How have we missed the inseparable connection between love and law?
A lawyer, listening to Jesus teach, was amazed at the wisdom and sagacity. He decided to test Jesus further with a “gotcha” question. “Teacher,” he began, “which is the great commandment of the law?” Jesus’ answer silenced the duplicitous advocate.
“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV).
Most seem to read Jesus’ response to the lawyer and then quickly jump to the teaching He gave the disciples on the night he was betrayed. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).
Indeed, there is a direct correlation.
The emphasis for most is love. We are to love as Jesus loves. Without question that is true. Have you overlooked the other point Jesus was making? When a disciple of Jesus Christ loves as He loves, they also keep all of the law and the commandments. “If you love Me,” Jesus said, “keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NKJV).
If you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself, you will also love His law and His commandments. Jesus, Himself, connected these dots. “I am giving you a new commandment,” He said. He didn’t say I am taking away the old ones.
According to Him, there are now eleven commandments.
Read again the lawyer’s question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered, “This is the first and great commandment.” To His disciples, He said, “A new commandment I give to you.”
It was not removal and replacement. Jesus was giving greater emphasis to loving and keeping the law of God.
Further confirmation is given by His Sermon on the Mount. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20 NKJV).
Two times Jesus said in this sermon, “You have heard it was said by them of old…” then He quoted one of the Ten Commandments. One time He said, “Furthermore, it has been said…” and He quoted Moses regarding divorce.
He was not removing the commandments but setting a higher standard; a righteousness that would exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. It is a righteousness that flows from loving God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. You love so you obey His law and His commandments.
You love them because you love Him!
Jesus gave a profound teaching as He closed the Sermon on the Mount. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV).
Those who refuse to love the law of God and live in obedience to His commandments cannot expect to live in the Kingdom of God. No matter how much they profess their love and do great works in His Name, He will not accept them into His Kingdom.
This is understandable. The law of God is the governing rule of His Kingdom, just as nations have laws and ordinances that are the governing rule.
Without laws the streets are not safe, the highways are dangerous, crime is rampant, and ordinary citizens will be disorderly. When the majority of a populace no longer love and honor the law the nation will rapidly decay.
It is no different in the Kingdom of God. When the disciples of Jesus Christ do not love and honor His law and commandments, godly living soon decays. Darkness creeps in, carnality grows, and the believers become more and more like the world around them. There is hardly a distinction between those who claim salvation and the ungodly.
The preachers still preach in Jesus’ name. The worshipers still proclaim their love for God. The believers are still praying in Jesus’ name casting out demons. Even miracles and signs and wonders are happening.
Jesus proclaims, “I never knew you.” He is not saying, “I don’t know who you are or that we have never been acquainted.” The Greek Word He used is saying, “We have not had an intimate relationship.” Why would He say that? He said they are a “lawless one.” They have not loved my law. They have not “done the will of My Father in Heaven.”
There is an inseparable link between loving the law of God and living a godly life.
If we are truly to be His disciples we must love as He loves. He loves the Father. He loves to do the will of His Father. So must we.