By Royce Mitchell
Often I hear preachers proclaim that we need to love the Lord because of His loving kindness for us. I find myself wondering whether or not these preachers even know what it means to love the Lord. There is no doubt from scripture that we are to love God above all. Jesus Himself quoted from the Hebrew scriptures affirming that the great Commandment was to love God above all. Since we all can agree that we must love God above everything, the next question must become “How can we love God above all other things?”
Most preachers when faced with a reference to the Commandments of God resort to a claim that keeping of the Commandments is legalism, that all those Commandments were nailed to the Cross. They seldom seem to see the logical fallacy of that statement. That is to say, if the Commandments were nailed to the Cross then how it is that John, Peter and Paul were writing about sin decades after the death of Jesus on that cross? The fact is that it was not the Commandments that were nailed to the cross at all, but the ordinances that were against us, that convicted us.
So, how exactly DO we show our love for God? Is it enough to make a public proclamation of love for God, to say “I love God above all?” Is that the “proof” of our love for God that He seeks? We ought to be careful because, as the scripture says, God is not mocked.
This matter came under discussion in the early days of the Church. Jesus said that if we love Him that we would keep His Commandments. He goes on to say that if we love Him then we will be loved by the Father, also. What’s important to grasp is that showing love for Jesus requires doing something, in this case keeping His Commandments. Some want to say that His Commandment was to love. To be satisfied with this answer is an exercise in pretzel logic worth of the Deceiver himself! You can’t say that to love Jesus you have to keep his Commandment and His Commandment is to love—at least not if you want to understand the Truth.
Jesus discussed which Commandments He envisioned the keeping of which would show our love for Him and the Father. In Matthew 19 we find listed which Commandments bring life, the keeping of which show our love for Jesus and the Father. That listing is part of the Commandments found in Exodus 20 of the Hebrew scriptures. It is clear that we need to not have false gods, not to bow down to other gods, not to take the name of God for a vain reason and finally to keep holy His Sabbath days if our goal is to show love for God.
We see in Luke 18 that Jesus lists the same Commandments and tells us that we “know them.”
Yes, Jesus cited the two great Commandments of the Hebrew scriptures one of which was that we are to love God above all. However, we can’t use the command to love as the proof of love. There must be actions. It is clear that the keeping of the Commandments handed down at Sinai is the way that we show love for God and Jesus.
The apostle John makes this clear to us. In 1 John 5 we read in John’s words that if we love Him then we will keep His Commandments—and that they are not burdensome. In 2 John 1:6 we find John writing to us that they were the Commandments from the beginning. He is describing the Commandments of God as stated in Exodus 20!
Not only can we not say that we love God if we don’t keep His Commandments. We can’t even say that we know Him! In 1 John 2:4 John tells us that we are liars if we say we know Him and don’t keep His Commandments.
The only conclusion to which we can arrive is that if we want to show God that we love Him then we must keep His Commandments—all of them. That includes God’s Sabbath Days. Failing to keep any of those Commandments is tantamount to telling God to His face that we do NOT love Him.
God has created all things through Jesus. God is recreating us through birth in Jesus, giving us a chance to be a part of His ever living family. He is doing all of this because He loves us and wants us with Him forever. Is it really too much to ask to keep His Commandments?
All we need to do is to repent, to quit breaking those Commandments, and to ask God to forgive us by covering us with the blood of His Son, the slain Lamb of God. The adoption as sons awaits us. All we have to do is love God who first loved us. The invitation is on our plate and has been since the foundation of the world.
Royce Mitchell is a member of the BSA Board and the editor for the print copy of The Sabbath Sentinel.