Many Christians today believe- “all that is required of me is that I love the Lord with all my heart, and I love my neighbor,” and they are absolutely right! When it comes to the question of what does this mean, the answers get kind of muddy and diverse. Why? Because everyone has a different perception of what love is. Someone in an inner-city gang might be of the opinion, that love means they won’t beat you up. Someone that is rich might think that love looks like constantly showering someone with gifts. Others consider love to be spending time with someone. The list goes on. There are even books out there, like “The Five Love Languages” that try to address and validate these different opinions of what love looks like. Love means something so totally different to every individual in today’s society, that marriages fall apart because spouses have different ideas and perceptions of what love looks like, demanding their perceived ‘love needs’ are met or else, leading only to disappointment and failure. These supposed ‘love needs’ in many cases turn out to be selfish fleshly desires.
I propose, that we as a human race have unlawfully redefined the word “love” from its original meaning. Love once defined meant something very different than today’s definition- which points to a “FEELING” of acceptance, or a “FEELING” of being special/important to someone, or it is even tied to the “FEELING” of physical lust. Is this the love that God taught us about? When God says to love the Lord with all our heart, is He desiring to feel butterflies in His stomach? Does God desire that we buy him things in order to feel special? Does God need to hear us say “I love you” in order to feel special, wanted, etc.? Of course not! God doesn’t need anything, He is God! Because He is God, he defined the concept of love for mankind very clearly in His commands to His people. Contrary to popular belief, true love looks very different than what today’s secular world has led us to believe. To many today, just saying “I love you God,” or feeling love for God is the extent of their obedience to the command ‘Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.’
When you love a wife, husband, boyfriend, or girlfriend, is saying “I love you” all that is required to make a significant other feel loved? You could say to your wife “I would have paid the bills, but I had to have this new toy……but I love you.” Is your wife going to accept your love? Of course not, because you didn’t fulfill your obligation to take care of your wife, and to put her well being before your own. If you completely missed your anniversary and decided to go out with the guys instead, yet you come home and say, ‘but I love you’ to your wife, will she accept your love? Of course not! Eventually she would have your number and would lose all trust in you and love for you. If this kind of lip service doesn’t work with your husband or wife, than why would it work for God? The truth is, love doesn’t have much to do with feelings. It doesn’t have much to do with the fulfillment of fleshly desires. It has to do with fulfilling our God-given lawful obligations to another party, person, wife, husband, brother, sister, neighbor, or God, to the best of our ability. Love is a commitment to serving others.
God set forth obligations for those that believe in Him to fulfill, should they truly love Him. Just like in a marriage, a wife has obligations to her husband, and so the church of the saints also has obligations to the Lord.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ~ John 14:15 (Jesus)
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” ~ 1 John 5:2-3
“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
On the contrary, we can say by applying simple logic that if we willfully and knowingly choose not to keep the commandments of God, then we do not love God. Just like a wife doesn’t want to hear ‘I love you’ as much as she wants it to be shown in actions and deeds, so is it with God. He does not need lip service. He doesn’t need to hear you say “I love you God.” He desires that we show our love by obeying His commandments, and the commandments of His son Jesus Christ. When a wife fulfills her God-given lawful obligations to her husband fully, the husband feels loved, respected, and even becomes more successful than he was before. In turn the husband also fulfills His God-given lawful obligations to His wife. This is a covenant relationship. This is a committed relationship. When we love God and have entered into a covenant relationship with Him, and we fulfill our God-given lawful obligations in covenant with Him, he also always fulfills His obligations to us:
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~ 1 John 5:14-15
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.“ ~ Deuteronomy 11:26-28
God gave all kinds of commandments through Moses for His people to obey in a “covenant relationship” with Him. (SIDE NOTE- Jesus indicated that he brought the same message/same commandments as Moses, and that if one won’t hear Moses, neither will they listen to Him):
“Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.“ ~ Luke 16:29-31- Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man
Some of the commandments you are probably familiar with are the ten commandments (paraphrased):
I. I am the Lord thy god, thou shalt have no gods before me
II. Thou shalt not make or worship any graven image of anything in the earth, sea or sky
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
IV. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy
These first four commandments introduce us to what “love for God” looks like. It is simple, not at all complicated. God also commanded feasts to be observed throughout the year, aka specific “appointed times” when He wanted His people (His wife) to gather together before Him to celebrate together. He declared certain foods unclean to eat, identifying specifically what is clean and what is unclean for those in covenant with Him to consume, which by nature even reflect a discernment between healthy and unhealthy food sources. He established order and government for those that were coming into covenant relationship with Him for the health, purity, safety and security of his spouse. We know from the record of the ancient Israelites, that they broke the everlasting covenant by disobeying these commandments of God. In other words, they proved that they did not love God, rather they loved other man-made gods. They committed spiritual adultery. They failed to meet the obligations of the covenant:
