Stephen Caswell © 2005
The 2 Great Commandments are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Today I would like to look at how love fulfills the 10 commandments. We can either view the 10 commandments as a negative prohibition or as a positive way of living. If we focus on the, thou shalt not, we will live life negatively like the Pharisees did. But if we see the 10 commandments through the eyes of love we will view them totally differently. We will see life as an opportunity to love and serve both God and man.
Love Embraces God's Law
Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus said to him, 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.
How did Jesus respond to the lawyers question? Jesus quoted the Shema, a statement of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4-6. The confession of faith begins with, Hear, O Israel! The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are and have — heart, soul, mind, strength, possessions, service. To love God is not to have good feelings about Him, for true love involves the will as well as the heart. Where there is love, there will be service and obedience. But love for God cannot be divorced from love for one’s neighbor; so Jesus also quoted Leviticus 19:18 and put it on the same level as the Shema.
All of the Law and the Prophets hang on both of these commandments. In fact the entire Bible commands that we love for God is love. The Pharisees failed here. They were strong on legalism but weak on love. Luke 11:42: But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
1. Love The Lord With Everything
Jesus said that the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. The first four commandments involve our relationship with God, the second six with our neighbor.
The Preeminence Of Love
If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude. Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.
At this point I would like to look at the 10 commandments in light of the New Testament.
1st Commandment: Exodus 20:3: You shall have no other gods before Me.
Put negatively, this commandment states that nothing can come before God in our lives. Why do I say negatively? Because the commandment starts by saying thou shalt not. This commandment not only prohibits the worship of false gods. It also refers to our jobs, homes, farms, cars, possessions, money, people, fame and position. Anything that takes God's place in our lives is another god. Matthew 22:37: expresses it positively. Jesus said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. To love God with all our heart, soul and mind and strength is to love Him with all our being. To love the Lord with all our heart speaks of the emotional nature, the soul speaks of the volitional nature, the mind speaks of the intellectual nature, and our strength the physical nature.
This is not just a feeling but a commitment of our wills that leads to action. God shows His love for us by providing for our needs. He showed it most fully by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for us. God asks for first place. When you love someone you spend time together with them. You talk to them and share what’s on your heart. You listen to them and are interested in their thoughts. You serve them and meet their needs. You don’t do anything you know that would hurt them. If we love God we will let Him set the goals and values that we live for. If we love God we won’t be too busy to serve Him. David was a man after God’s own heart. He loved the Lord with all of his being. David was devoted to God. He lived every moment for the Lord. He put God first and refused to compromise. The Psalms reveal David’s deep love. His life of faith shows that this was genuine. He loved God with all his heart, soul, mind & strength.
2nd Commandment: Exodus 20:4-5a: You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
Put in a negative sense the second commandment forbids idolatry. Today millions of people worship idols of wood and stone. The Israelites sinned when they worshipped the bronze serpent in Hezekiah’s day. It’s just as sinful to worship or pray to statues of Jesus, Mary, Peter and Paul. In fact idolatry is entertaining thoughts of God that are unworthy of Him. John 4:24: God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. Expressed positively, we must worship God only. Satan asked the Lord to worship him during the wilderness temptation. Jesus responded in Matthew 4:10: Away with you, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve. Christ rebuked Satan and told Him that only God was worthy of worship and service. To worship God means to give Him what He is worth.
Romans 12:1 says: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Paul asks believers to present themselves as living sacrifices to God. A sacrifice had no will of its own. It's will had been yielded up. The word service, λατρεία in Romans 12:1 means religious service or worship. In light of God's mercy to us we ought to serve Him wholeheartedly. He is worthy to be worshipped. The second commandment relates to the Lord's service and worship. If we love the Lord we will joyfully serve and worship Him only.
3rd Commandment: Exodus 20:7: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Negatively put, the third commandment forbids using God's name in blasphemy. This means using the names Lord, God, Jesus Christ and other divine names as forms of expression. A persons name represents them. God is holy and must not be associated with corrupt speech. The Jews revered God's name so much that they wouldn't even say it. People that claim to be speaking a word from the Lord need to be very careful that they are in fact doing that. God will judge all who speak in His name. In a positive sense the Bible encourages us to proclaim God's name in ways that honor Him. Praise, prayer, preaching and witnessing do this.
1. Praise Hebrews 13:15: Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. We don’t have to be in Church to sing. Singing praises to God seems to be on the way out. We should thank God for His blessings.
2. Prayer Luke 11:2: So He said to them, When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. At another time, Jesus encouraged the disciples to pray to the Father in His name.
3. Preaching & Witnessing Acts 4:7, 9-12: And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power or by what name have you done this? If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. The third commandment relates to Lord's name. Witnessing for Christ glorifies God. If we love the Lord we will honor His name. We will lift up His name in praise and thanks.
4th Commandment: Exodus 20:8: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Put negatively Israel was forbidden from working on the Sabbath day. Something that is holy is dedicated to God. Under the Law Israel was to set aside the 7th day of the week for rest and reflection. The entire day was devoted to God. This gave them the opportunity to remember the Lord and what He had done for them; to praise and thank Him. Put positively, we are told to meet together for praise, worship and mutual encouragement. Hebrews 10:25: Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. We have so much to thank God for.
