When someone takes the time to read the Bible front to back, the general consensus becomes- “Our God is amazing!”. He outlines for his people the perfect plan of salvation for his children in such a way that those who prayerfully study the scriptures have no worries about what to expect in the future. He has already told us the end from the beginning. A “turning point” of the bible in the opinion of many, was when Jesus presented God’s perfect law of love to the people in a way that could be understood by everyone- in his commandment of love:
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40
What a beautiful way to sum up the commandments of God- in “love”. Some today teach that because Jesus brought these two great commandments, that the other commandments passed away and are no longer relevant. This is a false teaching, and a close study of the scriptures reveals this (See “Why Follow the Commandments” page). The testimony of the bible both OT and NT is very consistent, and there is no “turning point”, or place where God changes his mind or his ways- but rather the testimony gives a consistent message to obey God.
“For I am the Lord, I change not.” ~ Malachi 3:6
The commandment to love God, was not a new commandment that was first heard when Jesus spoke it. The Pharisees of the day were well versed in the scriptures of the first five books of the Old Testament and this commandment was not new to them. These particular verses come from the ancient Jewish writings in Deuteronomy:
“In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:16
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:5
“If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three” ~ Deuteronomy 19:9
Apostle John in the New Testament also summed up the meaning of the great commandment to love God when he said:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” ~ 1 John 5:3
You can see here, that God’s commandments did not pass away because of the command from Jesus to “love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind.” Rather Jesus explained the condition our heart must be in, if we are to obey God. John clearly states that loving God means keeping his commandments, and they aren’t a burden to us. If we love God, we are obedient to his commandments, and we are able to become like Christ who also loved the Father and obeyed the Father’s commandments. The command to “love thy neighbor” was also not a command to eliminate God’s commandments, but to reveal the condition our heart must be in to fulfill the commandments of God. This commandment too was mentioned in the Old Testament and was not a new commandment, but was already known to the Pharisees. Rather Jesus was bringing its importance back to light:
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” ~ Leviticus 19:18
Apostle Paul makes it clear also that we fulfill God’s law through love:
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” ~ Romans 13:8-10
The ultimate message is- Love is the fulfilling of the law, because if we love God, and if we love our neighbor- we will from the heart become obedient to all of God’s commandments. Paul even listed out the commandments of God in this verse specifically, and confirmed that it remains the duty of men to “fulfill the law” through love. The perfection of the law is found in love, and this also reveals to us the nature of God. If we truly love God and our neighbor, we will be diligent to be obedient to God’s commandments. Under the New Covenant found in Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 11 & 36, and Hebrews 8, we can see that the law is now written into the heart of the repentant believer and we obey God from the heart. God’s commandments were binding then, and continue to be binding now- all of them. We pray today that on your journey, you love God enough to seek out His word in the scriptures, to understand His ways, and to walk in obedience to them from the heart in love. Find wisdom in loving God, and loving your neighbor.