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” ~ Isaiah 24:5-6
“Though you, Israel, commit adultery, do not let Judah become guilty. “Do not go to Gilgal; do not go up to Beth Aven. And do not swear, ‘As surely as the LORD lives!” ~ Hosea 4:15
God was married to the Israelites, and they in other words cheated on Him with other gods. They broke the vow/covenant. Part of God’s original covenant, was that we love our neighbor also. An introduction to what it looks like/what the obligations of this part of the covenant are, can be found also in the ten commandments:
V. Honor your father and mother, that the days may be long upon the land that the Lord your God gives you
VI. Thou shalt not kill
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery
VIII. Thou shalt not steal
IX. Thou shalt not bare false witness against thy neighbor (falsely accuse others)
X. Thou shalt not covet anything that is your neighbors, including his wife
So to fulfill the obligations that the Israelites had under the Old Covenant, they had to observe these commandments in their dealings with each other. There were also many more commandments that taught the Israelites how to act towards one another. Example after example is given. So to say “I love my neighbor” but to ignore these commandments, was again just lip service. Each person under the covenant had an obligation to each other, as well as obligations to God. THIS IS LOVE DEFINED! All that God commanded was for one purpose- to reveal who He is, and as we know- GOD IS LOVE. To come into covenant with Him, and to walk out this love that our Creator defined, bares complete fulfillment in every way as His created beings! The commandments of God reveal the mystery of love! This whole idea of love God and love your neighbor was not a new thing that Jesus taught. This was an age old UNCHANGING concept that came out of the Old Covenant:
“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
“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
Jesus, when commenting on the greatest commandments of the law, was simply telling us in His testimony that these two commands of God were the MOST IMPORTANT of all the commandments, and that all of the other commandments hinged on these two. All of the commandments were summarized in these two statements. In other words, all of the many commandments God gave described what it looks like to love God, and to love your neighbor. Again, there was example after example given. If the commandments of God did nothing else, they certainly revealed to man what true LOVE looks like. Isn’t love also the mystery fully revealed in the gospel of Christ? Christ walked in perfect LOVE for God and for neighbor. Christ obeyed Torah perfectly and walked it out free from sin. We are instructed to follow in His footsteps.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” ~ 1 Peter 2:21
Many might say- well this is the OLD Covenant, and doesn’t pertain to us any more. We now have a NEW Covenant. Yes this is true, but most Christians that I’ve spoken with do not know the terms and obligations of the New Covenant when asked. Many times, the answer is- ‘Just believe in Jesus Christ’…..but this is incomplete:
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” ~ James 2:19-20
In other words, James is explaining- it isn’t enough to just believe in God or Jesus Christ. Even the devils believe this. Works, or acted out obligations, accompany a LIVING faith in the New Covenant. Otherwise your faith is dead. So where do we find what works must accompany our faith in order to remain in a loving covenant with our Lord?
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (The word “law” comes from the original Hebrew word “Torah” in this text, aka God’s instructions- Genesis-Deuteronomy) 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.” ~ Ezekiel 11:19-21
Here we see evidence of what the New Covenant relationship looks like. As you can see, under the New Covenant, God’s Law aka Torah aka Genesis-Deuteronomy is written INTO OUR HEARTS, and our works are that we “walk in God’s statutes, keep His ordinances, and do them.” What ordinances, laws, and statutes is He speaking about? The same that have always been and will always be until heaven and earth pass away! These same laws are the obligations of the New Covenant wife to Jesus:
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:18-19 (Jesus speaking about the Torah/The Law/Genesis through Deuteronomy)
“And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” ~ 2 John 1:6
And our bridegroom’s wish for us in the last week of His life, his final wishes if you will:
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.“ ~ Matthew 23:1-3
Do you see what it means to Love God now? Do you understand the obligations of the marriage covenant with Jesus? Many Christians have become bogged down by the commandments of MEN that are heavy, doctrines that were not founded in the law of God. The burden of Yeshua is light! This was the whole reason for repentance (turning away from our sin aka disobedience to God’s law) and rebirth, to come back into covenant with God/Christ and to walk out God’s commandments (obligations of the covenant) with the help of Holy Spirit FROM THE HEART! To love the Lord is more than mere lip service and the declaration “I love you God.” It is played out in our actions and works as we fulfill the obligations of our covenant out of love for God and neighbor. This is great news! This is the Gospel! Obedience to God from the heart through the Holy Spirit as a new creation in Christ! You will be amazed at the changes in your life after coming into covenant with our Creator! Words cannot describe the peace and joy that flow out of a reborn believer. Our husband comes soon, let’s prepare for His coming, and if you haven’t already- repent and be baptized into Christ, and come into covenant relationship with Him today!