God’s Love and His Law…(I John)

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.( I John 5:2-3)

The Apostle John wrote an epistle  to restore the faith of those who had been ravaged by the  distorted spirituality of the gnostics. As part of the cure, he declared three statements about the nature of the only true  God;  God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all,  God is Love, and finally,  Jesus Christ has come (and remains) in the flesh.

We have been discussing the second statement, God is love.

The nature of God’s love is vastly misunderstood in this day of humanism. An example of this misunderstanding is the popular perception that God’s love is antithetical to God’s law. In fact in the teaching of the myth  of God’s “unconditional love”*, God’s love is often perceived as liberating people into a form of lawlessness. Law and Love are considered to be mutually exclusive terms in modern evangelicalism.

But the Bible makes no such distinction. In scripture, love and law are not opposites, rather they are compliments. Consider these words of Jesus himself,

If ye love me, keep my commandments.(John 14:15)

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.(John 14:21)

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.( I John 5:2-3)

God is love… Holy Love. The revelation of his love in the gospel, humbles us and brings us back into right relationship with God, and with each other. Consequently we are “born again” into a different relationship with God’s law. We once hated the Law because We hated God, the lawgiver. The commandments, in fact, the authority of anyone to command anything of me, was an intolerable burden for we who were rebels.

Now that we have been saved, we love God, his authority and his Law word. “His commandments are no longer grievous”  to us, for those who have received eternal life, consent to the Law of God, that it is good. In fact the true “New Covenant” is the inscription of the Law of God upon the heart of the believer.

This is the covenant I will make with them 
   after that time, says the Lord. 
I will put my laws in their hearts, 
   and I will write them on their minds.”(Jeremiah 31:33)


Lawlessness is not the love of God. Lawlessness is iniquity… God hates lawlessness. There is no gap between God’s Love and God’s Law because only by love is it even possible to keep the law, our problem has always been that we don’t love God, nor our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.

The Law to us is the instruction of Love. How should I “love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul mind, and strength”?

The first table of the ten commandments is the primal teaching on how God wants to be loved by man. He would have all of our devotion, (First commandment) , He wants us to Love Him as He has revealed himself , not as we would like to imagine him to be,(Second commandment). He wants us to fear Him(Third commandment). He wants us to take time weekly to worship and remember him, (Fourth commandment).

The second table of the ten commandments is instruction of “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. Love is the fulfilling of the law, for Loving one’s neighbor means honoring legitimate authority, loving his life, Marriage, property,  good name and reputation, and being happy for what God has blessed him with.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.(Romans 13: 8-10)

Much of the confusion over this issue is born out of teaching against legalism, and bondage to the Law of Moses. It is true that Christ has delivered us from the Law of Moses, but 9 out of the ten commandments are re-iterated in the New Testament, which is called “the Law of Christ”. Loving Christ means accepting his rule.

Furthermore, we no longer serve under a slavish Spirit of bondage, we now serve God under a principle of Sonship. We have already been redeemed, in joyful gratitude to the One who loved us first, we come under the “Law of Love”.

 

 

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