On one occasion, among many others, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with a question. The question was, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 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 22:34-40)
They just knew they had Him, as they had thought at other times, but notice Jesus’ response. Jesus said that we are to first love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. Then He added that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
When He mentioned the Law and the prophets, He was saying that every book in what we call the Old Testament centered on these two commands. If we do not first of all love the Lord our God, we cannot truly love our neighbor, and by the same token, if we do not love our neighbor, we don’t really love God.
The world often visualizes God in the Old Testament as an angry and vengeful God, and the New Testament as a loving God, but that is not so. Even some who call themselves Christians feel this way. However, God is always a loving God and He never changes. Anyone who sees God as “mean” in the Old Testament cannot truly know Him. They obviously haven’t read the Old Testament and understand who He is.
With every sacrifice made in the Old Testament was God’s proof of His love for us. Every sacrifice pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of His Son on a wooden cross on Calvary.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:6-11)
Let no man ever say that God is mean and vindictive in the Old Testament, but kind and gentle in the New Testament. God’s love shines forth on every page of the Bible, whether New or Old Testament. Even in His more than justified judgments, His love and grace can be seen.
Now the question remains, “How do we prove our love for God?” Any true Christian who has humbly studied the entire Bible with an open heart yearning for the Truth, will eventually notice that two important facts stand out. Both in the Old and New Testaments these two truths are clearly visible. These two truths are (1) love and (2) obedience. We show our love for Him by obeying Him.
The Old Testament in particular speaks of “fearing the Lord thy God.” Does that term mean we are to be scared to death of Him? Does it mean we quake in our boots and run and hide? Whenever we see that term, remember that it is speaking of a reverential (respectful, honorable) trust, including the hatred of evil. It is the respect a child would have for their father who will discipline them, but also loves them with all his very being, who would give his life for them. This term is meant for the believer, never the unbeliever.
“Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.” (Deuteronomy 6:17-19)
“And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25)
Yes, these passages are written specifically for Israel, but the principle most definitely applies to the Christian today. Think not?
Jesus, God in the flesh, said in the New Testament:
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
“You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
Some Christians try to be very religious to prove they are the elite of God. They have the somber voice of church talk down pat. They display hypocritical emotions on cue. They may even quote some Scripture. Guess what? The Pharisees of Jesus day were super religious, but they hated Jesus. They had Him crucified! The Pharisees of today would no doubt do the same.
The apostle Paul was a Pharisee who hated Jesus and tried to eliminate His followers, He thought he loved God and was being obedient to God, until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. After that meeting, he wanted nothing more to do with religion. He shed the religious hypocrisy and became truly obedient to God. Now why did he do that? He did it because he fell in love with God and chose to serve Him in obedience the rest of his life; i.e. love and obedience.
Are you tired of being religious? Would you like to really know God? Come to Him through His Son Jesus. Shed the religious hypocrisy and love Him with all your heart, mind and soul. Obey Him by loving your neighbor and obeying His Word.
Remember what Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html
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