The early Church met together on Sunday in memory of Christ’s resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. They honored the Lord by setting aside the 1st day of the week. Tragically, Sunday has become just like any other day. Many Christians work, play sport or make Sunday a day for the family and recreation. Sunday is no longer the Lord’s day. If we don’t give God the first day of the week we won’t give Him any other day either. The French agnostic, Voltaire, is supposed to have said, If you want to kill Christianity, you must abolish Sunday. I’m not sure I agree, but I do know that many Christians have killed their joy, witness, and spiritual power by turning Sunday into an ordinary day and not putting Christ first in their week.
You Can’t Love God and Money
A lovely young couple began to attend their local Church with their little boy. After a while the pastor noticed that only the mother and son were attending, so he stopped at the home to see what had happened to the father. He learned that he had taken a second job on weekends so he could save enough money to get a better house. The wife confided that they really didn’t need the extra money or a new house, but it was her husband’s idea, and she couldn’t stop him. The tragedy is, the extra money didn’t go to a new house; it went to doctors and hospitals. The little boy contracted an unusual disease that required special medicine and care, and the father’s extra income helped pay the bill. This is a true story.
I’m not suggesting that every family with a sick child is unfaithful in their stewardship, or that God makes children suffer for the sins of their parents. But I am suggesting that nobody can rob God and profit from it. If our priorities become confused and we start putting money ahead of God, then we must expect to be the losers. God is not mocked we reap what we sow. In fact we lose out both spiritually and materially. Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Today Church attendance is dropping off at an alarming rate. Many folk attend Church once or twice a month. They use to attend twice a day. The fourth commandment relates to Lord's Day. If we love God we will gladly remember His Day.
2. Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
The last six commandments involve our relationships with our neighbor. Matthew 22:39: And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
5th Commandment: Exodus 20:12: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
This commandment required Israel to respect their parents. For a nation to be strong its families must be run in an orderly fashion. Children must obey their parents for this to happen. When parents grow older their children should care for them. Paul also commands this. 1Timothy 5:3-4: Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. Children ought to repay their parents for the care that they received when they were growing up. They must honor their parents all of their lives. They are not required to obey them when they start their own families. But they must always honor and care for them.
Christ rebuked the Pharisees for breaking the 5th command. Matthew 15:3-6: He answered and said to them, why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and your mother; and, He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death. But you say, whoever says to his father or mother, whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God — then he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. God wants us to look after our parents in their old age. If we love them we will do this.
6th Commandment: Exodus 20:13: You shall not murder.
Negatively expressed, the sixth commandment forbids murder. However Christ equated hatred with murder. Matthew 5:21-22: You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca! shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, you fool! shall be in danger of hell fire. Jesus then gave His disciples a positive command to overcome their enemies through love.
Matthew 5:43-44: You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. If we love our neighbor we won't harm them. Love leads to life and to victory. Hatred leads to murder and death.
7th Commandment: Exodus 20:14: You shall not commit adultery.
Negatively expressed this command forbids sex outside of marriage. Sexual immorality brings tragic consequences. Christ said that to look and lust after a woman is to commit adultery in your heart. 280 Million pornographic web sites. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor. In the N. T. believers are commanded to do more than avoid this sin. We are commanded to love one another.
Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. Husbands are commanded to love their own wives not someone else's. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 gives instruction for all members of the Church. Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity. We should treat members of the opposite sex like family. We are all members of God's family. Real love seeks the welfare of the person loved, it doesn't seek to satisfy its own lusts at another's expense. If we love our neighbor we won't commit adultery with their spouse.
8th Commandment: Exodus 20:15: You shall not steal.
Negatively the eighth commandment forbids theft. This involves a lot more than we think. Cheating on an exam paper is stealing, so is lying on our tax return. God commands His people to be honest in all their business dealings. The New Testament goes even further with a positive command. Ephesians 4:28: Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Christians ought to work honestly and provide for themselves and the needy. James 2:15-16: If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? If we love others we won't steal from them but give to help them.
9th Commandment: Exodus 20:16: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Negatively speaking the ninth commandment forbids lying. God hates lies and deception. They belong to the Devil. This includes half truths, white lies and gossip. People can alter the meaning of something by the way they say it or the expression on their face. Paul gives positive commands about this in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:15, 25: but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ. Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. If we love our neighbor we won't lie to them. Instead we will speak the truth in a loving and gracious way.
10th Commandment: Exodus 20:17: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
Negatively this commandment forbids us from desiring what belongs to our neighbor. This commandment gets to heart of all sin. Covetousness is the root of all sin. Ahab coveted Naboth's vineyard and allowed Jezebel to lie, kill and steal to get it. David coveted Uriah's wife and committed adultery, murder and then lied. Achan coveted and stole what belonged to God. The New Testament gives a positive commandment on this. 1 Timothy 6:6-8: Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. If we love our neighbor we won't covet what belongs to them, we will be content with what we own.
Jesus Summary Of These Two Commandments
Matthew 22:40: On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. Even under the Law God planned that Israel's obedience should be motivated by love. Love is the strongest motivation you can find for obedience. Love fulfills the Law. Romans 13:8-10: Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Galatians 5:13-14 says it too: For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Can believers keep the Ten Commandments? No. But God wants us to keep the Royal Law, the Law of love. God has made this possible. He has spread His love abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Who loves the Lord? Who loves their neighbor? How will you show this in service this year? We have many opportunities for service in Tent Hill! We need R.E. and Sunday School teachers. We need Kids Club leaders and helpers around the Church. If you love the Lord you are qualified to serve. Will you serve God or is your love all talk? Beloved let us make this a blessed year through love!