In Matthew 22 we read of the expert in religious law, who approached Jesus on behalf of the Pharisees, who sought to trap Him with this question: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" We all know the answer Jesus gave him straight out of Deuteronomy 6:5: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…"The second is like it, Love your neighbour as yourself. "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Kremannymi: depend, hang upon; it is translated various ways but means to be referable to as an ultimate principle. The ultimate principle of scripture is love God, love your neighbour. The guiding principle, the foundational principal of all scripture is love.
The Law of the Kingdom of God is Love. It is represented by the Green candle & the covenant with Moses to whom the Torah was first given.
So, before we move forward we need to clarify the word love ~ agape in the Greek. The best definition of love is found in 1st Corinthians 13.
Verse 6 is variously translated as
· does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth[NASB]
· Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; [KJV]
· Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [NIV]
· it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. [ESV]
The word adikia can mean any of the following: injustice, wrong; iniquity, falsehood, deceitfulness but note it is contrasted with the word Truth. So, one of the defining characteristics of love is Truth & according to John 17:17 Thy word is Truth. Love will always adhere to scripture.
We now need to look at what is meant by that because Jesus was pretty scathing about the Pharisees & Sadducees: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation…[Matthew 23:14] among several other verses .
Make no mistake. These were men committed to the word of God ~ far more committed than your average Christian! They had committed to memory all 39 books of the Old Testament, including the full texts of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Deuteronomy.
However, the Sadducees & Pharisees were harsh. It has been said of them they majored in the minors. In other words, they focused on minor points while ignoring the great spiritual truths. They & Jesus knew exactly the same scriptures. They read the same book but reached completely different conclusions from what they read, so much so that Jesus chastised Nicodemus: Are you the teacher of Israel and you do not understand these things?
See they knew about God; they did not know God.
So, we have a delicate balance to walk because Love is not harsh. It is patient & kind, yet it may have some harsh things to say on occasion. Jesus certainly did!
We have seen this recently. Some people, in the name of love, are accepting of some very unscriptural practices. Some people, in the name of Truth, become very harsh & unloving.
The Law, as it was given to Moses, was given for our benefit. How we love is dependent on our understanding of the Law & the Prophets. Everything hinges upon that.
I read something recently that I believe sheds some light on how we are to walk this out. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the source.
We have the Old Testament. We have the cross. We have the New Testament. Jesus came to fulfil the Law, not abolish it. All of the Old Testament must come to the cross & it will either come through the cross & be brought forward into the New Testament, or it will end @ the cross. God’s definition of marriage was brought forward. The command for justice & charity was brought forward. The civic & ceremonial ended @ the cross. The Moral Law did not.
This gives us a strong scriptural foundation to build our walk on. There are immutables. There is also an order. Love God first. You don’t get to be wishy~washy on this one. John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
The more we know God, the more we will love Him & it is this love that empowers us to keep His commandments. When we love God the way He commands us then we will be empowered to love people the way God says they should be loved. This helps us to discriminate between sin & the sinner. It has become cliched, but it is still a truth: we are to love the sinner yet hate the sin. It can be hard to remember For, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
We know…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…2Corinthians4:4
This is why we are commanded to preach the gospel. It is not our job to condemn anyone. It is not our job to save anyone. That is solely the domain & the prerogative of the Holy Spirit!
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
The Living Word of God will do the work we so often try to take on ourselves of changing men’s hearts & we cannot do it because we were never meant to do it!
This does not remove our responsibility for how we ourselves live. We have been called out of the world: it’s lifestyle, its concerns, it’s thought patterns For, all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16
We have spoken before about living a lifestyle that others find attractive. In the midst of a world torn apart by natural disasters, wars & rumours of war, climate change, all sorts of unnatural deviations from God’s ordained order we are not to be dominated by fear or controlled by anger @ the ungodliness we see all around us, or feel defeated. We know that this world is still under the control of the evil one & those whose minds have been blinded by him cannot see the Truth.
Isaiah 6:3 Assures us Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. And again, in Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is how Jesus was able to set aside His glory & minister to sinners. This is how He was able to forgive the very ones who nailed Him to a cross. This is how He was able to fulfil the Torah & thus set us free from a legalistic adherence to it.
His mind was stayed on the Father. It did not dwell on what was done to Him. It did not dwell on grievances. It did not even come up with plans to change men’s hearts. Jesus simply ministered to men’s needs. He did not condone sin. He did not justify it. He did not call black white, & white black, sweet sour, nor sour sweet. He did not call evil good & good evil. He knew the difference. He lived the difference himself. He called out the sin but he ministered to the deepest needs of the human heart to be loved & accepted.
John 5:19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
The Law was given so that we could know we couldn’t keep it, no matter how hard we tried. The Pharisees & Sadducees tried. They knew the Law. They tied it up in knots, even to tithing the most miniscule of their herbs. They couldn’t keep it because they relied on their own understanding. They did not know the heart of God & so they missed Jesus. They saw Him breaking *the rules* & decided He had to be wrong. He could not be of God. But again & again, which rules are Jesus breaking? He is breaking the man~made interpretations of God’s Law, rules about keeping the Sabbath, rules about what you could & could not do on the Sabbath, rules about who you could & could not associate with. He never, not once, broke God’s moral Law: laws regarding fornication, laws about trusting God, the Law about loving God first, loving God with everything in you. And He could do it because He had the Spirit without measure & He was constantly alert & listening for the Father’s directives.
Jesus has shown us how keeping the law is to be done. The Scripture is our touchstone. It guides & directs us but we must be careful not to do with it what the Pharisees did & turn it into a weapon to attack people. There are times to call people out on their sin. Jesus did. There are times to simply heal the sick, bind up the broken hearted, deliver the captives…Jesus did. What to do when, comes from listening to the Spirit of God & only doing that which He tells us to do.
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel36:26/27
It is the new heart that enables us to keep God’s commandments in the way He intended for them to be kept. He didn’t need telling that we couldn’t do it on our own. If we could have done it on our own there would have been no need to give the Law in the first place! No! We need the new heart & that comes through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
See, without the Holy Spirit we are still going to get it wrong. You can believe in Jesus Christ as your saviour yet be completely devoid of the infilling of His Spirit & His power. You can be sealed unto the day of redemption & have a form of godliness while denying His transformative power.
Remember, even as Moses was receiving the Torah God’s people were down on the plain making for themselves a golden calf. So as we consider the covenant of the Law let us remember its fulfilment was in Jesus Christ & His empowerment in our own lives through His Holy Spirit & give thanks unto God who knew our desperate need & made provision for us before we even asked!