the order of love God, love people.
John 15:1-5:“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9:“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”